On behalf of the Lampkin family, it is with great sadness that Trials Guru website announces that H. Martin Lampkin, the very first World Trials Champion (1975), passed away today, Saturday 2nd April, 2016, aged 65 years.
It goes without saying that the Lampkin family’s loss is also a loss to the world of motorcycle sport.
Our sincere condolences go to Martin’s immediate family, widow Isobel; sons, Dougie and Harry and the extended Lampkin family.
The funeral service for Martin will be held on Monday, 11th April 2016 at 1.30pm at St James Parish Church, Kirkgate, Silsden, West Yorkshire, BD20 0AL. By request of the Lampkin family, please no flowers.
If you wish to make a personal donation in Martin’s memory, these can be made to the Manorlands Hospice, Keighley Road, Oxenhope, Keighley, West Yorkshire, BD22 9HJ. (Please select the dropdown: I’m donating because of the work of: Manorlands)
Martin Lampkin, his life in photographs, a tribute by Trials Guru’s Photographers & contributors:
As a mark of respect, please feel free to leave your personal message in the comments section below in remembrance of a fine sportsman, a true Yorkshireman and one of the world’s all time great motorcycling competitors, a true ambassador of the sport – HAROLD MARTIN LAMPKIN 1950-2016
It is true to say that some trials riders will be remembered for being not just good, but for beating the seemingly unbeatable. One of these riders is Gordon Farley. For eleven years, trials riding in Britain was literally dominated by one person, the great Sammy Miller. Other good riders came, tried and went away unsuccessful but Farley was determined that his name was not going to be added to that long list when he set his sights on Miller’s supremacy. “It was without doubt the most satisfying moment of my career when I knew I had won the British title and had beaten Miller”, Farley commented recently. Miller had won the trials championship eleven times on the trot; it had a psychological effect on the other riders – they got to the stage where they thought he could not be beaten so they did not try. Farley said to himself “I am going to do it!” and that was what he concentrated on. Every trial he rode in was to beat Miller but it was hard to get close to him. Eventually when he did it was unbelievable, but then he retired and the trials scene was never quite the same.
Farley, like Miller, was attracted to road racing before he found himself in trials. However, he turned to trials because it was “a lot cheaper”. Although he would not call his family a motorcycling one, his father did own a machine and his brother did compete in a few trials, although he never reached the level of Gordon. At thirteen he purchased his first machine, a 197cc Francis Barnett – in trials trim, of course. This was replaced two years later by a Triumph Tiger Cub, a machine that will be remembered as the one Farley got not only his first taste of competition on but also his first taste of success, back in 1961. It was the first trial he had competed in and he came third; the event was the Sunbeam Novice Trial. Shortly after this he entered his second trial, the Wickham Harvest, and taking second place elevated him out of the novice class into the expert class. Farley remembers these early events clearly but when asked which was his most memorable and why, he said “I think that would be the one I rode in France. It was at a place called Nemour, which is about sixty miles south of Paris, and it was the first time I had competed abroad in an international trial. The event, I think, is still run today and I remember the French treated me very well; mainly because in France you were not allowed to ride a motorbike until you were seventeen, you could only ride a moped, and here was a sixteen-year-old riding in a trial along with much older men”. “Do you remember your result?” “Yes, I won!” One may wonder how Farley could afford to go to France when he had previously said he had chosen trials because it is a cheaper form of sport. In short he was being supported by a dealer in Folkestone called Jock Hitchcock. Gordon has always been friendly with Murray Brush, a trials rider well known in the south-east of Britain, and it was through him that Farley was introduced to Hitchcock.
He sponsored Gordon from the age of sixteen until he was nineteen, and it would be fair to say that it was Jock pushing all the time that got him his first works contract.
A Works Ride
That was a nice surprise as he got a letter from Henry Vale, who was then the Triumph Competition Manager, on Christmas Eve offering a works machine, and it made a very nice present. He tried out the new machine in January and signed a contract. Farley was to enjoy four works contracts during his career: Triumph, Greeves, Montesa and finally Suzuki. During those first years as a works rider the world of trials was absorbed in an era of radical change, as the domination by the large capacity four-stroke machines such as the AJS, Ariel, BSA Gold Star, Matchless, Royal Enfield and Triumph Trophy (all actually slightly modified road models) was superseded by the Spanish and Italian two-strokes specifically designed and built for trials. Organisers had to rethink most of their sections, usually opting to make the turns tighter and sudden climbs steeper. Gordon Farley never rode one of the big old four-strokes, so he effectively grew up and learned his craft with the new style of riding.
