Saturday, April 30, 2016

The bike that was meant to be saved

Mr. Bevan Gore-Langton and his Fabrique Nationale de Herstal bike.

I love history and I particularly love hearing stories.  I have learned over the years that every human has a story, whether it be mundane or magnificent. I remember when I was little sitting and listening to my parents and grandparents tell stories. I loved stories about when my parents were kids, but I particularly loved hearing the tales of my grandparents, the things that they saw in their lifetime was amazing, from horse and buggy to early automobiles to current day tech. Anyway I digress, onto the tale that started 80 years ago during World War 2. This is where Bev Gore-Langton comes in.
He is a story teller, a lover of motorcycles and keeper of motorcycle memories.  I first met Bevan through a story on Farkle Garage about him being reunited with the motorcycle of his youth - Fanny B (Francis-Barnett) this too was a wartime story. He toured Europe after the war on this bike & brought it back to Canada, but as with some things, we let them go and cherish the memories that were created. He ultimately got Fanny B back after seeing it at a motorcycle event, it was fate that reunited them. (See the story Fanny B on Farkle Garage's YouTube channel - you will be captivated)
This brings us to the this other moto lovely the Belgian made Fabrique Nationale with its echoes from the past filling the present.  
Bev tells the most incredible story of fear, courage, defiance, and fate, all forces that when combined together preserved this beautiful piece of motorcycle history, while still bringing home the message that we need to remember and learn lessons from the past. 
The story begins in war torn Europe in Hamburg with the city being occupied by Nazis who expropriated everything 2 & 4 wheeled.  It was this bike that started a quiet courageous defiant filled rebellion of one man determined to keep his motorcycle. 

An act so courageous that he risked his life for the love of a motorbike.

In 1936 the owner was asked by the occupying forces where his bike was, he replied that it had been stolen. The Nazis told him they were going to search his home and property and kill him if they found out he was lying and anyone who helped him would suffer the same fate.  This was at a very dark time in human history. People were finding ways to defy the madness and to this man it meant taking his bike apart piece by piece and then secreting those pieces throughout the city in hiding places provided by friends. 

This was remarkable because anyone who defied the Nazis generally did not survive to tell the tale. When they searched his home and those of his friends they found nothing, others had attempted to do this, but unfortunately were not successful and suffered for their actions. Fate had a different plan for this bike, it was meant to survive and be a testament to human spirit, unending hope, and eventually come to the storyteller Bevan Gore-Langton. 

The bike laid hidden from 1936 until the wars end in 1945. The defiant owner survived his ordeal and collected the pieces, but this was not an easy task. Europe went through devastating physical tumult in an ever changing landscape, with the owner not knowing if all the pieces could be reclaimed. Eventually all but two of the parts were retrieved. Incredibly the wrenches in the tool box are original to the bike.  The bike was restored and made a journey to Canada with the man and his family. 

Fast forward to recent times and the bike finds Bevan at a classic bike show, where it caught his eye.  He struck up a conversation with the current owner who then told this incredible story resonating with the echoes of time gone by, but not forgotten. 

(The brake is made from hardwood and is original to the bike.) 

A question was asked "Is it for sale?" Surprisingly it was and Bev brought it home, where it would be cared for and even ridden, but most importantly the story would be told and shared with a group of people sitting around the bike in a garage - Farkle Garage. 

This amazing story will air in Episode 6 in May.  I will post the date & link. It truly is an incredible story. 


Ry Austin said...

Spectacular, plain and simple... I'm looking forward to hearing the whole story, Dar.

Dar said...

Ry I had shivers and was spellbound listening to this story. It was just as amazing as Bev's own story about his Francis-Barnett that he rode around Europe.

Andrew Thomson said...

Fantastic! Can't wait for the video!

Shybiker said...

Wow, what a story. My dad lived in Germany during the war (he was born 1930). Tough times.

Charlie6 said...

Great post and greater story!

David Masse said...

Wow! Just Wow!

Lynne Goebeler said...

Fantastic story...can't wait for the video!

Deb said...

I love stuff like this! See a lot of it on our "History Channel".
I am trying to get back into blogging again. No scoot yet, but working on it.

Hope your spring is fantastic!

Tony McGurk said...

What a beautiful old bike. A hardwood brake. Question: Is it safe???

Dar said...

Tony McGurk the bike was built way back in the 1930's so I imagine by standards of that time it was safe. It was a beautiful bike singing with history.

Tony McGurk said...

Dar: Yes I guess so. We or should I say I so often tend to compare things from past eras by modern standards.