Film ID: YFA 1506 Video of YFA 1506 Darlington motor club Scott motorcycle trials 1951-1954 DARLINGTON MOTOR CLUB SCOTT MOTORCYCLE TRIALS 1951-1954 Visitor TabsDescription This is a collection of four films of the Darlington Scott Motorcycle Trials taking place in Swaledale in North Yorkshire, part of the C.H. Wood collection of films. It covers the trials over four years, with the last two films having a humorous audio commentary. Title - The Scott Trial 1951 Photography by C H Wood and F Hill The film opens showing heavy rain falling into a puddle, and then a waterfall coming down a mountain with people sitting on the grass. Lots of people are crowded on a field among parked cars and motorcycles. Motorcycles are lined up ready for the race to begin, with numbers 63, 62 and 64 lined up in front. The film shows some of the riders close up. Many of the riders are wearing flat caps, many others without any headgear. The riders make their way up to the starting position in single file and a man with a clip board and stop watch sets them underway, one at a time, at regular intervals. They ride off going over heavy mud, using their legs for balance and to help the bikes along. One gets a push from a bystander, another gets off and pushes his bike. A crowd lines the path as they make their way onto an open field. One rider overtakes another who has a smoky engine. A sign states, 'Only 50 more miles'. The riders make their way along a rocky mountain stream, with spectators watching from the side. They all struggle on the rough terrain, with one bike falling into the water. They leave the stream to go onto dry land only to have to cross another further along. On another section they have to navigate a narrow path through steep grass sides. One or two get a helping hand from spectators. They go over moorland and descend to another stream which they ride along under a bridge. Then up over the moors being directed by stewards. Coming down the side of a steep hill, again they have to negotiate very rocky terrain. They cross a fairly deep and fast flowing stream at the bottom. Having crossed the stream they have to make their way up a steep twisting track. One rider gets stuck going up the hill and gets assistance from several others, and the one behind gets off his bike to push it up. Next is a woman rider on number 125. Another rider crashes off the slippery path, and blows a kiss at the camera before picking up his bike to resume. Other riders also have to stop for help. One rider makes great progress before his momentum runs out and he tumbles off just near the top. A steward and another rider inspect his bike as it lies on the bank, with the rider lying next to it. Another rider gets off his bike and gets a helping push. Meanwhile another rider stands by his prostrate bike waiting for assistance. The riders then enter another section of the race passing along a gentle stream lined with trees. One rider stops and huffs, and the following one needs assistance to get up the steep bank. As they come out they pass a sign that states, 'Only 50 more yards'. The riders then speed through to the finishing line. The back of one rider, covered in mud, is shown. The riders that have finished chat with each other either standing or sitting on their bikes. One of the first is a riders in a polo-neck jumper, Geoff Dukes, has a hot drink. End note - Extracts from the film you have just seen appear with commentary by Allan Jefferies in the Bradford & District Motor Club's new sound film, 'Observed Section'. Title - The Scott Trial 1953 The film begins at the starting line with an older competitor waiting for the start, joking with spectators and other riders stood nearby. He gets the go-ahead and a steward drops a Union Jack to signal him off. The riders make their way down a steep incline in a field and through a gap in a crumbling stone wall. Intertitle - Hell Holes A sign states, 'Observed Section Begins, Motor Cycling'. Having crossed a brook, the riders go up a steep rocky incline. One of them requires a helping hand from a steward and spectators, one of whom is filming. A couple of riders get their wheels stuck in a rock trying to get through a narrow path. Intertitle - Hurst The riders then make their way along a stream where cars are parked. Some of the spectators are wearing army uniform. There is a banner besides the brook proclaiming, 'Avon'. Several bikers fall into the water. A man is filmed filming the bikers as they pass. They then cross a stream at another point and go up a steep hill, with several requiring assistance