Words: John Hulme with Alan Lampkin, with full co-operation from an article which first appeared in Classic Trial Magazine – Issue 11.
The three Lampkin brothers are Arthur, Alan and Martin, the youngest, have been part of the motorcycle trials scene for such a long period of time that they are etched in the history of the sport forever. Alan – or ‘Sid’ as he is better known – was the one in the middle; imagine having Arthur as your older brother and Martin as the youngest? He was a very successful Scrambler during the ‘Golden Years’ of British domination and won both the Scottish Six Days and Scott Trials in 1966 for BSA; throw in some ISDT Gold medals and in 1974 winning the first ever American ‘World’ trials round. A very popular character, he received factory support along the way from BSA, Cotton Suzuki and Bultaco. He can still be found on the Trials scene today though, as a spectator on his annual holiday to the ‘Scottish’ or at the Scott, or many of the Classic events. The years may have passed by but one thing that has never gone away over the years is the warm welcome and the smile whenever you come into contact with Sid.
Alan Raymond Charles Lampkin entered the world on April 7th 1944 in Silsden, Yorkshire, as the younger brother to Arthur John who was born in 1938. Harold Martin Lampkin would come along later, at Christmas in 1950. The Lampkins had moved from Woolwich Arsenal, London, in 1940 to get away from the London Blitz. Their father, Arthur Alan, was a Foreman machine turner and he opened his precision engineering business shortly after his arrival in Yorkshire. He used an old side-valve BSA as his transport and so the boys were soon around motorcycles when they were born.
Arthur had quickly shown a keen interest and at the age of seventeen became the youngest ever member of the mighty ‘Works’ BSA off-road team after some inspiring results. Alan soon wanted to watch his elder brother in action and remembers watching him at the 1959 Ilkley Grand National where he was allowed to ride without competing, and he loved it. They had no television in the early days at the Lampkin household and they often went around to the next-but-one neighbour to watch Arthur on it in the TV scrambles.
The Lampkin entertainment got even better when Alan started to compete. It was trials riding which first attracted him though and he could not wait to compete in the tough Scott Time and Observation Trial. He joined Arthur in the entry in 1960 for his first event. It was a tough day and one he did not finish, but when elder brother Arthur was announced the winner he set his sights on emulating his brother with a win of his own, after finishing the event! After finding his feet in 1960 with tastes of both trials and scrambling on BSA machinery he started to enjoy the rigors of the off-road action. He picked up a finisher’s certificate at the 1961 Scott and soon began to get noticed by the factory teams and, most importantly, the competition team managers.
He was drafted into the factory BSA team alongside such great names as Bill Nicholson, Fred Rist, David Tye, Brian Martin, Jeff Smith and John Harris – and, of course, his big brother Arthur. He acknowledged the support and delivered the results when in 1963 he won his first National trial, the Travers. Then he was picked by the team selectors to represent his country in the International Six Days Trial to be held in Czechoslovakia. In those days the event covered near-on 1,000 miles during the six days of competition and Alan did himself proud before disaster struck on the fifth day, Friday.
He was still ‘clean’ and on course for his first Gold Medal when he crashed and, suffering from heavy concussion, was forced to retire much to his disappointment. BSA though had much faith in him and after recovering he was moved into the number two BSA team for the Scott, where he collected a Scott ‘Spoon’ after finishing in the top twenty-five. By the mid-sixties he was acknowledged as one of the new young riders making headlines in the sport. Riding for BSA he mixed both trials and scrambling with much success. It was a fantastic season scrambling as he took in many of the established events with some impressive results, including some top-five finishes in the BBC Trophy races at Ripon and Durham on the BSA 440 cc, second in the Lancashire Grand National and a third in the Cleveland Grand National. On the trials scene he was a regular winner and top-five finisher in the British championship events, but 1966 was going to be his year.
It all started with a win at the opening scramble on January 1st at a frozen Hatherton Hall in Cheshire in the 500 BBC Trophy race. It was sheet ice everywhere and his trials skills certainly helped and he felt very confident; he can still remember the look on Jeff Smith’s face as he passed him on the start/finish straight, it was great day and one he remembers like it was yesterday! Jeff Smith had been 500cc World Motocross Champion in 1964 and 1965 and is a very good friend of the Lampkins even to the present day. He then won the prestigious Bemrose Trophy Trial before preparing his 250cc BSA C15 for the Scottish Six Days Trial in the May. At the last minute he was moved into the BSA works team as Dave Rowlands was asked to stand down in case he was called home to attend a court hearing as a witness to a murder. On the first day Alan parted with no marks along with Mick Andrews (Bultaco) – Paul England (Triumph) – Peter Fletcher (Royal Enfield) – Sammy Miller (Bultaco) & Stan Cordingley (Bultaco). Tuesday was a long, tough day taking in 15 sections including Loch Eild Path above Kinlochleven.
Delay built up at the Caillich group of six sections and many riders lost marks on time. Wednesday took in eight sections at Laggan Locks, taking two marks from trials leader Alan Lampkin. Lampkin still held the lead on Thursday. Lampkin nearly lost the trial on the steep rocky hazards at Caolasnacoan when the crowd thought he had stopped, but the official observer recorded a three-mark penalty, giving the trials lead to Sammy Miller. It was on the sections at Leiter Bo Fionn though that Miller went to pieces and parted with a dozen marks whilst Lampkin kept his score down to four to move back into the lead. The final scores were Lampkin on 23 with Miller second on 27.
This would be the last win for a British manufactured motorcycle using a four-stroke engine until James Dabill on the Montesa in 2007. Later in the year he would take his first ISDT Gold on the BSA in effect a TriBSA 504cc in Sweden when he was Great Britain’s best performer with a clean sheet, with the team finishing third overall.
