This section of Trials Guru is for trials events and articles from the South-West counties of the UK.
We start this ‘section’ off with images supplied from the camera of local trials enthusiast, Sarah Turner.
For articles on West Country personalities, please scroll down much further. These include: John & Brenda Luckett; Colin Dommett, Ian Haydon, ‘Up Memory Lane’ and many more photos and snippets of information for the trials enthusiast, written by trials enthusiasts.
We also welcome the contributions of Dave Cole a West Country trials enthusiast and Mike Naish who is from Exeter and has written quite a number of articles on trials and the people involved in the sport, over the years.
We hope to be able to expand this West Country Trials Page with Dave and Mike’s assistance.
Photo-journalist, Mike Rapley has kindly contributed his photos from the Tiverton Hookway Trial of 1978, scroll down to view.
Hartland, North Devon action – August 2015
The Hartland venue in North Devon is Lower Wembsworthy Farm which has been run by former trials ace, John Luckett and his wife Brenda. John was a factory supported rider for Cottons based in Gloucester between 1969 and 1972 before securing a semi-works Ossa. He had some great successes on the company’s 220 Minarelli powered model, but realised that he was competing against 250cc machines and made the switch to the Spanish Ossa, Martin Strang taking over Luckett’s Cotton berth.
John F. Luckett was a successful rider in his time and rode the Scottish Six Days several times. He had high finishes in the British Experts and British Championships during his career in trials.
At the 1976 World round at Buckfastleigh, John on the Ossa finished in 20th position on 45 marks, the event was won by Malcolm Rathmell on 17 marks. When you consider that there were 77 finishers at the event, he did very well!
The annual trials school raises money for the charity called ‘Cardiac at Risk in the Young’ or C.R.Y. for short. They do this in memory of their son, Martyn.
For over fifteen years, the Lucketts have made their land, which comprises of twenty acres, available for trials and for trials holidays.
For more details of Hartland / Bikers Rest click here.
Please see the full article on the Lucketts on this page, just scroll further down!
More West Country Action:
More information and photos of trials riding in the South-West to follow in due course.
Links to trials clubs and organisations in the South West of England:
More trials images will be added from time to time, so check back regularly…
Note: As always, please be considerate, the photographs are the legal property of the photographer and should not be displayed unless accompanied by the wording: ‘Copyright: Sarah Turner Photography’.Without this addition, any images broadcast or displayed are in breach of Sarah Turner’s world-wide copyright.
Occasionally Sarah sells her photographs to raise funds for her local ACU centre and club funds.
© – All text copyright: Trials Guru / Moffat Racing, John Moffat – 2015
© – Images: World-wide Copyright Sarah Turner, UK (All Rights Reserved) – 2015.
Trials Guru – Dedicated to the sport of trials… running free!
Scroll further ⇓ down for West Country Trials Articles on The Lucketts and Colin F. Dommett
The Lucketts of North Devon
This article has been amended and adapted by Dave Cole from one that was originally written for the South Western Centre Gazette in 2007 by Mike Naish, with the assistance of Brenda and John Luckett.
Brenda, John and Mike are thanked for their help and kind permission in allowing us to share this piece of South West trials history on Trials Guru.
John Luckett was born in 1946 at West Bucks, North Devon, to a father who loved bikes and motorcycle sport. His dad took him to watch many motorcycle sporting events but one competition and one rider in particular stuck in his mind. That memorable event was a trial in the late 1950’s when John was so impressed with the performance of John Giles, on a Triumph twin, he never forgot that day.
“Gilo” rode up a steepish gully with a step in it with so much ease, he took the section at real pace, seemed to simply lift the front wheel at the step and carried on to clean the section, a section that no-one else was managing to get up, the sound of the exhaust note and the applause from the crowds of spectators was magnificent.
It wasn’t long before John learned to ride himself, the practice bike was a friends old Excelsior which was ridden up and down a “green lane” beside his house. Dad’s A.J.S. road bike was also ridden around the local fields.
On leaving school John went to work for his father who was an agricultural contractor. Dad bought him a 250cc Ambassador twin. John’s first trial was the 1965 “Lands End Trial”, a long distance competition, one of the true classics run by the Motor Cycling Club. For this event he rode a 500 Triumph twin but was sadly forced to retire with mechanical issues.
