Register / Sign in

UK

17/07/2017

Classic British parts wholesaler LF Harris International organised a special farewell display by the Army's White Helmets display team earlier this month. The team, which disbands at the end of the summer, has used classic 750cc Triumph twins built by the Devon-based company for 30 years.

Company founder Les Harris, who died in 2009, built an edition of old-style 750cc Triumph Bonnevilles under licence from John Bloor after the Meriden factory closed in 1983. The White Helmets looked to Harris for spares to maintain their similar 750cc Tiger models and commissioned a batch of 30 complete machines in 1986. Another 30 Tigers were assembled in 1999, with help from Army fitters.

The company is run today by Harris's widow, Shirley Harris-Spong, her son-in-law Mark Beasley and former Meriden director John Birch. When they heard the display team was being killed off, they decided to mark their long association with a special event at Newton Abbott racecourse. Dealers were invited, along with local classic British bike clubs.

The Royal Signals precision riding team was formed in 1927. They have ridden Triumph motorcycles since the 1940s and adopted the White Helmets name in the early 1960s. Apart from soldiers' wages they have been self-funding.

"Motorcycles are no longer used for Army communications," Lieutenant Colonel Alan Balsdon, senior officer in charge of the team, told BDN. After the final performance on 30 September, 24 machines will be auctioned to raise funds for the Royal Signals Benevolent Fund.

 

The White Helmets, soon to disband, do their stuff at Newton Abbott (Picture: Mick Duckworth)