Tag Archives: Mick Andrews

644BLB – Rediscovered

Words: Trials Guru – Rob Farnham (Oz) – Mick Andrews
Additional comments by: Don Morley, Reigate, Surrey
Photos: Rob Farnham – Rob Edwards’ personal collection – Mick Andrews’ personal collection – Yoomee/John Hulme, England


Mick Andrews - Bemrose - Photo Yoomee
Mick Andrews on 644BLB at the Bemrose Trial – Photo: Yoomee/John Hulme
What is 644BLB?

It was the registration number allocated in January 1961 to a 350 Matchless, which was used exclusively as an AJS and owned by the Associated Motor Cycles Ltd competition Department at Plumstead, South East London.

The 1961 AJS registered as 644BLB was at heart a Matchless used under the AJS name by Cliff Clayton and Mick Andrews 1961-1964 – Photo: Rob Farnham, Queensland

The motorcycle was to be used by factory supported riders and we know that AJS factory rider, Cliff Clayton used it in the 1961 Scottish Six Days Trial. Clayton was a member of the Barham MCC, and lived at Gillingham in Kent.

644BLB however, was to become better known in the trials world as Mick Andrews’ factory AJS, as he competed on it from 1962-1964 when factory supported. It was a machine that took Andrews on two consecutive occasions to the runner-up position in the Scottish Six Days Trial (winners Arthur Lampkin – BSA C15 – 1963 & Sammy Miller – Ariel – 1964).

Don Morley, the well-known photo journalist spent a great deal of time researching the works trials AMC machines when he was preparing his book, Classic British Trials Bikes which was published by Osprey. Don had photographed many, if not all, the factory models over the years.

Morley told Trials Guru when discussing some articles, that some AMC trials machines were registered as one marque but actually used as the badge engineered stablemate. 644BLB was one such machine, an AJS in use, but registered as a Matchless. The same method was employed for the machine registered 164BLL, issued to Gordon McLaughlan. There has never been a definitive reason for this other than perhaps the AJS 16C was a slightly more expensive model than the corresponding Matchless variant G3C and as the factories had to pay the then ‘Purchase Tax’ on a registered machine, perhaps they saw this as a way of saving some money?

Don told Trials Guru that: “I should really have paid more attention to the finer details of the works bikes when I had the chance back in the days when they were used week in, week out by the factory supported riders. I have questioned many of the stars of yesteryear about the finer points of the machines they rode some time later, to find that most hardly touched the machines as they usually were repaired, modified and serviced by the relevant competition departments. No disrespect intended, but I take most of the so-called modifications by riders with a pinch of salt.”

Where is 644BLB?

Our article begins with a message sent through social media to Rob Edwards, the former factory Cotton, Montesa and, at one time, AJS teamster. Rob had ridden a factory supported but privately bought AJS in the 1964 and 1965 SSDT, it was registered ‘970PL’ and had bought it from Comerfords in 1963.

The enquiry came to Rob Edwards facebook page in December 2016 from Rob Farnham from Queensland, Australia (who we will refer to as ‘Oz’, his shortened internet name, for the rest of the story) who had seen Rob’s story on Trials Guru and a reference to his promotional trip with his employers, Montesa Motorcycles ‘down under’ in 1975. A photo was within Rob’s story sitting on a 350 AJS which Noel Shipp of Wollongong owned at the time and was reputedly Mick Andrews’ AJS factory machine.

Oz picks up the story: “I purchased the bike from Noel Shipp in December 2008, as being a bit of and AMC competition bike nut, it was an opportunity too good to miss. Sadly Noel was unwell then and died in the September of 2012.

Noel had shipped 644BLB out from the UK in 1970. I have a note of who he purchased it from, but he was actually after another trials machine, a Triumph I think, but took the AJS as his second choice.

Obvious changes have been made between 1964 and 1970, mainly the bottom frame rails and footrest hangers.”


The lower frame rials have been removed by a previous owner and replaced by strip aluminium, this was not a factory modification – Photo: Rob Farnham

“I have done very little to it as I have too many projects but was only spurred into motion following a request from John Cuff, a member of the bike club I’m a member of, the Historical Motorcycle Club of Queensland as he needed some bikes for club magazine articles for 2017. He had seen my Matchless G80CS but knew nothing of the 350 AJS, 644BLB.  His main interest is trials and competition machines so he was very excited when he saw it.

Most of my previous research had drawn a blank so was quite excited myself on Rob Edwards response to my post on his facebook page.”

Oz had been doing a lot of digging in an attempt to catalogue the machine’s history, but over the years details of ownership had been lost and of course never rely on people’s memories.

Oz had heard that after Mick Andrews had handed the AJS back to Plumstead, Gordon Blakeway had ridden it. This was false as Blakeway had been issued with 187BLF, the ex-Gordon Jackson machine when Andrews was still riding 644BLB for the factory and was subsequently riding the 250 James (306AKV) for AMCs in 1965.

It was likely that after Andrews moved on, 644BLB would have been moved on also as the factory was in financial decline and several machines were sold off to dealers, the most noteable being Comerfords in Thames Ditton, Surrey and it was most likely that 644BLB would have found its way to this dealer given their connections with the factory.

Confusion reigns!

Oz clarifies how he undertood matters initially: “I was actually led to believe that Rob Edwards had made his debut in the Scottish Six Days on 644BLB in 1965. This was caused by the caption in ‘British Trials Motorcycles’ by Bruce Main-Smith on pages 12 and 13 which read: ‘Rob Edwards (opposite bottom) made his Scottish debut on Andrews’ ex-works 350 AJS, with unofficial factory support’. The photo does show Rob Edwards, but I now know through Trials Guru’s Rob Edwards Story and AJS & Matchless Trials articles that this was actually Rob’s own private but factory supported AJS (970PL). The photo in Main-Smith’s book was taken from a rear view and the machine had lost it’s rear registration number plate, making identification difficult. On top of this, Noel Shipp had told me Rob Edwards had been a privateer rider post 1964, which is one of the reasons I contacted Rob Edwards via his Facebook page.”

In reality, Rob Edwards had taken over the berth left in the AJS official team for the 1965 Scottish Six Days, riding his own AJS, suitably modified as Andrews’ mount 644BLB was not available, this occurred due to Andrews moving to ride the James. So why did the AJS competition manager not allocate 644BLB to Rob Edwards? That may remain a mystery, was it by then sold off or did they not have time to prepare it for the arduous SSDT?


The 1970 UK tax disc of 644BLB shows it clearly to be a Matchless, not an AJS – Photo: Rob Farnham, Queensland

Oz is keen to find out who purchased and rode 644BLB from around 1964 until it was exported to Australia in the 1970s. He still has the road fund licence tax disc from 1970 with the index ‘644BLB’ and ‘350 Matchless’. This would be the last time the machine was road registered in the UK.

Research indicated that as the machine had left the UK shores, the registration mark had become void due to the mid 1970s ‘amnesty’ that was afforded owners to have their vehicles applied to the DVLA computer at Swansea.

For many years it was thought that the ex-Gordon Jackson AJS (187BLF) had been exported to Australia, even Jackson himself believed it to be so, but it was actually the Clayton/Andrews machine 644BLB that had gone ‘down under’.

The AJS & Matchless Owners Club were contacted in January 2000, but their archivist, Mrs Pat Hughes confirmed that the later competition model records were missing, they had all the road going machine despatch details from 1946 onwards. So another blank was drawn, but the important thing is that the machine still exists half way around the world from where it was built and used. The only confirmation was that the motor number stamped on the crankcases was that of a 1961 model G3C Matchless.

The Mick Andrews connection:

Mick Andrews has been asked many times what he did for a living and simply answers that he commenced a motor mechanic apprenticeship with Kennings when he left school in his home town of Buxton in Derbyshire, but quickly earned a place in the AJS factory trials team riding their works prepared 350cc 16C model, registered as 644BLB at seventeen years of age in late 1961. His name had been put forward to AMC’s Hugh Viney by Ralph Venables. Viney had sent a letter to Andrews, which was the way it was done back then, offering him an AJS.

Mick Andrews told Trials Guru: “I had a Matchless which my Dad Tom bought for me and I had some good rides on that. I came home from work one day and my Dad said that I had better have a look in the garage and there stood a gleaming AJS sent up by Hugh Viney for me to ride. It was 644BLB with a blue tank and gold lining, it looked beautiful”.

Andrews first appearance on the factory AJS was at the national St. Davids Trial in Wales when he partnered Gordon Jackson and Gordon McLaughlan. That was in 1962, also Andrews’ first time in the Scottish Six Days Trial. In 1963, Mick was second in the SSDT to Arthur Lampkin. Andrews went on to not only win many national trials on 644BLB, but it also established him as a force to be reckoned with in the sport. His last SSDT on 644BLB was the 1964 event, again finishing runner up to Ariel’s Sammy Miller, riding in the factory team comprising of Gordon Blakeway (187BLF) and Gordon McLaughlan (164BLL) with the fuel tanks refinished in ivory white with simplified lining and gold monogram, the penultimate time an AJS team would compete in the annual classic. In 1965, the final AJS team comprised of Gordon McLaughlan (164BLL); Gordon Blakeway (187BLF) and new recruit, Rob Edwards (970PL) who took the best 350cc cup.