His second event was the “Lyn Traders Trial”. Once again he rode the big Triumph twin to the start and wondered why all the other riders were looking at him and his bike with a shake of their heads, John, of course, knows now what they were thinking. When he saw the size of the rocks and the river beds, then tried to ride them he realised it was a ‘bridge too far’, he retired after 40 miles.
At this time John owned a 250 Royal Enfield Crusader Sport road machine but the bug had now bitten and he traded this in for a, Villiers 32A engined, Cotton trials machine with leading link forks.
Signing up as a member of the Torridge and District Motor Club, John next rode an Exmoor Club trial where he finished sixth from last but was happy to just to complete the event.
The next trial for John was a Moretonhampstead Club event which was won by Roger Wooldridge, followed by an Exmoor Club event in October 1965 where he proudly won the “Best Novice” Award.
Soon after this the bike was traded in for another Cotton, this time choosing a machine fitted with a Villiers Starmaker motor. John rode the bike in both local trials and in the 1966 M.C.C. “Exeter” Long Distance Trial. In the local one-day events John was now winning Non-Expert Awards.
An ex-Malcolm Evely four-speed Bultaco was the next bike to join the Luckett “stable”, it really transformed John’s riding and he entered the Scottish Six Days Trial. The long journey North (no motorways in those days) was made by four riders from the South West that year, John was joined by Ian Haydon, Mike Sexton and Mervyn Lavercombe. John was forced to retire on the Wednesday, he broke the gear shaft when he hit some rocks then, determined to finish, decided to continue with third gear alone. Scheduled to go over the Corrieyairack Pass, John was a little worried with everyone passing him, he then found the Pass to be closed due to the bad weather and the competitors being diverted the long way around. Eventually the engine seized, obviously over worked and overcooked, due to the lack of gears.
In 1969 John purchased a new Bultaco which he rode to a trouble free Scottish gaining a “Special First Class Award” (All-in-all John rode the Scottish Six Days Trial nine times, retiring twice and gaining “Special First Class Awards” in the remaining seven). At Crediton, on this Bultaco John also won his first Premier at an Open-to-Centre trial. He had by now started to enter and ride the Nationals, the Greensmith, Hoad, Perce Simon, St.Davids, Dulis Valley, Victory etc, not forgetting the West of England of course; he was runner-up to Sammy Miller in the Lyn National.
The next move of machine was to the Cotton factory for a 220cc Minarelli powered machine. He had agreed a sponsorship deal which involved a cut priced machine with the supply of free spares plus a second bike free of charge.
John was to receive £3 for an Open-to-Centre win, £12 for a Regional Restricted and £25 for a National win. John rode the Cottons for two years and secured some very decent results.
1970 was also a great year for South West trials enthusiasts as our team in the Inter Centre Team Trial broke the domination of the Yorkshire Centre in this event. It was the first time the ‘Yorkies’ team had been beaten for quite a number of years, our team being John Luckett, Ian Haydon, Brian Higgins, Alan Dommett and Ian Blackmore. The Team Manager was Jim Courtney.
In the 1971 Scottish John was ninth on the leader board and only lost four marks on the Thursday. He even had a crack at the tough Scott Trial and was happy to pick up a finishers award. John was also runner-up to his local rival, Brian Higgins, in the Victory Trial the year that Brian won it, either 1971 or 1972.
In the 1972 Scottish John thought the engine was tightening so was taking it easy, then when he looked down at the rear wheel he realised that the frame was twisted, the rear brake was mangled and the rear hub appeared to be cracking up. By the time John reached ‘Pipeline’ he was fifty-nine minutes behind time, just one minute to spare as sixty minutes behind schedule meant that you were out.
At the end of the day a wheel was borrowed from a Northern dealer, this wheel was used by John all week before swapping back to his re-built original (complete with the correct rim paint) before the finish in Edinburgh – He finished that event with a special First Class Award.
At the end of 1972 John wanted to finish with Cotton as he felt the bike was less competitive, the Managing Director of Cotton, Reg Buttery, tried his hardest to keep him, he even suggested that John take the bike to California to demonstrate it. John thought a lot of Reg Buttery and didn’t want to let him down but after a lot of thought and consideration, taking into account matters like family and family business commitments etc he decided that the time had come to move on and handed his bike back to the Cotton factory. Martin Strang went ‘over the pond’ to California for Cotton in place of John.