as they come off their bikes. The End Photography by C W Wood, Bradford. Title - The Darlington Sporting Trial (audio commentary) On a sunny day, riders are gathered around their parked bikes waiting for the trial to start. Some riders and spectators queue at an ices van, 'Rocco Rea'. The riders have their jackets off, showing their long waterproof leggings. The Organiser, Mr Winter, explains the route to Centre Secretary Mr Whittaker. The trial gets underway crossing a shallow part of the River Swale, with observers watching from a nearby bridge, with at least one competitor, S Clarke, falling in. On the other side they ascend a steep hill, including rider S Barratt, and then descend a very rocky incline, with one of the riders in a suit and tie. Then on to a country road, past a house where some spectators sit and watch. Stan Holmes, the winner, passes two women leaning against a fence on a Triumph. A rider emerges over a hill as the film come to an end. Title - The Scott Trial (audio commentary) The commentary informs us that the trials for this year have moved to somewhere else in North Yorkshire, with a record number of competitors and helpers. A crowd of people are thronged around a bike near a Norton van in the car park for the Scott Trial. Riders are doing last minute maintenance to their bikes. The commentator and Charlie Helm can both be seen. Eventually the riders get themselves ready for the off. The Mayor of Richmond is stood by the starting steward ready to wave them off. The steward seems to have some sort of electronic timing device. The riders are waved off, one them, six-times world champion Geoff Duke, recognisable from 1951 (when he wore a roll neck pullover). Also seen is Stanley Woods, TT winner 1923. As they cross a river a sign states, 'Observed Section Begins, Motor Cycling'. They have to go along part of the river for 50 yards, which is quite deep, keeping within the boundary wires, before leaving, at 'hell holes', to climb up a steep bank, with steam coming off the hot exhausts. Many riders are named, including Tom Ellis, Stewart Hislop, John Midgley and the winner, Bill Nicholson. A large crowd is there to watch the riders make their way up the rocky path, many of them falling off as they try to negotiate a narrow path next to a dry stone wall, with Don Evans coming off. They continue across a field past a sign that reads, 'Danger Unexploded Bombs. Keep Out'. They go high up over the moors, and pass another sign saying, 'Danger, Main Road'. Bill Nicholson leads over one of the long mountain climbs, closely followed by John Draper, Stanley Woods and Rex Young. A couple of riders go up and down a steep incline, including Geoff Duke on a hybrid Norton Dominator, past a woman steward standing next to a parked Matchless. The bikes emerge onto the road and past the finishing line. Tom Ellis's Royal Enfield is shown caked in mud. The film then switches to see the commentator sat in his audio studio. He lists some of the famous riders who have ridden in the Yorkshire Trials. He states that if any is dissatisfied with the commentary, they should recall the famous Yorkshireman's motto, which he recites: "hear all, see all, say nowt". Produced and Photographed by C W Wood Bradford & District Motor Club The End Context This is one of a very large collection of films made by film production company C. H. Wood of Bradford: over 3,000 films and videos dating back to 1915. This highly significant collection is of immense value, and especially for Yorkshire. Charles Wood senior was a notable gas engineer, gaining an OBE in the 1880s. Rather remarkably, he designed Moscow’s gas system after the 1917 revolution. His son, Charles Harold Wood, set up the company of C. H. Wood’s in the 1920s. Charles was employed by both Pathé and Gaumont as a cameraman for the northern region. C. H. Wood specialised in aerial photography and filming. Charles used the expertise he had developed through his aerial photography to good effect during the Second World War when he pioneered infra-red lenses, used by the Dambusters, and for which he too earned an OBE – see Flying 1 & 2 (1928-33). His sons, David and Malcolm Wood, took over the company, which was for a time known as ‘Wood Visual Communications’. The company closed down in 2002. See the Context for The Magnet Cup 1960 for more on C. H. Wood. Harold Wood started life as an engineer for the Scott Motor Company, in Bradford, both as a fitter and as a test rider for motorcycles – there is a photo of Harold Wood riding a Scott motorcycle in the 1924 Scott trial for