Here are just a few more odds and ends, old photos and bits of information that have been gathered over the years. We have most of these original pictures on display in the shop and so much more history then we would have time to put on this website - if you are passing by, come in see us!
Fred GilesFred Giles presents to Mr Jones (careers teacher) one of many sectional engines presented to Guernsey schools for use in science, technical drawing & engineering classes. The lad with Fred is Andrew Masterman a student from Beaucamps school that helped with this engine while on his works experience. This was one of approx ten engines supplied. They were made by Fred & students that came to Millards on works experience.
The Pacer Cycle was manufactured in the late 1800s.
We have here a 1893 hand book for the Pacer cycle.
And then, to finish off our history section, we have a review from a customer, some old stories and to finish off - more pictures of old bikes!
Millards ? What memories!! All those years ago!
By Mr W A J GODFREY
In those days Millards name was known by every schoolboy. When a boy was old enough to know the difference between a cycle and a motor "bike" he thought of only one name - Millards.
When I was twelve years old I went to the old " States Intermediate School for Boys" which was then at the present Vauvert School. Boys were on the upstairs floor, girls on the ground floor. "Never the Twain shall meet", in those days, so a high wire fence was erected to make two separate playgrounds. All communication between the two schools was removed, and doorways bricked up!!! But back to "Millards".
Being all boys together, as soon as we were all "acquainted" with each other, the name Millards would crop up and the conversation would almost immediately turn to motorcycles. Within a few days a group of about ten or twelve boys arranged to go to Victoria Road to see the "Bikes" on display.
We are talking of before the second World War, (yes I'm an old man") and boys were not as conversant with travelling about as they are today, and I didn’t know where Victoria Road was - plenty of talk in early years - Millards - Victoria Road - but little knowledge!!!
After school on one afternoon, we began a short journey down Vauvert and up Victoria Road until - yes! - There it was, the most memorable name in a boys vocabulary-"MILLARDS".
The first sight which met my eyes was one which struck in my memory - and, all those years later, it is still there!! Two windows, and in each one was a gleaming red and chrome B.S.A. Motorcycle!!! I don’t know how long we stayed gazing at this beautiful, magnificent, almost awesome sight. Speaking personally, I had never been so close to a motorcycle, and it made my fingers itch!! Eventually we had to leave it and make our way home. Next day after school, where did we all go? Yes Millards! That day, next day, and every day we were at school we finished the day in front of Millards!!!
I don’t know if it remains the same now but in front of each window was a concrete "patio" and when summer came, these "bikes" were taken from the window and stood outside on these "patio's", Joy was unconfined. We could actually touch these magnificent "Monsters"!! Touch them and pull "levers", push buttons, without knowing what each "lever" was for, or what it did. We used to see "the man" watching us, but he never came out or gestured to us. I suppose it was a case of "Boys of today are customers of the future"!! I know every one of the boys intended to buy one of these "beauties" when he was old enough! At that stage of life, we didn’t realise our own finances, against the cost of this vehicle. We could only save a penny or so a month! The result was that I don’t think any of our party ever bought a gleaming, red and chrome B.S.A. motorcycle!!! It didn’t stop us from dreaming though. All the time we were at the same Intermediate School, we continued - summer and winter - to take our walk from school to Millards!
But, you know, Boys grow up, leave school and start to make their lives in the many directions open to them, but I'm sure not one of them ever forgot the days of walking down Vauvert, up Victoria Road, just to look and admire those Red and Chrome machines, although financially, they were far beyond us!!
I could never buy one, but many years later, World War Two started. Like most other young men I joined up - in the Army. Some twenty months later I was commissioned and joined a Royal Artillery Regiment. Being a mobile unit, it was necessary to drive all vehicles. The very first motorcycle I came into contact with was a "Norton". This was at a training centre and the "bikes" weren't very powerful - they just chugged along - I then advanced to the "Ariel" - which was a little more powerful, but still wasn’t what I expected!!!
So back to my Artillery unit!! Training was now complete; it was time to draw the vehicles from supply depot. " Utility" vehicles - jeeps - G.T.V, s (Gun Towing Vehicles) - three ton service lorries - (very large lorries in those days - with a thin layer of light armour protecting the engine) - Thirty hundred weight lorries - and B.S.A. 350cc motorcycles for each officer!!!
What a disappointment!!! They weren't Red and Chrome - they were camouflaged with variable shades of green and brown !!! Soon got over that disappointment though! Sitting astride my "bike" and riding it back to camp. The feeling of the power which I had control of was - to say the least - exhilarating!!
