20 November 2022
Comerford’s of Thames Ditton in Surrey had a reputation as one of the most respected car and motorcycle dealers in Britain until recently incorporated into CI Sport in Leatherhead. Comerfords Motorcycles dated back to 1930, and the motorcycles were produced and marketed by Comerford’s of Portsmouth Road, who were dealers of some standing.
During the early 1930s, a speedway machine appeared with a new frame designed by George Wallis and a new JAP speedway engine. The resulting debut was spectacular and success was so great that around 300 machines were built and sold, and known as the Comerford Wallis.
The design was revised in 1933 to lengthen the wheelbase, steepen the fork angle, allow the rear frame to flex and place the engine, countershaft and rear wheel in line when viewed from the side.
The machine went on to become the Comerford Special, then the Martin-Comerford or Martin-Rudge. This was fitted with a JAP engine and the name reflected the Rudge speedway form of the frame. After World War II, they built the Comerford Cub, a trials machine with a Triumph Cub engine.
Comerford’s was subtly different from the other big-name London area dealers because of its focus on off-road competition machines. Comerfords was known internationally, and the US team headed to the workshop to prepare the ISDT bikes supplied by Triumph.
Later on, Comerford’s supported star American trials rider Bernie Schreiber, and celebrity visitors to the Portsmouth Road premises included Steve McQueen.
Things were changing in the trials world in the late 1960s. The era of the heavyweight AMC, Ariel, BSA and Norton machines was all but forgotten, and even the heyday of Greeves, Cotton, DOT et al was drawing to a close, with Villiers engines no longer available and the Spanish armada well under way.
Comerfords reportedly considered making trialers based on the BSA Bantam Bushman, but decided it would be uneconomic, and so it eventually succumbed to the continental onslaught and took over Bultaco importation from the Rickman brothers in the early 1970s.
A key figure in the family business was John Patrick Comerford (1932-2014). He had a promising legal career ahead of him, but decided instead to joined his father in Thames Ditton, where he was instrumental in Comerfords forming a special and successful partnership with the Spanish marque Bultaco.
John Comerford was born in Walton-on-Thames in November 1932, but he spent much of his childhood in and around Bristol, where he attended Clifton College before completing his National Service with the Royal Artillery in Germany.
He read law at University College Oxford and enjoyed his time at Oxford immensely. He rowed and was an active participant in the University Players, appearing in a number of productions. After leaving Oxford he had a brief spell in advertising before applying to Gray’s Inn, where he was offered a place to study at the Bar, completing his qualifications as a barrister in nine months.
He never entered the legal profession, instead opting to join his father at Comerford’s Ltd in Thames Ditton. There he helped to cement the firm’s reputation as one of the most respected car and motorcycle dealers in the country. His legal training served him well, but he also held a traditional view on the importance of integrity in matters of business, believing wholeheartedly in the agreement of a deal with a handshake.
He was instrumental in Comerford’s forming a special and successful partnership with the Spanish marque Bultaco, acting for them as sole importers and UK concessionaires. The company also provided the technical and logistical support that helped Bultaco win numerous Trials and Motocross titles, including an unbroken run of seven years that saw them win every European, then the renamed World Trials Championships between 1973 and 1979.
John Comerford lived in Woking, Surrey, for most of his life, but was proud of his Irish roots and always regarded the Ireland as his spiritual home, keeping a house in Kilkenny that he loved to visit.
He always had a passion for theatre and the arts. In later years, he and his wife Pauline built up a very well regarded private collection of portrait miniatures that were exhibited in Ireland on a number of occasions. He enjoyed watching a good game of cricket, listening to choral music and visiting the RAC club in Pall Mall, where he was a lifelong member.
John Comerford died on 27 March 2014 aged 81, after a protracted illness. At the time of his death, he was living at Chestnut Farm, Ockham Lane, Ockham, Woking. He was survived by his wife Pauline and their son Patrick John Comerford.
Comerford’s was recently incorporated into CI Sport in Leatherhead, but the Comerford’s name and branding are still remembered by enthusiasts.
Today in the Calendar of the Church of England is the Feast of Christ the King and the Sunday next before Advent. Because of the traditional collect on this Sunday in the Book of Common Prayer, this Sunday was often known as ‘Stir Up Sunday,’ a traditional designation that coincided with the domestic tradition of beginning to make the mixtures for Christmas cakes and Christmas puddings.
Later this morning, I hope to be present at the Parish Eucharist in the Church of Saint Mary and Saint Giles in Stony Stratford.
Before this day gets busy, I am taking some time this morning for reading, prayer and reflection.
This morning I am reflecting in these ways:
1, One of the readings for the morning;
2, A reflection on the Feast of Christ the King;
3, a prayer from the USPG prayer diary, ‘Pray with the World Church.’
Luke 23: 33-43 (NRSVA):
33 When they came to the place that is called The Skull, they crucified Jesus there with the criminals, one on his right and one on his left. [34 Then Jesus said, ‘Father, forgive them; for they do not know what they are doing.’] And they cast lots to divide his clothing. 35 And the people stood by, watching; but the leaders scoffed at him, saying, ‘He saved others; let him save himself if he is the Messiah of God, his chosen one!’ 36 The soldiers also mocked him, coming up and offering him sour wine, 37 and saying, ‘If you are the King of the Jews, save yourself!’ 38 There was also an inscription over him, ‘This is the King of the Jews.’
