It could be said that “Rudgespares” started by accident. In the early 1950’s Bryan Reynolds was working on a Multi and V twin for which no-one supplied parts. He contacted Peace transfers, Fibrax brake blocks and Terry’s springs but all they would offer were smallish runs of parts. He created an organisation which was called the “Vintage Rudge Register” for the earlier machines and found enough interest to have these small supplies made.
When the Club was formed in 1956 he integrated the group with the Club and became the “Vintage Advisor”. At that time there were motorcycle dealers throughout the Country who had sold Rudge machines before the Second World War and had stocks of spares for the four valve machines. Godfreys had purchased the rights to produce parts in 1942 which they sold direct or to the other dealers when requested. Godfreys had a large motorcycle shop in Great Portland St. (near the tube station) selling machines at ground floor level and spares in the basement. The employed Messrs Griffiths (“Griff”) and Newton, who had been Rudge employees so knew the machines and the spare parts. They had transferred from the Hayes factory with the spares - of which there were very large numbers. When parts had to be made, these were produced by specialist (springs, brake linings etc.) with items unique to Rudge made by A. L. Bailey of Walthamstow. Pre-war he had been a Rudge motorcycle agent but during the war he turned the shop into a machine shop and was able to make many parts.
In early 1957 a Mr J Kelly donated the remains of two 250cc Rudges to the Club to help raise the funds. The Club appointed a “Spares Registrar” to handle these and to create a “sales and wants” sheet to go out with the magazine. The first holder of the office was Ron French. In December 1957 he advertised that there were “various parts in the possession of the Club”. So far the Club had only handled second-hand parts.
One of the “local” dealers with spares was Kays of Ealing which Jack Lennon used as they were nearer to his home at Thames Ditton. One day, when he went in for spares, they told him that they were clearing out the Rudge parts to make way for scooter spares, as they were selling so many of these machines. Kays offered all their stock to him for £20 - which was more than they could have obtained as scrap value. The Committee met to discuss an urgent problem - there was not £20 spare in the Club kitty!. Subs at £1 just about covered the cost of the magazine and postage with very little over. The meeting came to a far reaching decision. Jack Lennon, Les Howell, Hugh (“Ug”) Porter and Bryan Reynolds each put £5 into a special kitty for Jack to use to buy the parts. This was done and the sidecar load was delivered to Ug Porters home in Plumstead. The agreement was that each contributor should take out £10 worth of parts for their own machines and the parts left could then be sold to bolster the Club’s funds. This was done quietly so as to not upset Godfreys by being in competition with them so there is no record in the Club magazine. Bryan Reynolds continued with the pre 1926 parts, Les Howell ran the 1927 to 1930 parts and both Ron French and Jack Lennon covered the later machines.
In 1960 Godfreys advised the Club that more expensive items would not be made as their profits from Rudge spares were not sufficient. The first item to come in the category was the late 500 oil pump so, after much deliberation, pumps, worms and pins were made. Voluntary contributions and advanced orders with cash were solicited from the members and enough was raised (approx. £250) to cover costs. This was the start of the “Spares Fund”. Even so less than half sold so most of the money was tied up in stock.
All continued as before, until the lease on the Godfreys shop came up for renewal in 1962. Pre-war Warren St. had been the centre of motor and motorcycle trading in the capital, but post-war this had changed. Most people purchased locally to have servicing and spares nearby so the trade had drifted away from the area. Godfreys decided to let the lease go and moved all existing stock to the shops they had established in the Croydon area. However, there was no room for the Rudge stock and the blueprints at the new locations. The Club was therefore offered the remaining stock for £100, plus the drawings. By this time enough of the Kays stock and the oil pumps had been sold for there to be enough cash available to pay the £100 so this was done. But where to store the parts and the original factory drawings?.