Mick Andrews on ‘Tyndrum’ in the 1964 Scottish Six Days Trial aboard 644BLB sporting the ivory finished fuel tank. It was Andrews final SSDT using this machine on which he made a name for himself in the sport. Note the spigot fitted on the magneto engine plate with the prop stand pipe strapped to the front downtube. He finished runner up to Sammy Miller – Photo Courtesy of Mick Andrews


Long-stroke fan!

Mick Andrews: “I did hear many years ago that my old works AJS had been sold to someone in Australia, but I never did see it again. It’s nice to hear that it is still around, OK maybe not exactly as I rode it, but still it’s good that it has survived this long. I was in New Zealand with my wife Jill in 2010 and a bloke came up to me and said, you’re Mick Andrews! I said how do you know me? The chap replied, ‘well I moved out here some years ago, but I did all the work on your AJS, I worked in the comp shop’. I couldn’t believe it, you see Hugh Viney told my Dad and I that we were not allowed to modify or change things on the motorcycle, so my dad sent the AJS back to the factory every Monday morning and they sent it back up to Buxton so I could ride it at the weekend, we never really touched it the whole time I rode for the factory. I never met the guy before, but he made sure the motorcycle was well prepared each week for me to ride.”

Andrews continued: “When I rode for AJS I always rode with the long-stroke motor, never the short-stroke, I didn’t like them. They seemed to suit Gordon Jackson, he liked the sharper power delivery, but it wasn’t my choice. In 1964 we were all offered 250 James to ride, the two Gordons were not happy and handed them back, but I said to the then AMC team manager Eddie Wiffen, that I’ll stick with the James (306AKV) and never looked back.”

The long stroke motor looks to have stayed with 644BLB and having examined the engine number it is that of a 1961 G3C Matchless and is in keeping with known serial numbers. The factory did not usually build special factory bikes from scratch, they normally chose one or two from the production line and used these to register them for road use. They were usually tested and them the dispatch clerks booked them out to the ‘Competition Department’.

So what happened to 644BLB after its time as a works machine expired? It is still a bit of a mystery, apart from the obvious, that it was exported from the UK to Australia. Motorcycles change hands and sometimes many hands at that. Without the old style ‘Registration Book’ or buff log book as they were universally referred, it makes it difficult to trace a machines’ history.

At the moment this period looking competition tank is fitted which has the makings of the late AJS tank lining – Photo: Rob Farnham

What is known is that this AJS, or Matchless as it was registered with the authorities is concerned, was sold off, through a main dealer is most likely as many ex-factory AMC machines were disposed of in this manner.

Magneto platform has been cutaway to allow for a prop-stand spigot mounting. Another factory machine detail – Photo: Rob Farnham

At one stage, the registration number re-appeared on a 350 AJS in the annual Pre’65 Scottish trial at Kinlochleven in the hands of Andrew Arden, whose father Maurice was the man behind Big John Products, a one time sponsor of Mick Andrews. However, it wasn’t the original machine, it had been in Australia for 15 years or more and the machine was a replica, the dummy registration number plates used purely as a ‘nod’ to Andrews achievements on his original Plumstead built machine.

It was discovered that Noel Shipp bought 644BLB from a UK sales agent, a Stan ‘Rodwell’ or ‘Phelps’ based in Ilford, Essex, so the motorcycle was shipped over.

Wollongong - Aus - Noel Shipp AJS 644BLB
Rob Edwards tries Noel Shipp’s Ex-Mick Andrews 350 AJS 644BLB for size in Australia in 1975, which shows the G85 style tank in situ. – Photo courtesy: Rob Edwards personal collection

From photos taken in 1975 during Rob Edwards and Mick Andrews trip to Australia, one notices that the bottom frame rails had been removed and replaced by a plated assembly which gave a flush area to mount an alloy sump-shield in an attempt to loose some weight. This was not a factory modification as AMC believed in making the factory machines look exactly like the standard production competition models.

A non standard modification to the underside of the frame, this would not have been carried out at Plumstead’s comp shop but by a previous private owner attempting to modernise the machine – Photo: Rob Farnham, Queensland

Having said that, the late model factory trials machines all sported the lowered rear subframe and short, but kicked up rear mudguard fixing loop. This allowed shorter rear suspension units to be deployed while maintaining the same rear wheel movement.

Detail photo of the rear subframe assembly of 644BLB and detachable rear mudguard loop, alloy rear brakeplate and Dunlop Racing 19 inch wheel – Photo: Rob Farnham, Queensland

The tank appears to have been changed over the years. Initially it had an alloy competition tank finished in blue and gold lining.

Oz: “As previously mentioned Noel Shipp fitted the black 2 gallon AJS competition tank at some point although when he got the bike it had the red fibreglass Matchless G85 style tank on it. This is actually an interesting tank as its shape and fitting is definitely for a G85 but there is a drip recess around the fuel cap and the bottom of the tank is finished off quite roughly. It has ‘R. E. G Mouldings’ inscribed on the bottom, maybe someone over in the UK knows of them?
I bought a polished alloy Lyta Gordon Jackson style tank from Rickmans for another project which requires a fully painted tank, it seems a shame to rough up such a nice tank and I eventually found the black and silver painted tank on eBay, so my current plan is to use the painted tank for the other project and the nice shiny one could be painted up similar to the one used by Gordon Jackson.”
Gordon Jackson style Lyta aluminium fuel tank was sourced from the UK – Photo: Rob Farnham, Queensland
History of course records that Andrews rode the 1964 Scottish with a Jackson style tank in off-white/ivory with the gold AJS monogram.
Oz confirms that the primary chaincase has an alloy inner case with an outer steel component. Production AMC trials machines were never supplied with alloy chaincases, only the factory ones had them.
Inner section of the primary drive chaincase is in alloy, a special factory modification – Photo: Rob Farnham
Oz who is a lover of originality added: “Of course there is always the matter of whether the bike should be conserved as it is or perhaps restored back to factory finish circa 1964. While 187BLF looks very nice, any traces of its history will have been wiped away during the extensive restoration, in my opinion it has been somewhat over done.”
The clutch pressure plate has been extensively drilled and a fair bit of thought has gone into this modification. Was it done in the AMC copmpetition shop? – Photo: Rob Farnham
“At present 644 is neither ‘fish nor fowl’ as the wheels have been restored, the tank isn’t original to any period,  I have the correct style of tank and muffler, and a very good frame repairer who is more than capable of making original pattern bottom rails, however I have several other projects before I even think about what should be done with it, so that may be an interesting area for discussion on your website?”
Alloy rear brake plate is a factory only item, the rear section has been repaired, rear hub is standard ‘five-stud’ competition issue – Photo: Rob Farnham
So there we have it. It would appear that the former AMC factory AJS, 644BLB has found a new home at the other side of the world, without the factory dispatch records it isn’t possible to identify 100% and without a shadow of a doubt this is the ex-Andrews machine, but the evidence certainly points firmly that it is.
It’s a nice end, because if this is truly 644BLB, then its good news that it survives and hasn’t gone to the AMC factory trials machine graveyard and it’s in a good home.
644BLB, is now in retirement in Australia, but enjoys a canter every now and then – Photo: Rob Farnham, Queensland
Or is this the end of the story? We will have to wait and see because researching old motorcycles history is something that never really stops.
Trials Guru … 644BLB Post Script!


James Holland founder of JHS Racing Ltd the motorcycle performance centre in Bristol, read this article and came in with additional information.
James: “Back in 1998 I made contact with Noel Shipp in Australia as I was keen to establish the whereabouts of Mick Andrews’ ex-works AJS. Noel wrote to me and sent me some photographs of the bike he had bought from England some years previously. He wanted around £5,000 for it, which in 1998 was a lot of money for a machine that was many thousands of miles away. I was very tempted, but I had to be sure that it was the real deal. I spoke to Mick about it when the photos arrived, but it had been many years since he last saw the AJS and of course he didn’t do much work on it as the factory took care of all that.
There were some details that did point to it being a works AJS, but I had a lot of committment going on back then and I decided that I wouldn’t re-import the bike and left it at that.
Noel Shipp sent me a nice letter in the November of 1998 and also detailed separately the frame and engine numbers which I believe are still valid to this day having spoken with John Moffat who was given them in confidence by Rob Farnham.
It’s amazing that this article should be written many years after I walked away from a deal that could have re-united Mick with the first factory machine he ever rode in anger and on which he was propelled to stardom.” – James Holland, Bristol
The letter sent by Noel Shipp to James Holland in November 1998, when James had the idea of buying Mick Andrews AJS to bring it home to England
Photo taken by the late Noel Shipp in 1998 showing the engine of 644BLB with the December 1970 UK tax disc – Photo courtesy of James Holland, Bristol
Mick Andrews astride James Holland’s Matchless/BSA – Photo copyright: James Holland, Bristol


Interactive Trials Guru – Do you have information about 644BLB that you would like to share and perhaps have added to this article? Get in touch using this online form:



© – All text copyright: Rob Farnham & Trials Guru / Moffat Racing, John Moffat – 2017

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AJS – one that got away

There has always been a desire by enthusiasts to get their hands on factory machinery. The AJS and Matchless machines were one and the same, except for minor details and were brands that lesser lights sought to own.


