Thursday 16 September 2021

Hubert Beech and Norton telescopic forks


-SG- Way back in the now distant fifties and sixties, I was friendly with Frank Pearce in Ottershaw, Surrey.  Frank ran a business dealing with used motorcycle parts and minor maintenance for those not able to 'do-it-yourself!'  For about ten years, from 1967 on, he was good enough to let me ride his two ex-works 250cc TT New Imperials in post-vintage racing events.  Another visitor to his emporium at the time was Johnny Beech who lived locally near Fairoaks Airfield.  Occasionally, he was accompanied by his elderly father - none other than Hubert H Beech.  H H Beech was in partnership with D R O'Donovan in the twenties and their Norton oriented business was in Great Portland Street, London W1.  O'Donovan's other business activites in the later twenties and thirties seems to have resulted in him being less - if atall - involved in the London business but I am under the impression H H Beech continued to trade until WW2.

All those interested in pre-war Norton racing activities will be aware that the 1938 Works machines were fitted with telescopic forks - see photo of H L Daniell and his 1938 TT winning mount - and it was reported in the press at the time that handling with the new forks was vastly improved.  They were not incidentally hydraulically damped  but used internal compression rebound springs.  I do not personally know if their design was in any way similar to that of the racing BMWs of the same period but I well recall Frank telling me that HHB told him that he was contacted by Joe Craig in 1937.  Joe apparently asked him  what he could find out about the BMW design and HHB obtained some useful information from the London BMW agents at the time, which he duly passed on ...