Tag Archives: Comerfords

Jock Wilson – ISDT Team Manager and more!

Peter ‘Jock’ Wilson … a great friend … a great man ~ By Renee Bennett.

Jock Wilson - 350 AJS - SMW581 - Clayton Trial - section Cheeks - 05-08-1962 - Photo Unknown
Jock Wilson on ‘Cheeks’ at the Clayton Trial in 1962 on his specially built ultra-short-stroke AJS 350. (Photo supplied by Patricia Wilson)

When I think of Jock Wilson, it reminds me of the fantastic Thames Ditton motorcycle dealers, Comerfords, AJS trials machines, Bultaco, the Scottish Six Days and a top Home Counties based trials rider who went on to take charge of the British International Six Days Trial Trophy Team for nearly 20 years.

Peter Cameron ‘Jock’ Wilson was born in Scotland on 12th January 1934 at Oakbank, Bridge of Balgie, Glen Lyon, Perthshire. The Scottish Six Days was practically on his doorstep as the ‘Meall Glas’ section was only ¾ mile from his front door.

Jock on his short-stroke AJS in a Sidcup 60 Trial. Comerfords Sales manager Bert Thorn is following in the background.
Jock on his short-stroke AJS in a Sidcup 60 Trial. Comerfords Sales manager Bert Thorn is following in the background.

There is the main reason he was such a good trials rider ~ with all that practice ground, he just had to be good!

‘Jock’ as I’ve always known him, started his working life as a lumberjack, then a spell in the British Army doing his national service at Aldershot, then marrying his wife Pat and moving to London to live permanently.

At Aldershot, Jock was in the Royal Army Service Corps or RASC for short, his commanding officer was Captain Eddie Dow, but he also met many of the factory trials and scrambles stars of the era who were also doing their national service. Riders such as Roy Peplow, John Giles and many more.

He took up employment at Arthur Cook Motors in Kingston-Upon-Thames and then the well-known motorcycle dealership, Comerfords based in Portsmouth Road, Thames Ditton, Surrey which he joined in 1957.

Jock started at Comerfords as a motorcycle mechanic in the workshops, soon progressing to workshop manager. When he became bored with that, he moved into sales under Sales Director, Bert Thorn.

1965 Scottish Six Days on Callert, riding the ex-Sammy Miller Ariel 786GON, which Wilson owned and rode for several years. The machine is now in Italy.
1965 Scottish Six Days on Callert, riding the ex-Sammy Miller Ariel 786GON, which Wilson owned and rode for several years. The machine is now in Italy.

Jock’s specialty was modifying AJS trials bikes, cleverly making them lighter and more powerful. Gordon Jackson, Gordon Blakeway and Gordon McLaughlan rode AJS machines as a team in those days and Jock even named one of his sons after the trio.

Gordon Jackson of course won the 1961 SSDT on his factory AJS (187 BLF) with just one ‘dab’ ~  Amazing!

Jock went on to manage the British International Six Days Junior Trophy and Trophy teams. His knowledge gained by riding in the ISDT many times himself on AJS and Triumph machinery gave him a valuable insight into this part of off-road sport and was a very highly thought of manager by the riders and the ACU. He actually cut his teeth initially by managing the Scottish ACU squad in Sweden in 1978.

A Scottish ACU presentation of awards ceremony at Perth in 1980. From left: Ron Wright (SACU Trials); Alex Phillip (Clubman TT winner 1948); Robbie Allan; Charlie Bruce (Scottish racing champion); Tommy Milton (SACU official); Anne Allan (wife of Vic Allan) and Jock Wilson, ISDT Team Manager.
A Scottish ACU presentation of awards ceremony at Perth in 1980. From left: Margaret Allan (SACU Chairperson); Ron Wright (SACU Trials); Alex Phillip (Clubman TT winner 1948); Robbie Allan; Charlie Bruce (former Scottish racing champion); Tommy Milton (SACU official); Anne Allan (wife of Vic Allan) and Jock Wilson, ISDT Team Manager.

When Comerfords eventually took over the importership from Rickman Brothers of the Bultaco brand, Jock was soon in charge … supplying dealers and operating a first class spares service.

When Jock left Comerfords, some many years later, he started his own business importing the Italian SWM trials and enduro macinery in partnership with Mick ‘Bonkey’ Bowers, which became equally as good as the Bultaco brand and very popular.

Jock and Bonkey set up a countrywide dealer network which included former World Trials Champion, Martin Lampkin.

