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AA patrolman and motorcycle combination, Peak District, c 1955
From collection of F H Brindley
Brindley, F H (Sheffield News Pictures, 973 Abbeydale Road)
About this image
An Automobile Association (AA) patrolman with his immaculate yellow and black liveried motorcycle 'combination' parked up in snowy conditions somewhere in the Peak District. The prominent windshield was probably designed to give the rider extra protection in such exposed upland areas; the sidecar was not for a passenger but carried a toolkit, and cans of water, petrol and oil.
Founded in 1905, the AA first introduced solo motorcycles in 1912 and motorcycle combinations followed in 1919. These were officially known as Road Service Outfits or RSOs, and by 1938 a fleet of 1,500 motorcycles was operated, patrolling designated routes and assisting motorists in difficulty when they happened to encounter them. Communication with the outside world was via the traditional AA phone boxes positioned at strategic locations but from 1952 two-way radios were adopted. With more and more vehicles on the roads and the need to carry more equipment and parts, in 1962 the AA began a gradual switch to vans, the last combinations being phased out six years later.
This model is probably a BSA, standard issue after World War Two, and the registration - PYE 268 - indicates it was issued by London County Council probably during 1955. The patrolman sports the AA's winter uniform of a short overcoat and black cap.
The photographer titled this view 'Heroes of the Blizzards in Derbyshire', adding 'AA Scout on Patrol in the still snow covered roads of Peak District where a 24 Hour Patrol has started to help Motorists ...'