Fortunately, member Geoff Perry (not to be confused with Ralph Perry who is involved later) had a stove enamelling and engineering business near Erith in Kent and offered the necessary space. The parts were transferred to him in October 1962 and he ran the spares part of the Club, as the first Spares Secretary, for a small percentage. The drawings of the parts likely to be made were retained by the club, but the vast majority were given to the Coventry Museum by Godfreys. All went well until his premises were put under a compulsory purchase order to make way for road improvements. Geoff was only able to obtain a smaller building for his business, so a new home for the spares was needed.
A relatively new member was Richard English who worked for his father Walter who ran a travel agency in the City. This had an empty basement to which the parts were transferred. This was more difficult than it might appear as the shop was on a passageway near the famous “Cheshire Cheese”, so a lot of heavy lifting and transporting was the order of the day and as it started raining, it was all done at the double!. Again the Club offered a percentage for the storage and administration of the parts and this worked successfully for some time. Richard handled the sales, Jack Lennon the manufacture of spares (mainly by A. L. Bailey) and Les Howell the money as Treasure. Bryan Reynolds was also employed nearby in the City at that time so could sort parts over the typical city sandwich lunch. A few wooden racks were included with the parts, but otherwise they were in large heaps and the sorting took many month. This all came to an end when, in September 1966 , Richard left to work elsewhere and Walter found it necessary to close the business - so the spares were homeless again.
Prior to this in December 1963 A. L. Bailey died, leaving masses of parts, finished and unfinished at his works. The Club paid £200 for the finished parts that had been ordered, which left much more to be sorted out with the Executors. This would take several years. In 1964, however, the Club had increased the sub to £1.10/- (£1.50p) to build up funds to buy these spares when they became available. However, an examination of the parts by the Club Committee revealed much that was so substandard as to be unacceptable. The offer for the “good” parts was declined by Mrs. Bailey who tried to sell the stock elsewhere. Harry Lake purchased quite a few bits and the remainder were left untouched. At the end of 1966 Ralph Perry took over as the Club Buyer from Jack Lennon and he re-opened negotiations with Mrs. Bailey as an “independent” buyer. For £300 he was able to obtain the acceptable parts which he passed on to the Club. The other bits (including eccentric rockers etc.) were later sold to Norman Webb so any parts originating from this source subsequently were always (and should still be) treated with considerable suspicion.
In 1965 Bryan Reynolds had moved into a house which had been the home of a builder and had three garages plus a car port. In September 1966, three van loads of spares were transferred into one of the garages which became the home of the spares operation for the next 10 years.
Initially, the Spares Secretary of the Club was “Mrs. Reynolds” so that letters about spares could be separated from the normal daily mail deliveries. This worked well until the spares scheme settled down and the actual Spares Secretary was listed in the Journal. Meanwhile Ralph Perry handled the sale of rims, spokes and tyres as well as the buying activities. Les Howell made some angle iron supports for the wooden spares shelves which were now rather “second-hand” and hardly holding together. Fortunately Bryan knew the wine merchant at the Royal Exchange building (Green & Co) where, in 1968 some very substantial shelving was being thrown out. A Club team removed them one evening and took them to Potters Bar after which they gave sterling service coping with the weight of the parts - some still had the wine labels on them!.
Ralph Perry handed over the buying job to Clive Abbot-Stone in 1968 who gave priority to buying out dealers stocks. This involved trips to places as far apart as Southampton and Leeds but greatly increased the stocks at very reasonable prices. The tyre stocks had been sold off so the rims and spokes moved to Potters Bar, although space was now becoming scarce. Clive was followed in 1971 in the buying job by Reg Wood, but unfortunately he died within a year, although he did establish that spares would in future be made to the highest standard, not down to the Bailey level. Alan Bell took over in 1973 and continued up to 1976. This period included a large purchase from Miller Electrics as they closed their Birmingham factory. Colin Chapple started as Assistant Spares Secretary in 1974, moving on to be the Buyer in 1976.