After SWM stopped producing motorcycles, Jock went self-employed working from his home in Tolworth, fixing and tuning bikes and repairing damaged wheels, as he is an ace wheel-builder.

Nowadays, Jock is retired but still works a little on classic bikes in his spare time. I speak to him regularly and it’s always a pleasure.

Jock has always been a friend to me, to my late father Wag Bennett, and to my children Charles (who runs a busy London motorcycle shop) and my daughter, Julie.

I owe Jock a debt of gratitude for the support and help he gave me over twenty five years of trials riding.

Thank you Jock Wilson … Renee Bennett, Plaistow, East London.

Trials Guru: Jock Wilson, so named because this was common place for a Scotsman living and working in Southern England at the time, became one of off-road motorcycle sports’ most respected characters. Jock was a very competent mechanic and a serious trials competitor. When he was with Bultaco UK, he was responsible for setting up the contracts with the Comerfords supported riders in both motocross and trials. Wilson was mentor to Greeves rider and fellow Scotsman, Vic Allan when he moved from Aberdeenshire to Thames Ditton to ride for Comerfords in 1967. Allan then went on to ride for BSA briefly, during which time he crashed heavily at the Italian GP on his factory BSA breaking his hip and was sidelined for several months, during which time BSA closed the Small Heath competitions department. Allan then reverted to race for Comerfords on the Spanish Bultaco and became British 250cc and 500 cc Motocross champion in 1974, riding the Pursang models in both classes.

© – All text copyright: Renee Bennett & Trials Guru / Moffat Racing, John Moffat 2015.

The Rob Edwards Story – Part Five

Rob Publicity Montesa
Montesa recognised at an early stage that Rob Edwards was a most suitable rider to promote the brand worldwide. (Montesa sales brochure from 1971)

Hi Again,
Many thanks for all your comments, I feel very honoured that so many of you have remembered me. Leaving Cotton Motorcycles was a necessary move if I was to improve, but I will always be grateful for the support Norman Crooks gave me.
I knew exactly what I wanted to ride… a Montesa!
Plucking up courage, I telephoned Montala Motors in London who were the UK importers at that time. I told them my name and some of my results.
I asked if there was any chance of riding for them?
I was told that they simply had no vacancies. Montala’s ‘dream team’ being Gordon Farley, Lawrence Telling and Don Smith. However, I asked that if a ride became available I would like to be considered. I had set my heart on riding for Montesa but as this was a no-go, I would have to try elsewhere.
Montesa Cota Prototype
An early Cota Prototype. Development work by Christian Rayer (France) Pedro Pi and Don Smith ensured that Rob Edwards had a well-proven machine when he switched camps to Montesa (Permayer S.A.)
The only other top bike in my estimation was a Bultaco Sherpa, so I took a sharp intake of breath and phoned up Comerfords in Thames Ditton, Surrey, the Bultaco importers. Most of the male employees who worked at Comerfords were trials riders. So much to my delight, things started to look a lot better.
Having a bike could be sorted immediately and they were sure that Bultaco Spain would give me a contract. “We will be back in touch as soon as we hear anything”, were their parting words.
I put the phone down and gave a big sigh of relief, things were really starting to move. Then the phone rang, but this time it was Montala Motors boss John Brise. Apparently seconds after I had talked with them, Montesa Competitions Manager, Alberto Mallofre phoned them. Unknown to me, it appeared that Alberto had been a fan of mine for a long time and he had wanted me on a Montesa.
I don’t think John Brise really knew anything about me and was being polite when I phoned him, but the factory did and that was the break I needed!
Montesa Trial prototype n1( 67)
The prototype Cota from 1967, you can see the similarities to the British built Cotton Minarelli. Rob decided that his bike of choice in 1969 would be Montesa.
It seemed that everybody knew about me at Montesa, they had been keeping an eye on my results.
They said everything was in hand, so don’t look elsewhere! Alberto was on the phone to me the next day asking me to go to the Spanish round of the European championships in Barcelona.
While I was there, he had a few things he would like to talk to me about.
I traveled there with fellow Montesa riders Charlie Harris and Ian Haydon.
Now that things were up and moving I was back on the phone to Comerfords to offer my thanks for trying so hard for me. I take this opportunity to thank everyone at Comerfords back then, even although I made the move to ride for Montesa. – Rob
Trials Guru: Montesa, by 1968, had made serious in-roads into the UK trials market with their Cota 247 Mk1 model. It was becoming a very popular machine which would allow British riders to make a name for themselves in national events. Rob mentions the Montesa ‘Dream Team’ and that is correct in that Lawrence ‘Sparky’ Telling, Don Smith and Gordon Farley had all left the Greeves marque for Montesa. Charlie Harris was effectively a development rider in the Uk for the Cota.
Alberto Mallofre, the competitions manager at Permanyer S.A., the company that manufactured Montesa, was a forward thinking individual. Don Smith was a well-known extrovert on the UK trials scene and promoted the Cota successfully from 1967-70. However, he became frustrated with the lack of development progress and quit the team in 1970 to develop his own machine called the Don Smith ‘Stag’. Utilising his own ideas and a Montesa Cota 247 motor with the ‘M’ symbol carefully removed from the crankcase covers, Smith entered the 1970 Scottish on the black and white machine.
Montala Motors ‘Montesa Dream Team’
L Telling - PB - SSDT crop
Lawrence Telling pictured here in the 1969 SSDT – Photo Courtesy, Peter Bremner, Inverness.
Gordon Farley - PB - SSDTcrop
Gordon Farley – 1969 SSDT – Photo courtesy, Peter Bremner, Inverness
DR Smith - PB - SSDT crop
Don ‘D.R.’ Smith – 1969 SSDT – Photo Courtesy, Peter Bremner, Inverness.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Montesa ‘Ambassador’ Rob Edwards:

