Tag Archives: SSDT

Rodger Mount


For a few years now I have been pestering a resident of Fort William to tell me about his trials riding days. Initially this fell on deaf ears – all the excuses were dragged out, such as “I have a terrible memory” and “nobody will remember me riding now”. I was undeterred, however; this man had been the Best Scottish Rider in the Scottish Six Days Trial in 1971, 1972 and 1974, I had to get his story. Finally, during a vacation at the luxury accommodation at his Fort William establishment, I wore him down over a perfect breakfast one morning. The proviso was that if he gave an interview, I had to be finished by eight o’clock at night as he is an early riser. Lochaber in North West Scotland has produced many fine trials riders over the years, and also several Scottish Trials Champions. This is possibly due to the Scottish Six Days Trial being run on their doorstep, where the terrain ensures a steady supply of ground to hone trials riding skills. One such man is Rodger Charles Mount.

Words: John Moffat (This article was written for Classic Trial Magazine and first appeared in Issue 38).

Pictures: John Moffat/Trials Guru; Alistair MacMillan Studio, Fort William (permission of Anthony MacMillan) – John MacDonald, Fort William – The Mount Family, Fort William – Alan Vines/Yoomee Archive – Eric Kitchen – Some images: Yoomee Archive.

Rodger Mount (247cc Montesa) on Loch Eilde Path in the 1972 Scottish Six Days.

Born in the March of 1951 in Inverness and raised in Fort William, Rodger was the oldest son of Charles and Elizabeth Mount. Rodger’s mother and Farquhar ‘Fachie’ MacGillivray were siblings, which makes Rodger Mount and Alastair MacGillivray, who was Scottish Trials Champion in 1974 and 1979, first cousins. Rodger was the oldest of three brothers, followed by Kenneth and the late Colin Mount.

Royal Marines

The Commando Memorial at Spean Bridge, “In memory of the officers and men of the commandos who died in the Second World War 1939–1945. This country was their training ground.” – Photo: Yoomee Archive.

Rodger’s father, Charlie Mount, and business partner to be Mike Beacham, arrived in Fort William as Royal Marines in 1939 at the outbreak of the Second World War. Charlie was brought up in Birchington, near Margate, Kent and was a time-served bricklayer, as was Mike Beacham. Originally deployed on the Orkney Islands, when the commanding officer realised both men had a trade they were directed to the engineering deployment and began laying the foundations for the Army Nissan huts and buildings at Achnacarry Castle, the home of the famous ‘Commandos’ from 1942, based in Lochaber, which was to be their training ground. Most of the big houses in Lochaber were commandeered by the British Army for Commando training, including the ‘secret’ base at Inverailort Castle, close to ‘Piper’s Burn’ and the home of Mrs Cameron-Head, a supporter and landowner of the Scottish Six Days in later years.

Charlie Mount struck up a friendship with Mrs Cameron-Head, doing building and renovation work on her property after the war years in exchange for shooting rights on her property. When the war had ended, both Beacham and Mount had met their intended spouses in Fort William so they returned to make their home and livelihoods in the Lochaber town. They formed their builder’s partnership, ‘B&M’ – Beacham & Mount, which lasted for several years until Charlie Mount decided to go on his own and formed ‘Modern Builders Limited’ who had their base in Fort William’s North Road.


Young Rodger was to be educated at Fort William Primary and Lochaber High schools.

Mount: “I couldn’t really be bothered with school, I wanted to leave as soon as I could; so at fifteen, I packed in school and began a bricklayer’s apprenticeship with my father’s firm, Beacham and Mount in Fort William.” Rodger worked hard at his apprenticeship and by the time he was ‘time-served’ he could lay up to one-thousand bricks or three-hundred blocks per day, and made a good living out of it.

Modern Builders Ltd yard in North Road, Fort William – Photo: John MacDonald, Fort William Collection.

First Taste of Off Road

When he was fourteen and still at school, Rodger and his good friend Alister ‘Queerie’ Weir were allowed to take turns riding around on Ali McDonald’s BSA C15T at the back of McDonald’s shop in Alma Road. McDonald was, along with his brother Hugh, an accomplished trials rider and had ridden the Scottish Six Days many times with their friend Ron Thompson. Rodger was quite taken with the little BSA and reckoned he could get good at this trials lark, so at the age of sixteen he bought a 250cc Greeves from local rider K.K. ‘Kimmy’ Cameron in 1967. He can’t remember exactly which Edinburgh-organised trial that he first entered, but he did pick up the ‘Best Novice’ award at his first attempt. At the next event he took the ‘Best Non-Expert’ award and soon rose to the ranks of a ‘Scottish Expert’. He learned his craft on the Greeves but soon needed something a bit more up to date.

Rodger Mount on his first trials machine, a 250cc Greeves bought from friend, K.K. ‘Kimmy’ Cameron. – Photo: Mount Family Collection.

Rodger was becoming a more forceful rider; being a bricklayer kept him physically fit and he was as strong as an ox. He was stockily built and was a rider who took charge of his machine. He favoured the state-of-the-art ‘knees bent outwards’ style of riding similar to Malcolm Rathmell. Mount was known to throw himself around on top of his machine to maintain both balance and forward motion, and refused to take a dab unless absolutely necessary!

Practice Makes Perfect

Rodger had joined the local Lochaber and District MCC, and his eye was firmly set on riding the big local trial, which of course is the Scottish Six Days. He entered the 1969 event, aged 18, on a new 247cc MK1 Montesa Cota and was issued with riding number 112. The Montesa was bought for Rodger by his father, who had taken a keen interest in his eldest son’s sport. The machine was supplied by Donald Buchan of Perth and registered LES711G.

Rodger Mount on the first of his 247cc Montesa Cota machines in the 1969 Scottish Six Days Trial – Photo Alistair MacMillan Studio, Fort William

Mount: “I had a new machine every year without fail; that way you had less effort to keep it running spot-on and I had a good wage packet from working for my father. I practised a lot back then, in fact I was never off the motorcycle, they were well used. Starting in 1968, for three years we had sixty council houses to renovate for Highland Council in Kinlochleven.”

Rodger Mount on the first of his Montesa Cotas at a Scottish national trial in 1969.

“I would ride the trials machine from Fort William over the hills and Mamore Road to Kinloch, timing myself for the journey. Then at lunch time I would go practising on some sections near the village, then ride home again at dinner time, then go out for another hour on some sections near the house after dinner.” Rodger found the handling and power characteristics of the Montesa Cota much to his liking and far superior to his second-hand Greeves. His first SSDT was uneventful but disappointing, as he failed to finish.

