The Automobile and Motor Cyclists Club: Opening Run 1903

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The Adelaide Chronicle, 7th November 1903



The time has now come when the motor car and motor cycle are recognised as safe, speedy, and reliable machines for road traffic. In many parts of England the motor omnibus is used as a feeder for the railways, carrying from 12 to 20 passengers, and many of the feeding routes extend for miles into the country, where to construct a railway with the limited amount of traffic available would be out of the question. While this progress is going on in the older parts of the world South Australia is not being left behind, as was forcibly shown on Saturday afternoon, the occasion being a run to Brighton under the auspices of the Automobile and Motor Cycling Club of South Australia.

For some months past it has been felt that it would be well for the motorists to meet together to exchange experiences, hold runs, and generally to promote the well being of the motoring public. In other parts of the world the high speed attained by motorists has often been a menace to the public safety, and it is gratifying to learn that this newly-formed club has in view the regulation of speed and the exercise of due consideration and courtesy to the general public, so that motorists and motoring will earn due respect. The weather on Saturday was all that could be desired, and as the time advertised for the start drew near a large number of competitors assembled on North terrace (sic) to witness the novel sight of motor cars and cycles forming into line for the run. The outing was under the management of Mr. T.P. O'Grady, vice captain of the club. Mr. J. Duncan, vice president, and Mr. R. A. Duncan, secretary, took the lead on their "Oldsmobile", followed by Mrs. Thomson on her "Swift", Dr. Gunson on his "Oldsmobile", and Mr. A. Scott Broad on his "Oldsmobile". Later on the ranks were swelled by two of the vice presidents, Dr. Gault on a "New Orleans", and Mr. F.G. Ayers on a "Lewis". The motor bicycles were well in evidence headed by Mr. V. Lewis, vice president of the club, on his "Lewis". The procession included Messrs. T.P. O'Grady, vice captain ("Lewis"), J. Mullins ("Clyde"), Bond, Allert, and Taylor ("Allison"), Jackson, Lykke, and Courtney ("Lewis"), Watson ("Bullock"), Ledger ("Kelecom"), and Adamson ("Electra"). The motor quad was represented by Mr. Bernard joining in at Glenelg on a "Massey-Harris". Mr. Murphy was also picked up here on an "Electra" motor cycle.

The outing proved a success in every way, notwithstanding the dusty state of the roads. In many parts the surface was covered with fine dust, which only needed a little agitation to stir it up. It settled on the motorists to such an extent that some were scarcely recognisable. After a stay of about half an hour a start for home was made via Glenelg, the cycles taking the beach and the cars the road. A short stay at Glenelg and a pleasant run home ended and enjoyable and successful tour. The members intend holding periodical outings, and have great faith in the future prosperity of the club.

So on what was arguably the first organised run for motor vehicles in South Australia, the Lewis Cycle and Motor Works was represented by one car and no fewer than five motorcycles - quite an impressive effort. We are fortunate that in addition to the Chronicle article, a photograph of the gathering has survived, allowing us an in-depth look at the Lewis motorcycles on show. Unfortunately the Lewis car was not captured in the photograph.

Vivian Lewis - the epitome of sartorial splendour in his most formal riding outfit - is posed with one foot resting jauntily on the running board of Dr. Gunson's curved-dash Oldsmobile. His machine is purposeful rather than impressive, being powered by the standard Minerva clip-on unit of the year, featuring fully mechanically operated valves and a spray carburettor. Like the similar machine pictured a year or two later in the white garage, it is fitted with a rather sporty set of flat bars. Mr. Courtney - who we see at work in the Lewis workshop in photograph 22 - is riding a Kelecom-engined machine, if not the one shown in the old workshop in photograph 02 then one of identical specification.

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Further along the line is another cluster of Lewis riders. On the left, Mr. Lykke (surely seen operating a lathe in the Lewis workshop in photograph 12) is riding a machine of identical specification to that of Mr. Lewis, except that his front brake is operated by a solid linkage rather than a Bowden cable. With this change in specification, his machine is identical to the Lewis Minerva seen in the white garage. T.P. O'Grady seems to be sharing a joke with Mr. Jackson (far right), while his machine looks at once menacing and archaic. The menacing aspect relates to the huge MMC motor, which would more commonly be found powering a tricycle or quad, and the archaic to the round belt (often twisted rawhide) which would no doubt slip at the thought of rain.

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Unfortunately Mr. Jackson's machine is obscured, with the only observable features being the shape of the fuel tank at the front, which follows the line of the headstem but is separated from it by some 3 inches, and the unbraced front fork. Mr. Jackson had significant ties to the motorcycle world, and later owned an early water-cooled Lewis.

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