ACU Six Days’ Trial: when the going got tough the tough climbed Porlock

In 1912 the ACU based its Six Days’ Trial on Taunton in Somerset. A record entry faced 1,000 miles over some of the toughest terrain in the kingdom. Engines were becoming more reliable every year and multi-gear transmissions  were almost ubiquitous but there were a lot more starters than finishers…


THIS IS BEING written on Sunday, the eve of the great trial, which, as regards the number of entries, the organisation, and probable severity, will eclipse anything in the way of a six days’ test the ACU has ever held. The drive from town on a 3½hp BSA was rather a hard one, as the westerly wind was dead ahead and several soaking rainstorms had to be gone through…The official garage is the Territorial drill hall, and as an overflow for thirty-five machines which the drill hall cannot hold, the miniature rifle range has been brought into requisition, both of which buildings are in part of the old

“Marking off the starters’ numbers in the Drill Hall Yard, Taunton.”

county gaol. Outside there is a great yard bounded by unscaleable walls, while the only entrance is through an iron gate guarded by an ex-policeman who knows his job thoroughly. Credit for these excellent arrangements must be given to the Taunton MCC and to Mr TW Loughborough, whose excellent preparatory work is now seen to be bearing fruit. Spaces are marked out in the big hall for each machine…
From 10am this morning work began in earnest…The chief difficulty was in carrying out rule 14, which stated what might be carried in the way of spares, but did not specify what articles were forbidden…Each morning, as soon as it is time for a competitor to have his allotted quarter of an hour at his machine, his number is crossed off, and he is allowed to enter the garage… disqualification. Then he has ten minutes in the yard in which to replenish his tanks, after doing which he must start…The sidecar machines were weighed at the gasworks under the supervision of Admiral Sir RK Arbuthnot, Bart, who is officiating as travelling marshal…

“Competitors arriving at the Drill Hall, Taunton, for the weighing in and checking.”

AN EXAMINATION of the competing machines leaves one with the firm conviction that great advance has been made in weather-proofing. Not only does this apply to the transmission, but equally to warding off foreign matter from the magneto plugs, and last, but not least, from the rider. Secondly, change-speed gears are practically universal. Those machines with single gears only are not regarded seriously as having a remote chance of completing the trial without loss of marks, if they do so much more credit to their riders…Altogether the competitors’ mounts are very workmanlike lot. One or two can be styled freakish, and others have some rude arrangements of forced induction and other similar fakements, but, speaking generally, they are well finished, staunch, and reliable mounts, likely to give a good showing…
Dealing with the new arrivals, there is the Rolfe, a sturdy machine with twin Precision engine, countershaft, and speed gear, and kick starter…One of the Enfield sidecars, which model, by the way, is well represented, has a big undershield, which should effectively screen the magneto, engine, and gear…The AJS are among the best finished machines in the trial, the three-speed passenger machine at once attracting the eye. This machine has a gear which is of the now popular counter-shaft type, with dog clutches for high and low ratios and sliding gear for the intermediate…The buzzing Scotts are making a good show as usual and look spick and span. The trials machines have a double silencer arrangement and are particularly silent…

“Right: 5hp Swan twin ridden by Gurney. Note the open frame and pan seat. Centre: JS Holroyd’s twin cylinder Motosacoche with two-speed gear. A new model in the Six Days’ Trial. Right: H Mills (3½hp Green-Precision water-cooled).”

The Swans are being watched eagerly. These machines have open spring frames and pan seats. The new ASL, with 26in wheels, is very taking in French grey…The new machines to six day events are the Kynoch, which has a Sturmey gear, the Campion-JAP (with G&H gear), Wray-Precision, with Bowden countershaft gear and kick starter, and the Corah-Jap, with P&M gear. The P&Ms are as clean and neat as ever, and are sure to be near the top at the finish. The water-cooled Green-Precision which HC Mills is riding is conspicuous for its high frame, but there is no doubt about the power in the engine. Miss Hammett (Douglas) and Mrs Hardee (P&M) are to be congratulated on their pluck in riding in such a severe trial…The James mounts have the 1913 three speed countershaft gear, and are bound to score in hill-climbing. Two of the New Hudsons have countershafts and combined chain and belt drives to enable big driving pulleys to be used. Holroyd’s twin Motosacoche, with two-speed gear, is being eagerly watched, as this is a forerunner of a new 1913 series.
It can be said without contradiction that the Zeniths and NSUs are the nearest to standard of any machines in the trial, consequently their reliability is known.

Miss Hammett and Mrs Hardee were the first riders away.

