The origins of the family firm lie almost a century ago. Joseph Jefferies, left with a peg leg as the result of a football accident, was a picture framer by trade and a pioneer motorist who was quick to see a future for the horseless carriage. He entered into an arrangement with some like-minded friends to form the Ross Motor and Cycle Company in Shipley's old steam tram shed near the Ross Hotel .
The partnership floundered and old Jo broke away and started his own operation just down the road, selling cars, motorcycles and bicycles.
Joseph's son Allan - another larger than life character - was born in 1905. The business moved to premises in Saltaire Road, Shipley in 1917, where it was to remain for more than 50 years. In 1928 the International Six Days Trial was based in Harrogate. Allan on a works Scott, won a gold medal, his first of six.
In 1932 Allan won the Scott Trial on a Scott, the first man to be best on observation and to set fastest time. This success raised him from notable rider to star all rounder. Most competition riders were all-rounders in those days, but Jefferies more than most, taking in hill climbs, trials, sand and road racing, and scrambles. By his mid twenties he had broken a lot of bones and a lot of records.
Allan won the Lancashire Grand National Scramble for Scott in 1933, but that year saw an even more important milestone in his life and in the history of the firm. At the Olympia Show he signed for Triumph's factory Trials Team, with a road racing option. More than that, he took on the agency for the Coventry firm's machines and Triumph became a name synonymous with Jefferies for decades.
Triumph, unlike many manufacturers, managed to keep afloat during the depression. The Jefferies family firm was in a position to take advantage of the new range, which under Edward Turner's reign became the Tiger 70, 80 and 90, launched in April 1936. Later, Edward Turner's Speed Twin and its numerous derivatives would exert a major influence on profits for many years. Allan Jefferies was always keen on road racing and was very successful at local venue Esholt Park, near Bradford. As Triumph's reserve, he rode in practice for the 1934 Senior TT but fell off at the Gooseneck. He had ridden a Scott in the previous year's Manx Grand Prix but retired at Quarter Bridge, stuck in fourth gear of an experimental box.
Having gained a Gold Medal in the 1928 ISDT, Allan was selected for the 1934 British Vase 'B' ISDT Team and won a Gold in Germany. In WW II, Allan became a civilian instructor to service despatch riders and then went into the Army, ending up as a REME Captain in Germany Post-war, with most of his old trials pals retired, Allan decided to have another go at road racing. He entered the 1947 Clubman's TT on a Tiger 100, prepared in the Shipley workshop and finished second. He retired with a split petrol tank the next year, but in 1949, aged 44, he started favourite. Fastest in practice, he came in second to Geoff Duke on a Norton. His racing swan song was in August that year when he broke the Esholt Park track. All the while Allan's father, Joseph, remained active in the firm until his death in 1961, aged 68.
By 1968, Jefferies were selling mainly Triumph, BSA, Honda and Lambretta, together with Bond and Reliant three wheelers and Hillman cars. The boss was now the very active vice president of the Auto Cycle Union, chairman of the ACU's Benevolent Fund and a TT International Jury member. His brilliance as an after dinner speaker meant that he was in constant demand.
By this time though, there was already another member of the Yorkshire dynasty, who would shortly be joining the long established Jefferies business empire, Allan's first son - Tony. Allan Jefferies' elder son Anthony was born in 1948. He left school in 1966 to take up a BSA Group apprenticeship, spending the first six months at Small Heath. Really a Triumph man, he then went to work at Triumphh finishing his apprenticeship in the service and experimental departments.
In 1970 he joined the family firm and was thrown in at the deep end. Honda, Yamaha and Suzuki franchises had now been added to the Jefferies operation and they moved Reliants to separate premises and got rid of the cars to concentrate on motorcycles. Tony started road racing in 1968 on a Tiger 100 - a real nail taken in part exchange - with home made frame and leading link forks.
Tony rode a works Triumph in 1971 and again in 1972 and 1973, competing in the Transatlantic Match race series. He had a good year at the TT in 1971, winning the Junior and the F750 and placing second in the Production race. Jefferies senior started to take a back seat when Tony got involved in the business. Motorcycle dealerships were now beginning to lose their traditional rider-agent image and outlook; it was time to look forward.
Tony's first major decision was to take the BMW dealership in 1971. Allan wasn't too keen, but his son had no doubts about the move. They were from different generations, their judgement from different perspectives. The firm was the first officially appointed BMW dealership in the UK and has always been in the top five.
Nick Jefferies, Tony's younger brother by four years, went straight into the business from school in 1971. Nick follows in his father's wheel tracks as one of the great all rounders. He began trials riding, on an ex-factory Tiger Cub, in 1968 and became a very successful trials rider and member of the British ISDT team.
In occasional road races each year, Nick gained a succession of Manx third places, and won the senior in 1983. With the exception of the MGP, he then concentrated on trials, with many excellent results. He gained a fistful of second places in the TT races including the elusive victory in the F1 race in 1993. Nick left the business to work on his own in 1996.
Allan Jefferies, an outstanding, if controversial, public speaker, died in 1978. His elder son, Tony, was cast in the same mould and has for many years spoken at club dinners and public functions. A couple of years ago the Saltaire Road business was sold and Allan Jefferies Motor Cycles, now solely BMW, was re-located to an impressive modern premises next to Shipley's historic Salt Mills. Many of the long-serving employees moved with Tony, including service director Mick Lyon and company secretary Brenda Schofield, who has been with the firm for 40 years.
At the end of 2000 Tony’s daughter Louise, was appointed General Manager of Allan Jefferies Motorcycles. Louise had been involved with plc type companies in banking, travel and retail finance. She had always been a motorcycle enthusiast, as you would expect, and held a full motorcycle licence since the age of 17, as expected. Her administration and sales skills were to provide an excellent asset to the company.
Tony now took a bit of a back seat in the company, being ever more involved with DJ’s racing which was going from strength to strength. As well as winning British Championship titles David became the first man to achieve the 125,126 and 127 mph lap speed at the Isle of Man TT circuit and the only man ever to win three TT’s in three consecutive years.
At the beginning of 2003 Louise embarked on developing the existing BMW site by expansion and BMW corporate identity. This was a £300,000 project which involved doubling the size of the showroom and service department facility also allowing a 21st century approach to clothing and accessory display. Despite avoiding a nervous breakdown, Louise led the team through the development (we never closed) to completion in May 2003 resulting in the state of the art facility from which we currently operate.
We would loved to have had a major re-launch, but tragically David was killed in a high speed crash whilst practising in the 2003 IoM TT races. This was a terrific shock to the racing world and to the Jefferies family and needless to say as a mark of respect to David the proceedings at the shop were subdued.
The staff at Allan Jefferies were incredibly supportive and continued on despite the difficult conditions. DJ was everybody’s friend and it hurt everybody involved with the shop very much. In spite of this tragedy Allan Jefferies still managed to become the 4th largest dealer in the UK and the largest dealer outside the M25 circle, something of which we are very proud.
In 2004 we intend to build on our success with the BMW brand and to hold numerous customer focused events, including open weekends, launch weekends, talk shows, rideouts, another European rideout (to Provence), details of which will be posted on this site.
Allan Jefferies | Otley Road | Shipley | West Yorkshire | BD17 7HB | Tel : 01274 776 077 | Fax : 01274 776 088