|Pen Nib Motorcycles
Herbert William "Bill" Boulton, the father of the well-known
transport historian, Jim Boulton,
opened a garage in 1919 on the corner of Penn Road and Church
Hill, near the Rose and Crown. The building had previously been
occupied by the local blacksmith, and was known as 'the old
smithy'. He also had a piece of land on the opposite side
of Church Hill next to the Rose and Crown.
The garage building in the 1950s, then a corner shop.
Courtesy of Lawson Cartwright.
|He made several
motorcycles, which he called Pen Nibs because they had a petrol tank
that was tapered at the front like a pen nib. He built two and
four stroke versions, all with an H.B. frame, a Royal Ruby
engine, and an Albion gearbox.
A 1921, two-stroke Pen Nib, photographed
outside the garage.
|Bill sold petrol and specialised in repair work, also
becoming an agent for H.B. motorcycles. He purchased second hand
cars and motorcycles for resale after a thorough overhaul. He
stored the vehicles on his piece of land next to the Rose and
Within a few years Bill moved to larger premises on
Lloyd Hill, Penn, which included a bungalow, where the family
Penn Garage was one of the few garages in this part of town
and Bill had a contract with Ford to fuel model ‘T’s on route
from the works to the customer.
'Bill' Boulton on a four-stroke Pen
Nib, from about 1924.
|Another view of a four-stroke
The piece of land opposite the
garage, at the junction of Penn Road and Church Hill, next to the
Rose and Crown. It shows some
of the old cars that Bill purchased for overhaul and resale.
|The garage was on a route used by the A.J.S. and Sunbeam
testers, who used to meet there for coffee.
Bill arranged a number of motorcycle road racing events
which started and ended at the garage.
The route was from the Lloyd Hill garage, along the Penn
Road towards town, up Church Hill to Upper Penn, down
Vicarage Road, and back along Penn Road.
Bill outside the garage on Lloyd Hill.
|At the time there were no ambulances in Swindon or
Wombourne and Bill used to be called out in his Sunbeam
25-30 double Landaulette to provide transport in an
He also ran a taxi service.
Bill worked long hours. The garage opened daily at 8a.m.
and closed at 9p.m.
Another view of the garage. Bill's
interest in vehicles seems to have extended to aircraft
because the sign above the garage was made from an old
||Bill's Sunbeam 25-30 double
|In November 1925 Bill sold the garage and its contents.
The contents were sold by auction on 13th November. The
auction was conducted by Walker, Lloyd & Hill of
The items for sale included the following:
Motorcycle and car parts
Drilling machines and tools
Bill's Sunbeam Landaulette
Morris Cowley car
BSA touring car
Sun Vittese motorcycle
Orbit 2.5h.p. motorcycle
Gents Sunbeam cycle
Ladies Sunbeam cycle
The sale raised £175.19s.0d. including a mere £25 for Bill's
|After the sale of the garage Bill got a job with A.J.S.
as a tester. This was in many ways an ideal occupation for
someone who loved motorcycles, and had an in-depth
mechanical knowledge. Unfortunately it only lasted for a few
years. Shortly before A.J.S. went into liquidation in 1931,
Bill was out testing a machine on the Hermitage at
Bridgnorth when he took a fall and hurt his arm and hand.
This put an end to his testing career.
He acquired a poultry and fruit farm at Kemberton near
Shifnal, where Bill and his family lived for several years.
They later moved to Wombourne, where Bill had a large
garden, and sold the produce in local markets.