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Ken Blacklock

Ken Blacklock 1934-2022
Ken Blacklock, the former owner of North East Motorcycles, died on 25 September. He was 88 and had been suffering with his health over recent years. After being admitted to a nursing home during the summer, he suffered a fall that he never really recovered from. He was admitted to hospital on 23 September with a chest infection and sadly passed away two days later.

Ken retired and closed North East Motorcycles in Durham after 59 years of trading in 2019, aged 85. He was unashamedly old-school, and one of the countrys’ longest standing dealers. He commenced trading in April 1960 and within five years had franchises for Honda, Suzuki, Yamaha and Lambretta, plus a sub-franchise for Vespa.

He raced successfully, sponsored sidecar star Mac Hobson (among many others), and described his time in the motorcycle trade as a most exciting and rewarding career.

In a BDN dealer profile in 2012, Ken said: “It’s not a chore coming into work, it’s a pleasure. I don’t have to keep on doing this, I choose to do it. That’s what makes all the difference.”

Over his time in the business, Ken had seen boom and bust, had held the biggest franchises in the business, worked hard, taken risks, stood up to pressure from suppliers, and reaped the rewards.

He started in business with Scooter Services in Chester-le-Street, County Durham, in 1960 with £270 saved from working permanent nights in the local colliery. He ran the shop during the day and was rewarded with a Vespa sub-agency through Cowies in Sunderland.
In 1971 he opened a second showroom at Darlington Road, Nevilles Cross.

Then in 1974, with the scooter boom fading and with the mainstream motorcycle market booming, Ken re-named the business North East Motorcycles.

In the boom times, North East Motorcycle’s two showrooms employed 14 and from 1978 to 1980 sold 3500 to 4000 bikes a year between them. Latterly, until his retirement, he had concentrated on the Durham based shop, with two full-time employees.

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