RE2
The beginning of Rob Edwards’ role as Montesa Ambassador. Seen here at a trials school in Spain, Rob (holding loud-haler) addresses the crowd, on his right are Alberto Mallofre and Pedro Pi. Photo courtesy of Luis Munoz, Madrid.

 

 

To Be Continued …

Copyright:

Words: Rob Edwards/Trials Guru, John Moffat 2014.

Acknowledgement: Peter Bremner, Chairman Edinburgh & District Motor Club Ltd. For Montesa Photographs used in this article.

To read all of Rob Edward’s story of his life in trials click… here

The Rob Edwards Story – Part Two – 1964

1964 SSDT Programme
Front cover of the 1964 SSDT official programme, with Rob’s great friend Gordon Blakeway on the ex-Gordon Jackson AJS (187BLF) in 1963. The bike carried Jackson to victory losing one mark in 1961.

By the time the 1964 Scottish came around, I had got over my previous year’s disaster, this time I was allocated number 210 on an AJS 350 bought from Comerfords, this time entered as a ‘privateer’ and riding for the Middlesbrough & District, my home club.

The event still started and finished in Edinburgh. On the Thursday, we went over the Corrieyarrick Pass.

I think I had been following behind Peter Gaunt and what happened next I wasn’t to find out until sometime later.

I found myself sat on a banking at the side of the Pass, which is an old General Wade military road.

I had no idea at all how I came to be sitting there.

Alan Morewood from Sheffield who became a top sidecar driver, came along on his 500 Ariel as he was number 205 that year, he stopped and asked if I was Okay? ‘Yes, fine’ I said, ‘Bye’ he said and rode off.

couple of minutes later and Alan was back. ‘Rob, are you sure you are al-right, you look dazed?’ said Alan. ‘No problem’ I said and off he went again. Somehow I managed to get back to Fort William to finish the day’s run.

The first person I spoke to asked what I had been doing to scratch my face? Then someone said, ‘never mind his face, look at the back of his bike!’

The rear end was totally out of line. I then realised that I must have hit a pothole in the road with the front wheel over Corrieyarrick, cartwheeled and that explained my rest on the bank.

We pulled the bike back into line with a length of pipe that we found. Apart from a bit of a headache, it was back to business as usual.

Rest of the week was not as eventful and had a good old needle match with my mate Sid Lampkin who was on a factory Cotton that year. For the next year, I had bought another AJS from Comerfords, Thames Ditton built by Jock Wilson. I’ll tell you about that ride next. Bye for now! – Rob

Rob 1964
Rob on his 350 AJS at Achintee Farm, Ben Nevis, in the 1964 Scottish. The AJS supplied by Comerfords, hence the Surrey registration number 970PL. If you look closely the front wheel spindle nut has the ISDT type tommy-bar, obviating the need for a spanner. It also has the works style prop-stand tied to the front downtube by rubber bands and a small spigot mounted on the lower-most engine bolt and the attachment spigot mounting on the magneto mounting plate. Photo supplied by Rob Edwards. Photo copyright: Brian Holder.

