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Harry Baughan - A Life of Motorcycling, by Ken Chandler

Report: BenF

THE story of Stroud's motorcycle industry has been told for the first time in astonishing detail.

Ken Chandler started researching the Baughan factory 20 years ago and his hard work has come to fruition with the publication of Harry Baughan A Life of Motor Cycling. It tells the story of a powerhouse of Stroud's industrial heritage, and is an important historical record of the ACU Western Centre.

Harry, who lived above his brother and sister-in-law's shop Baughan Stores at Walls Quarry in Brimscombe, was unmarried and never owned his own home.

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He ran a factory which produced a revolutionary two-wheel-drive motorcycle and sidecar outfit, motorbikes and cyclecars. Based in Piccadilly Mill in Lower Street and, eventually, Lansdown with lifelong employees Chris Stagg and Bill Hayward, Harry made motorcycles his life's work.

He was born in 1895 and, by the time he died in 1968, his place in the history of British motorcycling was assured. That was not only due to his drive to build great machines but his belief that competition was crucial to improving the breed.

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He was a kingpin in the running of Great Britain's International Six Days Trial team, organising the Welsh Two Day Trial, the British Experts Trial, and the Cotswold Grand National Scramble at Nympsfield.

Harry was a respected force in the sport's governing body, the Auto Cycle Union (in particular the ACU Western Centre) and was a jury member in the international body the FIM. The book draws together much archive material from the Western Centre.

The famous Baughan sidecar was outlawed because, with its sidecar and rear wheels both powered, it had a huge advantage. But the furore raised the profile of the Baughan marque.

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Harry's life and that of his business tells the story of the nation's motorcycle industry.

HPB, as he was known, started building motorcycles in the 1920s when they were mainly the preserve of those with money. After the Second World War, interest in scrambles as a spectator sport was huge, with thousands watching the nation's best riders mix it in Nympsfield every summer.

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Trials were seen as a marketing showcase. Baughan bikes were used to great effect in the Motor Cycling Club's London to Land's End, London to Edinburgh and London to Gloucester events and won the 1933 Scottish Six Days Trial using its sidecar-wheel drive.

When he died, the British motorcycle industry was in its death throes. Its best times were behind it but HPB and Stroud had played an important role in those halcyon days. The Lansdown factory is now flats and the unique two-wheel-drive outfit is in Stroud's Museum in the Park.

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Published by Walls Quarry Press, the book is priced 17 and is available from James and Owen in London Road, Stroud, BVM Moto in Bowbridge and M&B Stores and the Kitchen in Minchinhampton. Call 01453 885 139 or visit Walls Quarry Press Website for details and mail orders.