The machine in question is Old Bill, originally known as Spit & Polish (due to its immaculate appearance). The bike achieved its first victory at the Brooklands circuit, Weybridge, Surrey, but also put its rider in hospital later the same day, following a burst front tyre.
Brough rebuilt the motorcycle with special forks and a prototype JAP engine, renamed it Old Bill in memory of Bruce Bairnsfather’s First World War cartoon character, and went on to win no fewer than 51 sprints in the 1922/3 seasons.
Old Bill has had a long and varied history, including being sold to the founder of the VMCC, surviving a bath falling on it during the Second World War and being raced in the 1991 classic Isle of Man TT races – the first time a Brough had ever competed in the Island.
It has been on display at the Nottingham Industrial Museum for the last few years. For more info, go to www.handh.co.ukEnjoy more Classic Motorcycle Mechanics reading in the monthly magazine. Click here to subscribe.