Remembering Harry Morris

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George
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Remembering Harry Morris

Post by George » 20 Dec 2023 13:38

As Phil has already announced, we recently lost the last of our founder members, Harry Morris, who has died at the age of 92.

Although the great majority of our current members will be too young to have known Harry during his Beacon days, a few of us got to know him in the last few years, when he made a generous donation to the club to fund Academy activities, and later when he attended our 75th anniversary dinner as guest of honour. He was a great character with a mischievous sense of humour. For those of you who weren't fortunate enough to meet him, here's an interview with Harry that was done for our 75th anniversary souvenir booklet. The full booklet, featuring pictures of Harry and loads of anecdotes from every period of the Beacon's history right up to the present day, is available to read online in PDF format.


“If I could go back, I wouldn’t change a thing”

“We more or less all knew each other,” says Harry, his hindsight barely clouded by the fog of time. “A few of us worked together at the Ariel motorcycle plant in Selly Oak, some of the others around the corner at Ward’s. We were all cyclists, some were already in clubs. But we were keen, we wanted to race as well as doing social riding, and the only club nearby was just a family club.

“What you’ve got to realise is that it was right after the war. We’d only just got past that, and everyone was happy. We just wanted to enjoy ourselves. Nev Smith got us together. It was his idea to form a new club, so we could do things our own way. He was the organiser, really. I was just the babby of the group. Sixteen, I was. I didn’t really say anything, just listened, and when they all voted I put my hand up too.

“Nev was a great organiser, did things properly. It was all very formal by today’s standards, but very democratic. We discussed everything and voted on it; everything was agreed together. We chose ‘Beacon’ as the name because there was a chap who had a garage at the top of Beacon Hill that we used as a sort of meeting place, up above Rubery. But the decision to form the club wasn’t taken there. We all met up at Walton Tea Rooms, Clent. That’s where the vote was taken, and we all signed our names.

“The reason the club took off, I think, is that we had some very good riders in that group, combined with Nev motivating everyone. We soon got more riders joining us, including girls. Some of them were very good. One weekend, we rode to Aberystwyth and back. Out on the Saturday, back on the Sunday. Johnny Pottier’s sister Gill came with us. John won the very first stage of the Tour of Britain, and his sister was clearly cut from the same cloth. None of us blokes could shake her off at all.

“We used to go all over to race in time trials. Wales a lot of the time. We would ride down to Usk and stay in digs overnight. There was this place we used regularly, owned by an elderly couple. Five of us would go down, and the couple would move to an outbuilding for the night, so we had the run of the house. Brilliant it was. After riding down on the Saturday – a hundred miles, maybe – we’d get up early and race on the Sunday morning. And then ride the hundred miles home again. Norman Adams, he was something else. It didn’t matter how tired he was, he just kept going. He never slowed down. We went on some amazing tours as well. Gordon Thurlow, Les Shaw and me, we rode down to Nice, over the Alps.

“After the racing season ended in September, every club had a dinner and dance. They would all be different weekends, so everyone went to each other’s dances. You’d be at another do almost every Saturday. The social side of things was very important. As I say, that was the mood at the time, everyone was so happy, and we wanted to do all these things.” Harry’s eyes sparkle as he speaks; the vitality that took him on all those adventures still plays behind them. “It was brilliant! If I could go back, I wouldn’t change a thing."

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Re: Remembering Harry Morris

Post by Dave Cox » 02 Jan 2024 09:54

Thanks George good to re-read Harry's account of the early days.

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George
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Re: Remembering Harry Morris

Post by George » 03 Jan 2024 10:33

Harry's funeral is at Redditch Crematorium on Tuesday 23 January, 14:45. Beacon jerseys welcome.

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George
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Re: Remembering Harry Morris

Post by George » 03 Jan 2024 13:06

Harry's son-in-law has asked me to let him know how many people from the Beacon are likely to attend. Can anyone who plans to go please message me?

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