& Clarke Ltd. was a retailer of motorcycles and motor accessories
at 158 Stockwell Road in south London. The company was established in
1920 by John Pride and Alfred Clarke and grew to become probably the
largest motorcycle retailer in the world in the 1960s.
The firm was famous for its special deals with manufacturers, enabling it to offer motorcycles at very low prices. Before the Second World War, Pride & Clarke Ltd. was best known for the "Red Panther", "AJW" and "Cathorpe" motorcycle models.
In 1939 the company added its own model called "the Club". It was a machine with a 122cc Villiers engine, three-speed gearbox built in-unit, a simple loop frame and blade girder forks. It was only listed for one year.
As Pride & Clarke Ltd. expanded during the 1960s, it took on many additional premises located on Stockwell Road. The whole front of these shops was painted with the company's trademark maroon paint. There were departments for new and secondhand motorcycles, new and secondhand spares, a mail order section, an export and import department, as well as finance and insurance offices. Mail order was a specialty of the business and products were dispatched all over the world.
Besides motorcycles, Pride & Clarke Ltd. sold cars, three wheelers, bicycles and sailing dinghies, plus clothing for motorcycling and sailing. In 1960, when motorcycle sales were at an all-time record high in the UK, Pride & Clarke Ltd. displayed no fewer than 2000 new machines and a good selection of secondhand bikes in the company showrooms.
In 1982 Pride & Clarke Ltd. was sold to Inchcape plc for around £3 million. Inchcape plc is currently a multinational automotive retail and services company headquartered in London.
by Mark Matlach