I only had that B.S.A. for nine weeks, when I was ordered to return it to the Ordnance Depot. That was another disappointment!! But Surprise - Surprise - it was replaced with a B.S.A. 500cc _ the most powerful bikes available in England - still not Red and Chrome though!! The power of that bike was amazing. Being used more for cross - country work, it had a "skid plate" shaped like a small plough share under the engine - to cut through soil, grass etc. At last I had my B.S.A. !!
Every time I took that bike out I didn’t see the camouflage paint - in my mind it was a wonderful "monster" of Red and Chrome.
I kept that "bike" throughout the war, and when I was eventually "demobbed" in 1945, I took this vehicle with all other equipment I had been issued when commissioned to
the Northampton " demob" centre. They didn’t want my B.S.A. They had a list of everything that I had signed for, and there was no motorcycle on it !!
I pointed out that all vehicles at the Ordnance Depot were signed for by the captain quartermaster of the Artillery unit, but it was no use - they didn’t want my B.S.A.!!!
I drew my "de mob" clothes - shirt tie - suit - socks - shoes - no vest or underpants because you were permitted to take your service underwear with you!! As I left the centre to become a "free" man, I asked the officer in charge what I should do about the "bike". He didn’t want it, and I couldn’t take it back to Guernsey! I put the keys on his table and told him to find the bike in the Vehicle Park - then I left - and from that moment I became a civilian, I've no idea what happened to my B.S.A.
That last moment was now fifty-five years ago. I often wonder what the fate of this bike was!!!
Just a week ago (Feb 2000) the last of those "boys" who regularly visited Millards after school, departed this world aged 86 years. I'm the only one left. An old man with little to do now but think back to the past, but always with me is the vision of two lovely B.S.A. red and chrome bikes - at "Millards"
A spot of overtime
Back in the sixties and the age of the mini skirt. We used to take customers down to the Foullon road of an evening to teach them to ride the machine they had purchased. Fred had the job of teaching two young ladies one evening. Both had the very shortest of mini skirts. One had bought a Triumph T10 scooter the other a Vespa 90. The one with the T10 found great difficulty in taking off, as in order to do so on this machine the rider had to sit well back on the seat in order for their weight to depress a safety switch that stopped the machine from accelerating. He skirt was very short but also very tight and she could not open her legs wide enough to sit far enough back. She had to pull the skirt even higher to do so.
Her short-skirted friend found this very funny, but when it was her turn to be taught she had great difficulty mastering the clutch. She did many enormous wheelies and ended up with her and the machine diving into the hedge with a long drop down into the field. Fred already tired by all the running up and down the road was relived to find that she was still stuck in the hedge and had not gone right over into the field below. The trouble was that just her two legs were sticking out wiggling in the air, and he did not know just were to grab her to get here out.
It was not just all the running up and down the Foullon road that made Fred very hot and red faced that night.
Funny I wonder where that came from
One Saturday night about 30 years ago Fred & John were working very late putting up new display racks made of Dexion. It had just turned midnight and they were just clearing up ready to go home when a knock came on the front door. This was not very surprising as it was the custom in those days a patrolling policeman seeing us in the building that late often knocked to see if every thing was OK. But this time it was a man who was very obviously on his way home from the pub. "I want to by a bike" he said. On enquiring how he would pay for it he produced a wad of cash from a trouser pocket and said " I want one with carrier & hub dynamo". So in the early hours of a Sunday morning there we were changing wheels to hub dynamo, wiring up lights & fitting a carrier. When we were all finished off he went up Victoria road on his way. We wonder to this day whether he woke up the next morning wondering where his wages went and puzzling over why someone would leave a new bike in his garden.
Going back a good few year's Fred had a call to collect a Honda CB125 Benley from the Albert Pier. The key would be in the machine and the crank was gone. He collected the machine and duly fitted a new crank, bearings, pistons, valves etc. After about two weeks he had a call from the owner. When are you going to collect my machine from the Albert pier? It turned out that there had been two machine and Fred had collected the wrong one. He duly collected the other machine and spent all day taking out the worn out parts from the second machine and putting them into the first one. He then delivered the worn out machine back to the Albert pier, worn out but with a very clean motor and new oil. Then back at the workshop he spent the next day putting all the new parts he had taken out of the first machine into the second one. No one ever reported the first machine, which was in our workshop for two weeks as missing to the police. And it was still on the Albert pier for weeks afterwards.
Back in the 80s one of our customers came into the workshop with his dads motorcycle for repair. I asked why he was riding his Dads bike (I knew his dad had not been very well of late). I understood him to say It's my bike now my dad has snuffed it. I reported this to Lesna Millard who was not too surprised as he had been very ill. Imagine Lesnas surprise a few weeks later when he walked into the office. It turns out that what his son had actually told me was that is dad had swapped it. They had changed bikes as his dad was now not strong enough to manage his bigger machine.