Motor Cycle Diary 1951
I helped my Dad clear out his old shed recently. I came across a collection of 1940s and 1950s pocket diaries. There were only two that were still readable, the more interesting of which was the 1951 'Motor Cycle' diary. I had similar pocket diaries in the seventies, but by then they were printed under the 'Motor Cycle News' banner.
I was surprised at the variety of information it provided, it started with the usual 'diary' type stuff - owner's info, cash accounts, calendar and address/phone list - then moved into specialised areas - Touring Tips, Mileage Charts, Running Expenses, Maintenance Log and so on. I find some of the items covered to be amusing, not because the information is wrong, but because the use of English has changed so much since it was printed. Having said that, the item about Licensing and Registration is interesting because the cost of road tax has increased so much.
* After obtaining rebate (where applicable). All licences end with the quarter of the year.
There are some Running In Notes that are still as valid as they ever were, but they refer to 'ordinary touring oil', which leaves me totally in the dark. The section entitled Camera Hints makes no reference to colour photography, indeed the cameras it refers to are of the 'folding type, roll film' variety. Traffic Signals were only of the hand variety. Touring Tips and Camping Notes are amusing when they list the recommended equipment to take with you, and the fact that they fail to mention getting land owners' permission before setting up your 'cottage type' tent.
There are some adverts for motorcycles - all British ones of course, the Japanese didn't start exporting until the sixties. Also an exhaustive list of Isle of Man TT results from 1923 to 1950, including a map of the island and a description of the course.
One interesting section is Famous Hills, which lists - you guessed it - steep and difficult hills all over the country. This includes my personal favourite - Hard Knott Pass - which it describes as "Eskdale to Little Langdale. Seven difficult corners. Rises 1,000 feet. Max. Gradient 1 in 3½. Length 2½ miles". (I'm sure there were more than seven corners last time I was there, but perhaps I'm including the 'Wry Nose Pass' section - which the list fails to mention.)
All in all, a very useful diary to have, nothing available these days has such a varied range of information, (and who needs another map of the London Underground anyway?)
Phil Drackley - Phil the Spill