Early Triumph motorcycle reminiscent of Grandpa's WW1 service

Harvey and I visited the Shuttleworth Collection in June at the Old Warden Aerodrome near Biggleswade in Bedfordshire where they keep a wonderful collection of historic aircraft and vehicles dating from the first half of the 20th century. It's a fascinating place and well worth a visit if you happen to be in the area and have an interest in early aviation.

Amongst the collection of motorcycles there, I spotted an early Triumph which looked familiar to me. Pictured below you'll see it was a 1924 5.5hp Triumph S.D. (spring drive) which used the same basic engine that gave excellent service for despatch riders during the Great War.

1924 5.5hp Triumph S.D
1924 5.5hp Triumph S.D

My Grandpa Hibbitt was a despatch rider during the First World War and this reminded me of the motorcycle he was sitting on in a photograph dating from this period.

Charles George Hibbitt as a Motorcycle Despatch Rider in WW1
Charles George Hibbitt as a Motorcycle Despatch Rider in WW1

In the photo, he is seated on a Triumph Model H which was the first Triumph not to be fitted with pedals, so was a true motorcycle. The Triumph Engineering Co Ltd had been using the advertising slogan Trusty Triumph since 1910 and the Model H became known as 'The Trusty' as it proved reliable in wartime conditions, despite a weakness in the front fork spring. This was prone to break on rough ground, so despatch riders would strap a leather belt around it as a precaution. The picture shows that my Grandpa did this very thing.

More than 30,000 Triumph Model H motorcycles had been produced by the end of the war in 1918 and by the time it was discontinued in 1923 a total of 57,000 had been produced.

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Category: Ancestors Corner

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