1970 SSDT on the 247cc Montesa, Rodger Mount tackles ‘Pipeline’ – Photo: Alistair MacMillan Studio, Fort William.

At this time he was riding in all the Scottish national events along with Lochaber stalwarts Allie ‘Beag’ Cameron, Archie MacDonald, James McManus and his cousin Alastair MacGillivray, known locally as ‘Ali MacGill’. The following year, 1970, Rodger entered the SSDT on a MK2 Montesa Cota and was allocated number 118. He came home a very creditable 37th place, beaten only by fellow clubman Archie MacDonald who had his best ever placement in 32nd place. Best Scot that year was Allie Cameron, also on a Montesa, with Mount fifth-best Scotsman. This made Rodger even more determined to better his score and final position.

Front Cover

In 1971 Rodger’s photo appeared on the front cover of the SSDT official programme, but not feet up; he was captured in a position where the front wheel had connected with a large boulder and was set to go over the handlebars on the famous ‘Grey Mare’s Ridge’.

Watched by Billy McMaster Jnr, Sammy Miller and SSDT Secretary, Jim McColm (on the far right), Rodger Mount comes to grief on the Grey Mare’s Ridge, this photo adorned the cover of the 1971 Scottish Six Days official programme.

However, 1971 was to be Rodger’s year, on yet another Montesa Cota, but the model with the much smaller and lighter alloy hubs. He was to win the Allan Hay Memorial Trophy for the Best Scottish Rider, in 12th position, and that made RC Mount the highest ever Scottish-born finisher since 1935 when Bob MacGregor won the second of his SSDTs. This record he held until Les Winthrop finished in ninth position some 19 years later. The headquarters for the ‘Scottish’ at that time was the Highland Hotel in Alma Road, Fort William. The daily results were posted up manually each evening and Rodger was astonished to find he was lying in 12th position. A local man who frequented the hotel bar ‘acquired’ the leaderboard sheet that night, and it is one of Rodger’s prized possessions from 1971 to this day.

One of Rodger Mount’s prized possessions, the hand-written Day 3 results taken from the master scoreboard which was at the SSDT headquarters at the Highland Hotel in 1971, (Photo copyright: John Moffat/Trials Guru)

Rodger also claimed the Scottish ACU Trials Trophy, wrestling the crown from his rival, Kenny Fleming. This was Rodger’s first title, just five years after taking up the sport, and he went on to dominate the series, being Scottish Trials Champion in three successive years 1971 to 1973. He relinquished his crown to his ever-improving cousin and travelling companion, Ali MacGillivray.

Mount: “I literally handed the 1974 Scottish Championship title to my cousin Ali MacGill. I had met my wife Dora in 1973 and spent some time with her when she was a teacher at Gracemount Primary School down in Edinburgh and I couldn’t be bothered competing in the final two championship rounds, and that gave the title to Ali!”

Alastair MacGillivray seen here in the 1980 SSDT on Cnoc A Linnhe, was handed the 1974 Scottish Championship by cousin Rodger Mount – Photo: Iain Lawrie, Kinlochleven


1973 was to be a bitter-sweet season for Rodger. He had bought a new Montesa for the SSDT, but he failed to secure an entry in the dreaded ‘ballot’. This greatly frustrated the reigning Scottish Champion as he had a good chance for not only the Best ‘Scot’ award but perhaps an even higher finishing position, having finished in 20th place in 1972 as a member of a Montesa team, but still no ride! Rodger approached the Yorkshire-based Dalesman concern through Competitions Manager Bill Brooker, who agreed to let Mount ride in the official works Dalesman team. This was the first time a reigning Scottish Champion had not secured an entry in the Scottish Six Days, the Scottish trials community was rather surprised at the time and the tongues were wagging.

Rodger Mount on the works Dalesman-Sachs in the 1973 Scottish Six Days – Photo copyright: Eric Kitchen

Mount: “I thought Jim Sandiford might have entered me in the official Montesa team as I had remained loyal to the brand, but his teams were by then full – Jim was a gentleman and couldn’t put someone out when he had already agreed a place. Bill Brooker came to my rescue and gave me a 125 Sachs-powered Dalesman that had been ridden by Peter Gaunt. It was quite a good machine really, but we couldn’t get it to respond correctly when we got it home to Fort William. I contacted my friend Ron Thompson who was a good engineer and mechanic, he played about with the carburetion until he got it running crisper.”

Grim determination written all over his face, Rodger Mount makes a concerted effort on ‘Laggan Locks’ on the factory Dalesman in 1973. Photo copyright: Eric Kitchen

Rodger weighed the little Dalesman into the Gorgie Market sheep pens in Edinburgh on the Sunday and noticed that the rear wheel had only one security bolt. He spoke to Bill Brooker, who said it would be fine as it was only a 125 and wouldn’t be a problem. He started off the week with some good rides and was in front of his two team members. On the Friday, however, the security bolt sheared, and it is not an item that riders usually carry or an item that support crews carry in vans either! Rodger had three punctures as the wheel kept pulling the valve into the rim, and he became two hours over the allotted time and was excluded.

Mount: “When Bill Brooker heard what had happened, he was not only horrified but very apologetic, it had never happened before!”


With the bitterness behind him, Rodger switched back to his Montesa after the Scottish and bought another new Montesa Cota towards the end of the 1973 season, which was to become sweeter. The final round of the Scottish Championship was to end in a nail-biting finish at the Edinburgh St George Club’s Colonial Trial at the ‘Hungry Snout’ near Gifford in East Lothian, a four-hour drive from Fort William. Two riders had gathered enough points to win and were level-pegging going into the final round. They were Mount and rival Ernie Page, who had by then established himself as a British Trophy International Six Days Team rider. Page was the Ossa distributor for Scotland, Mount was on the Montesa. The Scottish ACU Championship was an 11-round series in those days and Rodger was keen to take his third Scottish title.

Mount: “It was a tension-filled day, I can tell you! Ernie wanted to be Scottish Champion as he had won a Scottish Scrambles Championship a few years before and this would have made him the only Scotsman to win both Scrambles and Trials titles, but I was riding well and wasn’t going to give in.” The final scores were tallied, RC Mount was proclaimed the trial winner on 33 marks lost, and the title went to the Fort William man once again. Ernie was runner-up on 46 marks. Rodger finished on the championship on 77 points, runner-up was Ernie page on 76, Alastair MacGillivray was third on 61 and Allan Poynton fourth on 53. MacGillivray was title winner the following year and Poynton became Scottish Champion in 1976. Rodger married his sweetheart Dora Black in 1976 after a short engagement and they had three children: daughter Laurie was born in the April of 1977; Roger, who became Scottish Youth Trials Champion and latterly Scottish Premier Trials Champion in 2004, was born in January 1982 and Steven, also an exceptionally good trials rider, was born in April 1983. Son Roger served an electrical apprenticeship with Archie MacDonald, another trials connection.

So why did Rodger Mount stop riding trials at the ripe old age of 25?