39 One of the criminals who were hanged there kept deriding him and saying, ‘Are you not the Messiah? Save yourself and us!’ 40 But the other rebuked him, saying, ‘Do you not fear God, since you are under the same sentence of condemnation? 41 And we indeed have been condemned justly, for we are getting what we deserve for our deeds, but this man has done nothing wrong.’ 42 Then he said, ‘Jesus, remember me when you come into your kingdom.’ 43 He replied, ‘Truly I tell you, today you will be with me in Paradise.’
Christ the King:
There are few Anglican churches dedicated to Christ the King, but they include the Church of Christ the King in Gordon Square, Bloomsbury, London, now used by Forward in Faith.
The Feast of Christ the King is a recent innovation in the Church calendar. It was first suggested at the end of 1925 when Pope Pius XI published an encyclical, Quas Primas, in which he castigated secularism in Europe and declared that the secular powers ought to recognise Christ as King and that the Church needed to recapture this teaching.
At the time, the entire idea of kingship was quickly losing credibility in western societies, not so much to democracy but to burgeoning fascism – Mussolini was in power in Italy since 1922, and a wave of fascism was about to sweep across central Europe.
The mere mention of kingship and monarchy today may evoke images of either the extravagance of Louis XVI in Versailles, or the anachronism of pretenders in Ruritanian headdress, sashes and medals claiming thrones and privilege in Eastern Europe.
However, since 1925, the celebration of Christ the King or the Kingship of Christ has become part of the calendar of the wider Western Church. It took on an ecumenical dimension from 1983 on with its introduction to Anglicans, Lutherans, Methodists and others through the Revised Common Lectionary.
The Christmas tree is up in the Market Square in Stony Stratford since the middle of last week, and everyone in the town is looking forward to the Christmas lights being switched on next Saturday (26 November 2022).
But, for some people, putting the Christmas trees up too early or hanging up the lights and frosting the windows too far ahead of Advent may detract from encouraging a true Christmas spirit because they help us forget what Advent is all about.
Christ comes not just as a cute cuddly babe wrapped up in the manger and under the floodlights of a front window in a large department store in a shopping centre or city centre.
Despite the accession of Charles III earlier this year, kingship may not be a good role model in many people living in modern democratic societies where the heads of state are elected. Nor are the models of kingship in history or in contemporary society so good. It is worth considering three examples:
● We are familiar with a model of monarchy that paradoxically appears to be benign on the one hand and appears aloof and remote on the other hand, at the very apex of a class system defined by birth, title and inherited privilege.
● In other northern European countries, the model of monarchy is portrayed in the media by figureheads who are slightly daft do-gooders, riding around on bicycles in parks and by canals in ways that threaten to rob kingship of majesty, dignity and grace.
● Or, take deposed emperors from the 20th century: Halie Selassie, who died in 1975, sat back in luxury as his people starved to death; Emperor Bokassa, who died in 1996, was a tyrant accused of eating his people and having them butchered at whim.
Is it any wonder that some modern translations of the Psalms avoid the word king and talk about God as our governor?
Marking this Sunday before Advent by crowning Christ as King helps us to focus on Advent from next Sunday, and Advent is supposed to be a time and a season of preparing for the coming of Christ.
whose Son Jesus Christ ascended to the throne of heaven
that he might rule over all things as Lord and King:
keep the Church in the unity of the Spirit
and in the bond of peace,
and bring the whole created order to worship at his feet;
who is alive and reigns with you,
in the unity of the Holy Spirit,
one God, now and for ever.
Stir up, O Lord,
the wills of your faithful people;
that they, plenteously bringing forth the fruit of good works,
may by you be plenteously rewarded;
through Jesus Christ our Lord.
God the Father,
help us to hear the call of Christ the King
and to follow in his service,
whose kingdom has no end;
for he reigns with you and the Holy Spirit,
one God, one glory.
The theme in the USPG Prayer Diary this week is ‘Prophetic Voice of the Nation.’ This theme is introduced this morning by Bishop Matthew Mhagama, from the Diocese of South-West Tanganyika in the Anglican Church of Tanzania, who writes:
‘The nation of Tanzania is going through a time of change. In a nation where the economy is weak, the Anglican Church of Tanzania has a great opportunity to touch people’s lives spiritually and physically, offering them comfort and healing.
‘One of the ways the Anglican Church of Tanzania has been a healing presence for the wider population is through its service in response to the Covid-19 pandemic. Not only has the Church offered counselling to those in fear of the disease, but it has also actively challenged misinformation around vaccines and built trust in medical institutions. For example, broadcasting radio adverts to encourage people to get the vaccine and working closely with government officials to spread accurate information through the churches.
‘By speaking out against misinformation and showing care for the population of Tanzania, the Church can be a prophetic voice to the nation. The Church has a wide range of opportunities to open the eyes of the people and to show God’s purpose for the nation. It is God’s time.’
The USPG Prayer Diary invites us to pray today in these words:
Oh Lord I have heard of your fame;
I stand in awe of your deeds;
Lord, revive your work over the years,
that we may know your purposes for us.
Scripture quotations are from the New Revised Standard Version Bible: Anglicised Edition copyright © 1989, 1995, National Council of the Churches of Christ in the United States of America. Used by permission. All rights reserved worldwide. http://nrsvbibles.org