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Percy Banham: wheelwright

Peering in at the old cars

Does anybody remember Percy Banham’s wheelwright shop in Cheapside? The shop was on the left just above Pelham Street. When I was about 12 years old, I used to peer inside at the old cars, and one day ventured inside and asked Percy about them .

A collection of cars

At the back was a large Packard limousine with glass partition and a speaking tube to communicate with the driver. Inside the shop was a 1934 Ford Y type van and a 1935 Bedford van which had been left before WWII for work and never collected; the asking price was £40.

Percy emigrated to Australia

Since then I have seen both vehicles fully restored the Bedford was in the National Motor museum for a time and was in the livery of Robertsons off licences I think . Later when I was a teenager, Percy fitted new rims and spokes to my Triumph motorcycle for me, shortly before emigrating to Australia at a ripe old age. His son I also knew well; he was Percy by name too.

Do you remember?

If you remember Percy or his shop, please tell us about it by leaving a comment below.

New rims on Triumph T100
From the private collection of Alan Spicer

Comments about this page

  • Hi Alan, I also remember the Wheelwright shop in Cheapside. He was a right character and obviously a very skilled man. I do remember the Bedford van as you say it was a prewar model. Like the photo, especially the Keith Skews! Not really ideal for motorbike riding.

    By John Champion (16/06/2011)
  • Hi Alan. Great photo of you on your bike! I have a feeling that splendid machine is not all that it seems? The bike carries an erstwhile Brighton registration mark TUF 136 which dates from 1958. However, the bike looks more like a later TR5 Trophy! Also I’m not sure about the frame and motor? (No doubt all will be explained). I recall back in our Endeavour Motor company days we worked with a Peter Banham, I wonder was he any relation to Percy? It’s good to see another old EMC stalwart John Champions name on the MyBH site. Regards Chris.

    By Christopher Wrapson (17/06/2011)
  • Hi John, no the protective clothing was not up to today’s standards; no padding etc, glad I never fell off! The trendy shoes were ex army desert boots at about 30s a pair. Mind you I would like to buy back my bike for the £85 I sold it for to Ron Brownjohn. Now there’s another name from the past!

    By Alan Spicer (17/06/2011)
  • Now then that IS another name from the past. The Brownjohn I knew was another character. He was the first person to buy a new Mark I Capri in Light Orchid from EMC and hated it, did not have it long and sent it back. One of the things I remember about him is his ability to show us lads how to run along side a motorbike, jump aboard side saddle, disappearing under the arches (Beaconsifield Road) and then roar back astride the bike with the engine running. Us lads were impressed by this manourvre! My brother Bob bought a BSA Bantam and a Triumph Tiger Cub from him.

    By John Champion (17/06/2011)
  • Brownjohn rings a bell,  I think he had a garage by the arches. My dad Ted Newman was often round there,he had a small lockup across the road. He knew all the local garage owners as he used to buy and sell bikes and cars. Most Sunday mornings he would drag me round them, I got really bored. He took me to one on Rose Hill and one by the railway station too.

    By Anne Newman (27/06/2011)
  • Hi Anne, you no doubt went to Rose Hill Motors run by a gent called Bill Cohen and his sidekick Alec, also Station car Sales run by the Brothers Bob & Derek Pickett. Across from Brownjohns was a lockup garage with green double doors where Howard the coach trimmer had his premises. Your Dad’s was maybe the one nearer the viaduct?

    By Alan Spicer (27/06/2011)
  • Reply to Chris Wrapson. Very observant Chris regarding the bike; frame, forks and metalwork were all 1958 Triumph Thunderbird, engine was from a 1952 sprung hub Tiger 100 with gears built into a later casing so as to fit the frame. Percy Banham replaced the 19″ rear rim with an 18″ one so I could run a 400×18 tyre, pipes came from a lad called Charlie, a Caffyns Hove fitter and were from a Triumph Daytona. My Dad put the original 650 motor in a Norton frame and the now very valuable T100 became a Chopper with a Triumph GP engine. If you could find the five bikes involved and reverse the process you would be very rich .