the Armitage & Wilkinson Trophy on the Richmond Motor Club website. Motorcycling became a passion, captaining the Yorkshire team at national and international competitions. It was only natural that when he went into making films in 1922 he specialised in filming motorcycle racing and trials. He would sometimes mount a 16mm cine camera on the front of his motorcycle. He once explained. “A cameraman who is himself a rider can anticipate what will happen on a specific trial section. He’ll know when to press the button to get the best effect, the main secret of motorcycle filming is to introduce humour.” Well, as can be seen in these films, he certainly succeeds in all respects – see also The Scott Trial (1946). The company accumulated the world’s greatest collection of motorbike racing film. His son David also cut his teeth in filmmaking when filming the Scott Trials, working as a sound recordist aged just 11; which would have been in 1954, working on the 1954 Isle of Man TT races, and so he may well have been involved in the last film here. David went on to make many moto cross films himself, winning several awards, including first prize at the Italian Motorsport Film Festival in Rome in 1978 for Mikkola – Motor Cross Master. He also won an award from the British Industrial and Scientific Film Association and awards at Cannes and Bologna. Any racing of motorcycles was forced to be off road as the Motor Car Act of 1903 imposed a 20mph speed limit (not lifted until 1930, when all speed restrictions were removed) – the Isle of Man TT races started as a direct result of this, being outside this legislation. The American Ed Youngblood provides a good summary of the early years: “A course was laid out over the rugged northern English terrain, including bogs, rocky sections, and stream crossings. While top speed was not the objective of the event, a time limit was included, requiring participants to move briskly from one observed section to the next, where their ability to negotiate obstacles was judged and scored. The victor was the rider who completed the course with the fewest mistakes in the shortest period of time.” He goes on to quote historian Bryan Stealey, writing in Racer X Illustrated, “Scrambling was quickly recognized as the next big thing on both sides of the English Channel. The French seized the new form of motorcycling and gave it a slight makeover, shortening the tracks and adding laps and a few man-made obstacles like jumps. They also changed the name to ‘moto-cross’ – a combination of ‘motorcycle’ and ‘cross country.’” So, British scrambling became big on the Continent, especially in Belgium where the second staging of the Motocross des Nations at La Fraineuse attracted 30,000 spectators. Wood was perfectly placed to film the Scott motorcycle trials which were started in 1914 by the founder of the Scott Motorcycle Company, Alfred Scott. Scott was a member of the Bradford Motor Cycle Club, which was formed at an inaugural meeting of forty people on the 12th February 1907 at the Royal Hotel in Darley Street. Harold Wood and his brother also later become prominent members. The Scott Trial began when Scott issued a challenge to his workers to ride from the factory in Shipley through the Yorkshire Dales on a prescribed route to Bumsall. Of the 14 starters only 9 finished. With the outbreak of the First World War, 1914 was hardly the best time to start an annual event, but the trials resumed after the war in 1919, and were run by the workers themselves when Alfred Scott died in 1923. The event was given the official title of the Southern Scott Scramble in 1924, leading the American Ed Youngblood to claim that, “on March 29, 1924, the motorcycle sport of scrambling was born”. In 1926 Bradford & District Motor Club took over the event, moving the start and finish to Blubberhouses. According to the Darlington & District Motor Club the trial was moved to Swainby in Cleveland in 1938 due to the loss of land in the Dales. At this point the running of the event passed into the hands of the Middlesbrough & Stockton Motor Clubs. It then transferred to the Darlington & District Motor Club in 1950, moving to Swaledale – where it has remained since –after the ACU split the area into the North Eastern Centre and the Yorkshire Centre. In 1990 the Richmond Motor Club took over the running of the event. Having started his own film production company, Harold Wood filmed many motorcycle events from the 1920s onwards, often for newsreels like Topical Budget, Pathé Pictorial, Gaumont Graphic and Empire News Bulletin. He