Hi, I have just been going down memory lane on your web site, which was great. However, I noticed that I do not appear on the staff list! My name is Brian Cooper and I joined the workshop around 1965. I worked under Jimmy Crewe
, who was the foreman at the time, and later under John Leggett
after Jim Crewe left.
I worked on all of the classic British bikes at the time and then on the Commando customising when Vincent started racing them. I used to go to the Norton factory in the Ford Transit van to pick up the new Commandos and bring them back to the shop.
When the shop was allocated one of the BSA Rocket 3s approximately 3 months before they went on sale everyone borrowed it for a few days and then Vincent Davey let me use it more or less full time.
Vincent Davey sent me on a Lucas Motorcycle Electrics course and I always remember the day he came into the workshop beaming with excitement. I had achieved a result of 100%.
I worked with Mike Andrew in the workshop and travelled to all the race meets he was participating in, with the bikes. I remember doing a road test on a BSA Bantam and the rear chain came off, locking up the rear wheel. Despite a large amount of tank slapping during braking I manage to stay upright. Mike Andrews had seen this and took great delight in mocking me. A little while later Mike Andrew took another BSA Bantam for a test run and, again, the rear chain came off, This time he could not manage to control it and ended up on the road, although at a very slow speed. He who laughs last...........
I remember the day my best friend came along with us to Brands Hatch one Wednesday practise. Vincent Davey and Mike Andrew were there and my friend brought his Norton 99 Dominator. During the practise session my friend made contact with another rider at Paddock Bend and immediately swerved off the track into the Arm-co barriers. The Dominator was wrecked and my friend's elbow shattered when it collided with the Arm-co barrier.
I remember Vincent Davey being a very fair man. One day I was returning back to the shop having picked up a van load of Commandos from the Norton factory. When nearly back at the shop I gently clipped a car that was parked at the road side. I was quite young at the time (18 I think) and I panicked. When I got back I did not mention the incident. However, the owner of the car found out that it was a Gus Kuhn van and brought it to Vincent Davey's attention. It was the mid-afternoon break so we were all hanging around outside the workshop doors. Vincent came outside and told me that I had been silly to try to hide the incident. He was not totally calm but he certainly had let me off lightly.
I have a vague recollection of driving Vincent's new car at the time, to either collect it from somewhere or deliver it. Again it is only a vague recollection but I believe it might have been a Gold/Bronze coloured Hillman.
I eventually left the company to work with Jimmy Crewe in his new Car and Motorcycle workshop, based in Tooting. In 1974 I left Jimmy and joined the then British Gas, in Wandsworth. I became a Chartered Mechanical Engineer and held the post of Engineering Operations Manager (previously called Assistant District Engineer).
I now live in the Tamar Valley, Cornwall, having taken a very attractive voluntary redundancy package.