Archive for the 'Motor Cycling' Category


The Service of Thanksgiving for the life of Dudley Vernon Steynor

Service conducted by  The Revd Canon Cavell Cavell-Northam


Dudley was born on 16 October 1909 in Malvern where he grew up with his two brothers and sister in a large family home enjoying the freedom of the Malvern Hills.  Kite flying, model aeroplanes, motor cycles and motor cars were just some of the hobbies pursued by the family.

His interest in music developed at an early age as the family were very close to Vernon Warner the young protégé pianist.

Dudley was in one of the first intakes at Stowe school and a contemporary of David Niven, Sir Nicholas Winton and Geoffrey de Haviland .  In later years he bumped into David Niven at Heathrow Airport. David recognised him immediately, which says a great deal about the Steynor profile.

On leaving Stowe he studied the piano in London at the Academy of Music   living in Kew with his brother Martyn.  Together they joined the Hounslow Flying club and learned to fly.

Following his studies at the London Academy of Music he was advised to continue studying in Europe and chose Berlin where he studied at the Edwin Fischer School, only returning due to the imminent possibility of War.

His wish to assist the war effort as a pilot was initially thwarted by poor eyesight.  Having spent some months on the ground as a Link Trainer Instructor, and following a weekend party at the house of Jumbo Edwards his Commanding Officer and pre war Olympic Gold Medal Rower, a further medical in London was arranged. This medical was with the Chief Medical officer of the RAF.  He proceeded to test his eyesight by initially requesting him to read the chart with his good eye and then, without changing the chart and while looking the other way, asked him to read it again!  Dudley passed.

Some months later Dudley bumped into the Chief Medical Officer, thanked him, and asked if he realised that in fact his eyesight in one eye was really quite poor.  He replied that he knew people who could see perfectly and were quite lethal in the air and some people, like  Dudley, who might not have perfect eyesight but were  excellent pilots. As one who spent his time on the ground he would prefer people like Dudley above him!

The outcome of this was a posting to Booker Airfield as an Instructor in charge of B Flight where he spent the rest of the war. Here he met Ann who was assisting the war effort by helping with the tea wagon along with two of the sisters of King Zog of Albania who was living in exile at Parmoor here in Frieth.  Dudley and Ann were married in 1943.

On being de-mobbed Dudley decided that a career as a concert pianist was no longer an option and proceeded to devote his energies to designing and developing various ideas.  The first of these was the Verdik Petrol Economiser which made significant improvements to the petrol consumption of the cars of the day, and was widely acclaimed by the motoring press.

There followed  a humane rat trap which he designed at the request of his uncle in Birmingham who owned a hardware shop and it was the mesh of this trap that led to his next significant development.

A famous burns’ surgeon was staying with the Hon Mrs James in Lane End and on seeing one of the traps announced this was just the mesh needed to make guards to protect children from the horrendous burns suffered as a result of accidents with electric fires.  Dudley came up with a suitable design and as a result was kept busy for a few years supplying the electricity companies and then gas companies with guards to fit to all their various models. It was not long however before the manufacturers started incorporating guards at the manufacturing stage bringing this market to a close.   Guards for open fires were a further development and these carried on selling for a number of years.

Dudley and Ann started their married life at The Cottage, Lane End next to the old Chapel on Moor Common.  William was born here in 1948.

In 1951 they moved to Colliers Corner on the day of the birth of their daughter Linden who Dudley delivered in the absence of the midwife who had not yet arrived.  Dudley always said he was not phased by this as he had been in the Boy Scouts!!!

The family was completed by the arrival of James in 1956.

Although continuing throughout his working life with his inventions he decided that with a growing family to support he needed a more stable income. This led to his ownership of Goodchild’s Garage in Lane End and then a Daf Dealership.  Soon Dafs could be seen wherever you looked!

Among his many and varied interests steam always held a fascination. The purchase of an Avelling & Porter Steamroller gave the local community a much loved landmark as he kept it next to the road outside his house.

In 1964 he was tempted back to flying when William started gliding at Booker, now Wycombe Air Park. Dudley was soon recognised as an excellent pilot and instructor and he continued enjoying his gliding in retirement up to the age of 84.

In early 1981 disaster struck. There were extensive power cuts across the area as a result of a heavy snow fall. Dudley had taken Ann out to get a hot meal when the power was restored. The resultant surge caused a fire in Colliers Corner and they returned to find five fire crews doing their best to get it under control. They had lost nearly everything they owned.

