Wheel Dealers

That same year 1961 when the Leicester Phoenix was born, thanks to the enthusiasm of its first founding members, the town, its surroundings, and all the rest of the county of Leicestershire, were not devoid of businesses relating in some way to maintenance, repairs, or various transaction possibilities ranging from the purchase, sale, or even exchange of two wheels of all brands and models.

According to my research, in mid-1961 there were more than twenty of them (I found exactly 23): Arbour Motors; Charnwood Motors; Ken Ives Ltd.; M/Cycle Auto Sales; A.E. Miles & Son; M/Cycle Accessories; Newton Cycles; P.J. Oakley; Bob Pike; H. Petty & Sons; A. Rose & Sons; Reader's Cycles; R. Russell; G.H. Smith Clarendon Park; G.H. Sandford; Elite Motor Cycles; Peter Mitchell; Two Strokes Services; C.F. Burton, Lutterworth; J.L. Bott & Son, Anstey; Coalville Cycle Co., Coalville; Jones Garage, Syston; Auto Supplies, Coalville.

Older readers of these lines who lived in the Leicester area at the time should remember many of these businesses; and even if, in the meantime, they might have erased the names of some of them from their memory, when reading them today, snatches of memories or anecdotes should wake up in their brains and resurface from the nothingness where they slept forever.

That's precisely the aim of today's text, in the hope that it will inspire them to share it with us in their future comments.

Without further ado, allow me to introduce you to those for which I have been able to find traces via period documents.

H.E.C. Motorcycles

The little I learned in my research about this store is that the first two initials of its name stand for Harold Edward, the father, who in his various achievements had the merit of racing at Donington Park on the occasion of the first 1931 meeting. He won Grass Track championships post war and was team mechanic for Leicester Hunters Speedway whilst running HEC Motorcycles from 1936 to 1956.

Shown is a superb water-based decal from this store, having fortunately survived many decades, to offer us today the pleasure of being able to admire this trace of the past.

Harold Petty Ltd/Pettys

Petty's dealership is mentioned on the previous page. The man behind the creation of this legendary shop with a glorious past, still active in Leicester until it closed in the 1970s, was none other than former racer Harold Petty.

(left): Harold Petty photographed here in 1920; (right): water decal of its stores in Leicester and Nottingham

Petty, who had previously distinguished himself on the circuits and in particular at the Tourist Trophy on the Isle of Man, in 1912 and 1913 on a Singer motorbike; as well as in 1920 on a Norton; 1921 and 1922 on a Coulson; and 1923 on a Diamond motorbike, before giving up racing for good.

Below is an advertisement from the shop dating from 1961 and taken from a programme relating to speed races held at Mallory Park that year.

A.E. Milnes & Son

In the 1980s, the advertising slogan for Bangkok's most famous seafood restaurant was: 'If it swims we have it'. Twenty years earlier, the A. E. Milnes & Son motorcycle store, also mentioned on the previous page, had a similar slogan saying exactly that: ‘Wotever’ wins we have it in stock’.

Above the top is a decal of the store on Uppingham Rd. Below is an advertising taken from a program for races at Mallory Park on 18 June 1961.

Bruce Lewin Ltd

Do you remember this place? Someone reading this may have visited this shop on Narborough Road (of which, by chance, a photo of the front remains below) or known its owner, Bruce Lewin.

An advertisement also dating from 1961 reveals that this business offered its customers a choice of motorbikes and scooters, acting as an agent for BSA, James, Francis Barnett, Excelsior, Norman and Vespa.


Also mentioned on the previous page, and located at 195 Humberstone Rd, just past the Ministry of National Health, was Mario's. We have found an advertising insert showing what this shop looked like, offering its customers a wide variety of services relating to everything to do with the means of transport and vehicles of the time.

Colmore Depot

‘Our 50 year's reputation is your safeguard' read the 1961 advertisement for this business, also located on Belgrave Gate. Since it had been in business at list for five decades, it had been operating since the early 1910s, making it probably one of the oldest in the city.


What a great avant-garde advert for the time, at the very beginning of the 60s, or to be more precise June 1961!