The trial
First day, Monday—Taunton, Teignmouth, Torquay, Plymouth (luncheon), Tavistock, Exeter, Taunton, 171½ miles: The two lady competitors were given the preference. Mrs Hardee, on being given the word to “go” punctually at 8am by By Colonel Boles, failed to make her P&M start, though Pratt had made the kick starter perform splendidly five minutes beforee, so she had to be pushed off by willing helpers. Miss Hanimett (2¾hp Douglas), however, scorned assistance, and on being started a minute later she made a neat running mount. Both ladies were heartily cheered. CT Newsome (Rover), No 1, was next dispatched, and then Mr Loughborough took charge of the start, sending off the men in numerical order.

Starting on the first day: WD South (Rudge Multi) and W Cooper (3½hp Bradbury with Sturmey-Archer transmission).

Frank Smith, who had had his broken sidecar spring repaired during the night, arrived just as the early starters were leaving. He was annoyed at the judges’ decision to prevent him carrying his detachable wheel…The early part of the run was over a not very smooth road to Blagdon Hill four miles from the start. The acclivity rises abruptly from the plain, and though the gradient is not unduly severe, the hairpin corner encountered about one-third of the way surprises those who do not know the hill. In these days of change-speed gears, however, little emotions of this kind are of no account…The two ladies got up in good form, and after this the following competitors made clean ascents while we were watching the trial from this point…

Passenger machines lining up for action.

Near Exeter a turn to the left was taken which was indicated by a RAC road guide. The Automobile Association men also gave valuable assistance at various danger points and doubtful turnings…A mile or two after Telegraph Hill the first secret check was situated, but practically all the competitors were on time. A long climb over the moorlands gave us our first glimpse of the sea, but before Teignmouth was reached rain set in, and thereafter the run was rendered as uncomfortable as it could be. Oilskins and waders were now hastily donned…On through Totnes the roads were fast becoming a mass of pools of water, and occasionally a competitor would be passed adjusting or changing his belt or cleaning the terminals…The rain continued with unabated vigour, and it was difficult to see with rain being driven into one’s face by the strong easterly wind…Miss Hammett may be disqualified for receiving assistance in mending a puncture. Stanton had a broken front wheel cone, and was towed home by Mr Loughborough. HA Cooper, had similar trouble in his rear wheel, and broke the rear axle, and retired before Exeter. W Cooper is missing…

H Colver (6hp Enfield sidecar) on the lower bend of Beggar’s Roost.

The following also retired to-day: J Slaughter (3½hp New Hudson), R Poole (3½hp OK), Colin Macbeth (3½hp Rudge), Fred Dover (3½hp Premier), GW Ruscoe (2¾hp Forward), ST Tessier (7hp Bat), and GV Moss (8hp Autotrix cyclecar).

Second Day, Tuesday—Taunton, Bampton, Barnstaple, Ilfracombe, Lynmouth (luncheon) (slow hill-climb), Countisbury, Porlock, Bridgwater, Somerton, Langport, Taunton, 160¼ miles: Miss Hammett’s case was heard last night, and the judge decided that, as no assistance could be provided, the matter could be dropped; her tyre had a huge cut in it, but she decided to continue on it today…
The surface of Beggar’s Roost was rough, but at the side there was room for a motor bicycle. Those who did get up performed well, but failures were numerous…As Berwick was making a fast ascent, a car with two dogs following was coming down, and the plucky rider only missed one by a hair’s breadth. South only dismounted after being obstructed. Greaves came up fast with several others, who drove him into the side; however, he recovered quickly, and though he had to tackle the steepest and roughest part he made a wonderful recovery, and an absolutely clean ascent…A clean ascent of Beggars’ Roost meant a bonus of 25 marks to the successful riders, but failure did not involve loss of marks.

AD Arter (3½hp James) on Countisbury.

Complete teams which easily accounted for the climb includes the James, Scott, and P&M singularly enough, all chain-driven machines. Lister Cooper on the single-geared Triumph was anxiously awaited by the crowd assembled on the hill, and there was general regret on learning of his retirement owing to an engine seizure. The trouble is unaccountable, and it is worthy of note that this is the first time for years of Six Day’s’ Trials that a trade Triumph has been withdrawn…quite half found the gradient of 1 in 3½—the steepest gradient in Great Britain—too much for their machines. All credit to those who were successful…One of the judges, Rev EP Greenhill, riding a Douglas, had a valve rocker break. He was towed some miles by a sporting farmer, who left his hay and got out his motor cycle. Then Major Nicholl towed him to Lynmouth, where Fletcher supplied a replacement…Long before the tail end of the string had reached Barbrook, the vanguard had commenced the slow climb up Countisbury for the slow hill-climb…this long gradual ascent, which is preceded by a quarter-mile of 1 in 6, had to be climbed at a speed not exceeding 12mph. Excess of this speed involved loss of marks. It was not expected that there would be failures, but nevertheless several came to a standstill, most probably due to attempting the steepest section at too slow a speed…again the whole team of P&Ms, Scotts, and Jameses crawled up on their low gears, evidently in an attempt to win the special prize for the slowest ascent.

