Film ID:
YFA 4552



Visitor Tabs


This film, made by the West Riding Constabulary film unit, documents a courtesy rally in Dewsbury, 1953. The film initially captures the road rally, which involves a checkpoint time trial through Dewsbury.  The final segment then shows vehicle and drivers tests, which include braking tests, manoeuvrability tests, and parking tests.

Title – The Dewsbury accident prevention committee and the Dewsbury and district motor club present…

Title – The Dewsbury road courtesy rally 1953.

Title – Photographed by the West Riding Constabulary film unit.

Title – Sunday 21st June, 1953.

Title – The scene at crown Flatt before the start.

Men in trench coats, suits, hats and driving goggles stand by the entry stall, which is set up in the back of a truck. The stall has a sign that reads ‘Competitors report here’, and two women are in the truck taking documents and entrance fees from a competitor. A close up shot then shows the prizes, which include a cup and an engraved plaque.

The filmmaker pans across the green to show some of the parked motorcars, which will compete in the event, before another shots captures more competitors lining up by the registration booth. A young woman wearing a neck tie and light over coat walks past the camera, before furthers shots show the competitors attaching numbers to their cars; one shot shows two women, one of whom wears sunglasses, smiling at the camera as they tie a number three to a cars radiator. A man is bent over by a canvas tent that has a sign attached to it that reads ‘set your watch here’.

The next sequence shows competitors tinkering with their motorbikes. A motorised trike and an old fashioned horse cart are captured being towed down a street by a car. The filmmaker then gets a close up of the trike.

Title – The first car is away.

Various shots then capture the cars starting the rally; each car individually drives off from the starting line as race officials start their stopwatches. The cars then head up a hill; many of the drivers have female passengers and some of the cars include Jaguars and Morgan’s. There are then close ups of a stopwatch and a map held by the navigator inside the car, before it drives away.

An Austin truck then pulls up to the starting line, and a young boy can be seen in the passenger seat alongside his father. The truck then drives off and written on the rear are the words ‘E.Thompson LTD. Park brewery Dewsbury’. The truck then rounds the corner and some of the spectators can be seen at the start line. A car then sets off from the start and the filmmaker captures a little girl staring out the rear window.

Title – Leaving the football ground.

Motorcycle riders then leave the start, travelling down a dirt track; two motorcycles pass and both are driven by men with women riding on the back. Motorcycle riders then pose for the camera, before they race away from the start and down the dirt track. An elevated shot then shows the start position, which has a banner over it that reads ‘start’, and a van – with Dewsbury stencilled on the body - drives away from the start line. The next shot captures a competitor driving a Morgan, who stops at a Junction in the centre of Dewsbury, before a close up of a street sign is shown that reads ‘Hare park lane’. A car then drives through a water ditch in a dip in the road.

Title – The water splash at Bailiff Bridge.

More shots show the cars travelling through the ditch as they cross the bridge.  A car then pulls up to a main road and uses a hand signal to indicate right, before a close up of a street sign reads ‘Thornshills beck lane’, which is placed adjacent to another sign for ‘St. Peg mills’. More cars pull up to the main road - signalling - and a brief shot captures a rally official in a car marking down the times.

Title – Right turn to…Farnley Tyas.

From the inside of a car, the filmmaker captures a short journey as a car takes a right, travelling past a sign that reads ‘To Woodsome Hall Gold club’, and the car continues on following other rally competitors vehicles. A car then stops on a white chalk line.

Title –Time check point No. 2.

Two women and a man sit on a bench taking down the times, before more shots show the rally cars pulling up to the white line and driving on. A chicken then scrambles out of the road as one of the competitors cars approaches.

Title – Why did the chicken cross the road?

The driver smiles at the camera as he drives past and the next shows a road sign that reads ‘Halt at major road ahead’. Cars pull up to the edge of the main road, waiting to join, and on the pavement two young children can be seen playing on a fence.

Title – Hairpin at Fenay Bridge.

Cars make the hairpin turn onto a main road, before there are more shots from a car interior, which capture some of the motorcycle riders involved in the rally. More cars and motorcycles drive past the camera as the move down a country road, and this is followed by a brief shot of an officer giving a competitor directions.

Title – Start of timed section.

A man holds a piece of paper for the camera that reads ‘You must average 20 MPH from the first telegraph pole to the flag on the hill top’. From the top of a hill the filmmaker captures the short section; cars drive from the telegraph pole down a steep hill and climb another hill to wear a man waving a flag stands.

Title – Time check point No. 3.

The time keepers who, wearing long jackets and head scarfs, record times as the cars approach the checkpoint. A close up then shows a stop watch, before some of the competitors approach the chalk line on the road, and, as each car passes the line, the times are noted.

Title – The arrival of the Rt. Hon. Lord Calverley. J.P., D.L.

In a park, Lord Calverley steps out of a car wearing a light coloured winter jacket and sunglasses, and is received by a senior police official, who helps him from the car. The two men chat from a moment before the lord and his wife are lead to towards the camera by the senior officer.

Title – Waiting for the first car home.

A group of people, including the lord and his wife, stand by the finishing line along with the time keepers waiting for the first car to arrive. A car then drives over the white line and the driver waves from the window.

Title – The Tapley Brake test.

This sequence captures more cars crossing the finishing line, after which they perform a Tapley brake test, which involves attaching measures disc to the passenger’s side floor. A female driver - smoking a cigarette - is amongst one of the drives to do the test, and she picks up speed before breaking sharply. The final shot in this sequence shows a refreshment stall, where men, women and children queue up for drinks and food.

Title – The “Wiggle – Woggle”.

This section captures a motorcyclist manoeuvring through cones in the field.

Title – The “Z” Test.

A car performs a Z test, which involves driving forwards, and then reversing back through cones in a Z shape. The next shot captures another car finishing the race and performing the Tapley Brake test.

Title – The width gauge.

A convertible car drives towards to sticks positioned closely together, which two adjudicators stand by, slightly adjusting the width as the nose of the car moves passes.

Title – The “Roundabout” Test.

Cars drive round a laid out circle, and during this sequence there is more footage of the other tests.

Title – The parking test.

Next, a van parallel parks between two gates, while spectators watch.

Title – The Motor-cycle “plank” test.

A motorcycle drives across various planks of wood, trying to keep balance.

Title – No. 129 Mr. H.B. Walker is the winner with 82.5 per cent of the total points.

The winner, a tall man dressed in a suit and tie, stands by his black car along with his female companion, who wears a flowing white skirt. The filmmaker then captures a shot of the car, before a portrait shot captures the winning couple smiling. The final shot shows a metal medallion that has ‘Road courtesy Rally Dewsbury 1953’ inscribed on it.

Title – The end.