The London Motorcycle Museum

Charitable Trust
No.1118119

 

Ravenor Farm

29, Oldfield Lane

Greenford

UB6 9LD

 

Tel: 020 8575 6644

email:
thelmm@hotmail.com

The London Motorcycle Museum History   

Bill Crosby          

Bill Crosby, the museum’s founder, was born into Westminster Barracks in April 1932 the son of Sgt William Crosby, Master of the Stables in the Grenadier Guards. But Sgt Crosby’s son would grow up to be master of a different kind of horse power.

He lived in London all his life apart from a brief evacuation to Suffolk to stay with his grandparents during the war. After completing his national service in the King’s Royal Rifle Corps, Bill returned to Civvy street. Motorcycles had always been a big part of Bill’s life and he regularly repaired his own bikes and those of friends. One youthful attempt at repairing a petrol tank took the side out of the garden shed.


In 1958 Reg Allen Motorcycles in W13 came up for sale and an enthusiastic young Bill bought the “name and goodwill”. After months of waiting for Reg Allen to move from the shop it transpired that the premises were not part of the deal! A hunt for premises found Bill’s present shop in Grosvenor Road W7.

With some pressed tin spanners and WD lorry bulbs Bill was in business. He became agent for several marques:
Mobylette – which were delivered to the shop.
NSU Quickly – which he collected from Hammersmith
Excelsior – which he collected from Hanwell railway station.

From 1960 to 1973 Bill had started to hoarding some choice bikes and one day he was approached out of the blue by a friend asking if he would like to display them? Bill's bikes were moved to Syon Park where they were displayed alongside a collection of vintage cars. This worked well for a few years until the museum premises closed in February 1979.

Following the demise of Syon Park in 1979 Bill's bike collection was moved to a new home in Matlock Bath, Derbyshire. In 1982 the Spa bath building closed and the collection moved to Riber Castle.  This too worked fine for a while until the owner sold up.

Bill was forced to look for a new site when a visit to check on the bikes revealed missing parts and encroaching rust. The - subsequent and urgent - mass removal from Riber Castle took place in a convoy of vans and the bikes were then dispersed to Bill’s friends. Some of the bikes had to be sold but Bill refused to let any Triumphs go, vowing that this ever increasing collection would remain at home until he found a London site to open his own museum. He felt that the capital should have its own motorcycle museum.

In 1997 Bill heard about a site in Greenford. It was an old farm where farming had ceased in the early 20’s and which had been used as an Ealing council depot ever since. Then under the control of an enthusiastic community group, talks were held and plans were submitted to turn the old stable block into the London Motorcycle Museum, where it remains to this day.

Today the Museum is run by Bill, his family and a keen group of friends and volunteers and has gone from strength to strength. We have renovated a large barn which has allowed us to expand the display area dramatically, giving room for yet more fine examples of British biking history, as well as a small workshop display.

Bill's future plan is for the main building to become “The Home of Triumph”, the barn to be “The Rest of the UK” and then to have another space as a “Services” hall, military, police, fire etc.  There are plans to seek National Lottery (or other) funding to allow a collection of “The Rest of the World” to be displayed as well as providing The building will also have lecture rooms, additional toilets and a cafe.

The museum’s current lease was about to expire recently but new terms have been negotiated with landlords, Ealing Borough Council – to whom we owe our thanks - and we now have long-term security. This significant new lease will help us plan sensibly for the future and make it easier to operate as well as apply for funding for future projects.