We’re always talking about young blood and the need to entice new generations into motorcycling but this week we are happy to celebrate the remarkable contribution of one of the longest serving servants of the trade, Bill Crosby, who is retiring from his London dealership, Reg Allen Motorcycles.
Bill indulged his love of motorcycles by buying the Reg Allen dealership in 1958 at the age of 26. He is now 86 and has decided to call it a day. The corner-shop façade of his premises in Hanwell and Bill’s reputation for all things Meriden Triumph and Norton Rotary are world famous, and he is also renowned for his separate London Motorcycle Museum, which houses his private collection of 200 classic and historic bikes.
The shop is closing imminently – although Bill will continue to sell his classic motorcycle parts from a shed to be built in the garden of his newly acquired bungalow in Old Windsor – but the museum will continue provided a benefactor can be found to pay the £40,000 a year rent of the premises, two miles away in Greenford.
Bill has been struggling to support the museum since 2016, when cutbacks led to Ealing Borough Council ending a government-backed rent dispensation. Through BDN, Bill appealed at the time for someone to help, and although he received lots of offers of assistance, no-one came up with the money.
Since then, Bill has been forced to sell five of the machines – including a much cherished Triumph 500cc production racer, kindly still lent to the museum for display – to raise the money to pay the rent.
“I’m fed up with the system,” Bill said wearily this week. “We have been stuffed by the council. They want £40,000 a year for the museum and we can’t afford it. Everybody wanted to help but I can’t find anybody to pay the rent.
“The alternative would be to move the museum to cheaper premises close to London. It could become the London Motorcycle Museum in exile,” Crosby quipped.