Dave Anscombe’s Ramblings (Something to keep you amused)
When my father left the army in the late 1950s, he went to work as a salesman for Chas. E. Cope & Sons, the well-known motorcycle dealership who had branches around the Midlands and headquarters in Birmingham.
Initially, my father worked at the main branch on the Hagley Road in Bearwood (see photo). This was a miscellaneous collection of shops that they had bought as they expanded. They fronted straight onto the road and there was no forecourt for parking, which was very inconvenient. They built a brand new showroom on the yard behind the old building, which they then demolished and used its site as a forecourt. Cope’s have long-since gone and, when I last saw it, the place was a filling station and cut-price booze supermarket. My father then moved to another branch known as Motor Sales, Aston (see photo), where we lived in a flat above the premises.
In the early 1960s, they opened a branch in the Tything, Worcester and he moved there. Initially, we again lived in a flat above the shop and I remember spending my Sunday mornings playing on the second-hand stock in the yard behind the showroom, sitting on big BSAs and climbing into Watsonian sidecars and Isetta bubblecars. Amongst my father’s papers, I have found a price label, which was presumably successively tied to the handlebars of a couple of Bantams in the showroom. (Note the two registrations, neither of which is now recognised by the DVLA)
During this period, in 1962, Cope’s organised a motorcycle rally at Ragley Hall, near Alcester and I also found the attached programme for the event.
My father, Peter Anscombe, judged the class for “any other make” of scooter (see page 8). Many of the other judges were members of the Cope family or their employees but there were also a large number of manufacturers represented and the list on pages 2 and 3 demonstrates how many were still operating at the time. You can also see that the VMCC were represented, judging the veteran and vintage classes. Unfortunately, although there were classes for Reliants, Isettas, Heinkels and Trojan three-wheelers, there is no mention of Morgans.
Later, my father was offered the Honda agency for the area but Cope’s would not allow him to take it saying “We are proper British motorcycle dealers. We don’t want to be agents for this Japanese rubbish”. Unfortunately, by this time, my father could see the writing on the wall and went to work for the bloke who took the Honda agency, a certain John Skellern, who started with a small lock-up shop in Friar street in Worcester and rapidly expanded as the sales of Hondas took off and the British bike industry failed to move with the times and quickly folded up (but that’s another story