Bob Gollner became John’s next sponsor, for Bob, John rode a Mick Whitlock framed Ossa, after which he again changed camps riding this time for Ossa U.K. which was run by Roger Holden. Ossa were very supportive and, from 1974 on, John had a new bike every year. He recorded many successful rides and enjoyed the bikes except for the 350 when it was launched. John was supplied with a 350 but it wasn’t long before he handed it back and returned to a 250.
Brenda and John, who had first met in 1967, were married in 1974, John’s best man being his good friend and rival in sport, Ian Haydon.
Amongst his many memories, John remembers riding the notorious Scott Trial for a second time, this time he finished within the first ten on observation but lost a lot of marks on time. Also etched in his memory is the climax of the 1974 season when he and Brian Higgins were neck-and-neck going into the last round of the South Western Centre Trials Championship, at the final section of the day John needed a ‘clean’ to pick up the title – sadly he had an unlucky ‘three’ forcing him to accept, once again, the runner-up spot.
Next came the ‘mono-shock’ versions, although John found them a bit heavy he continued to ride for Ossa until 1978 before handing the bike back.
By this time John had been married to Brenda for about four years, son Nick had been born the year before and the business was very busy. He decided that it was time to stop riding the “National’s” and next bought a 325cc Bultaco from Alan Dommett. Family life and business commitments led to John giving up riding altogether in 1980, this was also around the time that daughter Charlotte was born.
Brenda and John were also blessed with the birth of a second son, Martyn in 1986. Business commitments forced John’s continued retirement from trials until 1987 when he returned with a Triumph Tiger Cub competing in Pre’65 events. He immediately started producing some magnificent results, his performance in the Exmoor Three Day Trial that year was a good example.
1988 saw him with more great results, which included winning both of the two major West-country classics, the Exmoor Three Day Classic Trial (a two day event these days) and the Dartmoor Two Day Classic Trial.
In the early 90’s John won the Pre’65 Championship with son, Nick, winning the Twin-shock Championship the same year. He also rode twice in the Pre’65 Scottish Trial on the Cub, the second time he finished second to Dave Thorpe and always remembers a really good clean of ‘Pipeline’.
Although only a rare Pre’65 rider these days John does continue to turn out and enjoy long distance road trials where you can be sure his name will be placed well when the results are published. These days John’s time is spent tending his sheep, helping son, Nick, with his business and, with Brenda, running the farm which includes holiday accommodation that includes plenty of trials practice area within their 20 acres of woodland.
John’s S.W. Centre Solo Trials Championship History –
John, a quiet and capable man, who was a superb rider, was just, more than a little, unlucky as far as the South Western Centre Solo Trials Championships were concerned, he never did manage to win the Championship but it wasn’t for the lack of trying, he was always a close contender finishing each season as follows:-
1968 3rd Best, 1969 3rd Best, 1970 Runner-up, 1971 3rd Best, 1972 3rd Best, 1973 Runner-up, 1974 Runner-up, 1975 3rd Best, 1976 3rd Best, 1977 Runner-up, 1978 3rd Best & 1979 3rd Best.
These are, without doubt, really impressive placings due to the fact that he competed for the Centre Championships during an era when he had some really brilliant riders as opposition, the likes of Roger Wooldridge, Ian Haydon, Brian Higgins, Mike Sexton, Martin Strang, Ian Blackmore, Mike Rapley, Ivan Pridham, Alan Dommett, Allan Baker, etc, all competing on their top form.
Brenda’s Trials School –
“Brenda’s Trials School”, as it has become known as, was developed from the training weekends first run by Elaine Baker and Rob Doran of the Lyn Club. When problems with land were encountered, the Luckett’s offered to run the event from their Lower Wembsworthy Farm. ACU Centre Official, Malcolm Redstone, suggested to Brenda and John that if they applied for a grant from the South Western Centre, the ACU would probably match it. The successful application was made via the Torridge Club in 1992.
Over the years the training school has gone from strength to strength and been lucky enough to have seen many of the country’s top trials riders attend as instructors, one regular instructor these days is of course Joe Baker, 15 times South West Centre Champion, who was himself one of the very first pupils of “Brenda’s Trials School”.
