Obituary: Bob Joyner

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The Independent Culture
BOB JOYNER Motorcycles was the largest British motorcycle spares manufacturer and supplier in the world and could supply 94 per cent of British-made motorcycles with spares from their vast stock. Had Joyner not remained loyal to the "home" products during the years when people did not want British motorcycles, the British bike would nowadays be far scarcer.

Following the decline of the British motorcycle industry in the 1960s and 1970s, Bob Joyner Motorcycles embarked on over 26 acquisitions of stock, rights, patterns, research and development engines of suppliers/manufacturers including the companies James Francis Barnet, Bond Motors, Romac Cables, Swallow Gadabout Scooters and, in 1974, Norton Villias Triumph (NVT).

Some of the inherited business which came with these acquisitions was supplying spares to the Indian motorcycle police. Joyner's also made cables for the braking system on Concorde and jumbo jets, although only those for the drinks trolleys.

In 1966-67 he also developed Elstar Grass Track competition bikes and formed his own racing team, which went on to win the British and European grass track championship on numerous occasions.

Robert William Joyner was born in 1913, one of a family of nine children. His parents were the owners of a Birmingham haulage business. He spent many hours in his uncle's hardware and cycle shop, where his duties included delivering batteries and accumulators door to door and assisting in bicycle repairs.

Joyner started work, aged 14, in a steel foundry. His first transport was a motorbike and his hobby became attending motorcycle sports venues, where he rode as sidecar passenger for Charles "Fatty" Bowers. In 1934, the pair of them won the British championship at Lilleshall Hall, in Shropshire.

In 1937 Joyner was out riding his motorcycle when a Bentley pulled out in front of him; he collided with the car and broke his leg. He was hospitalised for nearly a year, but this, in his own words, was his "lucky break", as he received the sum of pounds 250 in compensation.

In 1939 he married Laura Whittall, and, using the money from this compensation, the Joyners set up in business. They bought the first of many premises, in Birmingham, broke Bob's salvaged motorcycle into spares and put them on sale in the window. As well as selling spare parts, Laura would repair bicycles and Bob motorcycles.

Throughout their lives they strived to make good out of bad, and employment out of unemployment. For instance, Bob Joyner Motorcycles could have had the spares for British motorcycles made more cheaply abroad, but Joyner insisted that a bike would not be truly British if this were to happen, and always put emphasis on the need to create employment in this country.

Even at the age of 80, Bob was still doing deals across the Midlands, whilst caring for Laura, who had developed Alzheimer's disease. Bob and Laura Joyner stood side by side throughout life; and they died side by side at their home in Oldbury.

Robert William Joyner, motorcycle engineer: born Birmingham 10 June 1913; married 1939 Laura Whittall (died 1998; one son, two daughters); died Oldbury, West Midlands 14 June 1998.

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