When I was on my holibobs late last year on the Isle of Wight I stumbled across Vincent’s Motorcycles & Antiques nestled in the lanes in Merstone and what a stumble that turned out to be.
Vincent has very kindly taken time out of his day to have a chat with me about his journey to now being on the Isle of Wight and how Vincent’s Motorcycles & Antiques evolved.
Vincent got his first bike when he was just 9 years old and he would work on his bike to fix it or just tinker and then he started working on his friends bikes along with doing a bit of motocrossing. Amazingly at age just 13 years, Vincent started his own business, Side Street Motorcycles, buying and selling motorbikes from a council garage in Paulsgrove, Portsmouth which was down a side street, hence the name.
At age 15, Vincent started working for Honda Motorcycles which was local to him where, as well as sweeping the floor, making the tea and filling batteries (who remembers those days when you had to refill the batteries?!), he also put together Honda Visions and Melodies. They used to arrive in crates and Vincent used to put the handlebars, seats etc on the bikes ready for sale. Vincent needed to have saved £1,000 from his earnings for his next venture …..
Incredibly, at the age of just 16, Vincent put together a business plan and he was successful in being accepted for the Enterprise Allowance Scheme from the government. For those of you too young to remember, the Enterprise Allowance Scheme was an initiative set up by the then government which gave a guaranteed income of £40 per week to unemployed people who set up their own business.
It was piloted between January 1982 and July 1983, funding 3,331 individuals and introduced nationwide in 1983 where it went on to fund 325,000 people. Anyone wishing to claim money under the scheme was required to fund the first £1,000 out of their own funds, and also to produce a basic business plan.
Vincent received £45 per week under the scheme and he rented a shop in Goldsmith Avenue, Portsmouth paying £25 per week rent. As he was too young to drive a car, Vincent’s mum bought a Mark I Transit van which she used to drive for him picking up bikes and spares. Vincent was buying, selling, fixing and breaking bikes.
After a while Vincent then got into custom bikes and started attending shows with his custom bikes and selling spares. Vincent even appeared in Back Street Heroes magazine when they did an article on him.
In 1984 Vincent was joined by his long time friend, Graham, who gave up his job as a butcher to be a partner in the business and together they moved to a yard where they bought, sold, fixed and broke both cars and bikes. Sadly in 1988 Graham was killed in a car accident with his girlfriend in his Reliant Robin. Vincent sold the business as a going concern.
Vincent found a shop on the junction of Albert & Victoria Road in Southsea and A&V Trade Sales was born. Here modern motorbikes were sold to the trade, there was a showroom for the public, a workshop at the back and across the road Vincent also had a shop where he sold a lot of motorbike memorabilia as well as antiques.
In 2016, after twenty years of A&V Trade Sales, Vincent decided it was time to slow down a little. His wife originally came from the Isle of Wight and so they decided to move there, A&V Trade Sales was closed and after a couple of months off, Vincent decided he needed to tinker …..
A building on a farm was soon found and Vincent’s Motorcycles & Antiques was born which started with about ten bikes. The business soon started growing and Vincent acquired the building next door and behind – at the last count there were 171 motorbikes, motorcycle spares – a lot of new old stock, classic spares from British, Italian and Japanese bikes. There is also motorcycle clothing and helmets and an eclectic mix of antiques to choose from.
Vincent describes his business on the Isle of Wight as one big farm unit of madness. Vincent has not slowed down!
I can honestly say it was like being a kid in a sweet shop at Vincent’s. There are so many bikes too look at from different eras – sports bikes, tourers, naked bikes, a few mopeds. All are for sale and I really wish I had my own big barn of madness so I could have got a couple of bikes myself.
There is a fantastic amount of motorcycle memorabilia to see, if I hadn’t of been on my bike I would have come away with a few armfuls, a lot of the items bought back memories for me of my childhood, perfect for decorating my imaginary barn.
When I was there on my holibobs I was with a few mates, and we spent the best part of a couple of hours just looking round, chatting with Vincent and his guys who worked there, they are a great friendly team and no question was too much for them. I got the impression they love what they do and are happy to talk bikes all day.
If you’re on the Isle of Wight, make sure you take in a visit to see Vincent and his various barns of madness, you will not be disappointed.
Thank you Vincent for your time, it was an absolute please to meet and chat with you 🙂