Originally the proceeds of the training school went to the charity CLIC because Brenda had a friend whose child had Leukaemia. This continued until 2005 when, following the sad loss of their own son, Martyn Luckett, who passed away suddenly in his sleep, Brenda and John decided to split all money raised with the charity CRY, Cardiac Risk in the Young.
As Martyn died very suddenly of Myocarditis, a heart condition undiagnosed at the time, his Memorial Fund now raises money to hold screenings in the North Devon area. Six screening sessions have been held to date, three in Bude, one in Bideford, two in Barnstaple. John and Brenda have raised a lot of money since losing Martyn, their hope is that the hard work and effort that they put into this project will try to stop losses, similar to theirs, happening to other families.
Martyn was a lovely guy, full of fun and a fabulous rider who quickly and easily gained Expert status, had he not passed away at the tender age of 19 he would surely have gone on to make a real name for himself in the world of trials.
The trials school started with 8 or 10 riders (Joe Baker included) and is now so popular that it caters for an entry in excess of 70 with entrants coming from as far away as Yorkshire. The weekend provides top class and valuable instruction to the entrants, plus raises a lot of money for the Martyn Luckett Memorial Fund (probably near to £3,000). John and Brenda are ever thankful to the trainers who attend along with their regular loyal band of helpers who put so much into helping to ensure the success of the weekend.
Due to the immense amount of work involved in organising and running the annual weekend John and Brenda, after a lot of thought and soul searching, have sadly decided that next year will see the final ‘Brenda’s Trial’s School’.
During the time the school has been running so much good has been done with the money raised and so many riders have received some of the best possible training that is available in the country.
We can only sincerely thank the Luckett family and their band of helpers for all they have done, sometimes under very difficult circumstances, and wish them the very best of luck and happiness for the future.
© – Article: Lucketts of North Devon – Text copyright: David Cole / Mike Naish – 2015
© – Layout and Publishing: Trials Guru/Moffat Racing/John Moffat 2015
More Articles below ⇓
Colin F. Dommett
Totally committed to motorcycle sport for six decades! – By David Cole
Commentating at a the North Devon Atlantic Classic Scramble Club meeting at Combe Martin a couple of weeks ago, for the last time, was Colin Dommett, one of the country’s best known, well respected and most knowledgeable men in off-road motorcycling.
Can we really believe he’s retiring? That’s not meant in any unkind or rude way, it’s just that Colin has been there, keeping us entertained and updated, on matters concerning our sport, both nationally and in particular the South Western and Cornwall Centres, for over 60 years – no doubt longer than many of us can remember.
Colin was born in Devon in 1940; he spent his early years near Broadhempston, between Newton Abbot and Totnes, on the land farmed by his father.
The first trial he witnessed was when he was six years old, a section of the annual West of England National Trial, “The Open” as it was known in those days, which was very near to the family home (I assume that this would have been 1946, the first running of this event after the war, Jim Alves of Street in Somerset won the trial on a ‘works’ 348cc Triumph). This event must have had a lasting effect on Colin, although he was upset by the noise of the bikes at the time.
At the age of eight Colin moved, with his parents to Cornwall and during the six weeks summer holiday from school he regularly stayed with an uncle on his farm near Axminster in East Devon. Whilst enjoying these holidays his cousin’s, who both owned motorbikes, took Colin to Exeter Speedway, local Scrambles and Road Race meetings at Blandford Camp and Castle Coombe, these he really enjoyed and made him decide that when he was old enough he would have a bike.
The bug had by now well and truly bitten and as Colin grew he attended as many Cornish trials and scrambles as he could get to. Too young to drive, of course, he either cycled or scrounged lifts to events from his local competitors, Ally Clift being one of the regulars.
When he was about fourteen years of age Motor Cycle News was formed (many years before Trials & MX News appeared) and Colin managed to persuade the Editor to give him the position of “Sports Reporter” for Cornwall. Colin was so keen he was a natural and continued to report for MCN until 1964.
When Colin left school he went to work for W.H.Collins motorcycle shop in Truro, riding his first trial at Colwith Farm, Par, in 1957 riding a Triumph Tiger Cub. It was a week later that Colin won his first award, the event was a ‘Time Trial’ (marked on time and observation) and he picked up a first-class award for his efforts which immediately upgraded his status to ‘Expert’.
