Great Britain

Captain Tom's motorbike in pride of place at museum

STAFF at a museum have discovered that one of the motorbikes in their collection was once ridden by national treasure Captain Tom Moore.

The Scott Flying Squirrel ridden by the Keighley-born fundraiser has taken pride of place in the foyer of the newly-reopened Bradford Industrial Museum.

The museum is the first of Bradford Council's museums and galleries to reopen following the Covid-19 lockdown, and will be followed Cartwright Hall on August 18, Cliffe Castle Museum in Keighley on August 25 and Bolling Hall on September 9.

Bradford Council’s Museums and Galleries Service recently realised that Captain Tom was linked to one of its numerous classic vehicles, which also include trolleybuses and several models of Jowett.

The motorbike is owned by David Wood but is on long-term to Bradford Industrial Museum in Eccleshill, and was used by Captain Tom when he rode competitively.

The bike, with the registration number DN3612, was ridden by Captain Tom using the number 23 and can be seen in a photograph of him sitting astride the machine clutching several hard won trophies. It is thought the photograph is from the late 1950s.

Captain Tom, who was recently promoted to Colonel for his charity work, has raised millions for NHS charities by walking the garden of his care home during lockdown. He has since achieved a number one single and recently received news that he would be knighted for his services to charity.

The young Tom had an interest in motorcycles, particularly those designed, built and sold by Alfred Angas Scott, and he competed in numerous club meets. Scott Motorcycles of Shipley were at the peak of their power and influence during the 1920s and 30s.

Fast forward to the 1950s and David Wood's father CH Wood, a renowned Bradford commercial photographer, retired motorcycle champion and Scott enthusiast, bought a mutilated 1912 model and rebuilt it.

As the bike was rebuilt it needed to be re-registered and the registration number was changed to AK222.

That could have been the end of it, but Scott expert Maurice Rispin of Leeds, who is well in to his nineties, has clear memories of Tom either buying or borrowing the bike from speedway champion Oliver Langton - who was a member of the Bradford and District Motorcycling Club and raced for the world famous Belle Vue Aces speedway team in Manchester in the 1920s and 30s.

Councillor Sarah Ferriby, Executive Member for Healthy People and Places, said: “We couldn’t believe it when we found out that one of the bikes that we have on display in our Bradford Industrial Museum was once rode competitively by Captain Tom. Our Museums and Galleries service is really proud to possess this small but significant link with a true national hero of our times.”

Bradford Industrial Museum last week opened to visitors for the first time in around four month,s and has been awarded a Visit Britain 'We’re Good to Go' safety certificate for Covid Safe attractions.

A safe route has been laid out to allow people to see the fascinating machines and a sensory experience of the smell of the weaving gallery, the sound of the looms and beautiful colours of the woollen threads. 

The museum also features exhibitions of the work of Bradford education pioneer Margaret McMillan and aerial photographer CH Wood. The shop is open for safe souvenir buying and a socially distanced rest area offers a cuppa in comfort.

Cliffe Castle Museum is due to open on August 25, from Tuesdays to Sundays, 10am to 2pm, with new measures for people to visit safely, including hand sanitiser stations, extra cleaning routines, a one-way system and monitoring visitor numbers.

Staff will monitor visitor numbers so areas don’t get overcrowded.

All four visitor attractions had to go through a series of checks to ensure people can visit safely.

People will be encouraged to maintain social distancing and in line with government guidance it is recommended that visitors wear face coverings if possible.

Some areas may remain closed, where it is not possible for people to maintain social distancing. Museum staff will also be asking visitors to leave their contact details to help with Test and Trace.

Councillor Sarah Ferriby, Portfolio Holder said: “The safety of our visitors and staff remains a priority and a lot of hard work has been going on to put the new measures in place, so that we can comply with the Government guidance.

“I’m delighted that we can start to reopen our popular local museums in a safe way and that families can enjoy their free taste of Bradford’s wonderful heritage again.”

Visit bradfordmuseums.org for further information about the reopenings.

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