Frank Phillipp leads the Scott team up Countisbury Hill.

Other machines which toyed with the gradient were Crawley’s and Newsome’s Triumphs, Alan Hill’s Indian, the Douglases, New Hudsons, Motosacoche, LMCs, Enfield, and the three Rovers. Wasley did well, especially as he had taken the timing gear out and replaced it at the hill foot. Mrs Hardee (P&M) and Miss Hammett (Douglas) sailed up comfortably, attempting nothing sensational, at a slow speed…JR Haswell, however, the hero of Beggars’ Roost, on his three-speed Triumph sidecar, simply crawled from bottom to top. His slow accent was as monotonous to himself as the spectators, for it appeared he would never get out of sight. How his engine is able to plug away uphill for over a mile on a 16 to 1 gear without knocking itself to a stand- still is a mystery. About a quarter of an hour is Haswell’s time.
There was much delay in the concluding stages of the slow climb owing to coaches and cars blocking the narrow road…The slowest ascents in the motor bicycle class were bv AR Penny (2½hp AJS), 10min 26sec, and Geo Cocker (2½hp Singer), 10min 3sec. In the passenger the slowest were AJ Stevens (AJS), 17min 5sec, and JR Haswell (3½hp Triumph), 13min 35sec…Near Minehead we overtook Gray (Rudge multi) with his gear in pieces by the roadside. It had run hot, and gave a free engine in all positions. Having wasted over two hours endeavouring to put matters to rights, he retired, and was towed to Minehead Station by the Kempshall tyre car.
Further on Creyton (Humber) was again in trouble, his timing having shifted. He, too, lost the limit of time, so gave up. Near Williton we noticed the Duo by the roadside, and, stopping to enquire, found that one of the driving pulleys had broken. It was towed in by the Pediey tyre car…HE Haswell (Bradbury) collided with a car and bent his footrest, but continued; nearing Taunton W Land Dibb (6hp Rex) ran into a wood cart and wrecked his machine, hard luck indeed, as he had lost no marks up to this point. Turning into the Drill Hall yard, Thornton (Swan) ran into the gate and knocked a spectator over…

The view from the bank as EP Dickson scales Countisbury Hill on his 6hp Zenith.

Third Day, Wednesday—Taunton, Bridgwater, Cheddar Gorge, Bristol, Birdlip, Cirencester, Malmesbury, Chippenham, Bath, and Wells, 196½ miles: As this was the longest day, the men were started in pairs, a practice which might well be followed on most days, save on those on which very narrow roads have to be traversed. As it was only seven miles to the surprise hill of the morning, an early start was made. We soon overtook the two ladies, who were greeted in all the villages with cheers…was temporarily hors de combat owing to tyre troubles, borrowed Loughborough’s Matchless, and as he was on duty as observer, he pushed ahead, and was just in front of us on the steepest part of the hill when the back tyre suddenly collapsed…The hill is approached by a sharp rise, followed immediately by an acute corner; then the gradient enses for a stretch, and culminates in a section of about 1 in 6…
Unsuccessful competitors included ,Cass (Quadtant), plug blew out; Fenn (Humber), broke a piston at the foot of the hill and retired; Nott. (Matchless sc), clutch slipping…The traffic of Bristol city is usually most difficult to negotiate, but, thanks to good directions, the assistance of the police and boy scouts, the route was easily followed over Clifton Down on to the Gloucester Road at Filton. Soon after Filton, down fell the rain, drenching roads and competitors.
At Falfield the main road was left and a hilly course followed over the Cotswold range into Gloucester, with glorious views of the Severn and Bristol Channel. On the steep hill out of Falfield W Heaton and LA Bees were seen stopped. The rain had rendered the surface very treacherous on parts of this section…A few miles from Birdlip summit we saw Pollock (James) adjusting his machine by the roadside; also RH Wells (Bradbury)…Garrey (Swan) lost a bolt out of his clutch rod. Donnelly (Swan) skidded in Bath and damaged the side plate of the frame. In Bath also a competitor side-slipped and bumped into W Pratt, who in turn cannoned off and knocked a butcher boy over who was riding a, carrier tricycle. Mills suffered. a puncture. Evans’s Humber and the P&Ms were conspicuous for their clean crank cases.

AH Alexander (3½hp Indian) and JF Sirett (7hp Indian) cruise through Cheddar Gorge.

