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Obituary: Father Graham Hullett

By John Allen & Gareth Ashman -

General news

 10 December 2012 10:40

Reverend Frederick Graham Hullett, leader of the 59 Club during its heydays in the 60s, died on 5th December 2012 aged 80. A full requiem will be held in his memory on 17th December in Lincoln Cathedral at 10 am.

Father Graham's love of motorcycling was first enflamed during his National Service which he spent riding a G3 Matchless with the British Army in Germany. Returning to London in the early 60s, he approached the church in order to help out with the hugely popular youth club out of a genuine love for young people and motorcycles. His interest was welcomed as the previous leader Bill Shergold wished to move on and, at the start of the infamous mods and rocker period, the club was split and a dedicated motorcyclist section created.

Father Graham's involvement was always hands on riding with club members to runs to the notorious Elephant Rally in Germany six times, the Dragon Rally in Wales, and taking the club on summertime pilgrimages to the Isle of Man TT. He oversaw its move from Hackney Wick to Paddington, and then later back to Hackney, taking it to its peak of international renown and developing it into the then largest motorcycle club to which riders flocked from all over the world.

Always approachable and down to earth, he had a special place in his heart for the more troublesome rocker elements and even earned the respect of clubs like London's Road Rats MC, in one case by breaking a member's finger at the start of the stormy backpatch era. The 59 Club had held the first UK showings of Brando's banned The Wild Ones movie which inspired it. The secret to the club's success, Hullett always said, was that it had no rules.

Never one to preach religion, Father Graham is remember for his unintrusive guidance. A credible voice who spoke up for the young rockers, at times of personal trouble in law courts and to parents, giving moral and sometimes financial support, visiting prisons, marrying and even burying members. He turned many a life around by his example, riding what where then the superbikes of the day such as BSA 650s and Norton 750s, wearing his trademark sideburns and a dog collar under his Lewis Leathers jacket.

Defending the ton up tearaways by reminding their critics that these were exactly the same kind of boys who a few years before would have been defending the country by flying Spitfires, Graham let them run the club the way they wanted it to be.

In 2005, his contribution to the motorcycling community was recognised by the presentation of a Royal Enfield Bullet 500 from Watsonian Squire which he rode into his late 70s until ill health over took him and he was recently featured in Cafe Racer TV show. Father Graham died in hospital following surgical complications caused by intestinal problems.