In 1975, after the spares scheme had grown to be a major job, it was realised that the Club was running at a loss on subscriptions but this was masked by the spares turnover. Rudgespares was then created to have its own organisation and accounts, but still as part of the Club. Bryan became the Rudgespares Representative on the Club Committee (Spares Liaison Officer) to keep members informed of progress. In 1977 Colin took over this position as he was better placed to know what was “in the pipeline”.
In another development, Reg Hark, joined the Rudgespares team and took over the storing and supply of exhausts and silencers, easing the pressure on space. However the ordering and accounting still remained as part of Rudgespares.
This remained the position until August 1977 when Bryan was moved by his employer to Surrey and managed to get them to pay for the removal of the parts as part of the “relocation expenses”!. Colin became the Club Editor, so in 1982 the Buyer (and Liaison Officer) became Peter Welch.
Then Ralph Richardson took over the exhaust side from Reg Hark in August 1989, both ordering and supply. From 1st January 1991 this was made a separate “budget area” under the name of “Rudgexhausts” and administered separately. However the payments and receipts were included in the Rudgespares Ltd. Accounts. Later, as the work grew, the buyers job was split so that Stuart Towner became the buyer of second-hand parts leaving Peter free to concentrate on the production of new spares. These remained at Bryan’s new house in Reigate until he moved again in 1994 and no longer had the space for them.
In 1994 a Company called Rudge (1994) Ltd. Was formed to handle all aspects of Rudgespares sales and purchasing, with the Club holding 90% of the shares.
The sales and purchasing of new spares and the sale of second hand parts was handled by John Brent who had taken over as the Spares Liaison Officer and all the stock was moved to Sandy, Bedfordshire.
Stuart Towner remained as the Second Hand Spares buyer and Ralph Richardson continued to handle the sales and purchasing of the exhaust systems.
A computer was purchased with the relevant software to help with the stock control and the accounting side of Rudgespares.
At the end of 1996 John Brent stood down as the Spares Liaison Officer and this post was taken over by Paul Horton. The entire stock of Rudgespares was then transferred to a 1000 sq. ft. unit in Watton, Norfolk and in order to assist the Club members with the ordering of their spare parts a dedicated fax line was provided.
At the Clubs AGM in 1997 the shareholders voted to form a company limited by guarantee and this was to become “The Rudge Enthusiasts Club Ltd”. The shareholders of Rudge (1994) Ltd. agreed to be incorporated into the Rudge Enthusiasts Club Ltd at their AGM in 1997, and Rudge (1994) Ltd ceased trading on 1st April, 1997.
Paul Horton continued as the Spares Liaison Officer with Stuart Towner as the Second Hand Spares buyer. The exhaust sales and purchasing function was passed over to Paul Horton with the stock of same being transferred to Watton.
In 1998 further changes were made to the running of Rudgespares with the introduction of a credit card machine which allowed members to make payments for Club services without the need to send cheques or in some instances cash, in the post. This proved particularly useful to the overseas members who before had sent Sterling cheques (or cash, although this was discouraged for reasons of security), both of which where subject to the extra cost for currency exchange.
A further service was also added that of an e-mail address, RECspares@compuserve.com and this allowed for faster communication for members, particularly with the overseas members, as this reduced the time it took for a response to their enquiries and the placing of their orders.
The title of Spares Liaison Offices was also amended to Spares Officer as this reflected the changing role the position had within the Club.
Roy Speake took over the sales and purchasing, and the role, of the Second Hand Spares with the stock remaining at Watton. Roy would visit Watton, usually staying for a few days, to sort through the second hand spares required by the members.
As a reflection of the increase in sales within the Rudge Enthusiasts Club Ltd., it became necessary to register for VAT in 2000.
In 2001 the second hand spares were moved from Watton to East Sussex as this was closer to Roy’s home.
In 2005 a new e-mail address, PaulHorton@Rudgespares.co.uk was introduced to keep up with the improvements in technology. At this time an on-line shop was also created www.Rudgespares.co.uk
which enabled members to check the current price and availability of the spares they required and to purchase them, via a secure website, at the same time.