Someone had bumped into Grout’s machine while it was jacked up by the roadside and bent the stand. Dr Moss Blundell had a spill in Gloucester and another in Bath, bent and damaged the chain guards, tore out the exhaust lifter, and as a result he had to put in two hours’ work straightening things up. RCO Wells had magneto trouble, and took out his plug and dismounted his carburetter in looking for it. He thought he had traced the trouble to the high-tension carbon brush, and just as he was starting he noticed his front tyre was flat. Guest pulled the valve out of his back tyre. Baker wore an apron on his Scott, and kept himself beautifully warm and dry. Mud was flying about, so Frank Smith cleaned his float chamber as a precaution.
On the way home, Morgan was seen with the bonnet open in Glastonbury. Singster, who, like several others, had lost a filler cap, was apparently suffering valve trouble five miles from Taunton, and about two miles from the finish Jones had a puncture. The road back was lumpy, and over Sedgemoor there were several bad dos d’anes [hump-back bridges]…A dangerous bridge, one and a half miles from Glastonbury, marked by a red lamp, required caution, and at Burrow Bridge the tollgate, with which anyone who was unwarned might easily collide, came as a surprise to the competitors. A red lamp gave notice of our approach to it…
Sixteen miles from Taunton we came across J Oliphant (Premier), whose Sturmey-Archer gear locking arrangement had turned in the fork end and broken the frame; he had to abandon the machine, and H Colver very kindly took him into Taunton on his Enfield sidecar…Near the finish, WB Little (Premier) ran out of petrol, and enquiring for paraffin at a neighbouring cottage was surprised and pleased to learn that the occupant had a small supply of petrol…

A Bradbury and a brace of Zeniths take a brief breather at a checkpoint.

Several riders finished on fiat tyres, including Miss Hammett (Douglas), who changed a cover during the day, VC North (Ariel), and ‘No 13’, P Shaw (P&M). The competitors presented a sorry sight at the finish, for they had had alternately extremely dusty roads, then pouring rain—a combination which tested the most hardened spirits. The ladies, however—there are several on the passenger machines—were no more perturbed by the adverse weather than some of the men. Although they had been despatched in pairs for Wednesday’s long run, it was dark before the back-markers checked in. Several arrived very late, including Dr Moss Blundell (Corah).
Punctures had been the chief trouble during the day, though the wet found out weak spots in the ignition system, and skids were not unknown. At the replenishment depot—which was very systematically arranged—an attendant put oil into Owen Wells’s petrol tank.’ This was the last straw, as that rider, had; suffered innumerable troubles during the day, but stuck gamely to his task.

Fourth Day, Thursday—Out and home from Taunton through Somerset lanes, A secret course until the morning of the fourth day, 154¼ miles: “The brave old Duke of York, he had ten thousand men, First he marched them up a hill, then marched them down again.” Thus did the Auto-Cycle Union with the survivors of the trial on Thursday last. The route was a maze of turnings and surprise hills, and single figure gradients were common objects of the country side. The way out of Taunton was shown by boy scouts, and every corner was marked both with arrows and confetti. Soon the arrows turned us off the main roads and lanes were traversed which were narrow, rough, and greasy, and both winding and steep…

CT Newsome and DH Noble with their 3½hp Rovers.

Then the surface became even worse, and finally there ensued a steep descent, at the foot of which there was a sharp corner—the awkward approach to Collier’s Hill…Despite the inclemency of the weather, Morris (Zenith) wore no cap. Grout (Quadrant) failed, and as his low gear was jammed the intermediate (5 to 1) was too high for the gradient. Knowing the nature of the route Grout decided to retire. Wasley (Douglas) dismounted owing to his petrol tap being turned off. Haker (Scott), being unaware that an obscured hill was confronting him, stopped at the foot to pump his front tyre. Mills (Green-Precision) came up well as usual, but by way of a lark pretended to pedal. Our assistant observed, and entered in his notebook in all seriousness that he had employed this form of assistance.
Platts (Bradbury) had a bad squeak when the top gear was in engagement. Kerr (NSU) stopped owing to too slack a belt. Miss Hammett arrived very late, as she changed a cover in the garage. A mile or two after Collier’s Hill there are cross roads where the arrows clearly showed the way, but at one point a little farther on one of these must have pointed in the wrong direction as several men climbed Cothelstone Hill twice…After Cottielstone the route lay through Bagbbrough and Watts House to a watersplash neart Elworthy on the road leading to Raleigh Inn. The water was not deep, but the ford was followed by a hill of approximately 1 in 12. WD South (Rudge Multi) came to a standstill owing to his belt being saturated with water. J Peachy (Swift) also stopped owing to the water and a rich alluvial deposit on his magneto. The water put out Hugh Gibson’s magneto like snuffing a candle. Through Washford to Dunster the road continued ever winding and undulating…PJ Evans took a toss over the handle-bars, breaking his watch and chain and at the same time losing a gold medal, which he would very much like restored to him.
At last JR Haswell had to give up his plucky attempt to take the experimental three-speed Triumph through such a severe trial. He has had trouble all along in changing down to the low gear; this action first causing the back wheel to skid along and then suddenly taking the bit between its teeth. Naturally something must give way under such conditions, and Haswell himself predicted an early withdrawal. It came to-day as the low gear dogs were sheared off leaving him with but two effective speeds. He could plod along in this manner, but the ascent of Porlock on Saturday would have proved too much for him with the 16 to 1 ratio inoperative, so he retired…

V Wilberforce drops his Douglas on Byber’s Hill.