Mount: “The family came along and that took up a lot of time, I was still working for my father’s firm and, in 1978, he had bought the Cruachan Hotel in Achintore Road which is the main A82 trunk road. I had won the Scottish Championship three times, so I reckoned I had proved myself. It was a busy hotel, and I built the main extension, which doubled its size. I was also the breakfast chef, so I’ve been cooking full Scottish breakfasts for nearly 40 years! My Dad said I missed my vocation, I should have been a chef. I ran the Cruachan with my brothers for two years then I wanted out, so they bought my share in the hotel and I bought Myrtlebank to run it with Dora as a guest house. Then a few years later we bought the property next door, which had been hotel owner Ian Milton’s house and doubled the accommodation of the business. I was just too busy to ride trials. I had another go when I treated myself to a new 349 Montesa in 1979, but I had lost my edge and I don’t like coming anywhere other than first! I did the Scottish on it that year, but the gearbox broke and I was out due mechanical failure.”

Rodger made a return to trials in 1979 with this 349 Montesa Cota, watched here by his mother, Elizabeth and infant daughter Laurie Mount – Photo: Mount Family Collection.

Business Life

Rodger and Dora have built up a successful guest house business which is regarded as one of the best in Lochaber, all done through sheer hard work and maintaining high standards.

Rodger Mount hard at work as ever in the kitchen of the Myrtlebank Guest House, Fort William – Photo copyright: John Moffat/Trials Guru

Mount: “Quite a few of the people I rode in the Scottish with stay here at Six Days’ time; they have stayed here for years and so have their children, who now compete. We are usually fully booked for SSDT week and I start the breakfasts at 06.00am, so that the early riders have a good breakfast in them for the daily run – that is important! My oldest son Roger is a keen fisherman like myself and he also took a liking to the trials, so I bought him a machine and he was a natural at it. He became Scottish Youth Champion and then won the Scottish Trials Championship in 2004. He should have ridden for longer as he was particularly good, but then work and children came along.”

SSDT 2000 – Roger Mount – Gas Gas – Cameron Hill – Photo: Iain Lawrie, Kinlochleven

“Steven was also an exceptionally good rider, he also had a natural talent for trials, and he too should have ridden longer. They both fancy riding the SSDT together next year – if they get through the ballot, of course.”

1971, left to right: Allie ‘Beag’ Cameron, Kenny Fleming, Rodger Mount and Alastair MacGillivray

On asking Rodger if he had ever been paid for riding or winning trials he smiled and replied: “Only once, Hugh McDonald told me that if I beat Kenny Fleming in the Scottish Championship to win it, he would give me 100 pounds. This was at the time when new Montesas were around 400 pounds to buy new. Well, guess what, I did beat Kenny and Hughie paid me the 100 pounds in cash.”

The time had flown by and it was now close to nine o’clock in the evening. True to form, Rodger took a yawn and said: “Right, it’s past my bedtime; see you in the morning!”

1971 SSDT with Rodger Mount at home on the 247cc Montesa on ‘Laggan Locks’

 Alistair MacMillan & West Highland News Agency:

Whenever the 1970s SSDT photos are looked at when pulling together an article, photos emerge with the copyright of Alistair MacMillan or West Highland News Agency stamped on the back. Alistair, affectionately known in Lochaber as ‘Scoop’, was a journalist and photographer. He initially reported for the Highland News, covering news and pictures in the Lochaber area to the extent that the local newspaper: ‘The Lochaber News’ was born. He also covered articles for the Press & Journal, playing a significant role in increasing circulation locally from six copies to around three thousand, as well as national papers and radio stations. 

Mr. Alistair MacMillan of West Highland News Agency was a great supporter of the Scottish Six Days Trial and made every effort to contact the daily newspapers with photographs and reports from Fort William and Lochaber during SSDT week each May.

The Express called him ‘Our man on the mountains’ due to the number of mountain rescue reports he covered! Alistair reported extensively on the Lochaber & District Motor Club and the Scottish Six Days Trial from the early 1960s, for both the Lochaber News and the Press & Journal. He also took footage of the events for Grampian TV, BBC and STV news as well as performing radio interviews for BBC Radio Scotland. A lot of skill and bulky equipment was required to do this back in the day! A trials magazine used his dark room to process their photographs and would take their prints, still wet, to the nearby telephone exchange for a wire-man to transmit them to make it for that week’s edition. Again, a far cry from everything being done from one device at the touch of a button and being instantly accessible. However, it was his forward thinking that meant he was the first to photograph all competitors of the Scottish Six Day Trials at a specific section, which gave riders the opportunity to purchase a copy at his office at 101 High Street, Fort William and later at the Milton Hotel, the Trial Headquarters. Alistair MacMillan’s images are now copyright of his son, Anthony MacMillan, who has given permission for Mr. MacMillan’s work to be exhibited on Trials Guru website.

Watched by local man, Archie MacDonald, Rodger Mount (247cc Montesa) in the 1972 SSDT – Photo: Alistair MacMillan Studio, Fort William.

With thanks to C.J. Publishing Ltd, this article on Rodger C. Mount was written specially by John Moffat for their Classic Trial Magazine in 2021 and first appeared in Issue 38.

Back issues of Classic Trial magazine available HERE

For more articles on Scottish trials riders, go to Great Scots on Trials Guru: HERE

Iain Lawrie’s 4 Decades

As we enter a new decade, we take a look back at some SSDT photos from 1980, 1990, 2000 and 2010 while we slip effortlessly into 2020.

Iain Lawrie H&S
Iain Lawrie from Kinlochleven, an enthusiast of trials since the early 1970s.

We are indebted to Iain Lawrie, a trials enthusiast from the village of Kinlochleven for putting together this collection of photographs, so please be respectful of his copyright and do not share them on the internet, instead put a link to this article if you don’t mind please.

The SSDT sections are named in the captions for all years.


