Early bike would have left Little Mummy riding high

Little lady, big bike – and a slice of Shropshire motorcycling history.

Rose Hounslow with the early Humber
Rose Hounslow with the early Humber

Posing with a very early Humber well over 100 years ago is Rose Hounslow who, being only 5ft tall, attracted the nickname "Little Mummy."

Rose Hounslow with the early Humber

She was the grandmother of Julian Danks of Stirchley in Telford, and what he has heard about her has come from stories passed down through family members.

"The trouble is that she died in 1942, I think, and I wasn't born until 1947, and my grandfather died when I was 10, so don't remember much about him," said Julian.

"She lived originally in Market Drayton, and then Lilyhurst, and then Shifnal. The picture has got to have been taken around Market Drayton. My grandfather Frank Hounslow was a bit of an amateur photographer."

Julian has shared the picture with classic motorcycle enthusiast and restorer Phil Wilson of Telford, who says: "It is the 51st vehicle registered in Shropshire, as the plate is AW 51."

The plate points to it being early 20th century, as the new Motor Car Act of 1903 – it came into force on January 1, 1904 – required vehicle owners to display a registration mark. In Shropshire the designated registration letters were AW and by December 31, 1903, Salop County Council had registered 65 cars, and 28 motorcycles, and had issued 105 licences, with AW 1 going to Captain James Foster, of Woodcote Hall, Newport.

Phil said: "As a lady she was an absolute pioneer motorcyclist. Women motorcyclists in those days were very, very rare."

However, Rose's pioneer status would depend on her being a motorcyclist, but Julian thinks the Humber would be too big for her, and is of the view that she is posing with one of Frank's bikes.

"She is not big enough. If you look at that photograph the saddle is near her waist. I think Frank had various motorcycles. I remember he used to ride a bike which had a motor in the back wheel. They called it a magic wheel, or something like that."

Julian has ridden motorcycles himself and says: "I think the liking for motorcycles was passed down to my uncle. He had an HRD Comet which he sold for scrap. Now it would be worth about 30,000 quid."

Rose, whose maiden name was Barlow, had three children, including Joyce, Julian's mother.

Phil has pored over the photo in fascination.

"It's one of those things that the more you study it, the more you see," he said.

"It's a very early Humber, a Humber single cylinder. If you look on the front of the tank it's a hand oil pump. It's what they call a total loss oil system in which it's up to the rider to pump oil into the engine to keep it going.

"It appears to have a very early coil ignition, which is that black box.

"She must have had a special split skirt so it fell either side of the saddle. There is a rudimentary front brake, nothing more than a bicycle brake, which probably would never have stopped it."

Most Read

Most Read

Sorry, we are not accepting comments on this article.

Top Stories

More from the Shropshire Star

UK & International News