Trials Guru is always looking for something new or old, unseen or forgotten….
We have just added two new ‘selections’ on the front page which link into photo collections of ‘Kimages – Trials Photos‘ and ‘Heather Mead – SSDT Photos‘.
Both are female photographers who have built up a sizeable archive of trials photographs over the last couple of years, particularly at the Scottish Six Days as these are Scottish based photographers.
Kim has lived in the Fort William area most of her life and has a love for motorcycle sport and trials in particular having grown up with the SSDT passing her door-step. Her brother rode in trials too, so there are family connections.
Heather became involved taking photos at the Parc Ferme in Fort William, a place that is usually inaccessible to spectators, so we can see SSDT competitors preparing for their daily battle with the terrain and elements.
Heather Mead and Kimages (Kim Ferguson) have recently given Trials Guru permission to display their handy-work. Please remember photographs are copywritten and are the property of the photographer, so please be respectful of that. There is no implied permission to post these images anywhere else unless by express permission of the copy-holder. This also applies to our other photographers, Jimmy Young, Armadale; Jeremy Whittet; Neil Sturgeon; John Hulme; Iain Lawrie, Kinlochleven or any other images on this website.
Trials Guru have used some individual photos, which are the property of Mortons Media, Hornchurch this was done with their prior and express permission, for legal reasons, these are not for onward publication.
Tommy Milton was born in Leith, Edinburgh, Scotland in March, 1916. Sadly, his mother died a few days later, so he was raised in the home of his mother’s aunt. He attended Yardheads Primary School and Leith Academy, but left when he was fourteen to begin work. From his early teenage years, he had enjoyed cycling and ‘tinkering’ with his bicycle, a necessity since he did not have the means to buy a new one. His circle of friends were into motorcycles and he duly acquired a 1936 New Imperial, on which he competed in a few reliability trials prior to 1939. He joined the recently formed Melville Motor Club around this time.
With the advent of war, he enlisted early, without waiting for his ‘call-up papers’, so that he had a good chance of becoming a dispatch rider, and this he did.
He was selected to attend a three week course in basic maintenance which, in the confusion of the early war years, turned out to be a three month course to train Army fitters, and he was allowed to remain, passing out with flying colours.
After the war, the trade unions recognised this qualification as equivalent to an apprenticeship, thus enabling Tommy to become a Navy fitter at Port Edgar in South Queensferry, his job for the rest of his working life.
While Tommy was in the Army, he was sent to the Gold Coast (now Ghana) and his particular friend there, also from Leith, had left his new Ariel Red Hunter at home. Sadly, his friend was drowned in an accident and so, after the war, Tommy acquired DFS 122 from his friend’s mother, the bike on which he was to compete in trials, grass tracks and, especially, hill climbs in the forties and fifties. He won the Scottish Hill-Climb Championship (Standard Class) in 1949.
In the early fifties, as his riding career was winding down, he became a committee member of the Melville Motor Club, going on to become Secretary and Treasurer, and generally the main pillar of the Melville for the next fifteen years or so, eventually handing over to the next generation to Trevor Hay (see article: Great Scots – Trevor Hay).
Tommy married Margaret (Peggy) Wood, also from Leith, in 1942, while on leave. The couple were separated by the war, meeting for a few days over Christmas, 1944 in Sheffield, before Tommy was de-mobbed in mid-1945.
Tommy and Peggy had two children – son, Tommy Junior and daughter Maureen.
In addition to his Melville duties, Tommy was also a member of the Scottish Auto-Cycle Union Management Committee, serving as an SACU Steward at many events, especially scrambles. He was also one of the founding group of the popular ‘Scottish Clubman’ magazine, under editor Fred Stephens of Stonehaven. Tommy undertook distribution of the magazine to all the Edinburgh motorcycle shops each month, as well as roping in son Tommy and daughter, Maureen to sell them at each Sunday’s events. He also contributed a regular monthly column on whatever took his fancy, under the pen name ‘NOTLIM’ – simply his surname reversed!
With his outgoing nature and willingness to help others, Tommy had become a mentor to a legion of younger riders. These included Scotland’s celebrated racer, Bob McIntyre who began his illustrious career competing with Tommy in hill climbs. In recognition of his many years of service to the Club and the sport, the Melville made him an honorary life member, an honour the SACU also made him later as an honorary vice-president.
In addition to his Melville Club activities and his day job, Tommy also had a dance band, which specialised in ‘old time dance’ music and had regular ‘gigs’ in various clubs in and around Edinburgh and the surrounding townships. Members of Tommy’s band included pianist Tommy Merrilees, the brother of Edinburgh’s celebrated Police Chief Constable Willie Merrilees, and drummer Sammy Marks, whose brother Bob was captain of the Edinburgh Monarchs speedway team. The band would play at the Melville’s frequent social evenings at the Edinburgh Southern Harriers’ sports club at Fernieside in Edinburgh.
With the closure of the Port Edgar in the mid-seventies, Tommy transferred to Rosyth. In the Queen’s 1977 Birthday Honours he was awarded the Imperial Service Medal, recognising his 30 years of meritorious service.
Tommy decided to take early retirement in 1978 as he did not enjoy being a regular user of the Forth Road Bridge, having famously led a vigorous campaign against tolls prior to its opening in 1965! He had also started to take a back seat in Melville activities but continued to be involved in motorcycle sport and, especially, the Clubman magazine. In the mid-eighties he suffered a stroke from which he recovered but with some vision impairment which meant he could no longer drive.
For the first time in his life, he became a regular bus user, still getting around Scotland’s capital city. Although a non-smoker since his mid-thirties, Tommy sadly contracted lung cancer in 1993 and succumbed to this the following year, at 78 years of age.
Trials Guru: Tommy Milton was a 100% died in the wool motorcyclist of the old school. A respected member of the Scottish ACU, Melville MC (Scotland) and the Scottish motorcycle sporting community. He was a true enthusiast who was a stickler for fair play and sticking to the rules.
On one occasion, Tommy decided to prove a point. He inserted a clause to the standard rider’s declaration of the entry form at a Melville scramble which read: “I promise to pay the sum of five-pounds sterling to Thomas Milton on signing on at the start”.
When Tommy was signing the riders into the event he asked them for the five-pounds! Many asked what the extra five-pounds was for? Tommy had proved the point – many riders had simply signed the entry form without reading it!
Tommy Milton decided to encourage his son Tommy junior to stick in at school. He gave Milton junior a challenge, get good results at school and he would be bought a new trials bike of his choice. Young Tommy not only stuck in at school he became ‘dux’ at his school, the top performer. True to his word Tommy senior bought his son a brand new Greeves in 1962 straight from the Thundersley factory.
The article about Tom Milton Junior’s first Greeves TE250 is HERE
Tommy junior was one of only three Scot’s born people to have ever won the Sunbeam MCC Pinhard Prize in 1967 for his services to trials. The other two Scot’s born winners are: Gordon W. Phillip (Enduro) in 1978 and Paul Chatham (Enduro) in 2005.
Peter ‘Jock’ Wilson … a great friend … a great man ~ By Renee Bennett.
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.
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.
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.
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.