A. Morrison'80 Cnoc A Linnhe
SSDT 1980 – Ady Morrison – Fantic – Cnoc A Linnhe

Albert Juveteny'80 Callaich
SSDT 1980 – Albert Juveteny – Ossa – Callaich

Alistair McGillivray'80 Cnoc A Linnhe
SSDT 1980 – Alistair McGillivray – Bultaco – Cnoc A Linnhe

Andy Watson'80 Cnoc A Linnhe
SSDT 1980 – Andy Watson – SWM – Cnoc A Linnhe

Bernie Schreiber Pipeline'80
SSDT 1980 – Bernie Schreiber – Bultaco – Pipeline

Charles Coutard 1980 Caillaich
SSDT 1980 – Charles Coutard – SWM – Caillaich

Charles Coutard'80 Cnoc a Linnhe
SSDT 1980 – Charles Coutard – SWM – Cnoc a Linnhe

Charles Coutard'80 Muirshearlich
SSDT 1980 – Charles Coutard – SWM – Muirshearlich

D Clinkard'80 Cnoc a Linnhe
SSDT 1980 – Dave Clinkard – Beamish Suzuki – Cnoc a Linnhe

Debbie Evans'80
Spectating in 1980 – Debbie Evans

G F Smith'80 Cnoc a Linnhe
SSDT 1980 – Graham F Smith – Ossa – Cnoc a Linnhe

J Galloway'80 Muirshearlich
SSDT 1980 – Jack Galloway – Fantic – Muirshearlich (now called Trotter’s Burn)

J Zurita'80 Muirshearlich
SSDT 1980 – J Zurita – Bultaco – Muirshearlich (now called Trotter’s Burn)

Jaime Subira 1980 Muirshearlich
SSDT 1980 – Jaume Subira – Fantic – Muirshearlich (now called Trotter’s Burn)

John Reynolds'80 Calliach
SSDT 1980 – John Reynolds – Beamish Suzuki – Calliach

John Shirt 1980 Pipeline
SSDT 1980 – John Shirt Snr – Majesty Yamaha – Pipeline

Kiyoteru Hattori'80 Pipeline
SSDT 1980 – Kiyoteru Hattori – Honda RS – Pipeline

Lane S Leavitt'80 Cnoc a Linnhe
SSDT 1980 – Lane Leavitt – Montesa – Cnoc a Linnhe

M E Myres'80 Cnoc a Linnhe
SSDT 1980 – Mike Myres – Bultaco – Cnoc a Linnhe

Marland Whaley 1980 Blackwater
SSDT 1980 – Marland Whaley – Honda – Blackwater

MARTIN LAMPKIN'1980 Cnoc a Linnhe
SSDT 1980 – MARTIN LAMPKIN – SWM – Cnoc a Linnhe

Mick Andrews Cnoc a Linnhe'80
SSDT 1980 – Mick Andrews – Ossa – Cnoc a Linnhe

N.J Holt Honda 200 Calliach'80
SSDT 1980 – Nick Holt – Honda 200 – Calliach

Nigel Birkett '80 Cailliach
SSDT 1980 – Nigel Birkett – Montesa – Cailliach

Norman Pickles'80 Cnoc a Linnhe
SSDT 1980 – Norman Pickles – Bultaco – Cnoc a Linnhe

O Wells'80 Muirshearlich
SSDT 1980 – Orson Wells – Montesa – Muirshearlich (now called Trotter’s Burn)

R B Haley'80 Cnoc a Linnhe
SSDT 1980 – R. Brett Haley – Bultaco – Cnoc a Linnhe

Rob Edwards 1980 dab
SSDT 1980 – Rob Edwards – Ossa

Rob Shepherd'80 Muirshearlich
SSDT 1980 – Rob Shepherd – Honda – Muirshearlich (now called Trotter’s Burn)

Stig Karlson'80 Muirshearlich
SSDT 1980 – Stig Karlsson – Matchless Special – Cnoc A Linnhe

Stig Karlsson'80Muirshearlich
SSDT 1980 – Stig Karlsson – Matchless Special – Muirshearlich (now called Trotter’s Burn)

T A Bingley'80 Muirshearlich
SSDT 1980 – Tony Bingley – Bultaco – Muirshearlich (now called Trotter’s Burn)

T.J.Murphy'80 Altnafeadh
SSDT 1980 – Tommy Murphy – Montesa – Altnafeadh

Ted Breffitt'80 Muirshearlich
SSDT 1980 – Ted Breffitt – Ossa – Muirshearlich (now called Trotter’s Burn)

Yrjo Vesterinen'80 Pipeline
SSDT 1980 – Yrjo Vesterinen – Montesa – Pipeline

Yrjo Vesterinen 1980 Cnoa a Linnhe
SSDT 1980 Winner – Yrjo Vesterinen – Montesa – Cnoc a Linnhe


C Taylor'90 Lagnaha
SSDT 1990 – C. Taylor – Fantic – Lagnaha

Gunter Ruttloff'90 260 MZ Lagnaha
SSDT 1990 – Gunter Ruttloff – 260 MZ – Lagnaha

Lindsay Howard'90 Ben Nevis
SSDT 1990 – Ms. Lindsay Howard – Beta – Ben Nevis

Manel Jane'90 Rubha Ruadh
SSDT 1990 – Manel Jane – Beta – Rubha Ruadh

james Boggis'90 Achlain
SSDT 1990 – James Boggis – Achlain

John Lampkin'90 Achlain
SSDT 1990 – John Lampkin – Beta – Achlain

John Lampkin'90 Kilmalieu
SSDT 1990 – John Lampkin – Beta – Kilmalieu

JOHN SHIRT'90 Lagnaha
SSDT 1990 – JOHN SHIRT Jnr – GasGas – Lagnaha

Jurgen Heinze'90 Achlain
SSDT 1990 – Jurgen Heinze – Fantic – Achlain

Les Winthrop'90 Ben Nevis
SSDT 1990 – Leslie Winthrop – Yamaha – Ben Nevis

Marc Reit'90 Lagnaha
SSDT 1990 – Marco Reit – Lagnaha

Mick Andrews'90 Achlain
SSDT 1990 – Mick Andrews – Yamaha – Achlain

Noriyuki Ichikawa'90 Achlain
SSDT 1990 – Noriyuki Ichikawa – Yamaha – Achlain

Phil Alderson'90 Achlain 2
SSDt 1990 – Phil Alderson – Yamaha – Achlain

Rene Opstals'90 Achlain
SSDT 1990 – Rene Opstals – Beta – Achlain

Renee Opstals'90 Pipers Burn
SSDT 1990 – Rene Opstals – Beta – Pipers Burn

Rob Crawford'90 Kilmalieu
SSDT 1990 – Rob Crawford – Beta – Kilmalieu

Rob Sartin'90 Rubha Ruadh
SSDT 1990 – Rob Sartin – Rubha Ruadh

Robert Crusher'90 Rubha Ruadh
SSDT 1990 – Robert Crusher – Yamaha – Rubha Ruadh

Steeve Moore'90 Pipers Burn
SSDT 1990 – Steve Moore – Honda – Pipers Burn

SSDT 1990 – STEVE COLLEY – Fantic – Gearadh

Steve Jewitt'90 Kilmalieu Mecatecno 326
SSDT 1990 – Steve Jewitt – Kilmalieu – Mecatecno 326