Words: Trials Guru – Martyn Adams – Eric Adcock – Gordon Blakeway – Ian Harland – Gordon Jackson – Gordon Mclaughlan – Don Morley


HXF641 - 1 - David Lewis photo
An early AJS that the factory sold into private ownership. B.H.M ‘Hugh’ Viney’s factory 1946 350 16MC with black paint disguising many lightweight alloy components, registered HXF641, Viney won three successive Scottish Six Days Trials post-war, 1947-49 – Photo by permission of: David Lewis, London

A number of AMC trials bikes were released into private ownership after use by the Plumstead competition department, but only a few really ‘escaped’. One such escapee is the 350 Matchless G3LC the father of Trials Guru’s John Moffat purchased, OLH722. This was achieved by a single telephone call to the factory competitions department of AMCs in 1957. It was an ex-Ted Usher/Sid Wicken machine that had been in both long and short-stroke powered format in its four year period of use with the Plumstead factory riders. Similarly, the Matchless OLH723 which Usher also rode, was also released for sale in 1957 but released as an AJS and ridden in that year’s SSDT by Thornaby’s  Robin H. Andrew, whereas OLH721 had been Artie Ratcliffe’s factory 1954 SSDT winning mount when in rigid frame form.

OLH722 had past through the capable hands of Fred Hickman, Gordon Mclaughlan, Bill Lomas and Sid Wicken before ending up with Usher as his last factory supplied machine in 1957, just prior to the Matchless team being disbanded. The machine is still in the Moffat family, but that is a different story.

1958 TA & JO Moffat
T. Arnott Moffat with son, John Moffat in early 1958 astride Moffat’s ex-factory 350 Matchless (OLH722) in long stroke form as sold by the competition department pictured in Stockbridge, Edinburgh. One of the few factory machines to find its way into private ownership which retained its Burman B52 gearbox casings cast in ‘Elektron’ magnesium alloy – Photo: Moffat Family Archive

Lomas - Moffat - OLH722
The late Bill Lomas (former World Motorcycle Racing Champion) with Trials Guru’s John Moffat and the ex-factory Matchless OLH722 he was loaned by the factory in winter 1954-55. The dull grey ‘Elektron’ gearbox can be seen clearly in this image – Photo: Gordon Small

This is the story of another AMC factory machine that got away. A motorcycle that hasn’t been stored away or kept in a museum, but one that has continued to be used in anger as it was designed and built for – competition, and has won in the process.

WJJ580, where are you?

We set about tracking down the story of the 1959 registered AJS 16C with the index number WJJ580, one of a batch of similar machines used by the factory. Built as a long-stroke 350, it eventually became a 410cc variant which the factory wanted to try as a bigger bore machine. These special motors ranged between 401 – 420 capacity.

The discovery of WJJ580 opened a veritable pandoras box of information. With Trials Guru on the case, we find that there were three such machines made available to riders around the same time period.

The competitions department at AMC had been experimenting with competition short-stroke motors as early as 1956, these were issued to their factory supported riders replacing their long stroke units. Production short-stroke trials models would not be available until six years later, and a full year after Comerfords asked for Jackson replicas to be built, following his 1961 SSDT win. The first short-stroke would be the Matchless in 1962 followed by the 1963 AJS ‘Expert’ 348cc models.

The manufacturers of AJS and Matchless (AMC) introduced their trials models with short-stroke motors with Matchless in 1962 (top) and AJS 1963 (lower) now using the Norton style oil pump and a small pad style seat which replaced the ‘Dunlop’ rubber spring saddle. Photos: Associated Motor Cycles (AMC) advertising literature 1962/63
Factory numbers:

The factory registered their team machines in their name ‘Associated Motor Cycles’ with some AJS machines being registered as a Matchless. One such machine was the 1961 AJS used by Mick Andrews from 1962-1964 which was registered as a Matchless 347cc as 644BLB.

Gordon Jackson told Trials Guru: “When the factory disbanded the Matchless trials team in 1957 to concentrate the brand in scrambles and motocross, they asked me to use a Matchless tank on my works bike just to keep the brand name going in trials, but in reality the bike was simply my AJS with the different tank fitted“.

In September 1959, AMC trials models brought with them the bespoke trials frame with a much lighter and slimmer rear subframe, and a swinging arm taken from the lightweight road machines of the era. The previous competition models had the wide set rear subframe accepting firstly the Jampot rear suspension, and then latterly Girling suspension units with bottom clevis mounts.

With the launch of the ‘new’ trials model, the factory had registered a batch of 350cc trials models for their retention by the Competitions department under the watchful eye of former rider, Bob Manns. These were all registered consecutively on 1st January 1959 as WJJ578/579 and the subject of this article, WJJ580.

The ever helpful Don Morley, professional sports and news photographer, and author of many books on motorcycling, looked up his records for Trials Guru and confirmed that Roger Kearsey had been issued with WJJ578 as a Matchless as did Ron Langston in 1960, Cliff Clayton with WJJ579 and Gordon Mclaughlan with WJJ580; the machine we are featuring.

Ariel rider and all-rounder, Ron Langston briefly rode WJJ578 as a short-stroke Matchless in 1960. Note the alloy primary chaincase with detachable clutch cover in this photo. Photo courtesy: Ian Harland’s scrapbook

Don Morley told Trials Guru: “The motorcycle manufacturers worked under the same legislation as private purchasers, in that they had to pay purchase tax which started in 1940 and went on until 1973 when it was replaced by Value Added Tax, when registering any motor vehicle back then. This was the main reason why they simply replaced the machine between the number plates on more than one occassion. Triumph however didn’t seem to do that“.

Cliff Clayton rode the Scottish Six Days Trial in May 1959 on ‘579, but it did not have the complete new style frame at this time, instead it had the factory 1958 ‘prototype’ rear subframe heavily altered at the top damper mount and used a Girling unit with the alloy clevis type lower mount mated to the old style swinging arm. It also utilised the heavy full width alloy rear hub, but the 1959 style 5.5 inch half width front hub which was from the 41′ WD G3L military machine. The fuel tank was blue with gold lining and the AJS monogram. A departure from the traditional black/gold combination. The new rear 5.5 inch trials rear hub would be introduced in the September 1959 and eventually all WJJ registered machines would be retro-fitted with the new style frame and lighter wheel hubs by the competitions department.

Morley: “I do remember having a ride on WJJ580 during a visit to the Isle of Man some years ago“.

AJS, the brand:

Probably the most famous AJS trials machine of all time is that which was used by Gordon Jackson to win the 1961 Scottish Six Days, losing a solitary one mark, the lowest ever recorded score. It was registered in December 1960 as 187BLF and is now owned by the Sammy Miller Trust, having been re-discovered in 2010 by Miller and positively identified by Jackson. 187BLF had never left the UK, this was contrary to popular belief.

5 The famous Gordon Jackson AJS as it arrived at the museum.
187BLF prior to full restoration by Sammy Miller in 2010 at Sammy’s workshops at New Milton. Note alloy front brake plate of the type only used by factory riders. – Photo: Sammy Miller

Gordon S. Blakeway on the world famous 350 AJS – 187BLF which carried Gordon Jackson to victory in the 1961 SSDT, seen here at the Colonial Trial in 1963 – Photo: Charlie Watson, Hull

Factory rider, Gordon Blakeway who had ridden for Ariel and Triumph, took over 187BLF when Gordon Jackson retired from trials in late 1962.

Gordon Blakeway told Trials Guru: “I rode 187BLF not as a short-stroke, but as a long-stroke. The bike was changed by the factory before I received it and Hugh Viney reckoned because I had ridden the long-stroke Ariel, then a long-stroke AJS would suit me better. I was slightly disappointed at this because I had been keen to have Gordon Jackson’s sharper short stroke motor“.

Blakeway continued: “When the factory eventually closed its doors in 1965, they asked me what I was due in expenses and I said it was about £55. I asked what they were going to do with 187BLF and they said it was for sale and they wanted £100 for it. I bought it, handing over the balance of £45 and about three weeks later I sold it on for an acceptable profit“.

Wollongong - Aus - Noel Shipp AJS 644BLB
Montesa’s Rob Edwards tries Noel Shipp’s Ex-Mick Andrews 350 AJS 644BLB for size in Australia when he was promoting the Montesa brand ‘down under’ in 1975.

It had been universally believed that 187BLF had been exported to Australia in the 1970s, even Blakeway believed that this was the case. However that was most likely to have been confused with the exportation of 644BLB, the 1961 registered Mick Andrews’ machine (1962-64), which Cliff Clayton also rode in the 1961 SSDT as an AJS, although it was registered as a Matchless.

