Friday, May 01, 2009


By John de Kruif

Amazing things still happen; a few blogs ago I published a picture of "uncle Ned'' on his CS1 Norton. Obviously, this was not a standard bike but modifications like the right-hand exhaust can be made by anyone. Then the photo was seen by my friend Simon and with a keen eye for detail and a very good memory the story unfolded. It would be a shame to change the text in the emails below:

Date: Sat, 25 Apr
John- 'Uncle Ned's' CS1 on your web site has what looks to be one of the 1929-ish works type 7 inch front brakes.....the reg. no. OF166 is Birmingham and it would not surprise me if this CS1 wasn't a works cast-off at some stage! The reg. number seems vaguely familiar to me....
Cheers Simon
Date: Sat, 25 Apr
John- no wonder OF166 seemed familiar - it was the reg. no. of the CS1 ridden by Stanley Woods in practise - and perhaps in the actual race - in the 1929 TT. I have a paddock practise photo of him and the bike! Race number was 28.
Cheers Simon

Date: Wed, 29 Apr
John - You may notice that Stanleys bike has the usual (awful) 8" Enfield front hub in this shot but other 1929 TT pics. show the racing 7 inch hub (probably Horton).
Brgds Simon

Great story, but how did uncle Ned get his hands on a factory racer used by Stanley Woods? Half an hour of Googling retrieved the original pic of Ned from the Internet and fortunately it was posted on a forum that displayed the email address of Ned's nephew; an interesting detail is that the nephew operates under the name of NoisyNorton! This is his reply:

Date: Wed, 29 Apr
Hi John,
Info on the bike is pretty scarce. My Dad told me the story of it many years ago. To make it short it seems there was an Irish soccer player (I have his name written down somewhere but I can't remember it) playing for a team in Birmingham and he was good friends with Joe Craig. Which is how he came by the bike. The bike was supposed to be an ex-factory racer. As the story goes the soccer player brought the bike to Ireland for a summer vacation and never brought it back to England. It passed through the family. Dad, Uncle Ned, Uncle Bill etc. and then disappeared just before WW2. Another friend in Ireland remembered possibly owning it but it has long since disappeared possibly for good. I lived in Ireland for a considerable time and became good friends with Stanley (through the Dublin and District Motorcycle Club).
Many thanks, Bill

Joe Craig was the famous and very successful racer, development engineer and Norton racing team director. Stanley Woods was the Irish motorcycle racer famous for 29 motorcycle Grand Prix wins and winning the Isle of Man TT races 10 times in his career.

Date: Thu, 30 Apr
Hi John - The photo was taken in the TT paddock in '29 and Stanley Wood's riding number was 28 in the Senior. It is not a race day photo as the numbers are the wrong colour - white on black was used for practise sessions. I think it highly likely it was his actual race bike - despite the front brake - rather than a publicity shot on a standard machine. For one thing, it has the right hand exhaust port cylinder head which was ONLY used on the works bikes in 1929. Unfortunately, the 1929 works bikes are not listed in the despatch records in one clump so to speak and individual superseded race bikes when sold much later on, do not seem always to have been given an entry so it is really difficult to be 100% sure of facts at this distance in time! Stanley retired in the event itself.....and was too idle to check as to the reason.
Cheers Simon

Date: Thu, 30 Apr
Hi John,
I'm 63 years old and for at least 60 of those years I heard the story of OF 166 being a very special Norton. Stanley Woods was a hero of my Dad during his younger years. I'm sure had he (or uncle Ned or uncle Bill) known it was Stanley's race bike it would still be part of the family. I have a feeling that somewhere in Dublin it is hiding in a shed or garage and will resurface someday...

Check on John's blog; Rapid Hare Motors.


Anonymous said...

Thanks for the 'gift' of your website. I'll never be bored again!
I was sent this image and thought it was pretty cool. The studio said they were not sure where it was from, but it looks like a TT course background.
Anyway, maybe it will entertain your bloggees.

Anonymous said...

Dear Sir,
Erasmus Thump here. I have been told of your exploits by a number of sources I trust and they were all accurate. It is fine thing you have created sir! I thought it only right to introduce myself as we seem to share a great deal in common. I admit to having you at a bit of a disadvantage as I know a bit about you through you 'blog' yet you know nothing of me. I am one of the four founders of The Phantom Manufacturing Co. Ltd. Aside from being venerable purveyors of fine sporting machines for discerning gentlemen, we have also created a number of unique technologies in the field that have found there way onto a myriad of machines over the years. For instance,, it was Phantom that first came up with our patented "Sneezer" fuel atomiser, our "Double Clamper" braking system, and of course our famous Bladraulic steering and suspension system. Of course, being an expert on motorcycles, I am sure you are well versed in our history and contribution to the industry.
Owing to the fact that three of the founders, myself included, have for the past 80 years, many people thought we had simply disappeared. But through the good graces of our fourth founder and Company Secretary, Mrs. Mabel Ramsbottom, we have been able to return to our passionate work recently. the works have been reopened and cleaned, the machines serviced, and a new staff acquired. We've been doing a lot of thinking since 1929 and we felt the time was right to make the resulting ideas become real. As a result we are just about to publicly display, for the first time, our first new machine since 1929, code-named "The Phantom EG."
You may find more information about ourselves and our machines at at your leisure. You will notice that we are not overtly selling anything on the site just yet. As is our custom at Phantom, we find that discerning gentlemen have a way of finding us and commissioning their own bespoke version of whatever our current production machine may be. Perhaps this knew world in which we find ourselves is quite different than the one we left in 1929 and perhaps we are naiive to think what worked then will work now, but it is our way and we must learn at our pace how to grasp the changes in front of us. Take it from me, it is a stark shock to me personally to be using such letter writing machines such as this.... I was spoiled to be relying upon Mrs. Ramsbottoms fine typist skills in the past but now arthritis has made is impossible for her to perform at speed any longer. Please excuse me for any mistakes as this is a bit new to me.
Well, I hope this missive has been effective as some means of introducing myself and our firm and I hope that we may share many fruitful communications in the days and years to come.

Tally Ho!
--Erasmus Thump
The Phantom Motorcycle Manufacturing Co. Ltd.