Even those who weren't fans of scooters had to scrutinise every detail, especially the charming lady riding the machine... note in passing the vehicle's registration number 'GAY 285', which would no doubt be the talk of the woke generation today!

Note also the unfortunate spelling mistake in the insert concerning the Italian make 'Loverda'...

King’s of Leicester

Take a look at the list of models offered by this shop in their June 1961 advertisement! There's enough to beautify the contents of your garage and turn it into a personal museum!

For the record, at its peak in the early 1950s, King's Motors Oxford had an impressive stock of over 500 motorcycles in its Park End Street showroom. Its director at the time was none other than Stanley Hailwood, the father of the well-known racer Mike Hailwood.

This successful trade grew to the point where workshops and showrooms sprang up outside Oxford, notably in Manchester, Birmingham, Hastings, Plymouth, Wolverhampton, Bristol, and Leicester.

Jones’ Garage

A business located in Syston, about ten kilometers from Leicester, apparently specializing in sports machines and cars. Does any former motorcyclist from the Leicester area remember this shop and its owner, a man named G. F. Jones?

E.W. Campion & Sons

If you were riding a BSA motorcycle at the time, it is very likely that you visited this dealership specializing in the sale and maintenance of machines produced by the famous Birmingham brand.

Bob Pike

The very little I learned about him is that in his youth he was a speed racer on Norton. Among the meager documents found concerning his store, an advertising insert dating once again from June 1961 specifying that his business was then located at 141-143 Humberstone Road and apparently specialized in everything related to the sidecar.

The sticker above — presumably before the 1960s — indicates that it was then located at a completely different address: at 65 Green Lane Road.

Three more stores from the 50s

To complete this additional information to the text initiated by Martin Sentance, let us cite three other stores which were in operation in the mid-50s in Leicester:

Millets, located at 83-5 Granby Street, offering their motorcyclist customers all crash helmets, raincoats, goggles, camping accessories, etc.

Tom Cann Ltd, located at 88 Woodgate, specialist in BSA and Francis Barnett motorcycles and Rumi, Vespa and Puch scooters; and offering tuition for learners by Tourist Trophy expert Maurice Cann.

C.H. Chapman, located at 7 Tudor Road, agent BSA, Douglas, James, Heinkel, Excelsior, Dot, and Vespa. The last sentence of a May 1956 advertisement touting the store's services read: Don't forget! Our connections with Motor-Cycling dates back to when Petrol Tankers were drawn with Horses.

- Jean-Francois Helias


115 years ago: G.H. Wait & Co.

It is obvious that the Leicester motorcyclists who frequented this shop are not present readers of this website. They left this world a long time ago. But since this page is about the motorbike shops of this city, for the sake of forgetting as few as possible, and out of a sense of historical duty, let us add to this list G. H. Wait & Co. of which we have found below an advertisement dating from 1908.

Our speciality be the CLYDE 4 H.P. SILENT Motor Bicycle,
handle-bar control, and latest refinements.
Illustrated List ready shortly.
We have a few Special Clearance Lines at Extraordinary Prices.
One 4 h.p. Clyde, JAP engine. handle-bar controls shop-soiled      .. £38
One 6 h,p. Clyde, twin JAP engine, spring forks, etc., shop-soiled .. £41
One 2¾ h.p. Clyde, Simms engine, spring forks, shop-soiled         .. £19
One 2¾ h.p. Clyde, Simms engine, spring forks, second-hand         .. £12
One 3 h,p. Quadrant. stand, etc., overhauled, second-band          .. £9 10/-
One 3½ h.p. Minerva tricar, in excellent order           ..        .. £12
One 6½ h.p. Clyde tricar, two cylinders, latest type, shop-soiled  .. £75
Full particulars of any of above or trials by appointment.
G. H. WAIT & CO., London Rd., Leicester

My good friend Dave Richmond, one of the great experts on everything to do with the history of British motorcycling from its earliest days, will no doubt appreciate this one.

Note the makes of the machines and the engines powering them, and especially the prices in 1908, on the occasion of this special clearance, by this shop located in London Road, Leicester.