He soon found the Triumph Cub had its limitations, it was after all simply a modified road model that had been developed from the Triumph Terrier, and its greatest handicap was – and remains – the lack of an effective set of trials-suitable gear ratios. Farley worked hard to improve his Cub, mainly by losing unsprung weight. He used alloy petrol tanks, alloy oil tanks, alloy air filter boxes and alloy front brake plates. Many of the items were copied and sold by Comerfords; indeed at one stage they added to his list of sponsors and he rode a ‘Comerfords Cub’.
With the Greeves it was a machine specifically designed for trials but with the bugbear of relying on the Villiers ignition system – for younger readers imagine putting a plug and socket in the ignition wire to the sparkplug and mounting the socket on the front edge of the crankcase cover, just where the front wheel plasters everything with wet mud. Yes, that is the measure of incompetence that prevailed! In 1967 the Montesa importer John Brise approached Gordon Farley to become their number one works rider but he had just signed a twelve-month contract with Greeves to compete for them during the 1968 season, so they would have to wait until the end of the year for him to join. It was a fantastic year for him on the Greeves as he took the runner-up spot in the Scottish Six Days Trial behind Sammy Miller, as well as third place overall in the European championship. In the December of 1967 Montesa had also approached another Greeves works rider, Don Smith, to join them.
He tested the new machine and was offered a contract as the company waited for Farley to join them in a new works team. 1969 would see Farley eventually join and he would win the opening trial of the new season, the Vic Brittain, mounted on the new Montesa Coat 247. He took second place in the 1969 European Championship (now World) and followed this by winning the British Trials Championship in 1970 which went all the way to the wire at the final round, the Knut Trial, where he beat Miller; he again took home the title for Montesa in 1971.
Carrying superb credentials and with the Japanese trials invasion about to take off Suzuki opened talks with Farley in 1971 with a view to him helping with the development of a new machine. They thought they had struck gold when they managed to get British Champion Gordon Farley to sign on the dotted line to develop their new trials machine in late 1972. More importantly he came with a good reputation, having previously ridden both Triumph and Greeves works machines. He was also well known for his machine development skills and this would prove vital to Suzuki as they were so new to the trials scene. After many secret trips to Japan and the Suzuki headquarters Farley’s new machine was finally taking shape. Various meetings had taken place in the closed season as they wanted a competitive machine from the outset.
The prototype machine was very much based on the TS series trail bike range which was a single cylinder two-stroke that they decided would be ideal for the trials project. With Farley under contract to Montesa until June 1973 he could not officially ride in competition for another manufacturer until the July. This gave both himself and the factory plenty of time to develop the new machine. When the two new machines arrived he was full of enthusiasm for the work the Japanese had carried out. The venue Farley chose to debut the new machine was a local centre event, the Horsham Club’s Ray Baldwin Trophy Trial. The debut was not a success and Farley finished second, four marks behind local centre rider John Kendal on a Bultaco. Farley was leading the trial at one stage but he had an unfortunate crash over the handlebars, which resulted in five marks lost and the win was gone. The machine was then ridden in the British and European Trials Championships but with very little success. Farley became disillusioned with this and the lack of support from the factory. With no major success and Farley wanting to concentrate on his booming trials shop it was rumoured at the end of the year he was going to retire from the sport, which he duly did. In 1972 he had opened up a shop in Ash near Aldershot, Hampshire, selling motorcycles with Honda, Suzuki, and Yamaha franchises. He understandably also specialised in trials machines with Bultacos, Montesas and Ossas much in evidence, in addition to the Japanese mounts.
After his official retirement he opened another shop and just wanted to ride in trials on a very low-key basis, and the UK Bultaco importers, Comerfords loaned him a new 350cc Sherpa to ride whenever he wanted. His last real outing was in 1978 at the SSDT where he finished in a creditable 45th place. He admitted recently it nearly killed him! Gordon is now approaching 67 but is still involved with the shops, which take up most of his time, and can still be seen observing at local events. Farley ended an era in trials when he knocked Sammy Miller of the top spot in the British Championship, a subject still much talked about to the present day.