The Cub, like all Cub’s of that era, proved pretty unreliable and it wasn’t long before he changed to a 197cc A.C.S. (Ally Clift Special), a Villiers powered bike which proved very reliable and took Colin to his first Open-to-Centre win in the East Cornwall Club’s ‘Kings of Oxford Trophy’ Trial plus many other awards, as well as representing the Centre in Inter-Centre Team Trial in Wales.
It was around this time that Colin took up scrambling, again he proved to be a natural, riding a 250 Sundry (Sun/Villiers with a Vale Onslow conversion) as well as a few outings on Ally Clift’s (Collins sponsored) BSA Gold Star. Now competing in both trials and scrambles his successes continued.
In 1960 Colin bought a new Cotton trials bike and rode it from the factory in Gloucestershire, where it was built, back to his home in Truro. He immediately won five out of his first six trials on this new bike and it was not long before he was offered a ‘Works Team’ contract with the Cotton concern.
Due to a back injury whilst racing in 1963 which, more or less coincided with marriage, Colin decided to call it a day as far as scrambling was concerned and concentrate on trials.
For Pat Onions and the Cotton concern Colin rode all the important National Trials and British Championship Rounds. Covering these events meant an awful lot of travelling from deepest Cornwall so in 1964 Colin secured a job with Westbury Motorcycles in Bristol positioning him a little more centrally and thereby easing the travelling.
After only a couple of weeks with Westbury, during a trip to collect spares form the Cotton factory, Colin was offered a job there, how could he possibly turn it down, they were already supplying him with a bike and spares, geographically he would be perfectly placed and he had two of the best riders of that era, Malcolm and Tony Davis as travelling companions at weekends.
Colin spent the next two and a half years working for Cotton before deciding to move back to Cornwall. Factory wages were low but it was an invaluable and thoroughly enjoyable experience for Colin, he even got involved in things like testing the ‘works’ road race machines with people like Derek Minter.
Back in Cornwall and back to his old job Colin rode W.H. Collins sponsored Spanish bikes until 1970 when he acquired a 175cc Greeves Pathfinder.
He was then offered a 250cc Bultaco and sponsorship from David Paul. Dommett and the Bultaco saw a great many wins during the following season.
In 1968 Colin was selected to ride for the British Vase Squad in the International Six Days Trial (The Olympics of Motorcycling), for the event in Italy he rode a Husqvarna,
in 1969 as a British Trophy Team member in Germany he competed on a 504cc Triumph and again in 1970 at El Escorial near Madrid, Spain on a 504cc Cheney Triumph, all three events ended in misery, with mechanical failures for Colin, and the dream of a Gold Medal gone.
At the ISDT in 1970, his front fork sliders parted company from the forks, minutes before Colin had been reaching speeds of close to 100 mph, a lucky escape!
1971 saw Colin miss the ISDT selection tests due to a shoulder injury. The determination to succeed remained and the name C.F.Dommett appeared in the programme as a private entry, the Trial that year was held on the Isle of Man where Colin, riding a Bultaco, finally achieved his ambition by winning a coveted and well deserved gold medal.
Solo trials continued for Colin as did the successes, Colin has won the Cornwall Centre (Solo) Trials Championship, ten times.
In 1975, looking for a new challenge Colin teamed up with Eric Chamberlain for a crack at side-car trials. Their first outing on their home-built RL250 Suzuki was in mid May in the Pendennis ‘Open-to-Centre’ side-car trial; they did not figure in the results but felt they had a pretty good ride.
At the end of May the pair decided to play with the “big boys” and entered the Lyn National Trial. Despite competing against a good many of the country’s best side-car crews Colin and Eric finished in the top half of the results. The Lyn Club had also organised a ‘Closed-to-Club’ event the following day for which many of the previous day’s competitors stopped over to partake. This event saw the first of many victory’s for the Dommett / Chamberlain pairing.
Sharp-eyed Alec Wright had spotted the couple’s progress and offered them a new Kawasaki KT250 outfit, after a test ride the couple agreed without hesitation, which set them up ready to start the season in the winter of 1975.
Within the next six months Colin and Eric had accrued a multitude of wins including the British Experts, the Southern Experts and the Cornish Centre side-car championship.
