Motor Cycle members and their wives in the 1920s

Dunbar Motorcyling

This month, we are going to look at some copies of photos donated to DDHS by Emma Robertson. The photos feature Dunbar Motorcycle Club in the 1920s and some of the information below was also given to DDHS by Emma Robertson.

Dunbar Motor Cycle Club

Fifth from the right is Emma’s grandfather, Giovanni Togneri, who opened the Central Café (now Café Central) in 1916 and ran it until his death in 1952. More information from Emma Robertson:

My grandfather John Togneri came from Tuscany. He was born in 1887 and came to Scotland when he was 13. He worked in Ayrshire in coal mining in an above ground job. He was paid off and came to Dunbar to help his brother Joe in what became the Lido cafe when Joe’s wife Argene had a baby. Her sister Elmina came from Italy to help in the house and met brother John. They married in Our Lady of the Waves. So this was two brothers marrying two sisters.

The first fish and chip shop was on the High Street before moving to the West Port. John and his growing family lived at 33 High Street. The shop started as fish and chips and then the upstairs was opened as a restaurant. A full-time cook was employed and they served lunches and high teas with everything that was made in the fish and chip shop downstairs on the menu as well. When tourism changed and the number of visitors to Dunbar in the summer dropped it was decided to modernise the whole shop and do away with the upstairs restaurant and make the downstairs area into a cafe. A bit more info. John took out his naturalisation papers about 1933 but his brother Joe didn’t or was too late applying and was being deported and was lost at sea on the Arandora Star. Luigi his son became a doctor and served on board ships being torpedoed twice and was lost at sea. His name is on the war memorial. 

More information on the Arandora Star was sent to Jim Herring by Malcolm McLeman (ex West Barns):

The name of the ship in this tragic and shameful incident was Arandora Star not Andorra Star as mentioned. There’s been an-ongoing petition from the Scottish-Italian widows and families to get some Westminster (culpability) recognition for this tragedy but to no avail and more ironic that the Togneri family lost another member at sea actually serving/fighting for the UK and Allied cause. 

You can read more on the Arandora Star tragedy on this site, and also this one which contains interviews with survivors. Guiseppe (Joe) Togneri is listed as an internee here. 

In the photo above, we see  a prosperous looking group of men who are well dressed – note the shirts, ties, waistcoats and expensive looking coats –  and possibly made up of mainly business men in Dunbar at the time. The two men on the right are smoking cigarettes and this would have been acceptable in this type of photo in the 1920s. Some of the men here may well have taken part in the Scottish Six Days Trial (scroll down to History).

Line up of motor cycles in Dunbar in the 1920s

The photo above was taken  outside the wall that ran between the corner opposite the Hillside Hotel towards Parish Church. Jim Herring contacted the National Motor Museum (good photos) to ask if any of the motor cycles – motor bikes nowadays – could be identified. Jonathan Day, who is manager of the Motoring Picture Library replied that “we think it is a Triumph fourth from left and a Scott next to the sidecar outfits” but the photo is not clear enough to identify others. You can see details of Triumphs in the 1920s here and of Scott Motor Cycles here. One of the Scott models was called The Flying Squirrel and, if you are interested in motor cycles, you can watch a video relating to a 1920s model here.

Motor Cycle members and their wives in the 1920s.

The final photo is dated on the back as Sunday 13/4/24 Peebles. I think we can assume that  some/all of the women in the photo may have gone to Peebles in a side-car. The Motor Cycle Club members would have been exclusively male in the 1920s and this photo shows some of the members with (presumably) their wives. Again, we see a group of affluent men and women. Some of the men are in their motor cycling gear while some of the women, showing the fashion of the time, have fur stoles around their necks. It is also noticeable that the men in motor cycling gear are wearing hats rather than – as they would today – helmets.