Tuesday, April 2, 2013

Real officer rode Royal Enfield Indian Chief for ad photo

Officer John Barkman demonstrated the Royal Enfield Indian Chief .
I was delighted when Hans van Heesch of the Netherlands shared a picture of a police officer riding a then new 1960 Royal Enfield Indian Chief. It's obviously an official Indian advertising photo. A different photo of the same officer is familiar from the Indian catalog of the era.

I never dreamed that we would learn the name of the stern looking officer pictured in the photo. Then this email arrived from Sgt. Andrew Fullerton of the Longmeadow, Mass. Police Department:

"Recently I found your article from June 17, 2012 which contained two photographs. One I recognized as an advertisement for the 1960 Indian Chief. A fellow officer had shown me this advertisement which pictured his relative John Barkman, who was an officer with our department from 1951-1974.

Officer Barkman in the well know catalog ad for the Indian Chief.
"Officer Barkman passed away in 1975 but his relative told me how (Officer Barkman) was approached to pose for the advertisement. He was our last motorcycle officer, riding into the mid 1950s.

"Your article also showed a photograph of Officer Barkman given to you by a Hans Van Heesch of the Netherlands. I am guessing that this photo was taken at the same time the advertisement photo was taken but was not used. I recognize the location of the picture, which is in front of our high school, built in 1959. I am very much into preserving our department's history and no one here has seen the photo from Mr. Van Heesch until now."

Royal Enfield models of the late 1950s showed up in the U.S. labelled and sold as Indians. The Chief was the most altered in appearance, perhaps (as its name suggests) for sales to police departments.

Another photo of the same Indian Chief. Note the siren powered by the rear wheel.
It really looked the part. The motor was the 700cc Constellation twin, the biggest engine Royal Enfield offered at the time. Tires were 4.5 inches wide but only 16 inches in diameter. With its heavy fenders and lengthened wheelbase, the Chief had a squat, authoritative look ideal for a police motorcycle.

Officer Barkman had an authoritative look of his own and I guessed (correctly it turns out) that he was not just a model decked out in uniform for a catalog picture. Sgt. Fullerton sent two pictures of Officer Barkman, one of them showing him astride his made-in-the-U.S.A. Indian Chief in the early 1950s.

Longmeadow Patrolman John Barkman on duty in the early 1950s.
It turns out that Officer Barkman wasn't entirely the bulldog he resembles. Said to be a "beloved figure around town," he wore Longmeadow's Badge No. 1.

An avid fisherman, he volunteered his time to the spring fishing derby for children in Longmeadow's Laurel Park. With his death it was renamed The John Barkman Memorial Fishing Derby.

John G. Barkman,  as a patrolman in 1951.
Longmeadow is a suburb of Springfield, Mass., the longtime headquarters of the Indian Motorcycle Manufacturing Co. That famous American company went bankrupt in 1953. Rights to the name went to England's Brockhouse Engineering which, starting in 1955, began marketing Royal Enfield motorcycles in the U.S. rebadged as Indians.

Nearly the whole Royal Enfield line was available as Indians until the arrangement ended in 1960, but none of the other motorcycles were as impressive as the Chief.

1 comment:

  1. Thanks so much for filling in the blanks...I'll print these out full size,and full color,and put them in the scrapbook that I'm making about the restoration of my 1959 Indian Chief...


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