Growing up in the 50s and 60s

To be young in the 50s and 60s - Personal Transport - From Wheelbarrows to Lambrettas

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My Personal transport in the 50s/60s

From a Wheelbarrow to a Motor Scooter, an evolution!

It all began with a wheelbarrow in the early 50's (now I'm still using one in my 60's all be it for other reasons!!).
One day it would be the 403 London Transport bus from Westerham to Tunbridge Wells and the next day the 7.35am Dover to Charing Cross 'Schools Class' Steam locomotive taking it's commuters to work at rip roaring speed.
It was amazing what a garden could be with stations here and terminals there.

But, alas, it wouldn't get me to Chipstead School any quicker than walking. A push Scooter followed next, a fine specimen of one I recall; green in colour with larger wheels than the ones most other kids had.
It was grand freewheeling down Bullfinch Close, but hard work coming back.

I'm unsure where we obtained my first bicycle from. It was shiney black and had those solid brake systems rather than cable.

No gears of course, it was high tec when a three gear bike came out, nowadays it's twenty something.
Ah - here it comes - 'kids were kids when I was a lad'!
It was my pride and joy, you would see me cleaning the wheel hubs daily with an extra shine for Sunday School.

My Aunt Lucy (not my real Aunt, but a big part of my early life) was to buy me my first full size bike for Christmas, about 1960; a BSA. I'd looked at the Raleighs, but the BSA had the nicer logo and had connections with the Army during WW2, so it seemed the better choice.

Not only did I get the bike, but it was accessorized with a mirror, speedometer (years ahead of it's time) and a mileometer as well. Three months later for my birthday, it was to be equiped with Dynamo Lights.
This was it, I'd made it into the big league.

At 14, I was working for a Chemist in Riverhead delivering Medicines to people all over the place - A note to be made here is that I was 14 and had the keys to the Pharmacy - don't think that would happen nowadays!.

I had the option of a Newspaper round, but 6am didn't seem quite right for me.

At the weekends I'd be away to Brands Hatch or Biggin Hill, didn't pay of course. I knew all the woods around these places, just hid the bike somewhere and jumped the fence. Oh sweet youth of innocence !
The bicycle got me around and I travelled miles on it and only ended up in Hospital once. Some pupil from my school was walking down the middle of the road and the pavement was on his left. I forecast that upon hearing my hooter, he would chase over to the pavement, so I went right. Regret to say, so did he and I ended up in a ditch unconsience.
But at least the bike was alright and served me well until I was 17.

By sheer chance, just after my 17th birthday, Mr.Tomlinson down the Lane (not this Lane), decided to sell his Motorbike and from my vast earnings working then as a Saturday Boy in the brand spanking new 1,000sq.ft Tesco's in Sevenoaks High Street, I managed to acquire £4 to buy it.

It was built the same year I was born, 1948. A BSA Bantam 125cc, painted in the famous green and showing proudly, the BSA logo on the petrol tank. Petrol was 20p per gallon !

It only had one seat and a luggage rack, but I would drive my mate George to West Kent College in Tunbridge Wells on it using a foam cushion tied to it.
He didn't like that much and later that year brought a Bubble car in which he preferred to drive over roundabouts rather than round them.

The bike just kept going, but did need de-coking now and again. This highly skilled maintenance job was performed by taking the cylinder head off, scraping the top of the piston with a screwdriver, turning the bike upside down and brushing the gunge out.

Happy days on that bike, I sold it in 1966 for £6 - a huge £2 profit!

I then made a mistake and brought a Lambretta L1 Scooter. The Scooter itself was fine and got me about for 6 months.
It was this machine which taught me that you have to put oil in it, or the engine seizes up.
I wasn't a 'Mod', but sold it just in case a band of twenty or so Rockers thought I was.
Strange world this, life is certainly a circle.

I guess that nowadays, it's more Bicycle, then straight to Car, some even skipping the Bike for the teenage years due to 'cred'!
But back then, things were different, there wasn't so much of the showing other kids you were more macho than they, it was a time when everything you had in life possession wise was a bonus, you cared for it and used everything to your best ability.

The Lambretta L1 - goes very well if you put oil in it!

Growing up in
50s and 60s
The 1960s

50's & 60's In the Blog

1960's Year by Year

My bicycles did get better, but I haven't got a photo!

The famous BSA Bantam, used by the Post Office and abused by me!