Rear-View Mirror: Tour of the Union 1936

Wendy Monk picks out some interesting historic items from FMM’s photo archives. This month we look at the celebration of a ‘tour of the Union’ that took place in 1936…

The photos are from an impressive gathering of BSA bikes/riders and cars/drivers on the Parade in Cape Town to celebrate a ‘trip round the union’ on a BSA by a Mr J W Bryan in September 1936. Motoring historian Derek Stuart-Findlay believes that Bryan was the sales manager for BSA in the UK and he was in SA on a promotional tour. The event seems to have been masterminded by Stansfield Ratcliffe & Co Ltd, who were agents for BSA and a few other companies including ICI, Smith’s, Lucas, Lanchester and Daimler. The company’s head office was in Strand Street, Cape Town, and there were other offices in Johannesburg, Durban, Port Elizabeth, Kimberley, Pietermaritzburg, Pretoria, East London and Bulawayo.

Accompanying the photos is a letter addressed from Stansfield Ratcliffe & Co Ltd to Messrs Scott Brothers in 72 Russel Road Port Elizabeth (the Scott brothers who ride in the early D-Js maybe?) suggesting a similar gathering be held in Port Elizabeth, but whether this took place is not known. One of the photos shows Bryan talking to someone seated in a car, but his identity is also unknown. Can anyone shed any light on these issues?

Incidentally, the Crankhandle Club’s headquarters in Wynberg, Cape Town, has a Stansfield Ratcliffe display cabinet that most likely originally housed rifles.