Another sad tale from the coast today, this time down south. In 1923, mechanic and motorcycle enthusiast Jim Shipp started a sales and repair business in Wollongong, and in 1949, his son Noel took over as owner. In these early days, dealerships were a huge part of the Shipp motorcycle empire, and Noel sponsored all sorts of club motorbike events and competitions. At some point there was probably a local TV ad featuring the man himself.
But as the years wore on, Shipp’s motorcyclery went the way of all enthusiast business ventures in the modern age. The customers dried up, the big dealers moved in, the internet made sourcing parts easier than ever. What was once a cutting edge mecca for all things motorbikes became that crusty, decaying hulk on Keira Street, itself reforged as a cul-de-sac to prevent noisy motorcycle traffic. Enthusiasm becomes eccentricity. Much like Gould’s or Comic Kingdom, when a business reaches the brink of obsolescence, all it can rely on as a drawcard is the individual experience and know-how of its staff. In Noel Shipp’s case, this was a pretty major asset.
Even after a spell of ill health and admittance to a nursing home later in life, Noel would still make his way into the shop to tinker around with the bikes brought in solely by enthusiasts. A much-loved and well regarded member of the community, Shipp passed away last September, and the shop has been boarded up ever since. Once the name finally rots away and the motorcycle signs are claimed by souvenir hunters, Noel Shipp will join Jim in the annals of the forgotten, and the shop will just be another brick box in the warehouse that Wollongong has become.
UPDATE: Or worse. The old Shipp place has met its end, making way for a new attempt to breathe life into this end of the ‘gong.
These small shops are the character of a town & all over they are disappearing.
An article like this is a nice tribute. ^_^
So sad to see the end of this old shop, I used to buy my Triumph parts here. Noel always had a story to go with them, although in later years, it was sometimes hard to hear it over that cockatoo. Glad this site has taken the time to remember Mr. Shipp, a true gentleman and a Wollongong legend.
I worked part time for Noel in 1969. I used to do Motorcycle maintenance and teach new bike purchasers to tide. His father was a real gentleman as was Noel. He sponsored me on a Greaves Moto Cross machine. I bought my first BSA Lightning Bike from him, and later, the first ever fully imported Triumph Trident. I last worked there in April 1970, and other than phoning him, never saw him again.