It is with much sadness that Trials Guru brings the news of the passing of Tom Ollerton at the age of 91 on Christmas Day, 2017.
Ollerton was an active member of Darwen Motor Cycle & Light Car Club (now Darwen Trial Club) in Lancashire, being at one time their club secretary. Tom had the accolade of being the very first rider to compete in the Scottish Six Days Trial on a Bultaco in 1962. The Bultaco machine he rode was a 196cc ‘Sherpa S’ registered in Blackburn, Lancashire as PBV700, his riding number was 8 that year.
He worked at Anelays Motorcycles in the town of Blackburn, Lancashire who were the original importers of the Bultaco brand in the UK and had racing connections. However having ridden the modified Sherpa S in the 1962 Scottish Six Days and again in 1963 riding another Bultaco Sherpa of 155 cc capacity under number 18. Tom was joined in 1964 by Oriol Puig Bultó from the Bultaco factory who provided him with a factory prepared prototype machine riding number 40.
Oriol who is the nephew of Senor F.X. Bultó the founding father of the marque, was very impressed by the modifications that Tom had carried out to the standard, dual purpose ‘Sherpa N’ and Puig Bultó set about altering his own factory machine to a similar specification. Oriol was a very competent international motocross rider as well as being an expert trials and ISDT competitor.
It could be said that Ollerton was the fore-runner/creator of the machine that was the basis for Sammy Miller’s ‘Sherpa T’ of November 1964, the model with increased capacity to 244cc, that literally changed the world of trials forever.
Trials Guru’s John Moffat who has followed the history of the Sherpa since childhood said: “Tom Ollerton’s involvement with developing the ‘Sherpa N’ to close to ‘Sherpa T’ specification has all but been forgotten except for a handful of enthusiasts. Tom Ollerton has been the ‘missing link’ in the Bultaco Sherpa story, my aim is to put that right. Tom Ollerton’s contribution to the Sherpa’s development was significant in nature, having competed in the toughest trial in the world three times on the brand. I wouldn’t take any credit away from Sammy Miller of course, but the trials Bultaco had been in a constant stage of development before Sammy did his secret testing sessions in company with Roy Peplow in the October of 1964 at Senor Bultó’s ranch, called San Antonio.”
Moffat continued: “Sammy Miller’s development work on the Sherpa which eventually became the production Model 10 is well documented, but Tom Ollerton’s contribution to the Bultaco Sherpa, less so.”
Moffat also said: “Having got to know Oriol Puig Bultó very well over the past few years, we have discussed this many times in conversation. He told me that in 1964 he drove a small Fiat 500cc car with a trailer carrying two Sherpa prototype machines, one for himself and the other for his friend Tom Ollerton to ride, all the way from Barcelona to Edinburgh in Scotland for that year’s SSDT. I know that Oriol held Tom Ollerton in high regard, I am certain he will be much saddened to hear of Tom’s passing.”
Our sincere condolences go to the Ollerton family.
Tom Ollerton’s funeral service will take place at St Anne’s Church, Turton, BOLTON, Lancashire BL7 0ER at 1.30pm on Monday, January 8th 2018, followed by cremation at Pleasington, Blackburn, Lancashire BB2 5LE.
Oriol Puig Bultó wrote on 3rd January 2018:
“I am very sad today by the news of Tom Ollerton’s passing.
This brings my memory back to May 1964, when I drove all the way from Barcelona to Edinburgh taking on my trailer two Bultaco Trial prototypes prepared at the factory for the SSDT, one for myself and the other for my team mate Tom Ollerton. The experience we gained at that event helped us to further develop the Trial model towards the Sherpa T. My sympathy and condolences to Tom’s family.”
For more on the Bultaco story go HERE