    By Alan Spicer (17/07/2011)
  • Alan. Was your dad Len, my foreman plumber, back in the 60s? Only the Len Spicer I knew had a vast knowledge of motor bikes and once sold me a 350 Ariel Hunter, what a machine that was!

    By Geoff Wells (21/08/2011)
  • Hi Geoff , yes you are spot on. Dad was indeed Len , he worked for E R Kelly for many years and drove a Ford Thames van then a green Anglia van. Dad had many bikes over the years and I helped collect many of his purchases , the bike would be put in the firm’s van with the front wheel and forks overhanging the rear, doors roped together, my task was to hold the bike upright sitting in the back. Many a Norton Dommi, Triumph, Triton were brought home like this average price about £25 to £40. We bought a 1926 Scott Squirrel for £8 once- it had stood in a garage since it’s owner died in 1928 so although rusty had done no mileage .

    By Alan Spicer (25/08/2011)
  • Interesting you mention the Brownjohns as I lived in Springfield Road adjoing the Brownjohn garage in Beaconsfield Road. In fact my parents bought the house off Ron’s dad – Brownjohn senior. We were all close family friends and would buy our cars from Ron including a 1955 Mercedes in light green. I used to go in and sit on the bikes whilst my father would natter to Ron. Sadly Ron is no longer with us after retiring to Newhaven but I still remember the smell of the workshop and the old petrol pump that backed on to our garden.

    By Martin Scrace (16/01/2012)
  • ALAN and MARTIN. A different tack, my name is connected in the past with (obviously) the name Spicer but also the name Scrace. My mother’s mother’s name was Scrace who married into the Trott family. Her daughter, (my mum) being a Trott, married into the Spicer family. Now, I know that the Spicers are prominent in Brighton as well as being all over the world but I’d like to know if there really is a stronger connection between the names here?

    By Ron Spicer (22/02/2012)
  • Sorry Ron, but I know of no connection between the Spicer and Scrace names, I did work with a Mick Scrace a few years ago before he moved to Paignton. My family have connections with the name Greenfield who it seems operated boats off Brighton beach in the early 1900s .

    By Alan Spicer (10/08/2012)
  • Hi Alan, I can take you right down memory lane and back to probably 1963!! I remember the Scott Squirel and your brother’s mini, the first ever with a rear wiper that he put on it. I’m also pretty sure I bought my first bantam from you as well – and didn’t you end up with my Speed Twin? I don’t remember Percy Banham, I was more a Bill Polly man when it came to bits for bikes. John

    By john ridgewell (05/04/2013)
  • Hi John, nice to hear from you. I still have photos of the Scott and my brother Micks Mini 850. I remember your parents well and recall your Father had a lovely MG sports saloon with an enormous 4 spoked steering wheel and leather seats like armchairs. No doubt you recall the cafes Daygo, HiLo, Ballerina etc. Happy days!

    By Alan Spicer (10/06/2013)
  • Hi, does anyone know if the Daygo Cafe still exists? I am asking for my sister who lived and worked in Brighton in the ’60s. She worked at the Madeira Hotel, and Wilson’s Laundry out of season. She knew Bob Howell whose dad repaired the bikes. We will be visiting Brighton for the day soon and she would like to visit all the places she went to.

    By Carol (24/07/2013)
  • Hi Carol , the Daygo didn’t last too long as the locals were not too keen on the motorcycles parking outside on the grassy bank and the noise from all those lovely classics. Bobby Howell was a close friend of mine and his family lived next door to the Daygo , the houses are still there . Sadly Bob has passed away now .

    By Alan Spicer (26/09/2013)
  • Hi Alan, I’ve just found this website again hence the long delay in responding. Dad’s MG was a 1939 VA Tourer and I’ve still got some pics of it taken on Exmoorr where they lived for some years. He went on to get a 1.5 Jag of about the same era which was written off by a Ford Consul that jumped the crossing at Ladies Mile by the shops. I’ve got great memories of the Daygo and the HiLo (wasn’t that at Fiveways?) I now live in South Wales and only get to Brighton to see the family but always look across at bungalows where it was. Sorry to hear that Bob Howell is no longer with us, how long ago did he pass away?

