Faces of Tamworth: Motor Cycle Club founder Harry Pyne

Harry Pyne is standing at the back in this photograph of members of the Tamworth Motor Cycle Club at a Duri meeting. Photo: Solomons Studios
Harry Pyne is standing at the back in this photograph of members of the Tamworth Motor Cycle Club at a Duri meeting. Photo: Solomons Studios

Harold Ernest “Harry” Pyne, a signwriter, artist, and musician, was the driving force in establishing the Tamworth Motor Cycle Club.

He was born at Ellalong, near Cessnock.

As a young man, he trained as a sign writer and commercial artist and from the age of eight, played cornet in a brass band.

During WWII he put these two qualifications to good use by becoming a member of an army entertainment unit, playing in its band, and painting its backdrops, according to A Chronological History of Tamworth.

After WWII he established his own sign writing and commercial art business.

In 1946, while engaged on a big contract with the W. D. & H. O. Wills tobacco company, he passed through Tamworth on his way to supervise work in Tenterfield, Moree and other northern centres, and was impressed by what he saw.

He was forced to abandon his trade in November 1947 as a result of permanent injuries sustained when a drunken driver ran into his car.

In the meantime, he had begun to involve himself in the mechanical intricacies of motor cycles and had become a proficient rider in his own right.

On 13 March 1948, he came to Tamworth and bought the shop which Albert Musgrove had been using as a saddlery, at the eastern corner of Peel and Bourke streets.

There he established a motor cycle shop with lawnmower repairs as a side line.

The remains of Charles Wane’s timber yard were still visible at the time behind “Harry” Pyne’s shop.

During 1949, he bought a site at 230 Peel Street from the Bussell family. It was next to the Court House Hotel (P-28), towards Darling Street, and on it was an empty cypress pine shed which had been erected by F. J. Bussell (W-206).

The baker’s ovens which Bussell had used to make his pies were still out the back, as was a well. In 1954, when “Harry” Pine pulled down the cypress pine shed, a seventy-year-old carrier named “Sonny” Withers, who was engaged to take away the rubbish, recalled that as a six-year-old, he had bought sweets in the building that he was carrying away.

The cypress pine building was replaced with a brick one and “Harry” Pyne then advertised himself as the agent for A.J.S., Velocette and Matchless motor cycles. He also became the agent for Honda cycles in 1958 and, afterwards, for Yamaha as well.

He was one of the first agents in New South Wales for both of these Japanese makes. In addition, he advertised as a motor mower specialist.

Tamworth Motor Cycle Club

Soon after coming to Tamworth, “Harry” Pyne called a meeting of local motor cycle riders in the Albert Hotel and as a result of this meeting, the Tamworth Motor Cycle Club was formed with 29 members.

The founding President was Robert Webster Jnr, the Secretary was “Harry” Pyne, and the Treasurer was Charles Sneddon.

The club’s first racing carnival was held in June 1948 at the Duri Circuit.

The venue for the next carnival in June 1949 was moved to the Nemingha Circuit where it remained for the next few years.

In 1957, the Tamworth Motor Cycle Club hosted the N.S.W. Scramblers Championships on a one mile (1.6 kilometre) circuit on the Permanent Common.

Riders came from every state in Australia, including Western Australia, and included the Australian Champion, Peter Nichol of Perth, who won the Senior Championship.

Tamworth winners included “Harry” Pyne who took out the Lightweight Championship, and Bob Clifton, who became the Ultra-light Champion.

Nemingha Speedway

The Nemingha Speedway was established in about 1949 on the Recreational Reserve near the War Memorial Hall.

It was soon pronounced a success by all those who visited it, and a menace by those who lived nearby! It was, in fact, considered to be one of the finest tracks in the State.

This was shown in 1962 when the NSW Circuit Championships were held there.

Riders came from three states, with most of the winners from Sydney, Newcastle and Brisbane.

The only local man to win a championship was Harold Ernest “Harry” Pyne, riding a lightweight machine in the 250 cc class.

From time to time, there was confrontation with members of the nearby Nemingha Tennis Club because of the noise and dust issuing from the track area.

One gentleman, who would no doubt be embarrassed to be named, had reason to remember the Nemingha Track.

One hot afternoon, as he was standing out in the open wearing fairly wide-legged shorts, he observed a goanna running towards him.

He did not move and the goanna ran up the leg of his shorts, across his body, and down the other leg before speeding merrily on its way!

For many years, from 1950 onwards, the speedway track was graded and maintained by plant operator, Ronald Stanley Thomas, of Manilla Road.

His four sons were all prominent riders at the time. 

- Information sourced from A Chronological History of Tamworth

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