The 1976 season saw the Cornish Champions start the season on the Kawasaki before changing to a Mick Whitlock framed, Suzuki RL powered Whitehawk outfit, a very smart bike and a machine that they skilfully piloted to win the British Championship in 1976, ’77 & ‘78 plus, to top it all, “the holy grail” was reached, Colin and Eric were crowned European Side-car Trials Champions in 1977.
Eric decided to call it a day at the end of ’78 which meant that Colin started the 1979 season on a new bike, a Comerfords Bultaco, with full factory backing, and a new passenger, Rob Clift.
Their season went well finishing the British Championship in fourth place. For the 1980 season Eric made a comeback for the important events which saw the pairing once again win the British Championship title that year.
Colin now decided to call it a day as far as Side-car Trials Championships were concerned, although he did continue to ride solo trials and had the odd outing within the Cornish Centre, with an outfit and with Rob Clift in the chair.
1990 saw Colin’s return to scrambling, choosing to ride Pre’65 events on a Triumph engined Metisse on which he had many successful outings, proving he’d lost none of his old magic.
In the year 2000 at the age of 60, Colin decided to once again, retire from scrambling and concentrate on his solo trials career.
Colin lives in the Tiverton area of Devon these days and the last fifteen years have seen him continuing to ride to a very high standard, taking many trials honours whilst campaigning a 250cc Cotton, a 270cc BSA C15 plus more recently, turning to a 185cc BSA Bantam – a lovely machine which is very much in demand in trials circles these days.
Colin’s current riding career is centred mainly around the West Country, although he still makes the odd trip to compete in events like the Isle of Man Two Day Trial.
At the time of writing, August 2015, Colin sits comfortably in second position in the South Western Centre Pre 65 Trials Championship, trailing the current leader, Neil Hammersley, by just one point.
Two years ago Colin rode the last of his Scottish Pre 65 events, a trial he has always loved and performed well in, this being the most famous and prestigious Pre 65 Trial in the world, an event that Colin is proud to say that has previously been won by his son Scott.
Always an active member of his clubs, repaying a sport that he has for so long enjoyed, mucking in with all that it takes to organise and laying on motorcycle sporting events,
Colin has been made an Honorary Member of the Cornwall Centre, is the Chairman of the South Western Centre, Chairman of the South West Classic Trials Association, a committee member of the Tiverton Motor Club and is in much demand wherever a motorcycle sporting function is held.
Colin’s knowledge of the sport, its history and its participants is second to none; in most cases “he’s been there, done that and got the ‘T’ shirt”.
For their immense help, friendship and enthusiasm Colin and wife Greta were thanked during a presentation made by Chris Dawson, on behalf of the Club, which took place during a break in the second day’s racing. We feel sure that we speak for all when we wish Colin many more years of success and enjoyment within the sport, and, along with his wonderful and ever supportive wife, Greta, good luck and a peaceful life in their new home. – David Cole
Trials Guru on Colin Dommett:
I first came across Colin Dommett when I was spectating at the Scottish in 1975 on Ben Nevis sections. My late father and I were standing watching the action when Colin lost control of his 250 Ossa (234CFD) when he lost his footing on a rock. Colin and the Ossa hit the deck, my quick acting father then proceeded to pick the machine up, only problem was – he was at the front of the bike and of course unwittingly opened the throttle – fully when he thought he was shutting it closed! The Ossa simply took off like a rocket and promptly wound my father round the nearest tree!
Colin scrambled to his feet to attempt a rescue of his wayward machine. The look on Colin’s face said it all – he was not impressed in the slightest!
When Colin had composed himself and rode off, my father turned round, looked me straight in the eye and said… “Never pick a bike up facing it” Those within earshot burst out laughing.
Colin and I jointly ‘fronted’ the Pre’65 Scottish awards presentation at Kinlochleven for many years and we had great fun doing our double-act at the highland classic event.
I keep in touch with Colin regularly.
Colin F. Dommett is a dyed in the wool motorcyclist, a champion, a true enthusiast and I am proud to be his friend. – John Moffat
© – Article: Colin Dommett – Text copyright: David Cole – 2015
© – Images: Brian Catt, Edgware
© – Layout and Publishing: Trials Guru/Moffat Racing/John Moffat 2015
‘Up Memory Lane’ – South West Trials Reunion 2015 By Dave Cole
Trials riders, organisers and observers, from both the past and the present, gathered at the Fingle Glen Golf Hotel, Tedburn St.Mary, near Exeter on Friday the 9th October to enjoy the “Up Memory Lane” reunion lunch.
