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Tribute published with kind permission of M.C. Rathmell, Harrogate (8 April, 2016):
“It is with the greatest sorrow and one of the saddest of sad days when I received the ‘phone call to say Martin was no longer with us. We have been mates almost a lifetime, about fifty-three years to be more precise.
I want to say at the very start of this article, that I have written it in the spirit of how Mart would have wanted me to be. Our whole life together was full of banter and he would not have wanted me to write this in any other way now.
We first met as young lads running around the local scramble tracks. Mart was there with his brothers, ‘Ping’ (Arthur) and ‘Sid’ (Alan) who were both top scramblers. I just used to go with anyone who would take me, he always had it easy. The rivalry had already started!
We got to know each other well in the mid to late 1960s when we were both riding local trials. We played cricket for Blubberhouses, darts for the Hopper Lane pub and dominos in the Lion at Silsden. Two common things here, competition and pubs!
Through the late 1960s, we played hard but we also learned all the basics of competition on motor bikes, trials; scrambles; grass track and Mart even dabbled in speedway. Then we started ten plus years of our intense rivalry in the British, European and World Championship but what a fantastic time it was. Tense and cut throat through the event, then all was forgotten and a couple of beers at night.
Around 1970, Mart had this bright idea to buy a coal round. He didn’t really like his job and I was on the verge of getting the sack from the forestry for having so much time off riding. Seemed like a good plan and all went so well we added a second round. All was great for the first few months when we were at home but then the championship started. We hadn’t thought about that when we discussed it over a few games of dominos in the Lion at Silsden and it didn’t seen such a great idea once the Trials kicked off. So off we went to the European Championship for a few weeks. We had a lot of very cold customers and had to pay someone to do it for us!
The memories that spring to mind in all our years of travelling have to be the fishing in Finland to see who could catch the biggest fish, the boating in Sweden where he tried to drown me (I can’t swim), the girls in Czech (he s*** himself!), the cars in the US. We got the biggest car we could find on our first trip to America, but I once sent him to buy a pizza and it was so big he couldn’t get it in the bloody car. The troubles in Northern Ireland (he hated it); the poverty in the Eastern bloc where you had to change a certain amount of their money on arrival but there was nothing to spend it on. We once brought back forty-five pairs of desert wellies justto spend the money. In France when he set the van on fire making chips and then all the brilliant times we had at the factories in Barcelona with the Bultaco and Montesa families. It’s really just impossible to list every memory, I would need a book and if ‘H’ was here there would be a lot more I have forgotten.
After we both retired from riding, I bought a hotel with Rhoda in Grassington and Martin and Isobel bought a pub at Greenhow, a mere five miles apart. Well we figured we had both lived in hotels for twelve years and had certainly spent a lot longer in pubs, so it seemed the ideal answer to what we did in our retirement.
We should have known then that motorcycling was in our blood and it wouldn’t be long before we were back involved with it again.
So after our stint in ‘The Real World’ just a few years later, it all started again with another ten years plus where Mart was with Dougie and I was with Graham only this time we could have more beer!
Some of my greatest memories through this time have to be the Trial Des Nations where against all the odds we managed to pull off the wins with Mart and myself leading the troops, so to speak!
Our first win was in the Isle of Man in 1997 but 1999 was a classic as the organisers had mistakenly thought Steve Colley had a five on the last section but in fact cleaned it. The guy at the end had put a five as that was his riding number! I just remember Mart standing on a chair with a huge jug of beer singing ‘We are the Champions.’ We followed this in 2002 in Portugal and 2003 in Italy; the memories of those wins, against all the odds, where Mart and I worked together with our GB team were unforgettable.
To any outsiders Mart came over as a big, rough Yorkshire-man. In some ways he was. He didn’t stand fools, but found one in every bar we went in but he had the biggest heart and the softest spot possible. A great, great friend and a brilliant mate and an exceptional competitor (but I usually won)! You have to remember that if ‘H’ had written this it would have been the total opposite of what I have said. That’s how it was between ‘H’ and me. The friendship I had with him was special and unique. It didn’t matter if we were seeing how many stones we could throw into a bucket at the SSDT waiting for Doug and Graham or whether it was to see who got to the pub first when we were out having a meal in later years, it was a competition. However, it was a competition which we both hold in great respect of each other and that one thing that can never be taken from me, ‘memories’ which will stay with me forever.
Mart will be sadly missed by everyone who knew him but especially by his close friends and family. The Lampkins are known for their closeness and I can’t imagine the affect this will have but they are strong and will hold together throughout this sad and cruel time. My love to all of you.
God bless and rest in peace mate. I’ll see you up there”.
With collaboration and permission of Rainer Heise, Trials Guru brings you some fantastic images of trials in Germany, both of German national riders, like Helmut Stanik, Felix Krahnstover and also international class riders such as Rob Edwards, Martin Lampkin, Brian Higgins, Mick Andrews, Malcolm Rathmell, Yrjo Vesterinen and more. Some of these images were used by Trialsport DE the premier trials magazine in Germany. Images date from 1974 to 1977 with more to come from Rainer when time allows. We at Trials Guru are always wanting to hear from you of suggestions for more trials on the site.
You may be forgiven if you haven’t realised that in May this year it will be fifty years since Samuel Hamilton Miller won the Scottish Six Days Open Reliability Trial on his 244cc Bultaco Sherpa registered as 669NHO.
Miller had left Ariels to ride for the Catalunian manufacturer based at San Adrien De Besos, part of Barcelona in late 1964 to develop the Bultaco Sherpa into a machine that was to change the face of motorcycle trials forever.
The defection to the lightweight Bultaco signalled the end of the big four-stroke single as the bike to win at trials.
There is a celebration of the marque in July this year at the Circuit De Barcelona.
Sammy went on to further develop the machine and many British born riders followed him to ride for the Spanish factory, riders such as Malcolm Rathmell and the first winner of the world championship, Martin Lampkin with Frenchman Charles Coutard and Finland’s Yrjo Vesterinen who was to win three world Championships for Bultaco.
The Bultaco Sherpa was a revelation as it weighed much less than its competitors with a 52 inch wheelbase it handled and steered much better than its rivals and pulled well from low revs. It turned novice riders into award winners.
Well restored examples of the four-speed Model 10 Sherpa still command high prices, if you can find one for sale as these are very much collector’s items.
Miller had written into his contract with Senor Bulto, that if he didn’t win more than 50% of all events he entered, then Bulto was not obliged to pay Miller’s salary! Of course, Sammy did win more than 50% of the events and was so confident of doing so.
Miller told Trials Guru: “If I didn’t win all those events on the Bultaco, it wasn’t worth my time competing in the first place”.
However, Sammy Miller wasn’t the first to compete in the famous Scottish Six Days Trial on a Barcelona-built Bultaco, it was a Lancastrian rider called Tommy Ollerton who rode a 200cc Bultaco Sherpa N in the 1962 event. Ollerton’s machine was registered in the UK as PDV700. Tommy Ollerton rode in company with Oriol Puig Bulto, nephew of Senor Bulto, having travelled all the way from the factory to Edinburgh in a Fiat 500 car with a two bike trailer attached, carrying two Sherpa N models, one for himself and the other for Ollerton, who was supported by Anellays of Blackburn, Lancashire.
Having said that, it was Miller who gave the factory it’s first Scottish Six Days win and that is a major part of both the event and motorcycle trial history.
The Premier Trial Website – Recording the History of the Sport 'Since 2014'