Sunday, November 9, 2008

"Deep Purple"...back to the Velocette race HQ, Nursery Hotel, Onchan,IOM 1939...

What an evocative photo….. pictured in the Velocette race camp, behind the Nursery Hotel, Onchan, IOM, 10th June 1937.
I'm putting in an additonal piece...there could be some confusion over the reference to 1939 and 1937.
The photo is taken in 1937, but it exactly depicts the scene written about below, in 1939, with the exception of Harold Willis....
Stanley Woods leans on his factory 348cc SOHC Velocette speaking to Harold Willis. Ted Mellors factory 495cc SOHC bike #10 is pictured inside…note the block tread front tyre, favoured by Mellors. Tommy Mutton, works racing mechanic is immediately behind SW’s arm and Charles Udall adjusts the radio …
Let me quote from Bob Burgess and Jeff Clew’s “Always in the Picture” (publ. Goose & Sons 1971), page 139…. Reference to the 1939 IOM TT races-
“At the Nursery Hotel we found the shed that was to be our workshop just as it had been left after the 1938 TT. Behind one of the work benches there was still a card on which Willis had written instructions for the use of some insulated cables near by indicating that they were aerial and earth leads respectively for the radio that was brought over. The message concluded, “Do not remove- it is well arranged.” When I read these it was just as though he had spoken to me as so very often I have heard him use the phrase “Well arranged” in referring to anything that had been done satisfactorily.
“The radio was soon working and we also fixed up the toy telephone set from the workshop to our gate. Although just a cheap toy this was most useful and worked well; making it possible to intercept those callers whom we wished to exclude from the workshop.
“In 1939 one of the popular tunes that we heard often from our radio was ‘Deep Purple’, and even now after the passing of so many years I have only to hear it again to be taken right back in spirit to that wooden shed in Onchan. I little realised that sad, and uneasy, June just before the TT was to be the last before the war stopped all pleasurable activities and an era that to me represented a Golden Age. We did not foresee that the wonderful new 500 racer would never be used for the purpose for which it had been produced.
“Charles Udall and Tommy Mutton arrived with it one afternoon and very soon afterwards Stanley Woods was able to take it out up the course for a run over ‘open’ roads- it is very handy to slip out of the Nursery up the road to Signpost without going through populous districts. Woods said of it after this ride that is was the best steering motorcycles that he had ever ridden; high praise for an entirely new design right off Udall’s drawing-board! It was almost impossible to get near the model when it was in the pit area during evening practice.”
The comments above came from Bob Burgess, Veloce Service manager at the time.
Sadly Harold Willis died of meningitis during race week, a complication that followed a relatively minor operation and never saw Stanley Woods 350cc Junior TT win.
I play “Deep Purple” in Dixieland jazz bands and when we do so, I’m also taken back in my mind,to the photo , illustrated…even though it was two years before Bob Burgess’s evocative story above…..
Are you a muso?
The music is included….

Acknowledgement is made to Morton's Motorcycle Media, owners of the photo copyright.
Left click on the images to enlarge.

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