Post Script by Rob Edwards: I’ve just been looking again at this fine Brian Holder photograph of me on the AJS on ‘Ben Nevis’ in 1964. The chap directly behind me is Mick Ward from Scarborough.

He built a bike especially for this event. He had the novel idea of taking the exhaust through the back frame loop to save a bit of weight.

However, when he got stuck, the ever helpful spectators would rush to his aid, not realising the exhaust was the rear frame loop and severely burn their hands in their quest to assist! I’m sure the A&E at Fort William were extra busy that week with burns!

I bet Mick never thought that one day Valentino Rossi would copy his helmet design! – Bye for now! – Rob

 

PCW AJS 1962
Comerford’s employee, Peter ‘Jock’ Wilson with one of his creations, an ultra short-stroke AJS 16C, photo taken at the back of Comerfords workshop at Portsmouth Road, Thames Ditton.  Jock was brought up a mile from the old SSDT sections at ‘Meall Glas’ in Glen Lyon, Perthshire. Photo Copyright: Don Morley, Reigate, Surrey

TRIALS GURU: – 1964 Scottish Six Days, this edition was won by Sammy Miller riding the much modified and much weight reduced, Ariel HT5. This would be the last time he would do so on the British four-stroke, Miller had already been secret testing the 200cc Bultaco Sherpa which he was later to develop to an increased 244cc and thus created a world beating machine with the San Adrien De Besos factory.

From the 1964 Scottish Six Days Trial Results:

No. 210. R. Edwards, Middlesbrough & Dist. M.C., A.J.S. 350 c.c. …. 124 marks S F C (Special First Class Award)

Ron Thomson 1964SSDT Achintee
1964 SSDT another Achintee photo taken the same day as that of Rob Edwards. Here we see the late Ron Thomson a great character originally from St. Andrews who made his home in Inverlochy, Fort William. Seen here on his 500cc BSA Gold Star. Ron called this bike the ‘Stone Crusher’ and was later owned by Billy Maxwell of Newcastle. Thomson and Ali McDonald were great friends. Photo courtesy: Mrs Ron Thomson, Inverlochy, Fort William.

Rob’s eventful Scottish ‘Thursday’ was May 7th 1964. The route was as follows, let’s follow where Rob went that day: Start, Fort William; Inverlochy; 2 sections at Annat; Banavie; Gairlochy; 8 sections at Laggan Locks; Corrieyarrick Pass (where Rob has his big off!); Melgarve; Laggan Inn; Roy Bridge; Inverlochy – Lunch control; Glen Nevis; 4 sections at Ben Nevis; Fort William – Down Ashburn Lane; Onich; Kinlochleven; 1 section on Pollock Way; 8 sections at Leitir Bo Fionn; Down Loch Eild Path; 8 sections at Mamore; Check at top of hill; Mamore Road; 2 sections on the Town Hall Brae and Finish of day. Total Mileage 132 miles. 33 sections.

A Macdonald 1964SSDT THB
1964 SSDT shot of the late Ali McDonald, a Fort William man, on his Ariel HT5 on Town Hall Brae in Fort William. Photo courtesy: Mrs. Ron Thomson, Inverlochy, Fort William.

SSDT Point of interest: The number plates you see in the SSDT photos were issued to riders by the organising club. The rider paid a fee of ten shillings and forfeited the deposit if they didn’t hand the plates back at the end of the event. In 1964 the number plate official was Bob Adamson who later was to become SSDT Assistant Secretary and Secretary of the Pre’65 Scottish Trial.

1964 - Blackie Holden at Achintee
1964 Scottish at the same section group, Achintee, Ben Nevis that we saw Rob on his AJS, here we have the late Blackie Holden from Bradford on his works Cotton. Blackie Holden junior supplied this photo and said: “My Dad rode with Rob Edwards many times and considered him a true gentleman of the sport”.

 

Copyright: Rob Edwards/Trials Guru, Moffat Racing (c) 2014

Acknowledgements:

Don Morley, Reigate, Surrey for permission to use the photograph of Peter ‘Jock’ Wilson for this article.

Edinburgh & District Motor Club Ltd for the use of 1964 programme cover.

Rob Edwards for the use of the Brian Holder photo.

Blackie Holden Junior for the photo of Blackie Holden Snr in 1964.

Mrs Ron Thomson, Inverlochy, Fort William for the photos of Ali McDonald & Ron Thomson.

To read all of Rob Edwards’ story of his life in trials, click … here