Undaunted, a mobile home was bought and placed at the bottom of the garden for them to live in. The initial clearing of the site was carried out by two young men who were keen to earn some money between their training sessions at Marlow Rowing Club. A number of local tradesmen were engaged to rebuild the house and by the spring of 1982 they were able to return. As a thank you for all the hard work Dudley took the two rowers gliding. In the years that followed he watched with great interest the developing career of one of those rowers, Sir Steve Redgrave.

Following the death of his wife Ann in 1996 he returned to his music and at the grand age of 87 produced two CDs of his favourite piano pieces.

Latterly he kept himself fit by doing at least 10 minutes a day on his exercise bike and completing fiendish Soduko puzzles until only a few months before his death.

His 100th birthday was a milestone he wanted to achieve. He thoroughly enjoyed his day which many here I am sure will remember as it brought Lane End to a standstill!

Motor Cycling

My motorcycling started in 1924, in imagination only, when the chemistry ‘lab-boy’ offered to sell me his 147cc belt-driven Francis-Barnett. I can’t remember what I paid for it but it must have been very little. I had very little money in those days. I asked permission to drive it home at the end of term, but was, quite rightly, refused – it was some 70 miles. So my motorcycling days started at Malvern Link railway station. The thrill of the mile, all uphill, to our house is something I still remember 82 years later. The F-B remained with me for the next 4 or 5 years during which I learnt all about the construction of the Villiers engine and its ability to run quite effectively in the reverse direction if its flywheel magneto was over-advanced. The engine is tough, utterly reliable and ideal for powering a beginners first motorcycle. With only two gears and an unbreakable and light frame and belt final drive. I enjoyed those early years before moving on to more serious motorcycling in the form of a 172cc Super-sports James, still with a Villiers engine with 5 ½ hp (instead of 3 ½ hp of the F-B) and its ability to seize solid if one failed to treat it the right way. (For those who like curious facts or co-incidences: from 1930 onwards I used to look in at Goodchilds Garage in a village called Lane End to pick up a gallon tin of Duckhams R Oil for my James. Apart from this I was unaware of Lane End’s existence and yet ten years later not only was it to be my nearest village but later I was to buy Goodchilds Garage and turn it into a successful DAF car agency.)

I joined the British Two Stroke Club in 1929 and entered several of its reliability trials after being graded as ‘expert’! One of these trials started in south Bucks and finished at Madresfield Court near my home at Malvern the next day. The airship R101 Had crashed at Beauvais during the night. That dates this day accurately.

I saw an advert in some motorcycling journal for a Villiers engine new and in its box asking for offers. I phoned to find out details. “The only mark I can see is a Y stamped on it crank case – I’ll take a fiver for it”. I hurried to collect it from him. The Y engine was the 172cc Brooklands racing engine. It was supposed to give 8 hp. It had a padded crankshaft and aluminium fins on the upper part of the cylinder. Otherwise it was a standard 172cc Super-Sports and fitted easily into my James. But my trials days were ending; I wanted something more social and I had my eye on a Morgan 3-wheeler. I bought a 1924 “Aero” with S-V Blackburne engine for £24 and a new experience began.

More views on preventing road accidents

The person best able to see bad driving will always be another driver. He will therefore be in the best position to report it.

  1. If he is equipped with a recording camera fixed to the windscreen of this car and operated by a push-button on the steering wheel he will be able to provide visual evidence of poor driving including the number plate of the erring car.
  2. With modern technology his camera could record the exact time and with GPS ability the exact location.
  3. The DVLA (or similar) would be called in to check the owner of the car and also the owner of the reporting car. Misuse will be easy to check and repeated errors by a bad driver will show up, and a warning sent to him together with a description of his errors.
  4. Fast drivers are usually the best drivers and no speed-recording on the cameras are required.

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Cars don’t cause accidents – it is the NUT behind the steering wheel.

For many years the aim of car designers has been towards keeping the driver safe by compulsory seat-belts and airbags and specially strengthened body panels which tend to give the driver a feeling of impregnability as soon as he steps aboard. One day in the future this will indeed become true when a scientist has discovered the repulsive force achieved by the flying saucers which have been – and still are – regularly visiting our planet. Until then here are a few suggestions for preventing accidents and bringing back a motoring freedom which many of us enjoyed in past years:

No seat belts for the Drivers

No air Bag for the drivers

Driver(s) seated at the front – as in a glider

Access to driver’s seat by canopy

Front bumper connected to spike protruding through the steering wheel

Abolish all speed limits

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