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Factory people

david bowen

Well Known and Active Website User
Non-VOC Member
From P.E.I. Autobiography.

"Inevitably, some replies to Vincent's (1946) appeal for staff came in almost too late for consideration, but two deserved special treatment. One was from Denis Minett, who had been a well-known rider of Nortons at Brooklands, but had been injured in a fall in South Australia and then spent the war years in England with an aircraft firm; in fact he was a member of the Institution of Aeronautical Engineers, but wanted to get back to two wheels. We could only take him on temporarily as a tester, to which he agreed, but when the factory was reorganised he was put in charge of engine assembly. The other, and even later applicant, who was serving with the British Army in Holland after being a prisoner-of-war in Germany, came across the advertisement by accident, hence the late reply, but we thought that such determination merited an interview. The son of a Scotsman and a French mother, he had been brought up in Holland and could speak and read three languages with a smattering of two others and was an ideal person to fill the need for someone to show foreign visitors around the place and to deal with overseas service complaints or queries, so he was taken on the strength. His name, Paul Richardson, became interwoven with the history of the Company for many years, and many remarks in his quaintly-accented English were conversational gems. Almost his first assignment was setting up a new Service Department in the No. 2 factory, during which he instructed a young apprentice to paint "scrap" on one empty tea-chest and "litter" on another, but what he actually wrote was "SRAP" and "LITIR". The errors delighted Paul so much that from then on the boxes and their contents were never call by any other name.

Paul had a remarkable life-story. After being captured by the Nazis in Holland he was sent to a P.O.W. camp in Cologne, where he escaped and made his way to Berlin, but the man he thought to be a friend disowned him. Paul stole a bike to get quicly back to Cologne and after some weeks he again escaped and reached Holland by train. There he obtained a boat in which he sailed German officers and their girl-friends in the Zuyder Zee, and just managed to escape from one Nazi lieutenant who pierced his disguise. From then on he had to disappear, in perpetual fear of betrayal to the S.S., but finally joined up with the invading British forces in Nijmegen, where, much later, he came across our advertisement."
 

david bowen

Well Known and Active Website User
Non-VOC Member
I was asked if I had a photo of Paul Richardson, I found one in third edition 1996 of Vincent Motorcycles by Paul Richardson page 18 also in the photo is Ted Hampshire he worked at Vincent from 1931.
 

david bowen

Well Known and Active Website User
Non-VOC Member
PEI. (Vincent(1946) appeal was in the Motor Cycle and Motor Cycling Mags. It worked very well getting the staff with Motor Cycling Minds returning from war, Locals Jack Lazenby DFC, Norman Peech, Loughborough, Ted Davis, Liverpool Jim Sugg, Wales,Danny Thomas, Scotland, Allan Reenie and lot more
 

chankly bore

Well Known and Active Website User
Non-VOC Member
I have fond memories of Denis Minett. A very retiring man who came along to Section Meetings at Ken and Delia Jackson's place at Upwey. He umpired Ladies' Netball matches as I remember- I think it kept the sap flowing in a gentle manner! The local Section published his "Notebook".
 

david bowen

Well Known and Active Website User
Non-VOC Member
That the way he was never flustered, I was only there two years before he left for Australia, If I asked him same thing I would get a good and sensible answer, down in my workshop I have his war time and Vincent time tool box which he left in South Australia when he worked with Tilbrooks.
 

genedn

Well Known and Active Website User
VOC Member
Amazing story David. Dennis is a really insteresting guy to me.

I often wondered about his work with Francis beartt at Brooklands. I understood from a third hand story that he might have had a lisp and that's why he was so shy. Any thruth?
 

Old Bill

Well Known and Active Website User
VOC Member
Great stuff david, information about the people who built the legend are as interesting as the bikes to me. Could you tell us anything about Alan Rennie who's name crops up in big sids vincati book and often in other publications? Please keep the tale's coming they are great, many thanks Bill.
 

david bowen

Well Known and Active Website User
Non-VOC Member
Denis Minett came to South Australia pre war ( I think 1938) to do same racing on a Norton. same time Stanley Woods was here on a works Velo, and the works DKW team were here as well, Denis was doing some test work for a local dealer I think on a Zundapp road bike he had a accident with a local bus and broke his leg or hip from this he had a limp. Many years later 1960, Ted Davis tells this story, Ted after Vincents worked for Borg Warners, he was on a visit to Melbourne Australia standing out side of a Bank waiting for to open Ted spotted this guy with a limp coming up the road Ted said is that you Denis and it was they had not meet since Denis left Vincent 1951
 

david bowen

Well Known and Active Website User
Non-VOC Member
Allan Rennie came down from Scotland to join Vincent riding a very hard to get Triumph speed twin there was a very long of orders for new motor cycles after the war if you were lucky to get one you could sell and make a good profit, I meet Allan before I joined Vincents through my father who also worked at Vincents he introduced Allan to one of my School teachers who lead a local Amateur dramatic group which was Allans other hobby, he worked on engine and cycle assembly he was a very clever talented with is hands and mind so much he was given the job of making the cross section Vincent twin engines that were made one in the British Museum, and I think the VOC club have one, when Vincents closed he stayed in the area he owned a Comet and did work on owners bikes when he died he left his tools and bike to a local Vincent owner he never talked family.
 