Steve Saunders'90 Fersit
SSDT 1990 winner: – Steve Saunders – Beta – Fersit

Takumi Narita'90 Fersit 1
SSDT 1990 – Takumi Narita Honda – Fersit

Tony Scarlett'90 Kilmalieu
SSDt 1990 – Tony Scarlett – GasGas – Kilmalieu

Urban Lindholm'90 Fersit
SSDT 1990 – Urban Lindholm – Beta – Fersit

Wayne Braybrook'90 Achlain
SSDT 1990 – Wayne Braybrook – Beta – Achlain

Yoshiki Mizuno'90 Gearadh
SSDT 1990 – Yoshiki Mizuno – Fantic – Gearadh


Adam Raga 2000 Ben Nevis
SSDT 2000 – Adam Raga – GasGas – Ben Nevis

Adam Raga'00 Ben Nevis
SSDT 2000 – Adam Raga – GasGas – Ben Nevis

Adan Raga'00 Lagnaha
SSDT 2000 – Adam Raga – Gas Gas – Lagnaha

Alberto Deyme'00 Fersit
SSDT 2000 – Alberto Deyme – Sherco – Fersit

Andreu Codina'00 Fersit
SSDT 2000 – Andreu Codina – Sherco – Fersit

Andreu Codina'00
SSDT 2000 – Andreu Codina – Sherco

Andy Huddleston 2000 Fersit
SSDT 2000 – Andy Huddleston – Yamaha – Fersit

Andy Huddleston'00 Fersit
SSDT 2000 – Andy Huddleston – Yamaha – Fersit

Ben Hemingway 2000 Doire Damph
SSDT 2000 – Ben Hemingway – Beta – Doire Damph

C Stranghoner'00 Fersit
SSDT 2000 – C. Stranghoner – Sherco – Fersit

Carlos Casas Fersit SSDT 2000
SSDT 2000 – Carlos Casas – Montesa – Fersit

Dan Thorpe'00 Ferst
SSDT 2000 – Dan Thorpe – Gas Gas – Fersit

Dave Thorpe'00 Fersit
SSDT 2000 – Dave Thorpe – GasGas – Fersit

David Cobos'00 Fersit
SSDT 2000 – David Cobos – Sherco – Fersit

Dominique Guillaume 2000 Fersit
SSDT 2000 – Dominique Guillaume – Yamaha – Fersit

Duncan MacDonald'00 Fersit
SSDT 2000 – Duncan MacDonald – Gas Gas – Fersit

Egbert Neumann'00 Fersit
SSDT 2000 – Egbert Neumann – Montesa – Fersit

Henry Moorhouse'00 Cameron Hill
SSDT 2000 – Henry Moorhouse – Sherco – Cameron Hill

hn Shirt jnr'00 Fersit
SSDT 2000 – John R. Shirt – Gas Gas – Fersit

Jaime Subira'00 Chairlift
SSDT 2000 – Jaume Subira – Gas Gas – Chairlift

John Lampkin'00 Fersit
SSDT 2000 – John Lampkin – Beta – Fersit

Jonny Starmer'00 Fersit
SSDT 2000 – Jonny Starmer – Montesa – Fersit

Jordi Tarres'00 Ben Nevis
SSDT 2000 – Jordi Tarres – Gas Gas – Ben Nevis

Malcolm rathmell'00 Leanachan
SSDT 2000 – Guest rider: Malcolm Rathmell – Sherco – Leanachan

Martin Sandiford'00 Chairlift
SSDT 2000 – Martin Sandiford – Montesa – Chairlift

Mick Andrews'00 Ben Nevis
SSDT 2000 – Mick Andrews – Gas Gas – Ben Nevis

Phillipe Berlatier'00 Cameron Hill
SSDT 2000 – Phillipe Berlatier – Gas Gas – Cameron Hill

Roger Mount'00 Cameron Hill
SSDT 2000 – Roger Mount – Gas Gas – Cameron Hill

Steeve Moore'00 Fersit
SSDT 2000 – Steve Moore – Gas Gas – Fersit

Steve Colley 2000 Leanachan
SSDT 2000 winner: Steve Colley – Beta – Leanachan

Walter Luft'00
SSDT 2000 – Walter Luft – Aprilia

Yuriko Kobayashi'00 Fersit
SSDT 2000 – Yuriko Kobayashi – Beta – Fersit


Albert Arana'10 Leanachan
SSDT 2010 – Albert Arana – Leanachan

Albert Bordoy'10 Leanachan
SSDT 2010 – Albert Bordoy – Leanachan

Carlos Casas'10 Leanachan
SSDT 2010 – Carlos Casas – Montesa – Leanachan

Dan Thorpe'10 Leanachan
SSDT 2010 – Dan Thorpe – Gas Gas – Leanachan

Diego urreta Bidaburu'10 Leanachan
SSDT 2010 – Diego Urreta Bidaburu – Montesa – Leanachan

Gary MacDonald'10 Leanachan
SSDT 2010 – Gary MacDonald – Gas Gas – Leanachan

GaryMac'10 leanachan
SSDT 2010 – Gary Macdonald – Gas Gas – Leanachan

Kevin Dignan'10 leanachan
SSDT 2010 – Kevin Dignan – Gas Gas – Leanachan

Marcel Albos'10 Leanachan
SSDT 2010 – Marcel Albos – Gas Gas – Leanachan

Mark Sunter'10 leananachan
SSDT 2010 – Mark Sunter – Beta – Leanachan

Pere Borellas'10 leanachan
SSDT 2010 – Pere Borellas – Gas Gas – Leanachan

Pere Camp'10 Leanachan
SSDT 2010 – Pere Camp – Montesa – Leanachan

More Iain Lawrie images:

Iain Lawrie Collection

Iain Lawrie Take 2




500 entries for 2018 SSDT

DL - Leanachan - Kimages
Dougie Lampkin (Vertigo 300) seen here on ‘Leanachen’ in 2016, will no doubt be back to try and add another SSDT to his tally – Photo Credit: Kimages/Kim Ferguson


With entries now closed for the annual Scottish Six Days Trial in May 2018, reports indicate that the event is almost 100% oversubscribed with Secretary, Ms. Mieke De Vos looking at a pile of over 500 entries.

This happened as far back as 1972 when the event was massively oversubscribed to a similar magnitude and saw the commencement of the now famous ‘ballot of entries’.

At that time, the then Secretary, the late Jim McColm and the SSDT Committee of the day pondered what to do and a ballot system was put in place.

The 2018 ballot will take place between now and the festive season, with all successful and non-successful entrants being informed between 25th December and January 1st.

The Dutch born SSDT Secretary, Mieke De Vos urges entrants not to make contact with the SSDT administration before 1st January, if you have not heard any news.

No doubt there will be a flurry of social media activity between now and the new year with successful entrants gleefully declaring their acceptance and unsuccessful entrants drowning their sorrows.

However remember that with all large events there is an attrition rate of around 10% who have to withdraw their entry prior to the event for a variety of reasons. So don’t be overly despondent.

Full details of this most famous of all trials can be found on the SSDT website, www.ssdt.org

As for Trials Guru? Yes we will be there!  –  May 7-12, 2018  – WATCH THIS SPACE!


