100-year-old Premier with the same owner for 60 years

Published: 07 September 2012

When it comes to relationships with bikes they don’t come much stronger – or longer – than Desmond Brown and his vintage 1912 Premier.

For the West Country octogenarian – 83 to you and me – is not only still riding, and a regular in the Pioneer Run for vintage machines, the bike that remains his No. 1 choice has been in his care now for a staggering 60 years.

His introduction to the bike was a complete fluke, and one that enabled him to snap it up for just £5 – when new 40 years earlier the 2 ½ hp, 250cc, side valve single with a three speed gearbox and clutch, was priced a luxury £44.

After teenage post-War years spent on 250 BSAs and a Rudge Ulster followed by two years’ national service, Brown bought a brand new Matchless G9 500 which, in 1951, cost just under £200.

Then, the following year, came the Premier.

“I was living in Dulwich when somebody told me about a bike in a barn a few miles away in Surrey,” Brown told MCN.

“I drove over and introduced myself and the farmer invited me to take a look; inside the barn was the Premier, a Beardmore Precision with a sidecar and also one of the old ‘coal-scuttle’ Renault cars.

“It transpired the Premier had been in the barn since 1927 so I gave him £5 for it and with the deal done took it back home. It was rusty but complete so I decided to see if it would start; amazingly I put some petrol in the tank, a fag paper between the points, kicked it over and it chuffed into life!”

Brown says that much of the work required was merely cosmetic “Although I did strip the motor and recondition the big end – the engine was beautifully made, a bit like a watch” and with spring approaching he decided to enter it in that year’s Pioneer run down to Brighton, the first of many to come.

Read the full article in the September 5 issue of MCN.