This function is organised once every two years, with this being the 7th edition of the popular get-together, it is organised by the South West Classic Trials Association.
The 102 attendees were met in the reception area and were welcomed by Jeannette Dommett and Jean Squire, two young ladies who have been around our sport long enough to be well known to almost all of the guests as they arrived.
As each competitor “signed-on” they were issued with their name badge. This might sound a little unnecessary or “over the top” but I can assure you that with the majority of guests being involved in the sport during the 1950’s and 1960’s era, some not seeing each other for many years, recognition is sometimes a little difficult. Many have lost a little hair, some have gained, maybe, a little weight; others have possibly become reliant on spectacles etc. All-in-all the badges prove to be a god-send for this type of occasion.
Once old friends are reunited over a drink and a chat all are invited to gather outside for a group photograph, a great way to remember such an occasion, SWCTA Treasurer, Mike Naish, was on hand with his camera.
An enjoyable three course lunch was next on the agenda followed by the Master of Ceremonies, Alan Dommett, officially welcoming everyone and reading out a list of ‘apologies of absence’ that had been received. He then continued by remembering old friends who are sadly no longer with us since our last gathering, two years ago.
The list of recently lost friends remembered by Alan included Pete Thompson, one of the founders of the “Up Memory Lane” function and a former Devonport and District Club member who competed successfully in trials, scrambles and enduro’s, Bill Hartnell, the organiser of the reunion for the previous four occasions. Bill was one of the main-stays of the Taunton Club for many years, the Secretary and Treasurer of the South West Classic Trials Association and served the South Western Centre Management Committee in many different positions of trust and honour over the years. Max King, Trials rider, radio broadcaster, journalist and enthusiast of all forms of motor sport. Max is probably best known for his book ‘Trials Riding’, which was the first book dedicated to our sport ever to be written. Jim Finlay, an accomplished trials rider who also worked tirelessly for his Otter Vale Club for many years. Jim worked really hard setting out trials, cutting out sections etc and always had a smile and a quiet welcome at the ready.
It was now time to welcome the first of three guest speakers; this honour fell to Mike Hann of the Yeo Vale Club. Mike, as a former technical college teacher, spoke very confidently and amusingly about his interesting 60 years of grass track racing, scrambling and trials riding.
A career that included gaining awards in twelve SSDT’s and awards in six Pre 65 Scottish events as well as continuing to the present day, picking up awards on an almost weekly basis.
Mike’s performance was followed by Reg Squire, a former Crediton Club member. Reg, now in his 80’s, told the amazinging story of his 60 odd years long riding career which included scrambling, motocross and trials riding before, at the age of 78, taking up road racing, something which he continues to do. Reg’s race bike, a RS125 Honda, a genuine Grand Prix machine in its day, was also on display at the function.
The final speaker was John Bassett, a former trials rider who spoke of his involvement in the organisation of all forms of motorcycle sport in the Cornwall Centre for more years than most of us can remember. He reminded us of just how diverse the Cornwall Centre events have been over the years with scrambles, trials, grass track, hill climbs, gymkhana’s, speedway and road racing. He also told a tale or two, including the story of how Colin Dommett’s boots got to be thrown off the Tamar Bridge!
All three speakers were sincerely thanked for sharing their tales, all are real gentlemen, they are all quiet and very polite in manner and all have a mass of sporting knowledge behind them combined with bucket loads of experience and a mass of enthusiasm for our sport.
Derek Cheesbrough, a founder of the reunion along with the late Pete Thompson, presented two special awards, one for the furthest traveled to attend the reunion, this went to Richard Baker who had traveled down from Surrey. The second award was for the oldest guest (who had not won the award in previous years) this went to the President of the Devonport & District Motor Cycle Club, 85 year old Ivan Pridham of Plymouth.
Outside on the grass was a small display of period motorcycles. As already mentioned we saw Reg Squire’s RS125 Honda Road Racer, there was also the Ex Pete Thompson 500 Triumph (Roy Peplow replica) twin which is now owned by Ivan Pridham, plus Gary Kinsman’s very smart HT500 replica.