Farmer John Graham – Master Observer


Here at Trials Guru, we are always looking for something different and original and instead of featuring a rider, we obtained this article about  the unsung heroes of our sport, the observers. Without observers, we would have no events. Trials Guru asked an observers’ daughter to pen us an article, this is the result.


Words and photos provided by Helen Graham:



Following a photograph of a well-known and reliable observer ‘Farmer John’ being featured on social media, a flurry of praise ensued with comments such as: Legend; Respect; “Hope I can do that at his age”; “Dedicated to North East Trials”.

There were also questions raised about the life of this 87 year old man in a flat cap, who braves all weathers to observe at trials throughout the North East and beyond.

John Graham was born on 10th January 1930 in Blanchland, Northumberland and at an early age moved with his parents to a rented farm in Hexhamshire, where he lived until the age of twelve when the family moved to a different farm in Hexhamshire, known as High Raw Green, not far from Whitley Chapel.


John wanted to join the RAF as he wanted a trade, and particularly wished to be a mechanic on aeroplanes.

Sadly this was not to be, as being an only child it was expected that he would work for his father and then take over the tenancy of the farm, which was owned by Northumberland County Council.

Let us not forget that in those days there were few cars or tractors, and work on the farm was by means of four legged ‘horse-power’.  John states his father got the first family car in 1947, and only after that did they get a tractor on the farm.

Farmer John has only ever possessed one motor cycle, a 1950 Ariel 500 with sidecar.  He describes the sidecar as a “wooden box for carrying stuff in”.

John got married to his wife Nancy in 1958, and in 1962 they began farming for themselves at High Raw Green.  Sadly the Ariel 500 and ‘box’ had to be swapped for a wagon chassis to make a trailer to be used on the farm.  Money was scarce and any available was put into the farm.  John is a self-taught engineer and this was not the only trailer that he has built throughout his life.

John and Nancy had a hard life on their dairy farm.  They had a herd of over 40 friesian dairy cows to be milked every morning and evening.  In summer there was hay and silage to harvest.  In winter there were severe snowstorms and John was a well-recognised figure out on his tractor with snow plough fitted to the back, to clear the local roads of snow so that the milk tanker could get to the farms to take the daily production of milk from the farms to the dairy.

John and his younger daughter Anthea began going to motocross every Sunday afternoon.  He described it as “an interest, at weekends”.

In 1991 when he and Nancy retired from farming John started to go to motorcycle trials, and says that Harry Norman “roped him in to observe”, and he has been doing so ever since, for 26 years in fact.

Let us not also forget that since John retired from farming in 1991 he has worked continuously at Hexham Auction Mart as a stock person, a manual job, and starts work there at 7am every Tuesday and Friday, and other days when sheep and cattle or other sales take place.

John has observed at all local trials, plus the Yorkshire and Cumberland main trials, and this year is his 20th year for observing at the Scottish Pre-65.

His elder daughter Helen questioned him closely: What do you enjoy about being an Observer?.

His immediate reply, with a wry smile, was “Authority”!

She asked – Do you want to elaborate on that?, and Farmer John replied “to make sure there’s no rock-shifting”.

She asked him what he thinks about observing in wind and rain and all types of weather and his matter-of-fact reply was “It doesn’t bother me because I’ve been used to it all my life”.

Has he a favourite venue?

FJ: “No, but the Scottish Pre-65 is one I enjoy very much.  It was a one-day effort originally, and I observed at Pollock Hill for 12 years, The Pipeline, twice or thrice at the hotel up on the top. It was Brian Short who ran the Weardale Trial who got me to do it.  They always wanted me to observe at the Scottish Six Days Trial but I declined, it was unfair on anyone that was with me because I would be out from 7am – 7pm.  I’ve seen most of the sections at one time or another.”

Does he have any problems with any of the riders?

FJ: “Some of them didn’t like getting Fives but there’s no arguments nowadays because a Five is a Five! I know most of the riders well now”.

What do you think of the new/young riders who are taking part in trials now?

FJ: “They are progressing well”.

A lot of people are surprised you are so fit and healthy at your age of 87 years.  What do you put that down to? – FJ: “Hard work”.

How long do you intend to continue? – FJ: “Till I Die”.

Well “Farmer John”, let’s hope that’s not for some time yet!!

His daughters just also want to say that behind every good man there is a good woman, and Farmer Johns’ wife Nancy still makes his bag of ‘bait’ every Sunday morning for him, before he heads off to the relevant Trial of the day, and has his cooked meal ready for him when he gets home.

Legend is probably quite fitting, don’t you think?

2017 Pre’65 Scottish Trial – Major Gaff!

When 87 year old Farmer John Graham was asked if he had a favourite venue to observe at he described the Pre’65 Scottish as being ‘The Trial’.

This year, 2017 was to be his twentieth year as an observer at the Pre’65 Scottish Trial.

His daughter Helen has always said that for as long as he wants to observe she will drive him the 225 miles to Kinlochleven from his home town of Hexham, Northumberland.

This duly happened this year, and she drove Farmer John and wife Nancy on a beautiful sunny day from Hexham to what had been a wet day in Kinlochleven.

Farmer John had been given a brand new section to observe at on Friday 28th April 2017, at Man na Gualain. He was most concerned that he had not checked it out.  Helen took him to the meeting of all observers the evening beforehand and once having received his official programme he was keen to check out his section.

2017 Pre-65 and Portpatrick and Mull of Galloway 054 - red
Farmer John Graham (right) gets into position to observe – Photo: Helen Graham, Consett

He was duly at Kinlochleven checking in the following morning and was duly at his section well before he needed to be, so keen is he!

Farmer John was glad to find that the section was harder than what he thought it would be and “riders lost quite a few marks”. He was as ever vigilant that there was no “rock-moving” and he thoroughly enjoyed his day, chatting with entrants and people who were watching the trial.

Saturday was a section he had been at previously, Camas na Muic, and the only blight in his day was the amount of riders who stood on a particular “rock” in the section in an attempt to move it. As ever he was on the ball and fair in his marking.

Unbeknown to him organisers of the Pre-65 Scottish wanted to acknowledge his 20 years of observing at the awards evening on Saturday 29th April. He is not a big social attender but Helen suggested it might be nice to go as he hadn’t been previously, so he obliged.

Farmer John was there presented with an engraved whisky glass and medal acknowledging his 20 years of observing. He was very grateful, albeit very confused when the organisers made a huge and very embarrassing blunder by having the presenter, Graham Archer mention that he was retiring.

2017 Pre-65 and Portpatrick and Mull of Galloway 067 - red
Oops! Graham Archer (right) and Colin Dommett (Centre) received incorrect information that ‘Farmer John’ was retiring, whereas it was actually for recognition of twenty years service for observing! Farmer John accepts his award in his usual shy manner and certainly isn’t retiring – Photo: Helen Graham, Consett

Well, his daughter Helen was very quick to point out, that is the first she had heard of him retiring, and he has made no decision to do so!

