It’s about a year now since I began preparations for LEJOG but odd echoes occasionally drift on the wind. This one concerns the Royal Enfield bicycle with Mini Motor attached that I purchased on the morning I left Worcester.
My immediate thought on seeing the bike, that it was completely original, was more right that I could have known. Its only owner registered the bicycle KNP 240 in October 1951 when it became a motor vehicle and put it away sometime before the tax expired in December 1953. The tax disc was on the bike along with front and back numberplates. This owner passed away in 2017 and the auction sale which resulted included the bicycle. So it had lain unused in its early 50s road-dust for 64 years.
With the kind assistance of Nigel Prichard, the vendor, I was able to get a letter from the auction house that had sold the deceased’s effects to confirm that the same owner had registered the bike in 1951. Phill Wright of the National Autocycle and Cyclemotor club supported an application to retain the original registration, following an inspection by Phil Nuttall of the machine. Stowford Lawrence of the National Cycle Collection opined in writing that this was a very original example of a motorised bicycle.
I had hoped that presenting this evidence would persuade the DVLA to re-issue the original registration. No, they said, unless an old log book was present or the registring authority had recorded the frame or engine number at the time, the vehicle must be re-registered with an age-related number. I appealed. Surely, I said, the bike was registered to this individual in 1951 and sold as part of his effects in 2017 bearing the numberplate recorded by the Worcestershire County Council. It has to be the same bike. The evidence they said was ‘circumstantial’ if you haven’t got a document etc, etc.
With the state the world is in just now this is not an important matter. Nevertheless it is a small example of how bureaucracies are allowed to create rigid procedures which have the force of regulations which cannot admit exceptions. There are much more serious examples of this creating injustices as the recent scandal over the treatment of some members the Windrush generation demonstrated.
Nevertheless the fact that a vehicle remained in the same ownership for 66 years and lay unused for 64 years in its original condition should surely make it an unusual enough survivor to entitle it to retain the identity it demonstrably has a title to? Is it reasonable to expect that our owner who had left his machine untouched for 64 years would, in putting his affairs in order before stepping off into the chasm that confronts us all, have thought to himself, now where did I put that log book in May 1951?
Enough of this dyspeptic rant. There are more important things to complain about.