Nick Hunt’s very original looking 1960 Greeves Scottish 201cc plus Clive Causer’s two AJS machines a very original looking 350 rigid and one of the now rare 250AT models produced in 1969.
Also on displayed were just over eighty photographs of local riders from the 1950’s to 1970’s. As most of the pictured riders were in attendance at ‘Up Memory Lane’ there were a great many tales to be told with happy memories rekindled.
Thanks to Jeannette Dommett, the Reunion Secretary, and her helpers most guests thought the event to be the best of these popular functions to date, certainly the attendance numbers seem to keep rising, and all said they looked forward to meeting up again at Fingle Glen, where the venue has already been re-booked for two years time.
© – Article: Text copyright: David Cole – 2016
© – Images: Mike Naish
© – Layout and Publishing: Trials Guru/Moffat Racing/John Moffat 2016
Video clip from Camborne Redruth Trial in the 1970s:
More West Country Trials photos below ⇓
Tiverton Hookway Trial, November 1978 – By Mike Rapley
For more West Country images over the years, why not take a look at:
Recalled By Rappers – By Mike Rapley
Chloe Cross – Trials in the family!
Five minutes with Chloe Cross.
Chloe Cross is nineteen years old and lives in Bristol with her mother Karen Braunton and brother, James. This is her third year competing in trials sport.
Chloe: “My first trial was the Wells Miller Cup Trial at Binegar Quarry near Wells. I took up riding trials because my family are real enthusiasts of the sport. My Granddad, Frederick Cross was involved in trials for many years as a rider, organiser and landowner. The Sammy Miller Trial was held on Tithe Barn where he lived. The National Tuck / Cross Side-car Trial was partly named in his honour”.
“I guess I was inspired by my Dad, Jeremy Cross, who has ridden trials since he was a schoolboy, competing in the Scottish Six Days and the Scott time and observation trial as well as many national events. He is secretary of the Wells and District Trials Club. My brother, James rides trials, enduro and motocross and my younger sister Tabitha competes in show jumping, but has recently been riding my bike so there might be another trials rider in the family soon”.
Chloe rides mainly in the Wessex and South West ACU Centres. Her favourite club is Somerton, she finds it a friendly club with some great venues and pays tribute to their beginners’ route, which she found very encouraging for a rider starting out in the sport.
Chloe: I think I have inspired a couple of girls to start riding in our centre and it is really nice to see them competing. The men and boys who ride, help us out a lot which I’m always very grateful for as sometimes due to work commitments I have to ride without my Dad being there.
Chloe works over forty-five hours a week for the Highcroft Vets in Bristol & Bath, who also sponsor her with tyres and some parts for which she is very grateful.
Chloe: “I don’t really have any other hobbies other than swimming in the morning before work and keeping fit at the gym two to three evenings a week. My ambitions for trials are to ride as much as I can as I love riding my Gas Gas 125 and just see where it takes me. I’d like to move up a class in the British Championships next year but my priority is to have fun.
I love trials because I meet lots of great people visit beautiful places and get to ride my bike every weekend”.
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7 thoughts on “West Country Trials – UK”
Awsum photos what sort camera were they taken with
Hey John they re taken with FUJIFILM X-T10 mirrorless SLR with 16-50mm lens.
Sarah excellent pictures
Thank you John Wilkinson.
Excellent photos and write ups ,
So good to see Mike Hann after 40 years . He was riding a Talon Mickmar last time I talked to him. He lent me his ‘ Cub to do car park duty at Norton sub Hamdon scramble . I was a 14 year old wannabe then . How time flys by . Wonderfull memories . Mike Appleton .
PEI Canada .
Wow what a great trek down memory lane, thank you. So many familiar names! I rode Southern and southwestern centres 75 76 with Mike Hann also on a Talon Mickmar and on an Ossa with Martin Strang.
Kevin Cronin Ontario Canada now riding Honda TLR and EM.
Hi Kevin . Yes I remember you from those days , along with Paul Feltham and younger Nibs Kellet . My Trials professor was Reg White from Stoke Sub Hamdon in Somerset . My four speed Sherpa T was purchased from John Lawley in 1973 .
Won my only Cup at the Sturminster Newton Trial . Best Beginner .
Such wonderful times and I still ride regularly . I trust Canada has been as good to you as to myself .
Best Regards to you . Mike A . PEI .
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