1951 Parti Tour Travel Diary

We received a lovely email from a lady called Margaret, who had found some memories from her father's travels after he sadly passed. "Dad often talked fondly of the European motorcycle Parti-tours that he and my mum, Doreen, enjoyed in the early 1950s, to the South of France, Switzerland & Austria. Dad mentioned that he purchased a pair of 'prototype' panniers from Ken Craven himself in 1951. I have just found them, along with their Corkers, goggles, gauntlet gloves & maps!"
It's this kind of memory that makes us love what we do and want to keep doing it! We hope to be able to display the items in our showroom soon, so other motorcycle travellers can admire them. Here are some excepts from their travel diary kindly shared with us, from Doreen's travel diary of a Craven Parti Tour she and her husband took part in to Northern France with their Sunbeam in 1951 :-

"6.30am on a cold, misty morning, one Sunbeam with two up, wending it's way through deserted London streets out to the open road and the coast of Kent. Two people with small lumps in their throats, one minus her breakfast. Arrival at Lympne airport at 9.25am. Sunbeam driven into the plane, keys rattling merrily in the top-case, hastily secured."
"Over cobbled streets, past waving villagers, a runaway horse hastily avoided to the broad face of a citizen of France leaning from a casement window. Still rain and more rain. GB plates everywhere, friendly waves from fellow motor-cyclists, a little Morgan in distress, an English lady asks would we mind looking for another red Morgan near the Cathedral at Soissons? They had ignition trouble put right by the local padre! The ever-helpful RAC handbook recommended the Hotel de la Couronne. Rooms booked for the night and a safe haven from the rain. Other GB plates there before us, including the little Morgan. Oilskins hung out to dry on the clothes line, a strange miscellany of waders, stormguards, ex-govt surplus and the old white mac (a little grey in places)."

"Awakened in the morning to the deep, sonorous, angelus from the cathedral nearby, and grey Sunday skies. Breakfast of cafe au lait, rolls and butter and marmalade, the first of many more to come likewise, served by the vivacious little waitress who just bubbled over with life. Our bill paid and a packed luncheon in the haversack and away once more. 

Raining but not cold, a quaint chateau on a hill, poppies in the fields, friendly waves of village children, through Joyes and Chatillon-sur-seine, where Roy spent a night last year, the country was a little more hilly, a break in the clouds, a new hope for better weather. Dijon where we nearly bumped a cyclist who certainly looked most startled, a little back-wheel skid on wet cobbles and no harm done.
A good mileage that day and Dole the 'target for tonight'. RAC handbook Hotel Cloche E&G though very little E. Pretty bedrooms with scarlet counterpanes. A sumptuous repast, soup, a whole freshwater fish la taille ou la tête - taille Doreen tête Roy - brioche, chicken and cherries and white wine. After a short stroll, through the darkened streets to bed."

"Besancon a short, pretty run with the forested slopes of the mountains ahead. A lovely view of the surrounding countryside as we climb up to the top. A little confusion over the route, the map of France to the rescue. A familiar hum in the distance, a purr, and a green 'Beam flies past, a smile and a wave. The meadows are ablaze with colour, a profusion of pinks and blues and yellows. A beautiful lake in the distance, a shimmering blue with a picturesque town high on the hill-tops and a spired church or chateau in the centre. A run beside the gentle River Doubs...and there we stopped to take some snaps. A natural arch high up in the mountains and a sheltered nook for Swiss Customs. Very cautious, a salute, a few more formalities than the French Douanes, a small fee paid and Switzerland lies before us. A little thrill that we've managed to make it and the high-spot of our holiday before us."

"But time was short and a safe resting place must be found for the night. Bike going well and we sped away through little hillside villages with their narrow streets, the neat piles of manure by the road side. In front of the farmsteads, the tinkling bells around the necks of the cows as they plod home for the night - and then down to the lake and Neuchotel - much commercialised but beautiful. A visit to the bank and a cafe creme in a little cafe. We follow the train lines our of the town, down the steep winding hill and then a picturesque run to Berne.motorcycle mountain

Three crazy motorcyclists, GB plates weaved past us outside and we spotted them in Berne again. Our aim that night was Gutenlahen, but a black cloud hanging low over the snow-caps rather cooled our courage, so we stayed in Berne. A maze of scooters, motor-cycles and every conceivable vehicle weaving in and out, amazing that they never bump into each other. The RAC handbook quoted several hotels but they all looked very grand and were expensive. We had two escorts through the town, a cyclist and then a motor-cyclist, both could speak in fluent English. At last the hotel Wildermann offers us two rooms high up on the fourth floor, but the lady proprietor was extremely helpful. But the bike needed a bed for the night too. The hotel had no garage so we set off in search of one, across the river and back again, a little bewildered by the long names of the streets and then we were completely lost. A two stroke came to our rescue and the Garage Belle Vue took our tired ‘Beam in for a well-earned rest." 

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