'Memories of scooting along on 1950s Lancashire roads'
Scooters for Hire (Preston).
This advert caught my eye in the Lancashire Evening Post, back in December 1959.
A few weeks earlier, I had passed my bike test (on a moped).
I was keen to find out more.
Would the scooters include a Vespa or maybe a Lambretta? These two makes were the market leaders at that time.
Back in 1959 and 1960, sales of two-wheeled machines, ie mopeds, scooters and motorcycles, enjoyed record sales in Britain.
Scooters were being made in large numbers in Italy, Germany, Austria and France. Britain was a bit behind in joining this boom time.
Very soon the major motorcycle manufacturers had scooters on their lists.
Makers such a Triumph, BSA, James and Sun were producing scooters.
Preston’s own Sharps Commercials, the makers of the well-known Bond-Mini car, had a Bond scooter in production, powered by the well-known Villiers two-stroke engines.
A 150cc machine or a 200cc machine was available, with or without an electric starter.
Anyway, back to the plot, time to ‘suss’ out the hirer’s address.
Located a stone’s throw from Preston’s old Labour Exchange, I chose a Sunday for hiring.
The terms were 25 shillings per day (£1.25) plus £5 deposit (refundable if no damage to the scooter occurred).
Oh yes, the scooters turned out not to be Vespas or Lambrettas, but a Zündapp Bella, a well made German make – 150cc, no kickstart, an electric starter as standard.
The chap asked had I been riding for 12 months?
“Not quite” I answered truthfully.
December is not conducive to scooter riding, and not wishing to lose a sale, he let me take one out.
First impression of the Zündapp Bella was its weight.
My N50 moped weighed just over 100lbs.
The Zündapp came in at over 300lbs.
A run from Preston to Leyland soon had me feeling confident with the machine.
A 4-speed gearbox was operated by two pedals on the floor.
In the afternoon, I had a run to Blackpool and it had started to rain.
A coffee bar in Blackpool centre was a good place to thaw out. I can remember Neil Sedaka on the jukebox singing “Oh Carol”.
The scooter was returned intact.
It had been an interesting day!
E H Simister
Everyone can celebrate
Blessed are the non-judgemental, Scott Andrews (LP Letters, December 31). I’m an atheist and I love Christmas, regardless of whether it celebrates the birth of the Messiah. I don’t doubt Jesus of Nazareth existed. But there it ends. For me. It doesn’t stop me calling December 25 Christmas rather than Yule.
You put the question “why do non-Christians bother celebrating at all?”
Why the hell – and I don’t believe in that either – shouldn’t we? I have friends of other faiths – and non-faiths – who celebrate what you, and indeed most of them, still acknowledge as Christmas in some form or other.
It’s not just because we enjoy a good party or because the lines of so many faiths and non-faiths cross and occasionally converge at key calendar points. We do so because the greatest gift of Christmas is goodwill to all.
It’s about love, giving and sharing, a truce of sorts in these troubled times, as powerful a message as Silent Night or a game of footie on the frontline in no-man’s-land. And that seems to have passed you by, given your claim that “non-Christians” “now worship the new God – consumerism” etc.
Believe it or not, many of us don’t.
We’ll even pick our Christmas cards in order to support specified charities.
I won’t recoil in horror at a religious element because I still love the art, architecture, archaeology and ethos inspired by Christianity.
On a good day this secularist believes in believers too because - excluding fundamentalist elements - they are a force for good. In God’s name. Regardless of who their god may be. I’ve seen that at food banks run by Christians locally. I respect those beliefs, sometimes I even wish I shared their faith in a divinity. But lack of faith doesn’t preclude me from attempting to do good in my own right in this life – with no hope of an afterlife or desire for such.
And all of this has no bearing on what sort of cards I buy or hope to receive. I don’t give, nor would I expect to receive, cards showing pagans celebrating the winter solstice. At the risk of sounding holier than thou, I count myself lucky to receive any cards at all. Some might even say I count my – blessings.
Safety is vital
This year rail travel in the north has been plagued by continuous guard/no guard strikes. The answer is simple - vulnerable adults and children travel on these trains.
Health and safety guards are obviously needed for two reasons - vulnerable travellers and, secondly, I do not want the driver distracted.
So where is the Powerhouse of the North? Where are the politicians we elected to care for us? The answer is simple - run our trains with utmost safety or pass the job on to someone else better. Travel in the north needs to return to a degree of normality. Is it really that complicated?
Bring light to China, too
I congratulate the Chinese for bringing ‘light’ to the ‘dark side of the
It’s a pity that the country’s policy of suppressing free thought isn’t as enlightened.