While browsing a 1927 copy of the Blue ‘Un words and pics for 1927 I came across a smashing poem by a lad who had clearly read some Kipling and No26 in the ‘Motor Cycles of Long Ago’ series: a pic of the first OEC. Here’s the first stanza of the poem, you’ll find it in full at the bottom of the Poetry page, where you’ll find a selection of delightful ditties and charming illustrations. A tarted up version of the OEC pic with another showing the builder on his creation awaits your attention in 1901. When we’ve ridden out our guarantee, and several thousand more, And the mileage on the dial is running high, Then the human engine seizes, or a.piston starts to score, Or a frame breaks, and we settle down and die, And the next stage (experts tell us) is a region bright and fair; But is there room for trusty steeds besides? When the hero reached Valhalla, did he find his charger there? Shall we meet the old machines we used to ride?
Obviously it’s not a complete record but all the material I have for 1926 is now on line. As usual you’ll find reports on the TT and ISDT, there’s also a feature on Norton’s North-South-East-West stunt that won the Unapproachable crown their four Maudes Trophy in as many years. 1926 was also marked by a series of remarkable rides, including round Australia and round the world. Records were broken, mountains were climbed and some really nice bikes made their debut. I’m moving on to 1927; see you there.
Murray, who wrote the excellent Murray’s Timelines you’ll see in the main menu, has been rather busy; he’s just finished a six-volume, 1,000-page flip book. You can find the link at the end of his page and, while I eschew hyperbole, it’s bloody brilliant. So don’t waste time reading this, have a look.
Norton wanted to publicise its ohv models. No problem: assemble them from parts chosen by the ACU, charge through the routes of all three MCC’ long-distance classic trials, pop down to Brooklands to pick up 32 world records and finish up with a fourth successive Maudes Trophy. The firm even published a booklet with a blow-by-blow account. It’s a ripping yarn which you’ll find in the 1926 features section.
I was adding a couple of pics to Part 5 of the Images of Yesteryear section yesterday (from the 1926 Paris-Nice trial in case you wondered) when I realised that I hadn’t told you the entire series of seven chapters has for some time been on line and awaiting your attention. What you’ll find are a photo-essays courtesy of my esteemed chum Jean-Francois, originall;y published in the excellent lpcc.net. They include a history of the earliest days of roadracing, an entrancing selection of motor cycling postcards, women on bikes through the years and a great deal else besides. While Jean-Francois could not have been more generous in supplying me with hundreds of images from his archives, he understandably kept some of the very best for his Images of Yesteryear. Inevitably there’s an overlap with the timeline and it matters not a jot. If you’re a motor cycle obsessive grab your favourite brew and get stuck in. You’re in for a treat.
Thanks to my esteemed correspondent Jean-Francois I have hundreds of pics queueing up to be included in the Illustrative Melange. Jean-Francois recently pointed out that the Melange is now so large that it’s a tad slow to open; I’ll set up another page for the next batch. Meanwhile I’ve just uploaded another platoon of Great War pics, bringing to current total to 145. You’ll find them near the end of the Melange—well worth a look.
I’ve been looking further into the early days of the Coupe Internationale which, as well as heralding the start of international roadracing, indirectly led to the TT. The 1905 report now includes the FICM rules, which included a promise that squaddies and cops would patrol the course following the chaos at the 1904 race. And the Coupe report is followed by the story of the British trials which were staged on the Isle of Man. There’s even a link with Sherlock Holmes. Wordsearch ‘coupe’ in 1904, 1905 and 1906 to read the story.
As you might have seen in the End-to-End review (in the 1911 features list), in 1910 Harold Cox rode his 1½hp Singer Moto-Velo from John o’ Groats to Land’s End in 57hr 26min (he went on to finish 3rd in the 1912 Junior TT). This year Harold’s grandson rode his 100hp Honda VFR750 from Land’s End to John o’ Groats and took in the North Coast 500 for good measure, so it seemed apropriate to update the End-to-End story.
As well as pushing on into the mid 1920s and uploading more pics to the Melange (merci encore, Fanfan) I’ve been pottering about, adding a selection of titbits for your delectation. Among which are (in 1904) a colour image of a Rex to brighten up the show report and an action shot of Griffon Ace Demester taking a sharp right during the Coupe International; (in 1906) a fine study of Zenith Gradua inventor Fredie Barnes “un noveau champion de la motorcyclette” on the cover of La Vie au Grand Air (you’ll also find a La Vie cover depicting the gorgeous Gordon Bennett trophy); and (in 1911) a couple of extra Senior TT pics including Hary Collier crossing the line behind those damned Indians and, because it was a particularly dramatic race, the full Senior results list. Also, I just remembered, there’s a pic of Rollie Free in his swimming trunks. You know it makes sense.