GLJ 2011
Taken in 2013, after its full restoration, Gordon L. Jackson stands proudly with his famous factory AJS 16C (187BLF) on which he won the 1961 SSDT on one solitary mark! (Photo: Trials Guru/J. Moffat)

Ian Harland on WJJ580 in the 1990 Red Rose Trial

WJJ580, the beginning…

Looking at the original buff log book, WJJ580 was registered as a 59/16C AJS on 1st. January 1959 to Associated Motor Cycles Ltd at 44 Plumstead Road, London SE18 listed as a ‘350cc’. However, it would not always be ridden as a 350 but as a 410 sometime later.
The AJS was retained by the AMC competitions department until 1963 when it was sold into private ownership to a Mr. Stone in Birmingham. After 12 months, he sold it to a Mr. Hopkins of Swansea, Wales.

The machine’s colour scheme was originally recorded as blue/black, being a blue tank and black frame, which was by then a colour option on production trials models.

The original buff log book (registration document) showing WJJ580 when it was registered new to Associated Motor Cycles on 1st January 1959. The ‘JJ’ index mark was used by Greater London until 1974 – Photo: Ian Harland, Isle of Man

Trials Guru tracked WJJ580 down to its’ current owner, Ian Harland who lives in the Isle of Man, he is the father of James Harland, a past winner of the Pre’65 Scottish on a Triumph twin in 2013.

Ian Harland: “I bought the AJS from the rider/dealer Bob Gollner of Denmead, near Waterlooville, Hampshire in 1989, it had been restored for him by Peter Pykett and I think he won the Talmag Trial on the bike“.

Talmag Trial at Hungry Hill, Aldershot organised by the Territorial Army (London) MCC – Left to right: Reg May (Norton 500T); John May (350 AJS) & Bob Gollner on WJJ580 – Photo courtesy of John May, Godalming

Harland: “The AJS has a lot of history in that it had been built within a small batch of similar machines for the factory riders. One of which was Gordon Mclaughlan who rode it in the 1960 Scottish. Unfortunately, it was believed that Gordon didn’t get on with the 410 motor and sent it back asking for a long-stroke 350. He was then allocated 164BLL which he rode until the factory closed its’ doors and the AJS team was finally wound down. Gordon retained the AJS, 164BLL for his own use after that“.

Ian Harland competing in the 1997 Pre’65 Scottish Trial at Mamore on the ex-factory AJS, WJJ580, which he has owned since 1989.

Harland: “According to the original buff log-book WJJ580 was first registered as a 347cc machine. If this dislike of the over-bored mtor is correct it happened around 1960-1961. The reason the crankcases are stamped ’61’ is because a replacement motor would have been fitted. Apparently, the conversion to 410cc involves long stroke 350 crankcases and an 74mm bore. So to change from a short-stroke 350 to 410 involves a complete engine change, not just the barrel and head. Presumably, the change back to a 350 involved the installation of a new engine in 1961 which is still in the bike today. I met an ex-AMC competitions shop employee at the Manx Classic a few years ago who remembered some of this. I understand that Malcolm Adams from Leeds owned the sister machine, WJJ579 the ex- Cliff Clayton bike”.

Ian Harland on the AJS with its original factory frame and cycle parts, but by then with a much shorter rear mudguard loop, at the 1990 Pre’65 Scottish on the top section of Loch Eild Path, high above Kinlochleven.

Gordon Mclaughlan was issued with WJJ580 and rode the 1960 SSDT carrying the riding number 147. It was obvious that the short-stroke motor was used at this point, evidenced by the matt black rocker-box which indicated an ‘elektron’ item. Elektron is a magnesium alloy made by the Magnesium Elektron company for AMC, which it used from the early 1950s. These componenst were usually retained by the factory when machines were sold to be used on other machines. It had the integral push rod tunnels. It also sported the long down-swept exhaust system with the short silencer. ‘580 was also fitted with the new style 14 inch Girling rear damper units which bolted on to bosses on the frame and swinging arm. Steel wheel rims were still being used at this time with the standard 21 inch front and 19 inch rear. Dunlop ‘Trials Universal’ tyres were fitted to all the team bikes.

Now enjoying a happy retirement, Gordon O. Mclaughlan was an AMC supported rider for 11 years 1954-1965 and ran his own car sales business, Gordon Mclaughlan Motors in Guisborough. – Photo: Ross Mclaughlan

Gordon Mclaughlan spoke to Trials Guru, confirming some points raised by Ian Harland: “It’s a long time ago now and I have read a fair bit about my factory bikes over the years and it would appear that people know a lot more about them than I ever did! I suppose I was just too busy riding them to note down all the important facts and figures about them. However what I can remember is this. My bikes were always prepared by the works. I used to take whichever bike I was riding to Thornaby railway station and send it to the factory at Plumstead. They would fettle the bike and send it back, wrapped in cardboard and taped up to protect it in transit and I would go and collect it from the station.

I remember that the factory gave me a spare fuel tank that was a Matchless one, so that I could enter some trials with the AJS as a Matchless and I would cover over the AJS emblem on the timing cover.

I really liked the long-stroke motor as the sharp motor that Gordon Jackson used was just a bit too quick for my liking. I recall that some of the engines in my bike were as high as 420cc or at least that is what the factory told me. It was to try and win the 500cc cup at events on what was an over-bored 350.

I did ride WJJ580 for a year or so, before the factory asked for it back to do some work on it and back came 164BLL, that would be around late 1960, early 1961. It was before Gordon Jackson won the SSDT and we were given similar machines. I used 164BLL until the factory shut down, I was due eighty-five pounds in unpaid expenses and I was given 164BLL as payment. I kept it for quite a few years and then sold it as I was too busy to ride it when I was building my business, Gordon Mclaughlan Motors in Guisborough. We sold AJS motorcycles and Lambrettas to start with then I started selling second-hand cars until we became Morris agents which became BMC and then Austin-Morris, British Leyland and finally Rover until I retired“.

Trials Guru research revealed that Gordon Mclaughlan’s 164BLL was registered on 1st. January 1961 as a Matchless, even although it was built as an AJS and used primarily as such, and as a 350cc. I mattered not that Gordon’s AJS was actually registered as a Matchless, because the MOT test which commenced in 1960 was originally a ten year test, reduced to seven years in 1961. The factory didn’t retain machines much above three years from the date of registration.

Mclaughlan continued: “I did ride one of the first Pre’65 Scottish trials at Kinlochleven on a replica AJS I had built, I think that would have been around 1984. I enjoyed my time riding for the factory from 1954 after a couple of years on my own Norton 500T. The first AJS I received was a rigid, but I can’t recall the registration number of that bike, if anyone has any photos of it I’d be keen to see it. I know it wasn’t an ‘AJS’ private registration number as Gordon Jackson, Hugh Viney and Bob Manns had those.

Hugh Viney was our team manager, he was quite an aloof, reserved character, a rather serious man.

It’s amazing how many ex-works bikes were sold off by the factory after use. Ted Usher’s bike OLH723 ended up near to us, a local lad from Thornaby called Robin Andrew bought it in 1957. He was a fairly good local club rider“.

Sadly the factory machine 164BLL issued to Gordon Mclaughlan, was completely destroyed in the fire that destroyed many historic motorcycles at the National Motorcycle Museum at Bickenhill, Solihull on 16th September 2003.

After campaigning WJJ580, Gordon O. McLaughlan was issued with this machine, 164BLL, here we see him taking a hefty dab at the Colonial Trial in 1963 – Photo: Charlie Watson, Hull

Ian Harland campaigning the ex-factory AJS (WJJ580) in the 1995 Pre’65 Scottish watched by Scots rider, the late Gordon McMeechan.

Ian Harland continued the story: “When I bought WJJ580 the engine wasn’t the sweetest, it was actually very ‘rattly’. Martyn Adams, then based in Brighouse, West Yorkshire re-sleeved the barrel and found a new 7R piston for it. The motor has run ever since in many trials over the years ridden by myself including a number of Pre’65 Scottish, most Manx Classics, Talmag, Mons in Belgium etc. I’ve retired from trials now so the engine top end is again being rebuilt, the barrel being re-sleeved again by Martyn, now in Adelaide, Australia“.

A Brian Holder photo of Gordon Mclaughlan takes a steadying dab on the factory AJS WJJ580 in the 1960 SSDT on Devil’s Staircase. Watched closely by SACU official Jim Birrell (standing with cine-camera) and Ralph Venables (seated, top left) Being factory prepared, it is fitted with the tommy bar front spindle nut and the compressed air bottle mounted on top of the alloy primary chaincase. The front forks have rubber inner tubes to protect the external fork springs. You can just make out the ‘prop stand’ bar strapped to the front frame down tube. This slotted into a tube which was welded to the front engine mount on the near-side. This complied with the SSDT regulation that the machine “must be fitted with a stand or the penalty would be 5 marks per day”. Mclaughlan was subsequently issued with 164BLL – Photo couresy of Ian Harland

Works issue:

WJJ580 was used in effect as the works ‘hack’, a machine that would be allocated to various riders who had either expressed a wish to ride for the factory or were chosen, some ‘selected’ by the well-known doyen of trials journalism, Ralph Venables.
Venables would effectively ‘scout’ for the factories as he had the ear of the competition managers, two of which were Hugh Viney and Bob Manns of AMC.
History records that Dave Rowland was ‘selected’ in 1961, prior to being snapped up by BSA, and was issued with 580 when he had been at Bordon doing his army national service. However it was not a happy arrangement and Rowland sent the machine back as he didn’t get on with it. But in his customary style, Dave sent a polite letter with the returned machine in 1962, thanking Hugh Viney and the factory for allowing him to try it over a period of time.

