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Phillips & Bloomfield-A history

I requested information about Phillips & Bloomfield and these are the replies I have received, I also mention that, as a teenager (rocker) I used to frequent such places as The Ace, The Cellar, The Jack, The Viking, The Manor, and a couple of times The Busy-Bee.
Ah, such fond memories!!

My thanks to
David Quartermaine, Tony Kalisz, Keith Davis and Stuart Wigmore,
Andrew Cripps.

 David Quartermaine comments: -

    Phillips & Bloomfield was a Reading, Berkshire dealer along with several others: -
    Stocks & Sheppard in the Oxford road; Great Western motorcycles in the Harris Arcade; Cyril Shepherds and Barlow’s in the Kings Road; Jack Hill in Southampton Street; another dealer in Caversham Road run by Mr Bryan Pym near the Clifton pub just below the car park toilets; Don Chapman in London Road Erleigh and last but not least Phillips & Bloomfield in East Street with an extension in 68, London Street.
    East Street was just a short way up London Street on the other side of the road between Tuftys and Lawfords (the stamp dealer), and was always the workshop.
    I believe they specialised in BSA, the salesman was I a Mr Harold Nash, a most pleasant fellow.
    Charlie Bloomfield to the best of my knowledge was the managing director; pre war the company was called Phillips and Powis. He was quite a character, a bachelor who lived with his sister in College Road Reading and said to have only one eye, he could certainly see reasonably well and would always have a chat and pass the time of day with his customers. He always rode an Ariel Square Four solo (ODP 3 or 4 from memory) and every day it was found parked against the kerb in King Street, outside Barclays Bank, when he was banking the takings and of course he did not ware a crash helmet.

 

Tony Kalisz comments: -

    I have no info on your BSA but I bought one of my bikes down the road at Stocker & Shepherd and visited Philip & Bloomfield often. They had a lovely FN 4 cyl. in the middle of the showroom, the first I’d ever seen.
    Across the road in a side street was their spares and accessory department where I bought a few bits including a strange leather cap type crash helmet. It was for a girlfriend who didn’t like wearing ordinary crash helmets.
    They were, at one time, part of the Phillips & Powys group I believe who had a car showroom in Erleigh Road not far from the Royal Berkshire Hospital, and another part of the group made small airplanes, possibly on the showroom site. A lot of the history is in a book called Wings over Woodley.
    By the way I too used to frequent the Viking Café (a rocker café) in the 60’s, it’s still there but much too flash for a rocker café now. A lot of the car park is now part of a garage forecourt behind and it’s called The Gorge Café I think. I also went to The Old Manor Café, Blackwater and The Cellar, Windsor, as well as a few other smaller local cafes.
    I hope my memory serves me well with this info.

 

    Keith Davis comments: -

    Further to your letter in The Classic Motorcycle, I was born and breed in Caversham, Reading and from 1962 onward new of the various dealers in the town and surrounding area. 
    Phillips and Bloomfield were indeed in London Street and their stores were in South Street which was off a road opposite the showroom.
    Harold Nash was the salesman for motorcycles and he was also an ACU steward. 
    It was forty odd years ago but I believe they were agents for BSA.

   
This link will show you a picture of the shop. 

London Street, Reading, c. 1974. West side. No. 68 (Phillips and Bloomfield, car and motorcycle dealers). 1970-1979 : original filed at Dynix 1250889.

