Last Saturday was spent attending the first part of the Tribute Run for Father Graham Hullett of the 59 Club. He passed away in December 2012 and along with Father Bill Shergold was seen as a key figure in the history of the 59 Club and was highly respected by its members. The run was organised by Len Paterson and I asked him if I could drop by to meet people and spread the word about my research.
I rode up with my friend Carl, a fellow SERV volunteer who rides a full-livery Husqvarna supermoto / blood bike, which always attracts a lot of attention when it isn’t working hard in the middle of the night delivering blood to hospitals in Kent. Upon our arrival we were greeted by a side street full of choppers, cafe racers and various classic bikes amongst some modern bikes.
It is testament to the work of people like Graham Hullett that club members turned out in such great numbers to pay their respects. One fact that is rarely publicised about Father Hullett is that he ran the 59’s sub aqua group; the Historical Diving Society posted a tribute on their page after he passed away. The video is worth watching just for the photos.
I also bumped into Derek Harris of Lewis Leathers, who was a great help during my MA on motorcycle clothing history at LCF, and Karen Porter of Matchless Films who is making a film about the Ton Up and Rockers scenes. Karen and I had only communicated by email before this event so I was pleased we could chat in person. We both recognise that very little work has been done to document this subculture and she expressed her sadness that some of the people she had interviewed at the beginning of her project had already passed away. All the more reason to press on. I made some great contacts at the tribute event and got an invite to attend the 59 Club in a few days time. I’ll report back after the visit.
Some great photos of the event can be found on these pages of the 59 Club site.
Looking at the photos, the best thing about the event was the bit I missed, a ride through London passing some of the old haunts of the members of the club. I had another commitment that day – to attend the classic VW show at Stanford Hall in Leicestershire, as I had a car for sale there – so I had to ride back to Kent and swap the bike for a 1965 VW Beetle. I can’t complain, the car sold and I got to meet up with some old friends. Many people in the classic car scene rode bikes when they were younger so once in a while I pick up a good contact for my research. I’ll be bearing this in mind when I fill in the forms to get me out of a mandatory college event in June that clashes with a car & bike show in Belgium.