Article: Gordon Farley, Copyright: John Hulme/Classic Trial Magazine UK
John Hulme/Trials Media
Peter Bremner, Inverness
Eric Kitchen (all rights reserved)
Mike Rapley (all rights reserved)
Trials Guru/John Moffat
For back issues of Trial Magazine or Classic Trial UK … Click HERE
We are always looking at new features, articles and of course photographs here at Trials Guru … so what about sidecars?
So that’s exactly what we are doing, a dedicated page on the three-wheeled brigade for all the sidecar trials enthusiasts out there.
Mike Rapley, himself an accomplished trials sidecar driver, who has been working hard to bring us ‘Recalled by Rappers’ on Trials Guru, has unearthed sidecar photos which we are currently preparing for viewing on Trials Guru – Some never seen before. Already we have had offers from sources throughout the UK with more material, so it’s an exciting venture.
We at Trials Guru are indebted to Mike Rapley for his efforts and co-operation in both these ventures. Mike is truly a life-long, 100% enthusiast of the sport of trials and enduro.
Words: John Hulme with Alan Lampkin, with full co-operation from an article which first appeared in Classic Trial Magazine – Issue 11.
The three Lampkin brothers are Arthur, Alan and Martin, the youngest, have been part of the motorcycle trials scene for such a long period of time that they are etched in the history of the sport forever. Alan – or ‘Sid’ as he is better known – was the one in the middle; imagine having Arthur as your older brother and Martin as the youngest? He was a very successful Scrambler during the ‘Golden Years’ of British domination and won both the Scottish Six Days and Scott Trials in 1966 for BSA; throw in some ISDT Gold medals and in 1974 winning the first ever American ‘World’ trials round. A very popular character, he received factory support along the way from BSA, Cotton Suzuki and Bultaco. He can still be found on the Trials scene today though, as a spectator on his annual holiday to the ‘Scottish’ or at the Scott, or many of the Classic events. The years may have passed by but one thing that has never gone away over the years is the warm welcome and the smile whenever you come into contact with Sid.
Alan Raymond Charles Lampkin entered the world on April 7th 1944 in Silsden, Yorkshire, as the younger brother to Arthur John who was born in 1938. Harold Martin Lampkin would come along later, at Christmas in 1950. The Lampkins had moved from Woolwich Arsenal, London, in 1940 to get away from the London Blitz. Their father, Arthur Alan, was a Foreman machine turner and he opened his precision engineering business shortly after his arrival in Yorkshire. He used an old side-valve BSA as his transport and so the boys were soon around motorcycles when they were born.
Arthur had quickly shown a keen interest and at the age of seventeen became the youngest ever member of the mighty ‘Works’ BSA off-road team after some inspiring results. Alan soon wanted to watch his elder brother in action and remembers watching him at the 1959 Ilkley Grand National where he was allowed to ride without competing, and he loved it. They had no television in the early days at the Lampkin household and they often went around to the next-but-one neighbour to watch Arthur on it in the TV scrambles.
The Lampkin entertainment got even better when Alan started to compete. It was trials riding which first attracted him though and he could not wait to compete in the tough Scott Time and Observation Trial. He joined Arthur in the entry in 1960 for his first event. It was a tough day and one he did not finish, but when elder brother Arthur was announced the winner he set his sights on emulating his brother with a win of his own, after finishing the event! After finding his feet in 1960 with tastes of both trials and scrambling on BSA machinery he started to enjoy the rigors of the off-road action. He picked up a finisher’s certificate at the 1961 Scott and soon began to get noticed by the factory teams and, most importantly, the competition team managers.
He was drafted into the factory BSA team alongside such great names as Bill Nicholson, Fred Rist, David Tye, Brian Martin, Jeff Smith and John Harris – and, of course, his big brother Arthur. He acknowledged the support and delivered the results when in 1963 he won his first National trial, the Travers. Then he was picked by the team selectors to represent his country in the International Six Days Trial to be held in Czechoslovakia. In those days the event covered near-on 1,000 miles during the six days of competition and Alan did himself proud before disaster struck on the fifth day, Friday.