Byber’s’Hill, Waterrow, was the real test of the morning, and this climb accounted for twenty-four failures…Quite a crowd assembled here in the anticipation of seeing fun, and they were not disappointed…Babington (Bat) succeeded, though his engine was misfiring. Miss Hammett (Douglas) changed, gear too late, whilst CL Scott (Rudge) had hard luck in breaking his belt in sight of the top. AJ Dixon (Singer) made a clean and fast ascent, though his stand was trailing. Really easy climbs were made by Noble and Sproston (Rovers), and Holroyd (Motosacoche), who went up in a bunch, Newsome (Rover), and the James trio—Arter, Pollock, and Brown. This team, with the AJS, Scott, and P&M riders, can always be relied upon for clean and sure ascents, and their consistency is the main topic of conversation when a hill-climb is in progress…
Wilberforce, after rounding the bend, charged the bank and tore a finger nail off, which caused him to faint. Recovering in about fifteen minutes, he made one of the best ascents of the day on his Douglas. GH Donelly (Swan) failed, and in remounting charged the bank, but did no real damage…WE Phillips (Triumph) was appalled by the gradient facing him after rounding the bend, and came to a standstill…Hardee (Triumph) got to the hill summit but noticed his engine pulley running eccentrically. Investigation at the top proved that one of the flywheels had come loose, so he reluctantly withdrew, though he had not up to this point a single mark against his name…

Reg Holloway (3½hp Premier ) breasts the 1 in 4½ section of Bybet’s Hill.

Haslam skidded in the loose stones, narrowly missed a group of spectators, and bumped his head on the ground…It was left to CR Collier to make the fastest climb, to all appearances, on his Matchless. Tassell (Matchless) was slow, but sure; but G. Nott stopped, and next time thrilled the spectators and came near to wrecking his machine. Rounding the bend at a good 20mph—an impossible speed—the sidecar lifted in the air, and, coming down with a bump, threw out Mrs Nott on one side and the driver on the other, the machine turning turtle without suffering the slightest damage. Undaunted, the plucky pair tried again, and nearly repeated the performance, the sidecar wheel being a foot in the air all the way round the bend. Guest (Matchless) did well. Dr Moss Blundell (who was late) ran on to the grass at the roadside, but cleverly recovered, and got up well. Later in the day continual chain breakages, gear trouble, and the result of yesterday’s fall caused him to retire, which was hard luck as his machine had been travelling well…
On the evening of Thursday a smoking concert was organised by the Taunton &DMCC, at which all the competitors, officials, and many local motorists attended. Colonel Boles presided, and later on in the evening the Mayor of Taunton took the chair. The entertainment was of the best and was much appreciated. There was some slight disorder in the centre of the room caused by certain motor cyclists whose spirits often got the better of their discretion, otherwise the concert would have passed off without a hitch. Rear-Admiral Sir RK Arbuthnot proposed a vote of thanks to the Mayor, who made a brief but excellent speech, mildly rebuking the originators of the disturbance, which he diplomatically and jokingly attributed to the invigorating air of Taunton…

Fifth Day, Friday—Bournemouth and back. Outward journey, Crewkerne, Dorchester, Weymouth, lunch at Bournemouth, returning through Blandford, Sherborne, Yeovil, and Ilminster 150½ miles: More hills were descended than ascended, and we are confident it would have been more strenuous if the course had been followed in the reverse direction. The several retirements of Friday left in the

G Griffith (6hp Zenith) only had one puncture in the six days, but one of The Motor Cycle’s was on hand to watch him fix it.

running this morning eighty-nine starters. Through Chard and then Crewkerne the course led to Winyards Gap, which was to be the second slow hill-climb…Frank Philipp appeared especially anxious to win the prize, for he travelled slowly and swayed from one side of the road to the other. Corke (AJS) and others followed suit. PD Walker’s Rudge ran hot, and he had perforce to dismount. The passenger machines were again at an advantage owing to their stability. G Nott (Matchless sidecar) ran hot and stopped…At the top of Ridgway Hill, Upwey, a magnificent view of the coastline was obtainable, with Weymouth on the right and several warships in the bay. No doubt this sight at once attracted the attention of Rear-Admiral Sir RK Arbuthnot, Bart, RN, who was a few minutes ahead of us on his Triumph…
Lunch was taken at the Central Hotel, Bournemouth, the morning’s run being about eighty miles. During the interval rain began to fall and continued until Sherborne, once more rendering the pot-holey roads a mass of surface water. Through Yeovil to Ilminster the going greatly improved, and residents evinced surprise at the mud bespattered riders bedecked in oilskins when they had seen no rain at all. A few miles from home we caught up Griffith (Zenith) who had suffered the first puncture, a screw penetrating the rear Pedley cover. A lightning repair did not benefit him, for he had to stop again two miles further on. With five minutes to go he had four miles to coyer, and it suffices to say that he did it, thanks to the speed and power of his 6hp JAP. Mrs Hardee (P&M) and Miss Hammett (Douglas) rode side by side most of the afternoon. They had good luck and were always in front rather than behind time. GB Fry (Quadrant) retired owing to water in the magneto, and Thornton (Swan) also withdrew.

