MOTORCYCLE CLUBS IN THE KINGSTON UPON THAMES AREA BEFORE THE GREAT WAR

Abstract

MOTORCYCLE CLUBS IN THE KINGSTON UPON THAMES AREA BEFORE THE GREAT WAR [1914-18] – MEMBERSHIP AND ACTIVITIES.

In the Kingston upon Thames area before The Great War the following clubs existed: The Kingston & District Motor Cycle Club [K&DMCC]; The Richmond & District Motor Cycle Club, which became The Richmond & Surbiton Motor Cycle Club, then the Richmond & Surbiton Motor Club [R&SMC] and the Surbiton & Kingston Motor Cycle Club [S&KMCC]. K&DMCC and S&KMCC members were recruited from men engaged in trade or commerce. They included keepers of clothing shops, commercial travellers, dealers in cycles and motor cars, clerks, a foreman joiner, a manager of a corn & coal merchant’s business and a cycle maker.  The chairman of K&DMCC was an insurance broker and the chairman of S&KMCC was a commercial traveller.  Members of K&DMCC and S&KMCC lived in Kingston or nearby. The membership of R&SMC, which originally was “recruited mainly from theprofessional classes” included medical practitioners, a patent agent, an automobile engineer, the Assistant Editor of The Motor Cycle magazine, a designer in motor engineering, an army officer and the secretary of the Autocycle Union.  Some members of R&SMC were associated with the motor sport establishment and two were involved in motor engineering.

The chairman was a well-connected French nobleman of independent means and the club catered for motor car owners as well as motorcyclists.  Despite its name, none of the members lived in Richmond or Surbiton and three lived in Kingston. Club activities included competitions on public roads, dinners and touring weekends. Solo motorcycles ridden by members included Douglas, Swift, Minerva Excelsior, Premier, Triumph, Humber, NSU and Rover machines.  Motorcycle sidecar outfits were powered by Foster-Dawson, Rover and Premier machines.  A Riley tricar, a ROC-Peugeot motor car and a Lagonda motor car also were used by club members.    The overall impression was that the members of S&KMCC were better off financially than the members of the other clubs. The start of the Great War probably curtailed the clubs’ activities.

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The Author

David A. Kennedy, PhD

About 20 years ago, I accompanied my late wife to some talks on the use of computers in historical research and began to help her with her genealogical studies. Later, I took part in a project, organised by the Centre for Local History Studies at Kingston University, to digitise the Enumerators’ Books for the Kingston Census of 1851-1891. This rekindled my interest in history, especially that of Kingston upon Thames, where I live. This website has been set up so that I can share my research findings, some based on digitised material, with others who may be interested in them.

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