'Memories of scooting along on 1950s Lancashire roads'

Scooters for Hire (Preston).

Tuesday, 8th January 2019, 3:59 pm
Updated Wednesday, 9th January 2019, 2:01 pm
The Bond P1 Scooter was made at Sharps Commercials, Ribbleton Lane, Preston. Picture courtesy of Preston Digital Archive

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.

Sign up to our daily newsletter

The i newsletter cut through the noise

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

Bamber Bridge


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.

Jacqui Morley

via email


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?

William Gilson


space travel

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.

Nathan Skelly

Address supplied