As an interesting aside, after his two days observing Farmer John, Nancy and Helen travelled down the west coast to Portpatrick for an overnight stay there. Farmer John and Nancy had stayed there almost fifty-nine years previously on their honeymoon. Farmer John was again in his element with his other interest, seeing the countryside and cattle on the Mull of Galloway and visiting a farm near Whithorn, Dumfries and Galloway which belongs to a cattle dealer that is a client at Hexham Auction Mart where Farmer John works.

Roll on your 21st Pre’65 Scottish Trial Farmer John, and never lose your interests.

2017 Pre-65 and Portpatrick and Mull of Galloway 125 - red

Article: Copyright – Trials Guru & Helen Graham 2017

Photos: Helen Graham, Consett

Farmer John (left) with North East riders, Darren Palmer (Centre) and Gavin Brown( Right)

Sadly John Graham passed away on 7th December 2020, aged 90 years.

John Graham was diagnosed with cancer on 19th November 2020. He had been out observing at a motorcycle trial as late as the 12th September. The nurses who treated John told his family they had never known anyone as strong, and they called him “individual”. The sum of £4000 has been raised in donations for Tynedale Hospice at Home. Trials riders followed the funeral cortege around Hexham Auction Mart where John had worked from his retirement from farming in 1991. Around 200 farmers, friends, family and about 30 trials riders on their bikes, in effect his worlds united with mutual respect.

Highlander’s Glass is Full


The Twelfth annual Highland Classic Two Day Trial is becoming a very popular event, with the maximum entry being surpassed in less than 48 hours of it’s opening just after midnight on Wednesday, 1st February.

The go-ahead organising committee of the Inverness & District club were surprised at the take-up of entries of which they changed the format after protestations last year that it favoured previous years riders.

Club and company secretary, John Moffat said: “In 2016 we were accused of nepotism where we sent out paper-based entries to every rider who competed in the 2015 event and the Royal Mail were very quick at their delivery for some reason. The official entries opened a day later although this wasn’t the overall intention. Quite a few prospective competitors felt that this was unfair. However, I’d like to point out that quite a few regular riders have supported our event since it’s inception in 2005 when it went from a one-day trial to a two-day affair.”

Moffat continued: ” We are quite overwhelmed at the response this year as we were full by the Thursday evening. We made a conscious decision to reserve some of our entry for special ‘Guest’ riders which has been kept to a minimum and are over and above the 150 rider maximum. These riders were chosen for their contribution they have made to our sport of off-road motorcycling or were nominated by our ‘Trial Partners’ – that is Apico Factory Racing; Putoline Oils UK and Classic Trial Magazine who have been very generous in their support of the 2017 event. As a contingency, we have a 15 place reserve list in opertion, just in case any competitor pulls out, pre-event”.


The ‘brainchild’ of Inverness Chairman, Malcolm Smith who thought up the original idea of the event which takes place on 10/11 June on the shooting estate, Alvie, near Aviemore which is run by the enthusiastic Laird, Jamie Williamson and managed by Estate Factor, David Kinnear.

This year the theme is ‘The Honda Edition’ and the Guest of Honour is 1977 British Trials Champion and Honda factory rider, Rob Shepherd. A special award will be made to the rider making the best performance on a Honda who has not won any other award. there is also a Best Female Rider award.

Shepherd will ride  a specially prepared Honda TLR250, but it is very likely that his ex-works TL305 will be there and it is hoped that Rob will demonstrate ride it during the end of one of the days.

Jean Caillou from France will be there, having entered on the ex-Marland Whaley factory Honda.

The ‘Guest’ riders announced so far are: Rob Shepherd – Honda (Guest of Honour); Yrjo Vesterinen – BSA (3 times FIM World Trials Champion); Vic Allan – MV Agusta (1974 – British 250cc and 500cc Motocross Champion); Chris Milner – Triumph (former Comerford Bultaco rider); John Hayden – Yamaha (Putoline Oils UK); Nick Shield – Yamaha Majesty (Classic Trial Magazine tester). It is still a possibility that Nick Jefferies – Honda may appear if TT committments allow.

Other notable successful entrants are former TT winner, Iain Duffus (Fantic) and Yamaha Motor Company’s Rob McElnea.

The event is billed as the ‘Friendliest Classic Trial in Scotland’ and that is helped by a relaxed atmosphere, a great place to ride off-road, sensible flowing sections, a ‘Specials’ category in case some machines don’t fully comply with class boundaries, cheese and wine at the end of Day One and for this some sections lost to the event a few years ago which are very traditional to Scotland.




Dabill withdraws from SSDT

Trials Guru’s John Moffat interviews Scott Trial 2016 winner, James Dabill at the finish. Dabill values a win at both the SSDT and the Scott highly – Photo – John Hulme/Trial Magazine

The trials world was shocked with the announcement by the reigning and seven times British Trials Champion, James Dabill that he has withdrawn his entry from the 2017 Scottish Six Days Trial in May.

Dabill broke the news via his own social media account today, 1st February. He recently changed camps from Vertigo to Gas Gas and is contracted to compete in the Spanish National Trials Championship plus the World series.

James broke the news as follows: “So this was a very long and tough decision of mine and after speaking with some of my close friends, family and Team Manager, I have decided to withdraw from taking part in this years’ SSDT.
It was not an easy decision as it’s one of my favourite events but I feel it’s the best way for me to really concentrate on having a good year at world championship.
With the first TrialGP being only a week after the SSDT, I don’t want to lose precious time training and preparing myself and my bike at the highest level possible.
I would like to thank everybody who respects my decision and I will see you up in Fort William for the first weekend and I would like to take this opportunity to wish all competitors a great and enjoyable week, Cheers Dibs”.

James Dabill (Vertigo) (Medium)
James Dabill (Vertigo) on Chairlift in the SSDT 2016 – © – Image: Trial Magazine UK

Dabill’s announcement once again brings into question the tactics of the manufacturers who were always keen to win the prestigeous Scottish Six Days Trial, seen by many to have an impact on sales, in the UK at least, of trials machines. However, the World Championship does carry an equally prestigeous tag, that of World Champion.

James Dabill does value highly a win at the SSDT, he has achieved this twice in his career, 2007 and 2011, so this was clearly not a decision he wanted to have to take. However, he is a professional rider and his job is to satify his contractual obligations first and foremost.

Trials Guru’s John Moffat commented: “This must have been a very tough decision for James to take. I have interviewed him up at Fort William on the local Nevis Radio and been on stage at the presentation of awards when he picked up his wins in 2007 and 2011. He is always quite relaxed in the mornings before the off and really enjoys riding the SSDT. While it’s a great shame for SSDT fans that James will not be riding in 2017, but we wish him well in his World series, TrialGP endeavours and hope that he will return to ride the SSDT in the very near future.”