Taken directly from Ian Harland’s scrapbook on WJJ580, we have an image of the late Dave Rowland on the AJS when he was enlisted to the army during national service in 1961. We can see that the machine has the late type frame and swinging arm and long rear mudguard loop Please note: This image is copyright and was used by the late Ralph Venables in his ‘Ralph Remembers’ column in T&MX News at one stage.

Roger Kearsey from Upwaltham, Sussex who competed with the Matchless WJJ578 for a spell went on to ride for Royal Enfield.
Eric Adcock of DOT fame also rode WJJ578, but eventually sent it back, preferring to stick with the two-stroke DOT.


Eric Adcock spoke with Trials Guru and provided photos of ‘578 that he had taken, plus the letters that he received from Hugh Viney, the competition manager at the AMC factory. Eric is still heavily involved with the sport and is a Director of North Western ACU and is their Permit Secretary and Treasurer.

Eric Adcock: “I received correspondence from Hugh Viney, the competition manager at AMC and I was sent WJJ578 to try out”.

The ‘informal’ letter from AMC’s Hugh Viney to Eric Adcock in October 1959 suggesting that he might try one of the works 350 trials machines. – Copy courtesy of Eric Adcock

Adcock: “I had been demobbed from national service by then and was open to offers of a machine, I was in the Mechanical Transport division at Borden from March 1956 to December 1957“.

Hugh Viney’s ‘formal’ letter to Eric Adcock on 15th October 1959, inviting him to visit the AMC factory to discuss the matter of a works machine. – Copy courtesy of Eric Adcock

23rd October 1959, AMC’s Hugh Viney offers to send a works 350 to Eric Adcock for testing ‘locally’ – Copy courtesy of Eric Adcock

5th February 1960 – AMC’s Viney replies to Eric Adcock’s rejection of the Matchless WJJ578 – Copy courtesy of Eric Adcock

A friendly/congratulatory letter from AMC’s Viney to Eric Adcock on his performance at the televised trial in 1960 – Copy courtesy of Eric Adcock
WJJ578… Adcock’s test
Eric Adcock aboard WJJ578 on ‘Hawks’ Nest’ in Derbyshire in October 1959 where he tested the Matchless against his DOT – Photo courtesy of Eric Adcock

Adcock: “I started in trials on a BSA Bantam in 1951, then on to a Francis Barnett and eventually on a DOT in January 1954, with a short spell on a Triumph Cub in 1958 which I had been sent by Henry Vale at triumphs, but couldn’t get on with it at all, so I sent it back. The Matchless I got on reasonably well with and quite liked it, winning an event in the process, but it was a bit too tall for me. I had the bike about three months before I sent it back to Plumstead, deciding to stick with DOT Motorcycles“.

Eric Adcock’s photo of WJJ578 when it arrived from the AMC competition department at Plumstead in October 1959. These photos were taken at an all electric cotton mill in Oldham where Eric’s father was the mill engineer. Young Adcock kept his bikes in the boiler house. Adcock: “… as it was a warm and pleasant place to clean them and work on them until I got married”

Adcock: “I took some photographs of WJJ578 when I had it and held on to them, along with the correspondence from Hugh Viney, I hope it brings back memories for your readers“.

Nearside view of the works Matchless WJJ578 taken by Eric Adcock. Note the rubber cover over the carburettor and the clevis lower mount of the Girling rear dampers. This is the late type trials frame for the 1960 season, retro-fitted by the factory. The alloy primary chaincase, a Plumstead special component shown off to best effect in this photo.

Often referred to as the bet side of a heavyweight trials bike, the ‘offside’ of the factory 350 Matchless, WJJ578 taken by Eric Adcock in October 1959

 And so back to WJJ580 – Harland’s machine that got away:
Ian Harland at ‘Sloc’ in the Manx Classic Two-Day Trial on WJJ580, an event he won in 2004 on this very machine

In 1962 it was the time for the factory to move on the AJS, WJJ580, with new stock having been taken from the production line and retained by the competitions department, headed by Wally Wyatt.

Factory mods…

This was how it was done by the works: The machines would be selected by dispatch staff from the production line and the frame and engine numbers were all noted in the production ledgers as being retained by Comp Dept. These selected machines would be wheeled away to the Competitions department. The machines would be registered in the company name and then stripped down and modified by the competition staff with lighter components replacing standard parts as required. One such item was the primary chain-case, the factory had these fashioned from aluminium alloy instead of the standard steel pressing with a separate, detachable clutch dome also fashioned from aluminum alloy. This practice had been carried on from the immediate post-war years.

Around 1955, the practice was to steepen the steering of the standard trials frame by heating up the frame tubes and forcing down the headstock, this also required new engine plates in dural to be made up as the gearbox became closer to the motor and a shorter primary chaincase was also fabricated out of alloy. The result was a sharpening of the steering which the factory jockeys preferred.

Fuel tanks could be altered to sit on the machine closer to the steering head or otherwise to riders preferrence. Usually the area of the tank where the riders knees would make contact would have the paint polished off and abbreviated lining used.

Inside WJJ580…

The replacement 1961 stamped engine in Harland’s bike is definitely non-standard. The motor uses a 8:1 high compression piston and is a forged item as used in the AJS 7R racing motors. The valves are much bigger than the standard AJS 350 single utilises. It also has much more power than the standard 350 motor produces.

Around the year 2000, the original frame cracked at the headstock. The AMC trials frames were susceptible to this type of occurrence and it’s amazing it lasted so long. An Andy Bamford from Fleet frame kit was obtained which has been used ever since.

Harland: “I still have the original works frame which one day I’ll get repaired. These bikes are like ‘Trigger’s broom’.
I rode my son James’s 500 AJS in the Pre’65 Scottish in 1999 and l loaned WJJ580 to my good friend, Giovanni Dughera from Turin who was a works Ossa rider in the 1970’s”.

1999 Pre’65 Scottish – Italian, Giovanni Dughera riding WJJ580 on Loch Eild Path. In the background to the left, Trials Guru’s John Moffat waits his turn astride his Matchless 469HKJ. On the right watching is Rochdale competitor, Frank McMullen – Photo: Iain Lawrie, Kinlochleven

WJJ580 partially disassembled in 2016 to have a new liner fitted to the barrel by Martyn Adams. This frame was made by Andy Bamford in 2000, but Ian Harland still has the original frame set which will be repaired in the future. Note the alloy front brake plate, a special factory item, not the Comerfords version. The central alloy oil tank was a period modification used by the factory and subsequently marketed to private owners by Comerfords of Thames Ditton. All late model AMC trials machines from 1959-on used the bespoke trials frame and lightweight style swinging-arm and the 1 1/8th inch forks with the alloy top yoke.

Martyn Adams, formerly of Serco in Brighouse, now living in Australia and trading as MDA Motorcycle Engineering picks up the technical details: “I reconditioned this engine over 25 years ago and don’t think there is too much to say. However finding a piston for the engine 25 years ago was an issue, as the bore size is 74 mm, not the usual 69mm. At first we thought it was an AJS twin piston, but not so, as the piston is a forged type and not the cast type. We then realized the piston is from a 1954 specification AJS 7R, not the readily available short-stroke type of 75.5 mm“.

WJJ580’s barrel machined to take a fresh liner – Photo: Martyn Adams/MDA Motorcycle Engineering,

Adams: “This is the reason we recently re-sleeved the cylinder as the piston was still in very good condition but has now been machined to take a modern oil control ring. Ian believed for years that the motor was a 410, but I think the crank is a standard 93mm stroke, which would give a capacity of exactly 400cc“.

WJJ580 treated to a fresh cylinder liner using the existing piston machined to take a 3rd oil control ring – Photo: Martyn Adams/MDA Motorcycle Engineering

Adams continued: “So I suppose the motor is really quite special as it’s a pretty unique mix of factory parts. Ian also has a another bike with a special short-stroke engine that I made a crank for and is very similar to the short stoke Ariels we call her the big bang motor“.

Base of cylinder detail shows the customary lets for the con-rod to clear as it pushes the piston up and down – Photo: Martyn Adams/MDA Motorcycle Engineering

Adams added: “I haven’t checked, but would reckon with the domed piston and 74 mm bore, not 69mm, the compression ratio will be around 9:1. This is quite high for a trials machine. The cylinder head from memory has the later valves from the short stoke head with big inlet with a 5/16 inch stem and small head exhaust valve with a 3/8 inch stem. As I said a real mix of factory parts“.

The relined AJS barrel is now back at Ian Harland’s house awaiting to be re-united with WJJ580’s crankcases – Photo: Ian Harland

So at least WJJ580 escaped the fate of many factory machines that were broken up for their parts and it was put to good use. To be ridden and competed on, very much in the spirit in which they were all designed and built.

WJJ580 certainly was – One That Got Away!

