Today in Motorcycle History

Mead & Tomkinson Motorcycles

Wye Bridge Garage, Hereford.

Most famous for their 1000cc endurance racer, Nessie, the car and motorcycle dealership run by the Tomkinson father and sons in Hereford and Tewkesbury successfully raced machines based on the BSA Gold Star engine at the IOM TT and in a variety of endurance races including Le Mans, Spa and Barcelona in the 1960s and 70s, with several wins and a 4th outright at Barcelona despite their lead bike crashing in flames.

In 1974 their first multi appeared powered by a Laverda 3C engine. This developed into the machine commonly referred to as Nessie*, which proved to be one of the most innovative racing machines of the period, if not the prettiest - hence the name.

Along with modified Difazio hub-steering it had an underslung fuel tank to reduce C of G, parallelogram rear suspension (as used later by Hesketh), and sophisticated electronics. Decades later most of these ideas had been employed by high-end sports machines.

Later versions were propelled by Kawasaki 1000cc fours, the Laverda-powered machine passing into private hands in 1977 with the original Difazio front end (the racing version had been much modified, with the standard 6" trail reduced to 3½").

Soon after the war Michael Tomkinson had raced a KTT Velocette, and entered a Venom in the 1957 Barcelona 24hr with the riders taking second place in class. Shortly afterwards he switched to BSA.

Notes. 1. The Nessie moniker is most frequently used to refer to the Difazio 1976 Laverda. Bonhams, however, write that the name did not eventuate until the advent of the Kawasaki Difazio. A post on FB reads, "The first series of Difazio Mead & Tomkinson Endurance Racers 2 models were Monocoque and raced in 1974 & 1975. In 1976 Mike Tomkinson developed the ‘Nessie’ which maintained the Difazio Hub." Personally, I recall reading a magazine article about it back in the day (Motorcycle Sport, probably) and the Laverda Difazio was referred to as "Nessie". There is an article from that mag dated March 1982, but I don't think that's the one.
2. Mike Tomkinson's sons were Patrick and Chris.

Sources: Wikipedia, Bonhams, et al.

Facebook Warning!

If you have further information or a query related to this page, please contact us