    I worked for Eddie Chandler who had a showroom and workshop in Caversham Road and I can remember going there for bits. This was a saga in its own right because if you went to the showroom they had an old fashion wind up type telephone for the internal link to the stores. 
    In Reading we had the following motorcycle shops -
    Stocker and Shepherd in the Oxford Road, Run by Jack Stocker and Leo Shepherd. Jacks son John served on the counter there as a young boy and he is still involved in motorcycling as he does pre 1965 scrambling. Bill Turner a well-known sidecar scrambler and Ariel expert also worked there in the workshop, and when taking your bike to him for an MOT, it never passed until he had ridden it up and down the road. Bill went on to have his own garage in Queens Road, Caversham where his son John, also a well-known sidecar scrambler worked. John Stedman was one of the main store-men at S & S, and when they closed he opened up his own motorcycle accessory shop in Oxford Road.
    Wally Searl was another general dealer who had premises in Oxford Road, and a letter about him appeared in last months VMCC monthly magazine. 
    Also in the Oxford Road was Brill Brothers again general dealers in second hand bikes and this showroom became part of the Kawasaki Centre, which is still there today. The Kawasaki Centre was started by Malcolm Grassie another local scrambles rider, and I can remember going there for the launch of the 900cc Z1. 
    Eddie Chandler as I said early had a showroom and workshop and this is where I first met Barry Nutley, who rode Dot, then Montesa, with Eddies support, and then went on to do sidecar scrambling and more recently commentating for the BBC, Channel 4, and Sky channels. 
    Eddie himself scrambled a DOT but is better known for Enduro sidecar successes in the Welsh Two Day. He was also one of the 'gang of four' who started the Weston Beach Race. His father 'Pop' Chandler was a brilliant engineer who built his own V twin engine in the 1920s, and there were pictures and an article about this in a recent Old Bile Mart. 
    Unfortunately Eddie along with some of the others are no longer with us, but at Eddies funeral he managed to get virtually all of the 'old gang' back together and conversation flowed as if we had only seen one another the day before, not the gap of 30 years that it actually was. We also agreed that we would try meet at one of the local Mortimer Club Scrambles, which we have managed to do albeit that messages are passed from those who can't make it. 
    There were numerous local riders who raced both on and off road, and other shops such as Fortesque Brothers run by two brothers and a sister in West Street, Reading, 2,3,4 Motors (formerly Great Western Motors), and Keith Manning at Wokingham.
    Further afield you had Ken Heanes, Eric Cheney, Archers of Aldershot, & Bill Faulkner. 
The list goes on!!

With regard to the mentioning the Viking, you have brought back other memories. Some of the trouble that was there     was not all of 'the boys' making, some of it was of the police making. I can remember the place being surrounded by the boys in blue one night and us making out we were working on a mates Velo in order not to get involved in what was going on. I can also remember the tales of the first night it opened, a Mod on the top step, and his Lambretta going down Richfield Avenue on its own, pushed by someone apparently. On a Saturday when working at Eddies, our Sausage Sandwich lunch came from there.

 Stuart Wigmore comments: -

    I was working in the stores at Bloomfield’s in 1966 and 1967, at the age of 18. My memory is a little clouded, but I think the salesman that sold the bike would have been Mr Nash, not sure of his Christian name, Harold maybe.

    Charlie Bloomfield used a square four Ariel to go down to the bank every day, that I do remember, I used to live out at Burghfield and used a Greeves Scottish, then an Ariel Arrow and finally a T110 to get to work, I can't remember the workshop managers name at the moment, but it will come back to me, he used to send me up the Oxford road to Stocker and Shepherd to collect spares on the M21 sidecar outfit or fload as it was called, one of the guys in the workshop was John Young (Jack) he lived at Tilehurst and later on prepared my grass track bike for me, he also went on to look after the Police vehicles at Sullhampstead, I would like to hear from Jack if he is still about.

Andrew Cripps comments: -

    I read your letter in The Motor Cycle and may be able to add some information.
    Philip & Bloomfield had a showroom in London Street from the late 1920's until the mid-70's when it became an antique shop.  The sales manager when you purchased your bike would have been Harold Nash, a stalwart there for many years.  He rode in most of the trials and scrambles around Berkshire in the 50's and early 60's including the Musketeers early in the New Year at Knowle Hill.
    The workshops were opposite the showroom in South Street and were run by Johnny Walker who lived in Purley [a bungalow called Speedway] - always helpful and with a tremendous knowledge of all things BSA/Norton/ Triumph!  My uncle, George Andrews, a founder member of the Reading Ace MCC, also worked there and often used an old Norton outfit to collect new bikes from Reading station.
    Charlie Bloomfield could often be seem around town centre riding his Ariel Square 4, licence ARD 57.  It was the bike exhibited at the 1957 Paris motorcycle show. 
    I have a 1951 Triumph Speed Twin, third owner, originally supplied by P & B.  My first bike, a D7 Bantam, also came from there in 1964.
    The Viking brings back many memories!!

If anyone has more info or would like to contact one of the above please contact the 'Club'