He was still ‘clean’ and on course for his first Gold Medal when he crashed and, suffering from heavy concussion, was forced to retire much to his disappointment. BSA though had much faith in him and after recovering he was moved into the number two BSA team for the Scott, where he collected a Scott ‘Spoon’ after finishing in the top twenty-five. By the mid-sixties he was acknowledged as one of the new young riders making headlines in the sport. Riding for BSA he mixed both trials and scrambling with much success. It was a fantastic season scrambling as he took in many of the established events with some impressive results, including some top-five finishes in the BBC Trophy races at Ripon and Durham on the BSA 440 cc, second in the Lancashire Grand National and a third in the Cleveland Grand National. On the trials scene he was a regular winner and top-five finisher in the British championship events, but 1966 was going to be his year.
It all started with a win at the opening scramble on January 1st at a frozen Hatherton Hall in Cheshire in the 500 BBC Trophy race. It was sheet ice everywhere and his trials skills certainly helped and he felt very confident; he can still remember the look on Jeff Smith’s face as he passed him on the start/finish straight, it was great day and one he remembers like it was yesterday! Jeff Smith had been 500cc World Motocross Champion in 1964 and 1965 and is a very good friend of the Lampkins even to the present day. He then won the prestigious Bemrose Trophy Trial before preparing his 250cc BSA C15 for the Scottish Six Days Trial in the May. At the last minute he was moved into the BSA works team as Dave Rowlands was asked to stand down in case he was called home to attend a court hearing as a witness to a murder. On the first day Alan parted with no marks along with Mick Andrews (Bultaco) – Paul England (Triumph) – Peter Fletcher (Royal Enfield) – Sammy Miller (Bultaco) & Stan Cordingley (Bultaco). Tuesday was a long, tough day taking in 15 sections including Loch Eild Path above Kinlochleven.
Delay built up at the Caillich group of six sections and many riders lost marks on time. Wednesday took in eight sections at Laggan Locks, taking two marks from trials leader Alan Lampkin. Lampkin still held the lead on Thursday. Lampkin nearly lost the trial on the steep rocky hazards at Caolasnacoan when the crowd thought he had stopped, but the official observer recorded a three-mark penalty, giving the trials lead to Sammy Miller. It was on the sections at Leiter Bo Fionn though that Miller went to pieces and parted with a dozen marks whilst Lampkin kept his score down to four to move back into the lead. The final scores were Lampkin on 23 with Miller second on 27.
This would be the last win for a British manufactured motorcycle using a four-stroke engine until James Dabill on the Montesa in 2007. Later in the year he would take his first ISDT Gold on the BSA in effect a TriBSA 504cc in Sweden when he was Great Britain’s best performer with a clean sheet, with the team finishing third overall.
Arthur had won the Scott Trial again in 1965, setting the quickest time as well, and both brothers went to the 1966 event as members of the BSA team along with Scott Ellis, with both wanting to win – the outcome would be very memorable. Alan would win, with Arthur setting the quickest time in 4 hours, 18 minutes and 55 seconds which was a similar time from 1965, but the secret to Alan’s win was his observation score which put him in front of Sammy Miller who was desperate to give Spanish Brand Bultaco their first win in the event. The weather was beautiful, with massive crowds. Alan had shown good form early on with one of the few cleans at Hell Holes up the big step. At Washfold the Green Dragon Public House was hard to find due to the large number of spectators who had all turned out to see the dramatic battle unfold. The day after the event he was part of the winning Yorkshire team in the Inter Centre Team Trial.
The demise of the once mighty motorcycle industry in Great Britain has been well documented but it also forced the top riders of the time to move to foreign manufacturers. Alan had remained loyal to BSA but had not continued to enjoy his earlier success. 1967 was a bleak results year. At the ‘Scottish’ and riding the BSA C15T the week had started very cold and wet, and on the Tuesday the rear wheel collapsed. He changed the wheel but was removed from the results when he was found to have swopped the marked part by the organisers, forcing him to retire from the event. He was also hugely disappointed at the Scott when a split rear tyre forced his retirement. On the scrambling front he was still riding well and getting some good results. 1968 was pretty much the same as the BSA support in trials was not the same, although in scrambles they still had a winning machine. Many riders including Alan began to took to other machinery for trials and it was the ‘boom time’ of the micro-light machines.
