Before Jack Lilley Ltd – Some History


Charles Godwin pictured in 1924 with the Sunbury Clock Tower in the background.  We believe this is the 249cc JES-Blackburne which he used for racing that year

A while back, we published a 4-part story detailing the history of Jack Lilley Ltd from the launch in 1959 through to the present day.  The family-run business was founded by Jack Lilley and is today run by Jack’s grandchildren Dave and Kath.  But going back further still, we find that motorcycling has been in this family’s blood for almost 100 years.  Jack’s father-in-law, Charles Godwin, ran a motorcycle garage in Staines Road, Sunbury in the 1920’s and was also a keen motorcycle racer.  Records from a Brooklands motorcycle book about racing in the 20’s indicate that he competed at a race meeting on Saturday 24th May 1924 in Ealing riding a 249cc JES-Blackburne – a bike which was apparently quite noisy compared to the other machines taking part.

Later that summer, Charles Godwin competed on June 7th at the 4th 1924 meeting of the BMCRC.  In the 3-lap handicap race (for bikes up to 350cc), he achieved 2nd place, again riding the 249 JES-Blackburne.  Moving on to July 12th, he competed in a 50 mile race at Brooklands but sadly had to retire after 5 laps owing to magneto problems.  The next date in the race diary was September 6th, a 200 mile solo race event again held at Brooklands.  In the early stages of the 250cc race, he was battling for the lead with Dougal Marchant (riding a 249cc Zenith-Blackburn) but unfortunately dropped right back owing to a temporary stop – there’s no record of the reason why – but it effectively put him out of the race.

We’ve found a couple of photos in the archive, which we’ve reproduced here.  Hope you enjoy this slice of history.  If you missed the 4-part story about the history of Jack Lilley, you can find it by following these links:

Part 1 / Part 2 / Part 3 / Part 4


Charles Godwin (in white shirt) outside his garage – St Saviours Motorworks, Staines Road, Sunbury

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