Sixth Day, Saturday—Taunton to Exeter and back, via Dunster, Porlock, Lynmouth, South Molton, Tiverton, Sidford, Bridport, and Crewkerne, 167 miles: In order to avoid the coaching traffic on Porlock a very early start was made on Saturday morning. The first man was sent off at 5am, and when we started it was just light enough to see without lamps…The going was quite good from Williton to the outskirts of Minehead. Mr AH Priestley on his Rex-JAP sidecar led the way, and during the journey, though the day was young, numerous motor cyclists, some of whom rode machines of ancient pattern, were encountered on their way to see the most striking hill-climb of the Six Days’ Trial. Johnny Gibson, who rode his Trump-JAP out to the hill-climb, had a nasty fall where an official signalled the beginning of the non-stop section, but though he hurt himself somewhat, he fortunately, did not injure the wound in his head, the result of his accident in the Isle of Man, which is not yet healed.

The second, and toughest, corner on Porlock, as tackled by (left) NO Soresby (LMC) and P Phillips (Douglas).

Porlock Hill was in a most appalling condition. No hill ever ascended in a Six Days’ Trial has ever presented such enormous difficulties. The higher one went the worse the surface became. It was bad at the first bend, fearful at the second, and above a sea of mud from four to eight inches deep, with not a strip of even reasonable surface on which to ride. In most places one could hardly obtain foothold, and how any rider could make a clean ascent was a puzzle to every one…
Wells (Bradbury) stopped between the two corners, and Newsome (Triumph) pulled up, but restarted. Mrs Hardee (P&M) made a particularly plucky attempt, but skidded in the mud. Sawer (Premier) fell, likewise Heaton (AJS). It was agreed to allow paddling with the feet without penalisation, owing to the abnormal surface encountered. Several competitors, however, made absolutely clean ascents, and these were Newsome (Rover), Noble (Rover), North (Ariel), Pollock (James), Corke (AJS), and Evans (Humber)…The

HFS Morgan powers up Porlock with his missus leaning out to gold the wheel down. They won a special cup for best passenger climb.

lightweights noticeably steered better in the thick mud than the heavy machines, Corke’s (5hp AJS) proved a handful, but the clever steering of its rider brought it safely round the bends…Of the passenger machines, the Morgan runabout made a splendid performance and was the only one in which its passenger (Mrs Morgan, who accompanied her husband throughout the trial) was seated in a normal position. The GWK with the wheels bound round with cord carried the passenger on the locker at the stern of the vehicle…
The failures were interesting and afforded considerable excitement. Mundy skidded round, kept his seat, and proceeded to descend, but was reminded by an official that he must proceed up and not down the hill; Haswell (Bradbury) ran into a labourer who, despite Priestley’s persistent warning, was standing in a dangerous position, but fortunately neither was hurt.
Just above the first corner there was a bay into which the failures could conveniently be pushed and there wait till their owners were ready to proceed…Herdman (Rudge) fell into the hedge, Catt (Triumph) tried to get up by means of excessive clutch slipping and failed, Phillips’s Triumph ran into the bay mentioned above. At the first bend several even of the successful men skidded in the most alarming manner, among them McMinnies and Pollock (James). Tassell and Collier, in company with the other Matchless riders, wound cord round their tyres in order to obtain greater adhesion. Tassell was travelling well past the first corner when the cord broke, wound round the rear guard, and stopped the machine, also damaging the tyre; and similar trouble happened to Collier at the second corner…
Soresby (LMC) treated the spectators to a marvellous exhibition of trick riding, his machine skidding from one side to the other. The two privately owned Scotts (Baker and Longfield) skidded, although their engines never faltered. The latter charged an almost perpendicular bank and fell under his machine. Holloway (Premier) and Dixon (Singer) got into a rut between the bends and stopped, but restarted and completed the climb…Splendid assistance was rendered by Mr 0 Collier, a Douglas private owner, who pushed one unsuccessful competitor after another until he was well-nigh exhausted. As regards the team performances, the two complete teams to make successful ascents were P&M and Rover…Two prizes were offered by Taunton residents—Mr. Marshalsea, of Marshalsea’s Garage, and Mr Powell—to be awarded in any way the ACU thought fit. It was decided to give these to the best performances on Porlock. Mr Marshalsea’s prize was awarded to PJ Evans (3½hp Humber) for the best performance of a solo machine, and Mr Powell’s to HFS Morgan (Morgan runabout) for the best ascent of a machine entered in the passenger class.
A spectator on the hill, who wishes to remain anonymous, was so much impressed with the magnificent pluck shown by the competitors on Porlock that he offered to award a gold medal to every man who made a clean ascent and has not otherwise earned a gold medal or won either of the above prizes…
Troubles were not yet over. Miss Hammett reported that her carburetter temporarily caught fire, and her belt had also given trouble. Rain had fallen incessantly since the Porlock climb, and penetrated to the interior of the magneto of J Cocker’s Singer. He struggled along gamely for miles, and missed his lunch in order to finish, but finally the magneto gave out altogether, and for the second time in Six Days’ Trials Cocker had to retire on the last day; could anyone imagine anything more unlucky? Another who retired at Exeter was Gordon Fletcher. He, too, had seen life on this last eventful morning. First one cylinder gave out, and he continued on the other until No 2 also stopped firing. He was also in great pain, as he fell on the Taunton tramlines at the start and sprained his shoulder…At Bridport, on the last section of all, Wilberforce was descending a hill when an exhaust valve cap came unscrewed and flew into the hedge. A hunt for it proved fruitless, so he procured a brass plug and turned it up to fit in a blacksmith’s shop.