Old Bill

Well Known and Active Website User
VOC Member
Many thanks for the information david, you have told me a lot about Allan who l am led to believe lived on a caravan site when he first arrived from Scotland, but as you say pre Vincent knowledge is unknown ie family, war service etc. Many times his name crops up when something "special" is mentioned at the works and he seems to have been very popular with the Herts and Beds section. David, again, thank you very much. Bill
 

david bowen

Well Known and Active Website User
Non-VOC Member
Yes Allan lived in the Woolmer Green caravan park for many years, John Bland lived just a mile down the road Knebworth about 4 miles from the Vincent factory.
 

Daimog

Well Known and Active Website User
Non-VOC Member
Woolmer Green rang a bell so checked and seems Dan Thomas also lived there before moving the caravan to Teds Cromer Mill
 

Len Matthews

Well Known and Active Website User
VOC Member
From P.E.I. Autobiography.

"Inevitably, some replies to Vincent's (1946) appeal for staff came in almost too late for consideration, but two deserved special treatment. One was from Denis Minett, who had been a well-known rider of Nortons at Brooklands, but had been injured in a fall in South Australia and then spent the war years in England with an aircraft firm; in fact he was a member of the Institution of Aeronautical Engineers, but wanted to get back to two wheels. We could only take him on temporarily as a tester, to which he agreed, but when the factory was reorganised he was put in charge of engine assembly. The other, and even later applicant, who was serving with the British Army in Holland after being a prisoner-of-war in Germany, came across the advertisement by accident, hence the late reply, but we thought that such determination merited an interview. The son of a Scotsman and a French mother, he had been brought up in Holland and could speak and read three languages with a smattering of two others and was an ideal person to fill the need for someone to show foreign visitors around the place and to deal with overseas service complaints or queries, so he was taken on the strength. His name, Paul Richardson, became interwoven with the history of the Company for many years, and many remarks in his quaintly-accented English were conversational gems. Almost his first assignment was setting up a new Service Department in the No. 2 factory, during which he instructed a young apprentice to paint "scrap" on one empty tea-chest and "litter" on another, but what he actually wrote was "SRAP" and "LITIR". The errors delighted Paul so much that from then on the boxes and their contents were never call by any other name.

Paul had a remarkable life-story. After being captured by the Nazis in Holland he was sent to a P.O.W. camp in Cologne, where he escaped and made his way to Berlin, but the man he thought to be a friend disowned him. Paul stole a bike to get quicly back to Cologne and after some weeks he again escaped and reached Holland by train. There he obtained a boat in which he sailed German officers and their girl-friends in the Zuyder Zee, and just managed to escape from one Nazi lieutenant who pierced his disguise. From then on he had to disappear, in perpetual fear of betrayal to the S.S., but finally joined up with the invading British forces in Nijmegen, where, much later, he came across our advertisement."
Paul Richardson, a wonderful man, attended the '77 Shadow Lake Rally in his Honda 400/4. During the rally a road race meeting was organised on the Shannoville circuit. Paul took the Honda round for a few laps. Such was the distance back to the rally site it was decided that someone would ride Paul's Honda back there and I had the privilege of taking Paul back in my sidecar. At about half distance an eatery was found; on the menu was Spaghetti Bolognese, "All you can eat" it said and Paul certainly made the most of that! Later, he wrote a piece for MPH describing the run back to Shadow Lake in the sidecar and mentioned something about the penetrating beam of my headlamp illuminating the road ahead. Little did he know that my dynamo had failed some time before and therefore I was praying that the battery would hold out which luckily it did.
 

ossie

Well Known and Active Website User
VOC Member
Many thanks for the information david, you have told me a lot about Allan who l am led to believe lived on a caravan site when he first arrived from Scotland, but as you say pre Vincent knowledge is unknown ie family, war service etc. Many times his name crops up when something "special" is mentioned at the works and he seems to have been very popular with the Herts and Beds section. David, again, thank you very much. Bill
lovely man i had the pleasure of meeting.
 

clevtrev

Well Known and Active Website User
VOC Member
Allan Rennie came down from Scotland to join Vincent riding a very hard to get Triumph speed twin there was a very long of orders for new motor cycles after the war if you were lucky to get one you could sell and make a good profit, I meet Allan before I joined Vincents through my father who also worked at Vincents he introduced Allan to one of my School teachers who lead a local Amateur dramatic group which was Allans other hobby, he worked on engine and cycle assembly he was a very clever talented with is hands and mind so much he was given the job of making the cross section Vincent twin engines that were made one in the British Museum, and I think the VOC club have one, when Vincents closed he stayed in the area he owned a Comet and did work on owners bikes when he died he left his tools and bike to a local Vincent owner he never talked family.
Allan Rennie.jpg

With his D Twin. 1984.
 

Old Bill

Well Known and Active Website User
VOC Member
Many thanks for the picture trev, l actually have the top box that it is adorned with club stickers from rally's around europe, main reason for the interest is that Allan was the previous recorded keeper of my Rapide ( 1950 C ), which when l opened it up l found the principal parts polished, high comp pistons and beautifully flowed heads. That was when l started to research who this man was and l am fascinated by the replies here and from other personal recollections from individuals. Any further pictures or background insight would be most welcome, seems this group of workers came from a wide and diverse part of the united kingdom and not just the immediate area surrounding Stevenage, once again, thank you, Bill.
 
B

brap

Guest
I think Alan is interviewed on 'Chasing Shadows', if it is him his Scottish accent was very strong. I'll ask Bob Culver next time I'm speaking to him.
 

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