Arthur had won the Scott Trial again in 1965, setting the quickest time as well, and both brothers went to the 1966 event as members of the BSA team along with Scott Ellis, with both wanting to win – the outcome would be very memorable. Alan would win, with Arthur setting the quickest time in 4 hours, 18 minutes and 55 seconds which was a similar time from 1965, but the secret to Alan’s win was his observation score which put him in front of Sammy Miller who was desperate to give Spanish Brand Bultaco their first win in the event. The weather was beautiful, with massive crowds. Alan had shown good form early on with one of the few cleans at Hell Holes up the big step. At Washfold the Green Dragon Public House was hard to find due to the large number of spectators who had all turned out to see the dramatic battle unfold. The day after the event he was part of the winning Yorkshire team in the Inter Centre Team Trial.
The demise of the once mighty motorcycle industry in Great Britain has been well documented but it also forced the top riders of the time to move to foreign manufacturers. Alan had remained loyal to BSA but had not continued to enjoy his earlier success. 1967 was a bleak results year. At the ‘Scottish’ and riding the BSA C15T the week had started very cold and wet, and on the Tuesday the rear wheel collapsed. He changed the wheel but was removed from the results when he was found to have swopped the marked part by the organisers, forcing him to retire from the event. He was also hugely disappointed at the Scott when a split rear tyre forced his retirement. On the scrambling front he was still riding well and getting some good results. 1968 was pretty much the same as the BSA support in trials was not the same, although in scrambles they still had a winning machine. Many riders including Alan began to took to other machinery for trials and it was the ‘boom time’ of the micro-light machines.
He was offered the opportunity to ride the new 118cc Suzuki powered machine along with Arthur and Martin for the 1969 season. These were fun times in trials and in 1969 and 1970 he finished in fourteenth position on the Suzuki at the SSDT despite struggling at the event with many problems including a broken frame.
He was still contesting scrambles on the BSA and had some good results including top-five placings in the BBC Grandstand Trophy races before moving to a Husqvarna. The Spanish Armada of trials machines was now in full flow and along with many riders the Lampkins left the cottage industry of small-capacity trials machinery in the UK and went on to Bultaco, Montesa and Ossa, in Alan’s case Bultaco.
At the 1970 Scott he set the quickest time on his way to a top-ten finish on the Bultaco as Sammy Miller took the last of his seven wins. The Bultaco was a breath of fresh air and in 1971 he would finish tenth in the European Championship, once again set the quickest time at the Scott Trial in a team with Martin and Jim Sandiford and finish fifth in the British Trials Championship.
At the year’s ISDT he would also take another Gold medal, this time on a Bultaco. He quickly became a member of the Spanish works Bultaco trials team and with it the added support.
Justifying his works status he finished a fine second in the 1972 SSDT.
In 1973 he made his final appearance in the ISDT mounted on a Triumph, taking yet another Gold medal, with the trophy team taking second place.
The development of the Sherpa T range had moved on after Sammy Miller had moved to Honda, with more responsibility on the shoulders of UK based Bultaco riders, including Alan and Martin Lampkin. The sport was also moving from European status to be named the World Championship. Before the move, and with the sport expanding, a ‘World’ round would be held in America. After many problems, including the press thinking it was Martin who had won, a happy Alan was named the winner!
With the move to the FIM World Championship in 1975 the factories were very keen to take the first title, including Bultaco. Along with Alan his younger brother Martin would contest the whole 14 round series, but with only the best 8 scores counting the championship would turn into a three-way fight with Finland’s Yrjo Vesterinen and Malcom Rathmell.
Alan supported his brother as much as he could, finishing the year in ninth with his best result a third at his home round, as ‘Mart’ won the title by one mark from Vesterinen. The Bultaco team and the Lampkin brothers remained at the cutting edge of the championship right up until 1980, when Sweden’s Ulf Karlson on the Montesa stopped the trend, but by this
time Alan had retired from the World Championship.
With the glory years of the Bultaco brand over he would ride his last Scott Trial in 1980 and his last Scottish Six Days Trial in 1982 on an SWM. With a young family to provide for he continued to work in the engineering business started by his father many years before but, as with all motorcyclists, if it’s in your blood it’s hard to get rid of!
The Lampkin brothers still had some of their old works BSA machines and these were brought out of retirement for the new Pre-65 SSDT introduced in 1984. These were fantastic times not just for the brothers but also for the spectators, as they came out to witness them in action once again on the world famous ‘Scottish’ hazards such as Pipeline. Good friend Jeff Smith came over from Canada and it was a very happy reunion.
Alan would ride in the event on a few more occasions over the years. Son James is the youngest of his three children, he also has two girls Sarah and Nina, who is the eldest, and James soon became interested in trials riding giving Alan a new interest along with his Golf.
James went on to have his own successful trials career which included an Expert British Championship title and a third position in the 2004 SSDT.
James put his own career ambitions as a trials rider on hold as he supported Cousin Dougie Lampkin to his seven world championship titles. Alan is now semi-retired, working just three days a week at Lampkin Engineering, and still enjoys his motorcycling days and his annual holiday in the Highlands, accompanied by his wife Eileen and usually a gang of grandchildren who will no doubt carry on the Lampkin legend.
Words: John Hulme with Alan Lampkin
Iain Lawrie, Kinlochleven
Rob Edwards, Middlesborough, Cleveland.
Trials Media/ John Hulme
With many thanks to Classic Trial Magazine for their kind permission to reproduce this article from Issue 11 – Classic Trial.
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