James Dabill (Vertigo) – FIM TRIAL 2016 Cal Rosal, Spain – Photo: Mario Candellone



Ted Heather 1937 – 2017

Ted Heather   1937 –  2017  –   An Appreciation
Words: Frank Sweeting
Ted Heather was, I think, one of the quiet ones with his own brand of humour. When he was Clerk of the Course for the West Wilts Motor Club’s famous, or was it the infamous, Tanner Trudge Time & Observation Trial he would sometimes ring me up pretending to be perhaps Sammy Miller or another well known rider. I would usually be certain it wasn’t who Ted said it was and would be racking my brains to work out who it was on the phone, stalling for time so I could decide who it actually was on the line!
Ted was very independent and didn’t find it easy to ask for help marking out, and you had to twist his arm to get him to agree that you could come out & help him setting up before the day. Then he would say at Club Meetings that he didn’t get much help! He was quietly very proud of the many Trudges when he was Clerk of Course. I think it was 19 or 24 and it was only years later, after the Club had stopped running the Trudge because of dwindling entries that I realised Ted had wanted to make that milestone. Ted said nothing when we decided to stop running.
Ted drifted away from the Club after that, but kept involved every year in the SSDT where he would be in the parc ferme and would be out at ungodly hours putting up Route Markers. I guess those early mornings were no trouble to Ted after the many years of early starts that he had as Postman working out of Corsham. I recall him saying to me, with a chuckle, that David Hempleman-Adams, the explorer had given him a sponsored anorak which David had used on an expedition!
Ted was a keen gardener, and his own immaculate garden impressed sufficient people to ask him to look after theirs that he had more than he could really cope with. He did a lot of walking after he ‘retired’ and with the new hip that he had late last year he was planning a walking holiday in September when he would have turned 80. He liked dogs and had a succession of large dogs although I don’t think he had another after his dog, Sam, died.
Ted played his part in the Wessex Centre too, he had been President & had been awarded the Harry Croft Trophy, he had been a Centre Steward spanning the times before the days when Stewards didn’t need licences and when they did!
It’s rumoured Ted ‘helped’ riders who wanted to enter the SSDT by ‘putting in a word to the Committee’. It was rumoured that Ted paid the SSDT Entry Fee for one of the Centre’s best riders every year. Ted would just smile and be non committal if I gently tried to persuade him to let on. We know Ted was actually hurt that one or two of those he did help never actually thanked him for his intervention. The last time we saw Ted was at the in the Fort William parc ferme last year.
Ted leaves behind his widow, Rachel, they had no children.
Rachel was very involved with the Wiltshire St Johns Ambulance Service, joining in 1955 and has been the Divisional Superintendent for the Chippenham District.
I remember Ted telling me, with another little smile, that he had conducted Rachel’s driving test when they were in the RAF in Germany. She passed!
My wife Phyllis was Secretary of the Meeting for the Tanner Trudge while Ted was Clerk of Course for quite a number of years, and they always exchanged Christmas cards. Last year Phyllis’s said we weren’t going to Scotland this year, and Ted’s said he had a new hip.
We heard on Monday that Ted had passed away late last week from Wessex Centre Secretary, Theresa Talbot, who had  been told while at Sundays Vic Brittain Trial.
It was maybe 20 years ago that Ted had had an intestinal cancer which he completely recovered from. Some time after his hip operation.Ted had a DVT and a fall., He was readmitted & had another fall. A scan showed that he had a left lung shadow & a brain tumour, and he rapidly deteriorated.
Our thoughts are with Rachel.  Ted, RIP – you will be remembered.
Frank  Sweeting

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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  • World-wide Copyright James Holland, Bristol, UK (All Rights Reserved) – 2017.

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Alastair Macgillivray

Alastair Macgillivray

Words: Trials Guru
Photos: Jimmy Young – Iain Lawrie – Kimages/Kim Ferguson

Alastair Macgillivray in 1978 – Photo: Jimmy Young, Armadale

Two times a Scottish trials champion, 1974 & 1979, from Banavie, Fort William, Alastair Macgillivray is an electrician by trade and was brought up at ‘Muirshearlich’ near to where a group of sections for the Scottish Six Days were situated – ‘Trotter’s Burn’.

Ali MacGill and Alan McD - Kimages
Alastair Macgillivray shares a joke with Mallaig man, Alan Mcdonald at Lagnaha in 2015 – Photo: Kimages/Kim Ferguson

Known to all the locals as simply, ‘Allie-Magill’, the quiet spoken Lochaber-man was a force to be reckoned with in the late 1970s and early 1980s in Scottish Trials.

Alastair Macgillivray (Bultaco) on Cnoc-a-Linnhe in the 1981 SSDT – Photo: Iain Lawrie, Kinlochleven

He is the cousin of Rodger Mount, himself a three-time Scottish Trials Champion (1971-1973).

Alastair Macgillivray on his Bultaco Sherpa 250 in 1972 at the Kinlochleven Spring Trial (Now Ian Pollock Memorial) captured by Iain Lawrie, Kinlochleven.

Always a member of Lochaber & District MCC and at one time a secretary of the club, Alastair rode mainly Bultaco Sherpas from 1971 until 1982 when he moved on to ride Fantics in Scottish nationals and in the Scottish Six Days.

JY - Ali M
Alastair MacGillivray (Bultaco 325) at Scottish Experts & National Trial, Achallader, Bridge of Orchy 1978 – Photo: Jimmy Young

He acted as a ‘back-marker’ official at the SSDT for many years after he ceased riding regularly in trials.

JY - Alastair MacG
Former Scottish Trials Champion, Alastair MacGillivray from Fort William on a 325 Bultaco at a very wet Forfar trial around 1980. He has the benefit of having an earlier air-box fitted which helped these bikes, but they were bad for taking on water! – Photo: Jimmy Young

Macgillivray won the Scottish championship in 1979 after coming very close to winning in 1978, but lost out at the penultimate round at the Glentanner Estate in Kincardineshire run by Bon Accord MCC, leaving the championship spoils open to eventual joint winners, John Winthrop and Robin Cownie.

Jy - Alistair MacGillivray
Alastair McGillivray Scottish Trials Champion in 1974 & 1979 (Fort William) seen here on a 200c Fantic at the Lanarkshire Valente Trial in 1981 – Photo: Jimmy Young, Armadale

Alastair is also an accomplished fly-fisherman, particularly trout fishing and has won many competitions, one of which the prize was the use of a Lexus car for a year being the Lexus Fly-Fishing Champion in 2012.

1971 group
Taken around 1970 – From left: Allie ‘Beag’ Cameron; Kenny Fleming; Rodger Mount & Alastair Macgillivray

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