The Mablethorpe Speed Trials, 1924

The event attracted a significant number of people right from the start, and before long a crowd of spectators had formed to watch the assortment of motorcycle races that would be taking place. Many riders and enthusiasts made the 80 mile trip from the heart of Nottingham to Mablethorpe which, in 1912, was no mean feat.

“Special interest was taken in the ladies’ race,” The Motor Cycle noted in its account of the event. The ladies’ race was certainly very interesting as one of the competitors, Miss Shipside (pictured, first from right), was only 16 years old at the time, making her one of the youngest women ever to ride a motorcycle competitively. The game Miss Shipside and her Premier motorcycle (also the favoured marque of Miss Kettle, in the centre of the picture) did not win the event however, as Mrs Simpson (left) was the first place finisher. More interesting still, was the motorcycle she rode to victory on.

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Mrs Simpson is pictured aboard her 1912 ladies’ model Rudge – an unusual choice in 1912, as women typically rode men’s motorcycles during this era, particularly in compition, with the ladies’ models that were introduced by many manufacturers around this time and just after the First World War, in their infancy. The ladies’ Rudge was similar to the men’s variant, save for the cut away top tube, shortened petrol tank and belt guard. Going against the grain or not, it certainly helped Mrs Simpson achieve a comfortable victory at Mablethorpe.

Patches of particularly soft sand caused a great deal of trouble during the sidecar and cyclecar event, as the weight of the machinery would cause the wheels of the sidecar to sink into the sand to the point where the sidecar was almost immobile. Incidentally the winner of this event was famous motorcycle racer George Brough who, seven years later, would go on to create his own motorcycle company, Brough Superior. But on this day George was riding one of the products of his father William Brough’s company, but rather than the more usual fore-and-aft Brough flat twin, it was a V-twin in configuration. Of course, it was a ‘V’ George was to be famous for. We think that George Brough is in our picture, directly behind the horn of Mrs Simpson’s Rudge.

The Mablethorpe Speed Trials featured among its many races an open scratch for bikes under 350cc and an open scratch for motorcycles under 500cc. The events went off mostly without a hitch – mostly, because in an unfortunate accident during a practice run a little girl, who had been playing behind some boats, sustained injuries to her head and one of her legs when she ran in front of a motorcycle.

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F P Johnson won the open scratch race for motorcycles under 350cc on his Humber, and G S Hall (who is in our picture, partly obscured, standing quite centrally, near the back, in the light coloured jumper and floppy beret-type hat) won the same event for bikes under 500cc on his 3.5hp Scale-Jap. Hall also came first in the event for allcomers. R W Fornington won the unlimited engine capacity race on his Indian.

When the subject of speed trials is raised in conversation, what might spring more readily to mind is, of course, the Brighton Speed Trials. This landmark event along Brighton’s seafront has been going since 1905. The speed trials faced an uncertain future earlier in the year, but due to an online petition and the support of a few celebrities (including Pink Floyd’s Nick Mason) the event was saved in January of this year.

Mablethorpe Speed Trials long since ceased, but the seaside resort retains a full beach racing schedule, throughout the winter months, which continues to attract good crowds, much in the spirit of the 1912 event. bike

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