Tired but happy. WB Gibb and PW Moffatt (2¾hp Douglases) chat to Mr Douglas Snr at the close of the trial.

Trouble was prevalent to the bitter end. WD South broke a valve, and was lucky to finish to time…George Brough encountered a van broadside on in the roadway and unfortunately hit the wheel and cut his leg. With true British pluck he had it hastily bandaged, and, assisted into the saddle by Berwick and Dixon, he made a non-stop run to the finish and had to be lifted off the saddle again, but he had accomplished his object—full marks throughout! Eight miles from home Babbington’s magneto became saturated inside and refused to spark. Reluctantly he accepted Admiral Arbuthnot’s offer to tow him to Taunton. The crowd at the finish was much amused by his mud-bespattered appearance, dirt having been flung all over him from head to toe by Admiral Arbuthnot’s Triumph. RC Davis (Chater-Lea), who had lost no marks to date, exceeded his time limit by several hours. His delay was due to water in the magneto on the last stage of the 1,000 miles. Other retirements were G Nott (Matchless); Phillips, the local rider of a Triumph; Haswell (Bradbury), front wheel bearing trouble; and Sangster (Ariel), valve trouble, which caused him to arrive outside time.

“A dust layer in Maiden Newton. The competitors are: E Herdman (Rudge), G Griffith (Zenith), G Brough (Brough), and AE Catt (Triumph).”

Component tests
ON RETURNING ALL the solo machines using tyres and belts entered for test were taken into the small garage, and there these accessories were removed and the tyres examined to see if they still bore the ACU stamp, and to ascertain their condition, and were weighed. They were weighed before the trial after purchase, and by the amount of weight lost the degree of wear will be judged…Some of the tyres were in magnificent condition, and we could not help noticing the rear Pedley cover off Griffith’s Zenith, which appeared to be in almost perfect order, and showed little if any wear. The Palmer tyres on Smith’s CJyno were equally good, and it was almost impossible for any casual observer to tell the difference between the rear one and a new cover. Hutchinson tyres behaved consistently with their excellent record under similar circumstances. The Stelastie tyres also came through the test well. The Roms on the James machines were in very good condition. The John Bull tyres were also well worthy of notice. The Pedley belt was pre-eminently successful, and the Service belt also behaved well in the wet weather. The machines were examined by the judges early in the morning after the trials had finished. They were, of course, in an extremely dirty condition owing to the dreadful weather experienced. Their condition mechanically was good on the whole, though the following lost marks: FC North (Ariel), stand broken, 5 marks lost; S Sawer (Premier), front mudguard clip broken, 5 marks lost; AP Morris (Zenith), back hub out of adjustment, foot-rest broken, 5 marks lost; G Brough (Brough), head loose, 5 marks lost; M Garrey (Swan), back wheel damaged, frame distorted, 5 marks lost.


The P&M team, in pouring rain: W Pratt, P Shaw and WC Drake.

FOR THE FOURTH year running Messrs Phelon & Moore have gained the team prize. Not only did their machines obtain the highest number of marks—3,150— but their appearance throughout the trial aroused favourable comment on all sides. Messrs Pratt, Shaw, and Drake deserve our heartiest congratulations, and also Mr Sproulle, who gained a gold medal. Each of the three riders mentioned above gains a gold medal, while Mrs Hardee, the plucky lady rider of a P&M is awarded a silver medal.
The silver cup, given by Dr Iles of the Taunton MCC for the best performance of a private owner of a solo machine in the slow hill-climb, Jesse Baker (3½hp Scott), His total time on the two hills was 31.3min; speed, 5.75mph.
The silver cup presented by Messrs Harrisons Hotels, Ltd, for the best performance of a private owner driving a passenger machine in the slow hill-climbs, J Tassell (7hp Matchless sc). Total time on the two hills, 21.33m; speed, 8.44mph.

