Ex-RAF pilot sells Norton motorcycles to save his church

The owner flew sorties during the Cold War and now is planning a rescue mission of a different kind

Ex-RAF pilot sells Norton motorcycles to save his church

AN ex-RAF pilot who flew missions during the Cold War is about to sell his vintage Norton CS1 to help save his local church.

The bike is expected to fetch around £25,000 when it goes up for sale and will be the third machine he’ll have sold to help save the Stoke-sub-Hamdon church in recent times.

The owner of the bikes, Bill Southcombe, has already sold a 1932 New Imperial M 32 and a 1936 Norton ES2 in his personal bid to help raise £100,000 needed.

As well as a wartime pilot, Mr Southcombe is also a former Isle of Man TT racer, competing at the vent between 1965 and 1968.

To bike fans, it may seem strange to sell such a stunning and sought after collection of bikes, although Mr Southcombe does have an ulterior motive for parting with his pride and joy as the church he wishes to save was built by one of his ancestors.

Speaking to the BBC, he said:

“The church is beautiful, it really is … As a villager, I was unwilling to see this project fail.

“I am sad to be selling the bikes, but they're not doing much good in the garage.”

At the height of the Cold War, Mr Southcombe flew missions in Vulcan bombers and Phantom fighter jets, patrolling UK airspace to ensure Soviet aircraft were kept out.

“When I was at Leuchars I remember in one month in 1969 our squadron intercepted 79 Russian aircraft, we were up and down the whole time," he said.

“We had to get in very close because the security services wanted to know all about their aircraft.”