Have you ever been to the London Motorcycle Museum? No, neither had I.
I am not a massive fan of British motorcycles but I have learned to appreciate them from afar at least. The London Motorcycle Museum is a charity, run by volunteers, think of visiting your dad’s mates and getting your ears chewed off, in a nice way. Friendly, passionate and engaging, that’s how the two volunteers made me feel when I stepped back in time inside the buildings that were once part of a farm, all this in a suburban street in Greenford, a bump start away from the busy A40 in West London.
I felt bad almost cashing my £1 voucher in, at only £5 to enter I almost didn’t bother to present it, but the chap on the till insisted I redeem it, he then told me that tea and coffee is free once inside, anyone who’s had to pay for a frothy coffee within the M25 will understand how exciting those words free can change your day.
The museum came to life in Greenford in 1999, and they are 15 years into a 25 year lease on the old farm yard. Despite the earthy feel of the place the museum would like to expand and utilise its position to a fuller effect. A lottery grant is one way they could achieve this, their canteen despite its appearance isn’t a theme room. This highlighted perfectly where an injection of cash could help them attract new visitors, I’m not talking Ace Cafe levels, but something warm to eat would maybe be a good angle for passing trade? The two volunteers joined me and ate their perfectly prepared packed lunches whilst I drank free tea.
We chatted about bikes, and how people from all around the world have made a beeline to their doorstep over the years.
I was actually quite happy sat there chit chatting and the subject soon drifted onto British bikes…. If only I’d taken a pen and pad I could have shared them all with you, thankfully for you I didn’t. With their Scooby Doo inspired snacks vanishing quicker than British bike manufacturers in the 70’s I headed off to look at the 200 or so machines on display.
Over two hours later I was still there, gazing at quirky designs from the last 100 odd years of two wheeled evolution.
I’d seen everything from TT winning race bikes, record breaking Royal Enfield’s, anniversary model Triumphs to celebrate Jubilees and Royal weddings, to a bike section by the police, not because it was crazy but because it showed the police motorcycle riders of the 50’s how to respect their Triumph.
My new mates for the day were never too far, their passion and enthusiasm slowly invading between my ears. What had started off like a school trip had actually turned into a pretty decent day out, sure there wasn’t a single bike in there I’ve ever wanted to own, let alone ridden, but without them there wouldn’t have been any Japanese bikes, maybe?
Looking at a Triumph Bonneville from 1987 made me realise how out of touch the British bike scene had got, walking past various internals from a Norton rotary engine made me smirk, especially when the volunteer offered me an explanation on the design by comparing it to a Mazda MX5, obviously he meant the RX7….
Unlike those school day trips to stuffy museums where all you went for was the day of school and a chance to pinch something from the gift shop, my mooch to the bike museum had actually taught me something, there’s very little in the way of motorcycle design that’s new, and also without volunteers and passion today would have just been another day.
You don’t have to like British bikes to enjoy this place, just a connection to anything with two wheels and a engine will be enough. The London Motorcycle Museum is at Ravenor Farm, 29 Oldfield Lane South, Greenford, UB6 9LB, and it’s open Saturdays, Sundays and Mondays from 10am to 4.30pm with the last entrance at 4pm. Check out the London Motorcycle Museum website for more details. If you also like 4 wheels, check out our trip to the unrelated London Motor Museum on our car site, Rescars.
More pics from the London Motorcycle Museum