Old fam­ily pho­tos lead to a quest to find out more about a Vin­cent-rac­ing dad

Classic Bike (UK) - - CONTENTS - JOHN BAR­BER

A se­cret past, car­a­van ca­pers and win­ning bikes from Hail­wood

It all started when I found a club­man’s meet­ing card amongst some old fam­ily pho­to­graphs that my aunt had given me, a while af­ter my fa­ther had passed away. It stated that Mr GF Bar­ber (my fa­ther) had com­pleted the fly­ing kilo­me­tre at Brook­lands on April 17, 1937, rid­ing a 498cc Vin­cent HRD – this was well be­fore my time, and dad’s rac­ing days weren’t talked about in our fam­ily. Af­ter many let­ters to many dif­fer­ent peo­ple, the Na­tional Mo­tor­cy­cle Mu­seum gave me the ad­dress of the Vin­cent HRD Own­ers Club, who sub­se­quently car­ried out a search as much as they could, based on the in­for­ma­tion to hand.

Work­ing back­wards from the date of the Brook­lands cer­tifi­cate, they found that a Comet Spe­cial – a tuned-up road bike or a de­tuned TT replica, which­ever way you chose to look at it – was built for one GF Bar­ber and that he took de­liv­ery of it on March 14, 1936. In a sep­a­rate spec book for the en­gines, there is a note that en­gine num­ber TTC 17 was for Mr GF Bar­ber’s ma­chine – and this is the en­gine which was fit­ted to the bike built to his or­der.

Vin­cent oc­ca­sion­ally sup­plied ‘rac­ing’ ma­chines which were then used as de­vel­op­ment bikes by the fac­tory, with the riders be­ing par­tially fac­tory-sup­ported, which may have hap­pened with my fa­ther’s bike. The bike fin­ished eighth in the 1937 TT, rid­den by Jock West.

Then, af­ter World War II, Ge­orge Brown found TTC 17 in a works shed and it be­came the Cad­well spe­cial. If any Clas­sic Bike read­ers have any fur­ther in­for­ma­tion on the bike and my fa­ther’s rac­ing ca­reer, I would be grate­ful if you could con­tact me via the mag­a­zine.

GF Bar­ber (4) wait­ing to get un­der­way at Brook­lands

The 1947/48 pro­to­type Black Shadow with John Bar­ber’s fa­ther (right)

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