He was offered the opportunity to ride the new 118cc Suzuki powered machine along with Arthur and Martin for the 1969 season. These were fun times in trials and in 1969 and 1970 he finished in fourteenth position on the Suzuki at the SSDT despite struggling at the event with many problems including a broken frame.
He was still contesting scrambles on the BSA and had some good results including top-five placings in the BBC Grandstand Trophy races before moving to a Husqvarna. The Spanish Armada of trials machines was now in full flow and along with many riders the Lampkins left the cottage industry of small-capacity trials machinery in the UK and went on to Bultaco, Montesa and Ossa, in Alan’s case Bultaco.
At the 1970 Scott he set the quickest time on his way to a top-ten finish on the Bultaco as Sammy Miller took the last of his seven wins. The Bultaco was a breath of fresh air and in 1971 he would finish tenth in the European Championship, once again set the quickest time at the Scott Trial in a team with Martin and Jim Sandiford and finish fifth in the British Trials Championship.
At the year’s ISDT he would also take another Gold medal, this time on a Bultaco. He quickly became a member of the Spanish works Bultaco trials team and with it the added support.
Justifying his works status he finished a fine second in the 1972 SSDT.
In 1973 he made his final appearance in the ISDT mounted on a Triumph, taking yet another Gold medal, with the trophy team taking second place.
The development of the Sherpa T range had moved on after Sammy Miller had moved to Honda, with more responsibility on the shoulders of UK based Bultaco riders, including Alan and Martin Lampkin. The sport was also moving from European status to be named the World Championship. Before the move, and with the sport expanding, a ‘World’ round would be held in America. After many problems, including the press thinking it was Martin who had won, a happy Alan was named the winner!
With the move to the FIM World Championship in 1975 the factories were very keen to take the first title, including Bultaco. Along with Alan his younger brother Martin would contest the whole 14 round series, but with only the best 8 scores counting the championship would turn into a three-way fight with Finland’s Yrjo Vesterinen and Malcom Rathmell.
Alan supported his brother as much as he could, finishing the year in ninth with his best result a third at his home round, as ‘Mart’ won the title by one mark from Vesterinen. The Bultaco team and the Lampkin brothers remained at the cutting edge of the championship right up until 1980, when Sweden’s Ulf Karlson on the Montesa stopped the trend, but by this
time Alan had retired from the World Championship.
With the glory years of the Bultaco brand over he would ride his last Scott Trial in 1980 and his last Scottish Six Days Trial in 1982 on an SWM. With a young family to provide for he continued to work in the engineering business started by his father many years before but, as with all motorcyclists, if it’s in your blood it’s hard to get rid of!
The Lampkin brothers still had some of their old works BSA machines and these were brought out of retirement for the new Pre-65 SSDT introduced in 1984. These were fantastic times not just for the brothers but also for the spectators, as they came out to witness them in action once again on the world famous ‘Scottish’ hazards such as Pipeline. Good friend Jeff Smith came over from Canada and it was a very happy reunion.
Alan would ride in the event on a few more occasions over the years. Son James is the youngest of his three children, he also has two girls Sarah and Nina, who is the eldest, and James soon became interested in trials riding giving Alan a new interest along with his Golf.
James went on to have his own successful trials career which included an Expert British Championship title and a third position in the 2004 SSDT.
James put his own career ambitions as a trials rider on hold as he supported Cousin Dougie Lampkin to his seven world championship titles. Alan is now semi-retired, working just three days a week at Lampkin Engineering, and still enjoys his motorcycling days and his annual holiday in the Highlands, accompanied by his wife Eileen and usually a gang of grandchildren who will no doubt carry on the Lampkin legend.
Words: John Hulme with Alan Lampkin
Iain Lawrie, Kinlochleven
Rob Edwards, Middlesborough, Cleveland.
Trials Media/ John Hulme
With many thanks to Classic Trial Magazine for their kind permission to reproduce this article from Issue 11 – Classic Trial.
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