    By John Ridgewell (25/10/2013)
  • Hi John, Bob Howell passed away in December 2004. I have a photo of Bob and myself on my Triumph 6T somewhere, only seems a short time ago but I guess it was around 1966. Fond memories of those days and I recall your Dad had a hand cranked film projector with movies of him in the services (RAF) I think and some taken in India on the banks of the Ganges. I have just received a Christmas Card from Adrian Hearne but have not seen anyone from the 60s for some time .

     Best wishes

    By Alan Spicer (18/12/2013)
  • Sadly the projector is long gone but I’ve still got some of the old film. Unfortunately I can’t view it as it requires a special 9mm projector. As well as the film of the Ganges we had some of an early monoplane plane landing on Hove Lawns and the story was it was Louise Blerriot but I’m not so sure. My Great Uncle Billy Ridgewell who was a well known Cartoonist between the wars  for Punch and similar publications was the photographer and his work made him wealthy enough to travel and to film his exploits. I lodged with his widow aunty Dorothy in Hove when Mum and Dad moved to Exmoor in 68 which is probably where the film came from. Speaking of the 60s, I’ve made contact with Keith Rummery who you may remember was another regular at the Daygo. Adrian’s party trick as I recall  was to do a brilliant Mick Jagger impression. As you keep in touch ask him if he still does it.



    By John Ridgewell (22/12/2013)
  • Hi John,

    There are a number of places where you can send your films to and have them transferred to DVD’s. As you are probably aware, old film deteriorates catastrophically over time and you will probably eventually lose them because of this. The first signs are that the film develops a strong vinegary smell and ultimately the rate of decomposition is related to storage conditions.

    I would strongly urge you to get the films digitized if there is either a personal or historic value to them. If you do not wish to expend any money, you might consider donating them to the British Film Institute or similar body.

    Regards, Andy

    By Andy Grant (24/12/2013)
  • Hi all. I also used to go the daygo a lot on my 250 BSA and I remember apart from trying to be a rocker we used to play the football game there, and just spend time looking at each others bikes etc, great days. Cliff Pittam.

    By Cliff Pittam (04/01/2014)
  • In the mid 70s, I was restoring (or rather – trying to get running) a James 250.  The wheels were absolutely rotten, so I stripped them down and took them to a friend of my Dad’s.  He had a little corner shop, just off Sackville Road – and I could have sworn his name was Percy Banham.  He did a superb job of restoring the wheels – but when I went to pick them up, he’d closed the shop. I ended up going to his house to collect them, which was on Dyke Road – just up from the Dials.  He was quite elderly – probably in his 70s then. The same Percy?

    By Marc Turner (29/03/2014)
  • Hi Marc, yes, Percy was a real craftsman and as you say he lived in Dyke Road near the Children’s Hospital. From memory Percy emigrated to Australia I believe to see out his twilight years, as I also had to go to his house to pay for the new rim for my Triumph. His son, Percy Jnr, used to work at Caffyns on Kingsway, Hove opposite Endeavour Motor Co where I worked in the bodyshop repairing trucks.

    By Alan Spicer (25/04/2014)
  • Hi, I met Percy several times at his Cheapside workshop. I worked with two of his sons: Percy junior we only ever called him Nobby and John.
    Knobby drove a very old Fordson van that had a common problem of something on the prop shaft tinkling as he drove it.  We worked for P.G.Tyrer Auto Electrical in Dyke Road. I was in the electrical section, Nobby and John worked in the diesel section.

    By Dave Lee (16/04/2015)
  • I have information about a Percy Horace Banham. General Motorcycle and Cycle Engineer. 48 Claredon Road, Hove. BN33WQ Sussex. ‘Specialist Wheelbuilders to the trade’. Lived at 8 Dyke Street at one stage. 254536 Fitter Royal Field Artillery. He emigrated to New Zealand. Have a good photograph of him at work too.  