H Mellor Jameson (6hp Enfield sidecar) had a clean run and won The Motor Cycle private owner’s cup.

The cup presented by The Motor Cycle for the best performance of a private owner on a solo machine was awarded to WG McMinnjes (Triumph), who also gains the cup presented by Colonel Boles, MP, MFH, for the same performance. The other private owners’ cup presented by The Motor Cycle was awarded to H Mellor Jameson (6hp Enfield sc), who made the best private owners’ passenger performance. Jameson also gains the cup awarded by Mr TS Penny, JP, for the best private owner passenger
performance on the hills.
The special tyre prize was awarded to the Palmer Tyre Co for the set of tyres (26x3in) on F Smith’s Clyno and sc. The special belt prize was awarded to Messrs Pedley and Son, set No 17, used on P Weatherilt’s 3½hp Zenith.

☞ On arriving at Taunton on Saturday night Fletcher announced that his engine had been ruined by some miscreant having put sand in his oil tank. The judges carefully examined his engine and found that his statement was absolutely correct. There was no doubt whatever that the foreign matter was silver sand and not road dust. The cylinder and bearings were, in consequence, very badly scored. Of course there is no trace of the originator of this dastardly act, of whom no words can adequately express our opinion. [The ACU judges subsequently credited Fletcher with all the marks he lost on the last day of the trial and  awarded him a gold medal. They also offered a £10 reward for  the “apprehension and conviction” of the perpetrator.]

☞ It is our unpleasant duty to have to record that on Saturday night there occurred some incidents to which we would rather not refer, but we feel we cannot let such behaviour which was seen on that occasion pass without comment. Fireworks were let off in the bar, a table was smashed, and the conduct of certain people was of a most disorderly nature. Those responsible are few in number, we are happy to say, but some means must be found, and that without delny, to put a stop to such goings on once and for all.

☞ A spectator made a clean assent of Beggars’ Roost on a single geared Triumph on the day of the test. He passed several variably geared competitors struggling to prevent their machines running backwards which was not complimentary to the trials men.

☞ G Nott (Matchless sc) finished four and a half hours late and lost 212 marks, he was so late that the arrows had been removed and he lost his way.

☞ There was great slaughter among the Devon and Somerset fauna: the bag included a fox cub, a hedgehog, a rabbit, a cat, sparrows, and several partridges.

☞ Nearing Taunton each night certain trade riders might be seen riding ‘hands off’ and cleaning their machines with a paraffin brush at 25mph.

☞ One private owner’s language was picturesque on Monday night, when he paused outside control to drain off the waste lubricant. The factory mechanics had fitted his special trials silencer in such wise that it was impossible to remove le crankcase drain plug.

☞ The Rudge owner who brought to Birdlip an enormous sidecar resembling a giant vegetable marrow is requested to communicate with the advertising manager of Sutton’s seeds, Reading, from whom he will hear of something to his advantage.

☞ The rules say that “passenger machines must ascend the test hills with the passenger seated in a normal position”. Definitions of “a normal position” by our own representative: (1) With her face in the oiler on the far side of the rear hub. (2) With her toes chocked in the carrier, body horizontally rigid, head 2ft outside side wheel. (3) Toes on the seat, body on the carrier, tongue cleaning the back number plate (apparently). (4) Under the seat (on straight, easy hills only). (5) Sitting bolt upright, jerking violently in parallelism with driver (on low-powered outfits only).

George Brough (6hp three-speed Brough) leads the way out of Maiden Newton.

☞ The marks deducted from George Brough’s scoring sheet for a loose steering head were cancelled by the ACU judges after it had been explained that the looseness was entirely due to the collision which Brough sustained with a van nearing the finish of the trial. Brough could not leave Taunton last week owing to the injury he sustained to his leg, but is now home at Nottingham again.

IXION SUBSEQUENTLY HAD his say about Porlock: “Several teams and several individuals were standing equal for the special cups and medals, and the judges saw no other means of differentiating between them, if they were not sent up a hill which was absolutely certain to knock some of the leaders out. On all other grounds it was undesirable to send the men up Porlock…Practically the entire entry would have romped up the hill on a dry day, the road conditions were so impossible that the hill could be fairly described as unrideable. Slithering over eight inches of mud with one’s feet out on a double figure gear is not motor cycling—it is knockabout gymkhana comedy. Nothing but the need of awarding the special prizes to one team and one or two individuals could have justified its inclusion.”