Lewis Cycle and Motor Works, Port Pirie

These days Port Pirie is just a couple of hours' drive north of Adelaide, but 100 years ago it would have been a distant outpost.

The Port Pirie branch of the Lewis Cycle and Motor works opened in July 1906, and was the most durable Lewis branch. It is mentioned continuously in Lewis materials into the 1920s, and it survived as a hub for Port Pirie cyclists and motorcyclists into the 1960s. It is likely that Port Pirie was the only Lewis location outside of Adelaide after 1930.

To give an idea of the operations at Port Pirie, this advertisement comes from a 1951 race program for the Port Pirie Motor Cycle Club, Inc.:

Lewis Cycle Works, Port Pirie, 1951

Clearly motorcycles were the major focus at Port Pirie in the 1950s, unlike the Adelaide operations of the Lewis Cycle Works Limited which had probably not touched a motorcycle since the mid 1920s. The Ariel, BSA and Royal Enfield agencies must have had the Port Pirie management moving in very different circles to the parent company, so it's likely that their operations were somewhat independent. Ivan Mortess spent a number of years as manager at Port Pirie.

Interestingly, directory entries from 1909-1912 refer to the Lewis operation at Port Pirie as the "Lewis Cycle Co." or the "Lewis Cycle Co., Limited", rather than "Vivian Lewis Limited" (the correct business name for the time) or "Lewis Cycle Works" (the usual trading name name pre-1907). I'm not sure why this was, as the business (but not the real estate) was acquired by Vivian Lewis Limited in 1907, and when that company restructured in 1923-24 control was passed to Lewis Cycle Works Limited, who presumably controlled it to the end. Perhaps there was a hint of independence even in the early days.

As an aside, when Lewis Cycle Works Limited acquired the business in 1924, they took over a three year lease on the  property (owned by one Walter Frederick Wells and described as "... part Section 68 Port Pirie and buildings there-on...") for the sum of three pounds per week.

Can you help? Was Lewis in the same building in Alexander St from 1906 until the end? When was the end - did it make it to 1975 when LCW was wound up? Is the building still standing? An address, an old photo, a faded sign on a surviving building, a recollection... please e-mail me if you can add to the story.

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