The Craven Collection

Dave Manning heads to the Yorkshire Wolds for an eye-opening look at memorabilia and history

While formal museums can display their exhibits in a brightly-lit blaze of formality, there is sometimes a cold feeling of detachment and a lack of soul and passion.

Fortunately, motorcycle museums are rarely of this form, and more usually consist of a mind-bending visual assault that takes more than one visit to fully comprehend.

The man himself at the entrance to what can only be described as an Aladdin’s cave.

The Craven Collection falls into the latter camp, being one man’s personal collection that isn’t run on any commercial basis, but opens its doors once a month to those discerning motorcyclists who want to both look into the past and gain themselves a sense of inferiority when they look in awe upon what just one man has amassed.

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Grasstrack champ

Ex-garage owner, sprint racer and four time East Yorkshire grasstrack sidecar champion, Dick Craven, is one of those folk who find it difficult to let go of any kind of bikes he acquires, and his eclectic collection of machinery first opened to the public in 1994, at a time when he was first becoming involved in local TV work.

And that’s what Dick’s collection is probably best known for – the number of bikes that have been used in TV work, primarily the police drama, Heartbeat, but various other TV programmes and films as well.

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Based around the village of Goathland in North Yorkshire, Heartbeat’s 18 series were set in the Sixties and needed appropriate vehicles to add flavour to the cinematography.

Those bikes in the collection that were used in the filming are marked with a heart-shaped red sticker on the headlight, and it’s amazing just how many of them there are.

While most of them are period appropriate machines, being built in the mid-Sixties or earlier, one later bike – an Eighties Yamaha XT – was used for stunt work after being modified by Dick to look like an old BSA police bike, complete with BSA fuel tank and police telephone mounted on the top.

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When the bikes were being used for the programme, Dick not only supplied them, but also maintained, modified and repaired them, and actually owned a few cars and vans that were also used, but sold them once Heartbeat was dropped by ITV.

Read more and view more images in the August 2018 issue of OBM – on sale now!

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