James Captain

In memory of Dick White

When I put it back together properly I could never get it to run again.


I have special memories of this motorcycle because of the guy I bought it from. The bike was a bit of a nail and I never rode it except to bring it home.

In the sixties a group of friends including Lawrence Mounteney, Bruce Gibson and Brian Porter were spending an evening each week learning the ropes of motorcycle maintenance at Mantle Road evening classes. One of our friends there was Dick White who was an absolute genius with engines.

Unfortunately Dick had ear problems that did not reduce his ability to tune an engine to perfection but did prevent him from balancing when riding a motorcycle. We all had a lot of respect for the class teacher, David Hughes, so when he advised Dick to sell his bikes and stick to tuning, Dick reluctantly agreed.

I bought the 197cc Villiers powered James Captain and took it home. When I inspected the carburetter I couldn't believe Dick could ever have made it run. There were no jets in the block and half the other parts were missing. When I put it back together properly I could never get it to run again.

With some of the money Dick made from selling his bikes he bought a lame hunter and then spent the rest of the money and some besides on vets to get the horse back into shape. When the horse was finally declared fit, Dick lead it into the stable yard and climbed on.

The horse had been trussed up for six months and was keen to have a play. Up went the horse and down came Dick, head first onto the cobbled stable yard.

Dick White never recovered consciousness.

That's why I remember his James Captain. If only he'd kept it, Dick could have been alive today.

Ben Crossley