    By Robert Findlay (09/05/2015)
  • Hello Robert it would be great to see anything you have regarding Percy, he was a great character.

    By Alan Spicer (14/08/2015)
  • I stumbled across this inspiring website (in terms of local history) while researching Percy Horace Banham. Percy is one of about 350 WW1 Veterans buried in the Papakura Cemetery, Auckland, New Zealand. It doesn’t matter  to me whether Brits, Aussies, or Kiwis – they all have amazing stories and deserve remembering just as much as ‘the Fallen’. Well, all the snippets I have found here will greatly add to Percy’s story. Percy died 23 Aug 1990 at the ripe old age of 94. As it happens I realise now that I know his son John through other research – John lives locally in a fantastic old house with its own stories. I had not assumed a link to Percy as there are other local Banhams who are not related. Please note I enjoyed the bike and car references too, having fond memories of minis, triumphs (from a Herald to a TR6) and a 1960 Mark 2 Jag. The most memorable trip in the jag involving frequent stops in the dark and the pouring rain to re-connect something in the boot! Something to do with the fuel supply? 

    By Kara Oosterman (29/08/2015)
  • Anybody out there? Trying to contact some old mates, Alan Spicer, John Ridgewell,Paul, Peter Pope, Barry Philips, Tom Mair, Malloy brothers, any one from daygo cafe. Cheers Keith.

    By Keith Morgon (07/05/2016)
  • To Dave Lee

    Hi Dave. I too worked at P G Tyrers in Duke Road, in the Car Radio Department. Left in 1963, I was there for about 4 years. I occasionally worked in the electrical department. I remember the departments well The diesel dhop, the carburetter and the battery shop, I remember Dave, Dicky Bird, George, Jim Howe, John Duke to name but a few. Were  you there at the same time?

    By Alan Drake (30/06/2016)
  • Hi Alan, yes I remember you, repairing the last of the old valve radios. I recall Directors, Harry Thompson, Norman Yates. Service manager Burt Bedford. Others in the Electrical shop Alan Croucher, Dick Chandler, Vick in the battery shop, 2 brothers Andrey & ? Leemar from Portugal.

    By Dave Lee (25/02/2017)
  • Hi Keith, Barry here, just about! How are you, long time no see. Only just seen your posting here.Also saw your message on the ‘mods and rockers’ section,which I did answer In July. I’ve still got my Bonnie, almost ready again! What are you up to now?  Hope you see this, Barry

    By Barry Phillips (25/10/2017)
  • I visited Banhams in about 1964, just after leaving school. I had made my own bicycle up from bits and pieces, and used to ride down Bear Road to Brighton Technical College Secretarial and Business Studies dept in Coombe Road. Bear Road was a bit rough; I had a Huret speedometer, and could get up to around 58 mph going down. I once overtook a Sunbeam Rapier that popped out of Tenantry Down Road in front of me, to the surprise of the driver. The speed and bumpiness caused the front wheel to become quite loose in the spokes (and also the frame to begin to crack). I took the wheel to Mr. Banham (we always called him “The Wheelbuilder”) while I found a replacement frame. All a bit desperate, no helmet or anything those days! Later, with motorbikes – my first was a BSA Bantam (PPO382), and more visits to the Cheapside workshop.

    By Geoff. Johnson (04/01/2020)
  • Does anyone remember Bob philps who worked in Redhill motors at the bottom of North Street brighton?
    He lived in Ashburnham Drive went to Coldean and Stanmer school.

    By Sandy (12/06/2021)
  • Sandy , I think you have confused North Street and North Road, Redhill Motors was in North Road.

    By Dr Geoffrey Mead (13/06/2021)
  • So amazing to read comments from people who remember my grandfather, Percy. Some commenters also recall my dad, John.
    Dad is no longer in his ‘big old house’ in Papakura – he shifted to Komata, just outside of Paeroa not long after mum died. John is getting married again in a few weeks time – at the age of 84 🙂

    By Susie Schwartfeger (10/12/2022)

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