In 1950 Geoff decided to set
himself up in business as a specialist jig borer. He
acquired premises in Pipes Meadow, Bilston and purchased
a new machine.
|Geoff’s family grew on 11th April, 1953 when his son
Peter was born. The enlarged family acquired a new home
in July 1955, after a move to Goldthorn Road.
Early in 1956 things went badly wrong for Peter, who
was diagnosed with a brain tumour. It must have been an
extremely worrying time for Geoff and Hetty, but luckily
the diagnosis was wrong, Peter actually suffered from
hydrocephalus, or water on the brain. After 9 weeks in
hospital he made an excellent recovery.
The family had many happy holidays, both at home and
abroad, including a Rhine cruise in 1964 to celebrate
their silver wedding anniversary.
Around this time Geoff moved his business to the
bottom of Dixon Street in Monmore Green, Wolverhampton,
where Laystall is today.
A few years later the business made a final move to
Hainge Road, Tividale.
During the last few years of his working life he
became an employee of Thorne Tools Limited, also in
Hainge Road, and finally retired in December 1982 at the
age of 69.
Geoff, on stilts, on the Longmynd.
Courtesy of Peter Stevens.
Geoff settled down to a happy
retirement with Hetty, and they celebrated their golden
wedding anniversary in 1989 with a trip to the Austrian
Recording the A.J.S. Story
Steve Mills and Geoff at the 2002 Black
Country Vehicle Rally, at the Black Country Living Museum.
Geoff and his brother Alec were
very proud of their family’s achievements and considered
writing an accurate history of A.J.S.
This became a reality when Geoff
met Steve Mills, an enthusiast who owned, and restored
an A.J.S. 1928 ‘K1’ motorcycle. As a result of their
meeting, Steve decided to write a book covering the whole
of the Wolverhampton company’s history.
Geoff greatly enjoyed, and looked
forward to days out with Steve, when carrying out
research for the book.
They visited many locations, talked
to many enthusiasts, and historians, and people
associated with the company. They also examined and
photographed surviving products.
The project took three years to
complete, and Steve’s book; ‘A.J.S. of Wolverhampton’
made its appearance in 1994.
The book is the first complete and
accurate history that has been written about A.J.S. It
was Geoff’s pride and joy, and because of it he became
known to many enthusiasts throughout the world.
Geoff became a local celebrity on
31st August, 1996 when he unveiled a statue dedicated to
A.J.S. A supermarket had been built on the site of the
old Graiseley Hill factory, and a statue, called ‘The
Lone Rider’ was commissioned to celebrate the Black
Country’s leading motorcycle manufacturer.
In 1999 Geoff and Hetty celebrated
their diamond wedding anniversary with a holiday in
Sidmouth, Devon, but disaster struck on 22nd November,
2000 when Hetty died. It was a big blow for Geoff and
Celebrating their diamond wedding anniversary with
a card from the Queen. Courtesy of Peter Stevens.
I greatly enjoyed my visits to
their home, and was always made extremely welcome.
They were a lovely couple, full of energy and full
of the joys of life. It was a great shock to hear
that Hetty had died.
In 2003 Peter and Geoff
celebrated his 90th birthday with a holiday in
Cornwall and Devon.
Giving advice at the 2004 Black Country Vehicle
Rally, at the Black Country Living Museum.
|From the 1990s until his death, Geoff regularly
attended local vehicle rallies that celebrated the
once-famous Black Country vehicle manufacturers.
greatly enjoyed them and became well-known to many of
the visitors and enthusiasts. He was also president of
the A.J.S. 9 Car Club.
Geoff received another major blow
in September 2006 when his younger brother Alec died.
During his retirement Geoff
regularly went out with a few old friends, but sadly
this came to an end as they gradually passed away.
After Hetty’s death he regularly
went out for Sunday lunch with Peter, to a number of
favourite pubs and restaurants, both in the West
Midlands and Shropshire.
|George Peck (ex-Sunbeam) and
Geoff at the 2007 Sunbeam Rally in Bantock Park.
This was their last meeting.
The after dinner speaker. Courtesy
of Peter Stevens.
|During the last year of his life Geoff began to
suffer from mobility problems, and as a result ended up
in residential care.
During one of my visits to the
care home, he summed his life up for me, saying that he
had had a wonderful wife and son, a marvellous family
home, and an enjoyable working life.
|The last time I saw Geoff was on Sunday 27th July,
2008 at the Festival of Black Country Vehicles, that
took place at the Black Country Living Museum.
He greatly enjoyed his time there, and happily
reminisced about A.J.S. when inspecting some of the
company’s motorcycles and cars. He also enjoyed seeing
the museum’s Stevens 3-wheeled van that was donated by
his brother Alec.
Geoff passed away on Monday 11th August,
2008 in New Cross Hospital after a short illness.
He will be fondly remembered by his many friends, and
a large number of vintage vehicle enthusiasts.
His funeral service was held at the church he often
attended, St. Michael and All Angels at Tettenhall,
Wolverhampton, followed by cremation at Bushbury
He will be sadly missed by many people, including
Geoff at the 2008 Festival of Black Country
Vehicles, at the Black Country Living Museum.
A final view of Geoff at the 2008 Festival of
Black Country Vehicles.
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