Back together again in December 2016 – WJJ580 and its special motor – Photo: Ian Harland, Isle of Man

The numbers game…

The AMC factory road registered all its ‘road test’ and works retained trials machines locally in the Greater London area. The ‘XF’ index mark for example was London County Council, used immediately post second world war. The exception was the ‘GK’ index mark, as it was London South West area, whereas the factory was based in being Plumstead SE18 London. It is safe to say that all AMC factory trials machines were all London registered.

Known AMC Factory Trials Registration Numbers:

(*) Indicates those sold or still in private ownership


HXF641 * (Viney); HXF644; AJS775 (Jackson); AJS776 (Viney); AJS777 * (Manns); KYM835 (Viney); OLD865 (Viney); WJJ579 * (C. Clayton) WJJ580 * (Various); 187BLF * (1961-63 Jackson/63-65 Blakeway); 644BLB (registered as a Matchless) * (Location Australia – C. Clayton 1961/Andrews 1962-64); 164BLL (registered as a Matchless – destroyed in the fire that ravaged the National Motorcycle Museum in 2003) * (1961-65 Mclaughlan); UXO194 (Jackson); VYW659 * (Jackson); TLP686 * (Jackson); TUL654 * (Manns); VGK756 (Jackson)

Viney 1955 - JJM
A smiling B.H. M. ‘Hugh’ Viney on his works 347cc AJS (AJS776) in the 1955 Scottish – Photo: Jock McComisky, Linlithgow

TLP686, the former factory AJS 350 of Gordon Jackson from 1956 on which he won the British Experts, now in private ownership – Photo: Mr. Philip Clarkson

MLX735 (1952 A. Ratcliffe); MLX736 (Dick Clayton); KYM836 (1951 D.J. Ratcliffe)  NLF773 (1953 Usher) OLH721 (Ratcliffe); OLH722 * (1954 Hickman/1955 Mclaughlan/1955 Lomas/1956 Wicken/ 1957 Usher); OLH723 * (1954-56 Usher); TXX515 (1957 Wicken); WJJ578 (Kearsey/Langston/Adcock)

img4 LAR
Artie Ratcliffe on his 1954 SSDT winning Matchless OLH721 on Town Hall Brae, Fort William – Photo: Ray Biddle, Birmingham

Sid Wicken from Kenardington, Kent on his factory 350 Matchless (OLH722) in the 1956 SSDT. Seen here with the short-stroke motor fitted, the ‘Elektron’ rocker-box can be seen with its matt black finish. Wicken’s frame broke below the headstock but still managed to finish the event with the frame wired together. The machine was sold into private ownership in August 1957 in long-stroke form to Arnott Moffat – Photo: Ray Biddle

95 - Weem
1951 – Derek J. Ratcliffe, brother of Artie on his factory 347cc Matchess (KYM836) on Weem, near Aberfeldy in Perthshire – Photo: Ray Biddle, Birmingham

Martyn Adams Contact details: HERE



  • David Lewis, London
  • Iain Lawrie, Kinlochleven
  • Eric Adcock
  • Ross Mclaughlan
  • Gordon Small, Newport on Tay
  • Ian Harland, Isle of Man
  • Martyn Adams/MDA Motorcycle Engineering
  • J.J. McComisky
  • Ray Biddle, Birmingham
  • Philip Clarkson
  • Moffat Family Archive
  • Sammy Miller Museum
  • John May, Godalming
  • Charlie Watson, Hull
  • Rob Edwards, Middlesborough
  • Trials Guru / J. Moffat
  • Trials & Motocross News, Lancaster

With Acknowledgement for their assistance in compiling this article to:

  • Martyn Adams, Australia
  • Eric Adcock
  • Gordon S. Blakeway
  • Ian Harland, Isle of Man
  • Gordon L. Jackson
  • Gordon O. Mclaughlan
  • Sammy Miller, New Milton
  • Don Morley, Reigate
  • Trials & Motocross News, Lancaster




SSDT – Where are they now?

Where are they now?

1966 - SSDT - Sammy Miller Bultaco EAA60D - 2
1966 Weigh-In at Gorgie Market, Edinburgh – Sammy Miller’s Bultaco Sherpa 252cc (EAA60D) – Photo courtesy: Kenny McNamee, Motherwell

The Scottish Six Days Trial is one of those events that every trials rider not only wants to take part in at least once in their lifetime, but to win it, well that is something really special.

Motorcycle manufacturers have entered works machines to the event with the sole aim of achieving victory, pure and simple.

Tommy Sandham, who has written four books on the subject, has asked me to undertake a tricky task – to find out how many SSDT winning machines still exist!

2011 - 187BLF- GOV132 - IL
SSDT Centenary 2011 – Two of the most famous trials machines, of all time – 187BLF (350 AJS) which won the 1961 SSDT ridden by Gordon Jackson losing only one mark. GOV132 (500 Ariel) Sammy Miller’s famous machine that won the SSDT (1962 & 1964) – Photo: Iain Lawrie, Kinlochleven

We know of a few that are still around, these are as follows:

1946/47/48 – HughViney’s 350 AJS (HXF641)

HXF641 - 2 - David Lewis photo
Hugh Viney’s AJS with some details painted on the front plate of HXF641 as it is to this day – Photo: David Lewis, London

HXF641 - 1 - David Lewis photo
Hugh Viney’s factory AJS HXF641 on which he won three successive SSDTs post-war – Photo: David Lewis, London

1957 – Johnny Brittain’s 500 Royal Enfield Bullet (HNP331) – National Motorcycle Museum.

1962/64 – Sammy Miller’s 500 Ariel (GOV132) – Sammy Miller Trust.

1961 – Gordon Jackson’s 350 AJS (187BLF) – Sammy Miller Trust.

1963 – Arthur J. Lampkin’s 249 BSA C15 (XON688) – Owned by A.J. Lampkin.

1965 – Sammy Miller’s Bultaco Sherpa (669 NHO) – Owned by Sammy Miller Trust.

1966 – Alan R.C. Lampkin’s 249 BSA C15 (748MOE) – Owned by A.R.C. Lampkin.

1967/1968 – Sammy Miller’s Bultaco Sherpa (EAA60D) – Owned by Yrjo Vesterinen.

1969 – Bill Wilkinson’s 250 Greeves – (WWC 169F) – Owned by Bill Wilkinson.

1981 – Yrjo Vesterinen’s 349 Montesa Cota – Owned by Yrjo Vesterinen.

2005 – Sam Conner’s 290 Sherco – Owned by Paul Rays

So where are the rest?

Some SSDT winning machines – but where are they?

1954: Artie Ratcliffe’s 350 Matchless (OLH721)

1959: Roy Peplow’s Triumph Cub (RUE923)

1970-1971 : Mick Andrews’ Ossa (B775073 – Barcelona registration)

1972 : Mick Andrews’ Ossa (B-1681-C – Barcelona registration)

1973: Malcolm Rathmell’s 250 Bultaco (XWW34L)

1974: Mick Andrews’ 250 Yamaha (CRA33L)

1975: Mick Andrews’ Yamaha (JGF729N)


Use the Trials Guru CONTACT page to let us known – HERE

Ossa in miniature!

We are always looking for something different on Trials Guru, usually trials, recently we featured a scale model Montesa Cappra motocross machine from the late 1960s.

Once again, Justyn Norek from Turin was on hand to take photos of another wonderful model. This time it’s a trials machine, the Ossa 250 Mick Andrews Replica (MAR).

It’s hard to believe it’s not photos of a real Ossa MAR motorcycle, just look at the detail!

The handiwork of  Pere Tarragó of Barcelona, Spain …


OSSA MAR 250 020
Pere Tarrago at work on the 1:5 scale Ossa MAR

OSSA MAR 250 084
Components painted and plated, ready for final assembly


The finished article, a toffee sweet is placed to give an indication of scale and that this is a model, not a real Ossa!



OSSA MAR 250 170
Can you tell if these are models or the real thing? These are 1:5 scale models lined up!


For more information:   www.motoscalatarrago.com

You could be forgiven for thinking that is a real motocross bike!

Many thanks to Justyn Norek for the use of his copyright photographs.

More Justyn Norek photos of trial and motocross: HERE


Magical Chase 220 for the Highlands!

The Yamaha ‘Magical-Chase 220’ – Photo: Ricky Wood, Derbyshire

Mick Andrews will debut a Yamaha ‘Magical-Chase 220’ at the Inverness & District MC Ltd, Highland Classic Two-Day trial at Aviemore on 11th June.

Former European Trials Champion and multiple SSDT winner, Mick Andrews will be guest of honour at the Highland Classic 2 Day in June 2016 – Photo: Ricky Wood

The bike has been developed by Colin Leese with direct input by Mick Andrews and now owned by Derbyshire rider, Ricky Wood who will also take part in the annual classic trial on Alvie Estate on the Saturday and Sunday 11/12th June.

Mick told Trials Guru that the machine has been built with ideas that were used on his factory 0W10 machines from the mid-1970s when he took the honours twice at the SSDT.

Andrews: “We have put a lot of effort into this little bike which runs very well and the first to ride it was its owner, Ricky Wood who has allowed me to ride it competitively at the Highland Two Day. Colin Leese of ‘Chase TY’ has done all the hard work with my advice and guidance. He builds the TY220 to order and there is quite a waiting list”.