filmed the Ilkley motocross trials between 1929 and 1935, and the Allan Jefferies Trophy Trial when it started in 1947. By the early 1990s C. H. Woods had over 400 films to their credit, including commissions for Norton, BSA, Triumph, Honda and Yamaha. During the 1950s British riders had strong competition from Belgians, and later the Swedes, yet motorcycles were Great Britain's third-largest source of export income, surpassed only by automobiles and whiskey – with BSA becoming the largest motorcycle manufacturer in the world. The motorcycles that took part in the races were usually, although sometimes modified, the same as what could be bought for riding on roads. This, together with the predominance of the motorcycle over the car for many at this time, meant that large crowds would come to these events. Doubtless many of the riders would have been trained as dispatch riders during the war – see Dear Sergeant or the Story of Rough Riding Motorcycling Course (1944). Women riders too, as seen here, wouldn’t have been that uncommon, British Pathé shows several competing in the 1926 International Motorcycle Trials. In 1951 it was won by Bill Nicholson, riding a BSA, and who had won it on four previous occasions since the end of the war – not the same as that other Yorkshireman, the more famous Tottenham manager, who at the time was playing in the legendary Spurs ‘push and run’ side. He also won the British Championship the same year. Apart from his riding skills Nicholson also made several important design changes to his motorcycle in the preceding years (he later left BSA to take a development job at Jaguar). The endurance nature of the event is seen in the fact that it took Nicholson near on four hours to complete the course in that year – he is seen in the film passing under a bridge (at 8m 40 secs) riding number 133 (a photo of Nicholson can be found on Flickr). Hopefully someone might be able to identify some of the other riders and their bikes that can be seen in the earlier films. At this time the riders were usually on 500cc four-stroke singles, the lighter 250cc two-strokes arriving later. As can be seen in the film, the riders were judged according to how they handled various difficult parts of the course, as well as their time. Allan Jefferies, who supplies the commentary on the last film, in his heyday in the 1930s would sometimes be the fastest without actually winning. Nevertheless, we see here that one of the trials attracted the foremost road racer of the day, Geoff Duke, who won six world championships and six Isle of Man TT races in the 1950s (he complained that his bike wasn’t suitable for scrambling, though this was clearly not his forte). Duke was named Sportsman of the Year in the year he can be seen first here, in 1951, and received an OBE in the year he is seen again, in 1953. Geoff Duke also narrated some C. H. Wood films himself, including Hot Work (1955), featuring the Scarborough Road Races. His son Peter has produced many of the Wood’s motorcycling films for commercial release through Duke Video. The Richmond Motor Club brings us up to date about the current Scott trial, which is run over approximately 84 miles, divided into approx. 75 sections. It explains that, “The riders lose marks for “footing” in the observed sections and for finishing behind the fastest rider who sets standard time. Marks used to be lost at the rate of 1 mark per minute but this has been relaxed to 1 mark every 2 minutes”, and that there are now 40 different awards. It is interesting to contrast the Scott Trial from this period with its contemporary version. The course is just as mad, and the riders just as skilful, but the bikes are now much lighter, and no-one ever sits on them! The odd array of clothing that used to be worn by the riders perhaps helps to give this older film more comical value – as well as the helping hands (is that still allowed?). Although there are still competitions for older bikes, perhaps the biggest difference is the age of the competitors: now it seems to be very much a young person’s sport, whereas then it maybe allowed those nearing middle age to carry on their youth that bit longer. References Paul Stephens, Moto-Cross: The Golden Era, Veloce Publishing, 2007. Mick Walker, The BSA Gold Star, Redline Books, 2012 ‘The Way We Were’, Yorkshire Ridings Magazine, March 2013. Bradford Motor Cycle Club History The History of Motocross Richmond Motor Club: A History of The Scott Trial Bill Nicholson 1948 ‘How one family captured Bradford through the decades’, Yorkshire Post, 16 March 2013.