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Netley Marsh Euro Jumble
Saturday 8th September 2007

A visit to Netley Marsh motor cycle auto-jumble in September combines nicely with a visit to nearby Beaulieu’s National Motor Museum. It also allows for a long weekend break in Chichester, a picturesque historic city, and the New Forest National Park.

The auto-jumble is a ‘no frills’ event. Just loads of old bike parts set out in a field off the A336, near Southampton. With blisteringly hot, sunny weather the field is today a very dry and dusty one. Our thoughts after parking up are to find refreshments.

On payment of our entry fee, first impression from the good Mrs Side-valve is that the choice of food for lunch is going to be limited and leaves a lot to be desired. As is often the case. Thankfully, there is no lack of outlets for much needed cups of tea, to ease the effect of the hot sun. As for lunch, there is always the promise of a fine feed at the café at Beaulieu’s National Motor Museum just down the road.

But, we are not here for haute cuisine. There are motor cycle parts to be examined. A quick scout around and it’s apparent there is an interesting amount of pre-1940 stuff. Without doubt, the star of which is a recreation of a 1930 Sunbeam speedway bike amongst a collection of historic speedway exhibits.

The photos in Robert Cordon Champ's ‘Sunbeam Motorcycle’ and ‘Illustrated History of Sunbeam Bicycles and Motorcycles’ are about as near as you get to seeing this rare model. Well here it is at Netley, ‘in the metal’ so to speak! Worth the entrance fee alone just to ogle this rarity.

Very purposeful it looks, too. A Model 90 engine with straight pipe exhaust, attached to a lightweight delicate-looking frame with minimal petrol tank and definite lack of guards - both chain and mud. It has something of the feel of the Sunbeam sprinters of the 1920s about it. There's a kind of 'essence of pure motor cycle' about machines stripped down to this degree. Unfortunately, no chance to see and hear it running but it's a delight to the eye even at rest. And, it turns out, quite a crowd puller.

Dragging myself away, a circuit of the rows and aisles of assorted parts is called for. A 1935 Sunbeam frame catches my attention. In the back of my shed is the ubiquitous 'box of bits' that aspires one day to be a complete Sunbeam motor cycle - by my hand or another's. In this (basket) case it is based around the attractively chunky, alloy-headed Lion side-valve engine of 1935. Most of the 'big bits' are there - 'dog leg' forks, 4-speed gearbox, oil tank, etc. But, there is a smaller, and lighter 350cc frame amongst the collection of parts. It pleases me no end to pick up the correct frame for the bike and the year.

My own piece of Paul Street memorabilia aside, the other tempting bits 'n' bobs are all from the 1930s. Nothing fast and exotic, but all attractive looking machines none-the-less. I spy a practically complete side-valve model from 1929-30,  almost all of a 1937 350cc machine with high-level exhausts, and a 1931-32 Model 10 (350cc) engine. Plus, there are assorted cycle parts exhibiting various degrees of rust from the superficial to the down-right worrying. I pass over a dubious-looking petrol tank with a Sunbeam transfer affixed and a coat of paint holding all the rust in place.

And, talking of rust, Yeomans have on offer a real challenge for the restorer and his or her tin of proprietary rust treatment - an apparently original and complete 1930s' Rudge, exhibiting an all-over, rust brown finish. Seemingly every last bit of it. We can only guess how it got this way. Was it parked up in a rear yard, forgotten and left untouched for a few decades? That or some weird time-lapse experiment in cinemagraphic art work are are best guesses. There is a story to be told but unfortunately we don't hang around to hear it.

By this time lunch is called for. The Sunbeam frame is loaded into the back of the car and we set off down the A326 and B3054 to Beaulieu (Beaulieu House, below) and the National Motor Museum's café.



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