Based loosely on the factory oW10 concept, the Yamaha ‘Magical-Chase 220’ looks purposeful – Photo: Ricky Wood

Mick Andrews is this year’s guest of honour, a feature of the Highland Classic which now boasts 150 riders competing on a shooting estate which lies four miles south of Aviemore.

Mick Andrews samples Colin Leese’s handiwork in a pre-season testing session – Photo: Ricky Wood

The theme this year is ‘The Yamscot Edition’ which not only pays homage to Magical Mick Andrews when he rode for the Japanese company, but also Shirlaws Motorcycles of Aberdeen which used the ‘Yamscot’ moniker back in the 1970s to promote the Yamaha off-road and racing brand in Scotland.

Mick Andrews puts the Yamaha Magical-Chase 220 through its paces – Photo: Ricky Wood

Photos courtesy and copyright of Ricky Wood, Derbyshire.


Highland Classic 2016 update

‘Magical’ Mick Andrews is the guest of honour at the Highland Classic 2016 on 11/12 June – Photo copyright: Rainer Heise, Germany

The Inverness & District MCC have announced that their special guest of honour for the 2016 Highland Classic Two Day Trial on June 11 & 12 – ‘THE YAMSCOT EDITION’ will be former Yamaha factory trials rider, MICK ANDREWS. They will be paying homage not only to the ‘YamScot’ effort from the mid 1970s by Shirlaws Motorcycles, but also to the rider who won five Scottish Six Days Trials, two of them Yamaha mounted. Having moved from the Spanish Ossa factory, Andrews rode special factory OW series machines, which led to the development of the production TY series twin-shock bikes that were used by ‘YamScot’ riders in Scottish events. Shirlaws’ owner Leslie Shirlaw formed the YamScot team to promote Yamaha machines in Trials, Motocross and Road Racing. Mick Andrews will enter into the spirit of the trial by riding a suitably prepared Yamaha machine at Alvie. – Entry forms will be released and available on 20th February, 2016.

Mick Andrews was a factory rider for Yamaha Motor Co on their factory ‘OW’ series machines which were reserved only for contracted to factory riders. Seen here in the SSDT on the OW11 – Photo: Rainer Heise, Germany

The Highland Classic was started in 2004 as a one day event for pre’65 machines at the highland shooting estate, Alvie. The second year entries were increased by the addition of twin-shock classes and finally in 2006 it was extended to a two-day event. The event has gained popularity, but entries became very sought after from the 2013 event, with the introduction of the special guest of honour feature, which is very popular with riders and the estate management who always have a representative present for the ‘address of the trial’ with some short introductions and speeches led by a welcome from the owner of Alvie & Dalraddy Estates himself, Laird Jamie Williamson. The event has been over-subscribed since 2013.

Previous Highland Classic guests of honour include Yrjo Vesterinen (2013); Dave Thorpe (2014) and Bill Wilkinson (2015).

Entry forms and regulations will be released by event secretary, Rick Lound on Saturday 20th February. Last year’s competitors will be sent forms by post, but they will also be available at Telford on the Classic Trial/Trial Magazine UK stand, The Putoline Oils stand and the Inverness & District club website (www.idmcc.co.uk).

Rick Lound
The Highland Classic 2 Day Trial 2016 event secretary is Rick Lound, seen here on his Yamaha Majesty

Support for the event has been promised by both Classic Trial Magazine and Putoline Oils UK.

Classic Trial Magazine Issue 12.indd
Classic Trial Magazine is supporting the Highland Classic 2016
Putoline Oils are supporting the 2016 Highland Classic 2 Day Trial at Alvie in June
Mick Andrews - CP
Study of Mick Andrews, former Ossa and Yamaha factory rider – Photo copyright: Claudio Trial Pictures

German Trials now live on Trials Guru

Mick Andrews at the World Championships at Gefrees in 1975 on his factory OW11A Yamaha 250 mono-shock. Photo world-wide copyright, Rainer Heise

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.

Rainer Heise – Trials In Germany

Mick Andrews in Germany

Heise + Mick + Krahnst+¦ver
From the left: Rainer Heise; Mick Andrews & Felix Krahnstover – Photo: Kurt-Patrik Beckmann, Hanover.

Recently, Mick Andrews held a trials school near Celle, Lower Saxony near to Luneberg and Hanover in Germany for the local ‘Celler Trial Club’. Some old friends also showed up in support, none other than Felix Krahnstöver, former 10 times German national champion and Montesa and KTM factory rider.

Mick and Krahnst+¦ver exploring Heises Photos
Jill and Mick Andrews have a look at Rainer Heise’s photos with Felix Krahnstover. Photo: Kurt-Patrik Beckmann, Hanover.

Accompanied by Rainer Heise friend and trials rider and was the photographer of Fahrerlager (Paddock) and Trialsport magazine from the beginning of the 1970’s to 2000.

No longer competing, but still an enthusiast Krahnstöver is still dedicated to the local club. Felix is still selling and dealing in trials machines and was editor of Trialsport Deutschland when it began in 1977. The magazine is still going now run by Hans Greiner based in Freudenberg-Ebenheid.

Rainer, being an enthusiast of the sport and a keen photographer, brought along his fantastic photo album for Mick and the other enthusiasts to look at.

Looking at ex- 02
Two of Rainer Heise’s photos showing Malcolm Rathmell and Peter Gaunt back in the 1970’s. Photo: Kurt-Patrik Beckmann, Hanover Original photo images copyright: Rainer Heise, Celle, Germany.

Trials Guru has been in contact with Rainer Heise and shortly we will be featuring a selection of some of his work from the early 1970’s through to the 1990’s. So we have created a “Rainer Heise – Trials in Germany” page specially for this.

Link: Rainer Heise – Trials In Germany

Photos by Kurt-Patrik Beckmann, Hanover, Germany.

Highland Classic 2016 is ‘The Yamscot Edition’

Yamscot - tank
Yamscot was the Competition and Racing section of Aberdeen’s Shirlaws dealership in the 1970’s.

The annual Highland Classic Two-Day Trial for 2016 will be held on 11/12 June and will pay homage to Yamscot, the competition part of Shirlaws Motorcycles, Aberdeen back in the 1970’s.

The brainchild of the late managing director, Leslie Shirlaw, it was created to promote Yamaha off-road and racing in Scotland. At the time Shirlaws were a Yamaha dealer, nowadays they are main Kawasaki dealers.

It is hoped that a glittering display of Yamaha trials machines will be at the event as well as some of the original Yamscot supported trials riders.

Yamscot were involved in trials, motocross and racing over a ten year period.

The event, promoted by Inverness & District Motorcycle Club Ltd will be held on the Alvie Estate, near Aviemore and the identity of the Guest of Honour will be announced nearer the event.

The trial itself was over-subscribed in 2015 and entry forms will be released for the 2016 event on 20th February.

2016 will be the 11th time the event has been run as a two day trial, the first year, 2004 was a one-day affair.

Previous Guests of Honour at the Highland Classic include Yrjo Vesterinen (2013), Dave Thorpe (2014) and Bill Wilkinson (2015).

The event is open to ACU,SACU & MCUI trials licence card holders and cater for both Pre’65 & twin-shock trials machines.

Stop Press: 2016 Guest of Honour – MICK ANDREWS

Roddy Taylor Yamscot
Roddy Taylor’s generously sponsored Yamaha TZ racing machine from 1987 (Yamscot) | Photo copyright: Ronnie Weir, Edinburgh.

Mick Andrews…still going strong!

Mick Andrews

Mick Andrews seen here on a 244cc Bultaco Sherpa Model 10 from 1966, supplied by Rickman Brothers, New Milton, Hants. Watching every move is Ralph Venables in the flat cap, the ‘doyen’ of trials journalists and reporters.

Mick Andrews is a name synonymous with the sport of trials since the early 1960’s. He has ridden for AJS; James; Bultaco (Rickman Brothers, 1966); Ossa and Yamaha, in a career that has taken him all over the world both as a competitor and a brand ambassador.

Andrews was twice European Trials Champion in 1971 and again in 1972 on Ossa, before the official World Championship commenced in 1975.

Nick-named ‘Magical Mick’ by the trials press many years ago and it stuck, he has won the famous Scottish Six Days Trial a total of 5 times, in fact he was only the second man in the events’ history to win it three times in succession, the first being B.H.M ‘Hugh’ Viney who was to become instrumental in Andrews riding for the AJS factory team in 1963, his AJS factory machine carried the index number 644BLB, registered as a 350 Matchless. Viney after retiring from active competition became AMC Competitions Manager.

Due to his SSDT successes, Mick was also dubbed ‘Monarch of the Glen’ after the famous oil painting by Sir Edwin Landseer by the motorcycle press of the day.

Journalist, Ralph Venables (see Trials Guru’s comments below) tipped Viney off about the young Andrews, whom he had been watching the progress of, closely. A phone call to Viney and that was good enough for Hugh!

