Memories of cycle/motorbike training

Members of the Cycling Proficiency training team
Motorbike training helpers and trainees
Long service award

In his teenage years before the second world war my late father Cecil Bridges had a passion for cycling and motorbikes, in fact he rode motorbikes in his army service during the war.

In 1946 my family moved from Tissington in Derbyshire to Mansfield and eventually settled in ladybrook. At this time, we had a motorbike and sidecar and travelled all over the the country on family holidays and weekends picnicking or visiting relations in Derbyshire.

My dad was the secretary of the Mansfield cyclist touring club and this led him and his cycling friends to become involved in the training of local youngsters to attain the cycling proficiency badge. This was voluntary and I am sure that a lot of local people can remember them over the many years they dedicated their spare time to this cause. They are on the front row of the first photo from left to right my dad Cecil Bridges, Stan Brearley, Cyril Spicer, Bob Roby and Malcolm Walter. The back row are dignitaries from the Mansfield and Nottingham council’s. I recall that they were successful in a national competition for their dedication to road safety and were presented with an award at a ceremony at a large hotel in London.

My dad worked for Mansfield council first as a joiner and building inspector and then as the road safety officer for Mansfield (his dream job) He was instrumental in the foundation of the Motorbike training course at the top of Brick kiln lane and he is pictured with some of his helpers and trainees in the second photo. The third photo is his testimonial awarded for his long service to road safety.

Comments about this page

  • Hi My first job was with Frank Inger, servicing the motor bikes and doing odd jobs, in 1970. Frank was always eager to teach me and often demonstrated his skills riding the old bikes. He could make them do things other people could only dream of, great skill.
    His father had a great passion with steam engines and built many models, which he started up regularly. His brother was a world sidecar racing champion. Regrettably he was killed and Frank put the motorbike and sidecar in the show window where it stayed for years.
    Great memories. The whole area has many stories to be told with the miners and scrap metal merchants. So many characters of those hard times.

    By James Bircumshaw (26/11/2023)
  • Did Harry run the scooter shop on Clumber Street ?

    By Brian Betts (23/12/2021)
  • I think I remember Harry Walker as an older man. In the late 1970’s, I had just left school and was a trainee mechanic at Henstocks, I think Harry still helped out in the stores a couple of days a week for a short while. Would have been good to listen to his experiences regarding motorcycles but as a youngster you don’t think to ask.

    By Andrew Stafford (24/03/2021)
  • My father Harry Walker knew your father very well, Dad did have his own Motorcycle shop on Rosemary St. Cantrill & Walker c1947 he then went to work for Henstocks after Jim Cantrill died in an accident.
    Harry used to run Motorcycle & Scooter maintenance courses at the Brick Kiln Ln site. Born in 1912 he was a dispatch rider with The Royal Signals during the War & performed with the White Helmets display team in Nairobi.
    He rode, raced, grass tracked & trialled pre & post war & myself and son followed into the sport.

    By Stephen Walker (16/11/2020)
  • Thanks Alan, all interesting stuff, and yes the BSA’s and Enfield’s had a well deserved reputation and still do after all these years. Now classics they are worth a few bob! Pity the British brands didn’t keep up with the foreign makes, I’m sure you Dad would have agreed on that.
    Very best wishes and thanks again for the local memories.

    By Steeve Cee (05/07/2020)
  • Hello Steve. In response to your last comments. My dad was in the Royal Engineers during the war, 1940 to 1945. I think that Royal Enfield and BSA bikes were widely used during the war.
    After the war he had BSA motorbikes with sidecars, I vaguely remember him saying BSA were good bikes and they served him well during the war. I had forgotten about Frank Inger, my only two wheeled vehicle was a Agrati Capri scooter and I went to him for services etc. I’m sure my dad would have known him.

    By Alan Bridges (29/06/2020)
  • Hello again Alan, yes your Dad would also have been aware of and known Frank Inger who had premises on Ratcliffe Gate. I lived not far from Frank back in the ’50’s.
    I have made a guess as to the m/cycle on the right of your pic, looks like a little Honda from the fuel tank profile. As a matter of interest what mob was your Dad with in the army? I’m interested in the type/s of machine he may have rode, I’m also ex service so we have a couple of things in common – best wishes!

    By Steeve Cee (22/06/2020)
  • This has been added on behalf of Alan Bridges –

    Hello Steeve and Pete. It was great to read your comments about my dad. He was born in 1915 and I remember him talking about the motorbike dealers you have mentioned in fact I think he bought one of his bikes from Henstock’s. He also talked about Richardson’s motorbikes in Mansfield and I believe he knew the family quite well. One of the first things he would say to me when he showed me how to do something was you need to have the right tools for the job as you say Pete. You also remember correctly he did smoke a pipe and sometimes to my mother’s distaste. One funny thing I remember was my mother walking into the room and saying to him it is like a fog in here if it was left to me I’d make you recycle the smoke, he said how would I do that then, she replied by blowing it into a length of tube. How would that recycle it he asked and her punchline was I haven’t told you where to stick the other end of the tube yet. Most of the time it was in his mouth it wasn’t even lit, I think it was a comfort thing. Thanks again.

    By Editors (13/06/2020)
  • Hello Alan. I started work as an apprentice electrician for Mansfield Borough Council in August 1967, at Blake Crescent housing depot.
    On my first day I was introduced to Mr Bridges who was one of the ‘gaffers’. In the afternoon he took me in his council green Morris Minor 1000 van to Blake and Beeley’s hardware shop in town. He helped me choose some proper electrician’s tools, as he called them, and then took me back to the electrician to carry on working.
    I always thought he was a real gentleman and never heard anybody say a bad word against him. If my memory serves me right he used to smoke a pipe. I am now 69 years old but I will never forget that 1st day at work and meeting Mr Bridges. One of the best.

    By Pete Higgins (06/06/2020)
  • Just trying to sort out the dates you mention Alan, it’s a guess, but your post indicates that your Dad was / could have been born around the early 1920’s or thereabouts?
    He may have been familiar with many of the local M/cycle shops in the area, Henstocks, Copes, Wraggs and others.
    What year were the Motorbike Training Courses set up? Good photo, just trying to identify the bikes – don’t recognise any faces I’m afraid. Thanks.

    By Steeve Cee (05/06/2020)

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