Andrews began riding for AJS in 1963 and his first SSDT on the heavyweight four-stroke saw him bag a second place finish behind Arthur Lampkin on the factory BSA C15 (XON688). A feat he repeated in 1964, finishing runner-up to Sammy Miller on the 500cc Ariel. The next two years he finished third on the 250cc James (306AKV) and again on the Bultaco (DOT289D). In 1967 on the prototype Ossa Pennine (ORB222E), machine troubles forced him to retire, but he was back the next year and came home in third, and again in 1969, a second place.

ossa pennine
The Ossa Pennine of 1968/69, similar to the one ridden by Mick Andrews. This one is Ted Breffitt’s bike, now completely restored.

His first win in 1970 was on his factory prototype (Barcelona registered: B775073) sporting a much neater tank/seat combination, modified frame and overall a much trimmer package. This particular machine formed the basis for the production ‘Mick Andrews Replica’ (MAR) launched in 1971.

Ossa 1972 Brochure front
The announcement of the new ‘Mick Andrews Replica’ 250 in 1972 put OSSA on the trials map. Seen here in the SSDT with his prototype (B775073) on his way to win the 1971 SSDT. Brochure: OSSA Motorcycles

Mick also kept his hand in motocross for the Spanish company, racing a 230cc machine when time allowed. Coupled to this his selection for the British ISDT team on several occasions. He rode a factory prepared Ossa in 1970 at El Escorial, Madrid, Spain. For the British team he rode AJS in 1968 in Italy and a 504cc Cheney Triumph in the Isle of Man in 1971.

Repeating his SSDT successes the next two years, Mick wondered if it was time for a change. The Ossa trials machine had been developed only because of the death of Ossa factory road racer Santiago Herrero in the 250cc Lightweight TT in 1970. This saw Ossa pulling out of racing. Ossa, which stands for ‘Orpheo Sincronic Sociedad Anonima’ switched its focus to off-road development and trials in particular and Mick had signed for them in 1967 with the help of UK importer Eric Housely.

Yamaha announced the defection from Ossa in 1973. Andrews was to further develop the trials Yamaha that had been kicked off by Frenchman Christian Rayer, but it was not to be the TY (Trial Yamaha) style that Mick would be given. Factory ‘pure racing’ Yamahas were designated ‘OW’ and it was the Yamaha OW series that Mick was to be given full reign of.

2 media
Watched by Nigel Birkett (Quinn Ossa); Mick on the factory Yamaha on his way to winning the 1974 Scottish Six Days. This is Loch Eild Path on another variant of the cantilever OW10. – Photo credit: Yamaha Motor Co.

Yamaha’s European operation was called Yamaha Motor N.V., based in Amsterdam in the Netherlands where their race team was officially headquartered. Mick received full factory support and a contract which furnished him with Japanese technicians and a Ford Transit van, suitably liveried in Yamaha racing colours.

Mick Andrews 1977
Yamaha mounted in the 1977 Scottish Six Days, seen here on ‘Altnafeadh’. This is one of the OW series machines. This particular machine formed the basis for the ‘Majesty’ models (the word MA/JES/TY being: MA = Mick Andrews; JES = John E. Shirt; TY = Trial Yamaha) Photo: Iain C. Clark, Fort William

As confirmed by Ferry Brouwer, then Yamaha race technician to Phil Read and Tepi Lansivoiri, all factory contracted riders were supplied with Ford Transits, all Dutch registered and suitably sign-written with the riders’ name on the driver’s door. The enormity of Yamaha Motor Company was in stark comparison to the Spanish Ossa concern.

Surprisingly, all Andrew’s factory OW’s were all road registered in the UK, a must for many of the national trials Mick undertook in that time period.

Much of the development work was undertaken at Mick’s home near Buxton, Derbyshire with new prototypes built in Japan and freighted over to Amsterdam for test sessions.

Mick Andrews Loch Eilde path - 1979
Mick Andrews back on Ossa at the 1979 Scottish Six Days Trial, seen here on Loch Eild Path – Photo copyright: Iain Lawrie, Kinlochleven

In 1979 Andrews once again rode for Ossa in the Scottish Six Days much to the delight of spectators.

Mick on the 350 Ossa at the SSDT in 1979. He came 9th position on 135 marks. Photo Copyright: Jim Young, Armadale.
Mick on the 350 Ossa at the SSDT in 1979. He came 9th position on 135 marks. Photo Copyright: Jim Young, Armadale.

Andrews also took young riders under his wing, including the Oakley brothers Nick and Peter. He also started his own ‘Trials Academy’ with the help of Yamaha, the first of it’s type in the UK. Called the ‘Mick Andrews Trials Association’ or MATA for short.

Mick Andrews in a hurry during the 1975 Scott Trial. Photo: Barry Robinson.
Mick Andrews on JGF729N in a hurry during the 1975 Scott Trial. Photo: Barry Robinson.

Mick’s bikes were ahead of their time in so far as Yamaha experimented with cantilever/mono shock suspension; fuel injection and reed valve induction systems. Much of the Yamaha development work is described in his 1976 book, ‘Mick Andrews Book of Trials’*, which has become a collector’s item with good copies fetching around £100 per copy.

Some works registration numbers : Mick Andrews





Bultaco (Rickman Bros):



B775073 (Prototype)

B-1681-C (Prototype MAR)


CRA33L (1973 – Twin-shock bike/cantilever in 1974 with fuel injection module fitted); ENU29L (1973 – Cantilever bike); JGF729N (1975 – twin-shock bike)

1975 SSDT, Mick Andrews on his way to another win for Yamaha. The machine was JGF759N. Photo: Yamaha Motor Co.
1975 SSDT, Mick Andrews on his way to another win for Yamaha. The machine was JGF729N. The observer in the background is Scotsman, Simon Valente. Photo: Yamaha Motor Co.

Trials Guru on Andrews: I asked Mick when we were together in Robregordo in Spain 2006; did he ever have a job? He replied with a broad smile: “What, you mean an ordinary or proper job? – yes, I did have an apprenticeship to become a motor mechanic when I was sixteen, but then I received the offer of the AJS works ride and I only really had two employers after that, Ossa and Yamaha”.

Robrgrdo group October 2006
Group photo, Spain 2006 – Left to Right: Jenny Tye; Jill Andrews (Mick’s wife); Jonathan Tye; John Moffat; Alejandra Cruz Sotomajor; Jean Moffat. Tye is a good friend and neighbour of Mick Andrews. – Photo: Escobe Baco, Madrid

Trials Guru on Ralph Venables: Before he passed away on 4th February 2003, I spoke to Ralph (pronounced Rafe) at length about his unofficial ‘scouting’ for trials talent. “If I see a rider who has promise, I kept an eye on him for some time, not just results, but his approach and style of riding”. “If I thought a rider had the necessary qualities, I would have an idea which manufacturer was looking for riders and I would simply phone the competitions manager and give them details.”

Ralph Venables had the ‘ears’ of all the factory comp managers and his opinion was highly-valued; such was his stature in the sport.

Venables: “I didn’t quite like Sammy Miller’s riding style; he always appeared to crouching over the handlebars compared to other riders of his era, but there again he amassed quite a substantial amount of wins in his career. It just goes to show that one can be incorrect occasionally!”

Ralph was a blunt individual and was quite cutting with his comments at times. This earned him the reputation in Scotland of being ‘the poison pen’ at times such were his comments on certain Scottish-born riders!

He once told me that I, “…wrote too much” and asked if I was being paid by the word! “John, why use ten words when one will suffice?” he quipped. “Read your scripts over twice and cut them down, time is short!” he informed me. I took his advice, when Ralph spoke, people were wise to listen.

I had the utmost respect for Ralph Venables, his knowledge of the sport and the people in it was endless. It was a privilege to have known him. – Trials Guru.

Mick Andrews - CP
Study of Mick Andrews, former Ossa and Yamaha factory rider – Photo: Claudio Trial Pictures


(*) – Mick Andrews Book of Trials by Tom Beesley & Mick Andrews (ISBN: 9780917856006) Published by: Trippe, Cox. – Now out of print.

Book Cover MA BOT
front cover of Mick Andrews’ 1976 Book of Trials is now a sought after publication of trials memorabilia.
Book rear MA BOT
Rear cover of Mick Andrews’ book.
Mick Andrews - Gas Gas - SSDT 2000 - CJB
Mick Andrews on a 250 Gas Gas in the 2000 SSDT. Photo: Colin Bullock CJB Photographic


Mick Andrews1978 Pipeline
Mick Andrews (250 Ossa) on Pipeline in the 1978 Scottish Six Days – © – Iain Lawrie, Kinlochleven.


© John Hulme/Trials Mag for photos and guidance with this article.

© Iain C. Clark, Fort William

© Barry Robinson, Ilkley.

© Iain Lawrie, Kinlochleven

© Colin Bullock / CJB Photographic

© Escobe Baco, Madrid

© Jim Young, Armadale, West Lothian.

Mick Andrews Article © – Trials Guru/Moffat Racing, John Moffat – 2014 (All Rights reserved)

More information and reading on MICK ANDREWS:

on the RETROTRIALS website – A full interview with Magical Mick… Here

Video of Mick Andrews: Courtesy of Ferry Brouwer, Netherlands via YouTube