Film ID:
NEFA 21215



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This amateur film documents the 1952 Travers Trophy cross country motorcycle trials (also known as Travelers Trophy) starting from St John's Chapel in Weardale. The trials were organised by the Newcastle and District Motor Club, becoming one of the classic events in the North of England. This film was commissioned by St Andrew's Motor Ltd. (SAM) from members of the Newcastle and District Amateur Cinematographers' Association (ACA), including George Cummin and George Henderson.

Title: Scottish Amateur Film Festival 1953. A Prizewinning Film

Title: Amateur Cine World - This Is to Certify That This Film Has Been Specially Commended By Amateur Cine World

Title: By Arrangement between the Newcastle and District Amateur Cinematographers Association and St Andrew's Motor Ltd.

Title: Sam Presents The Travers.

Title: Describing one of the best known trials since Crippens. Pictures by George Henderson, Donald Nichol and Stan Preston.

Title: Produced, edited and occasionally censored by George Cummin who now calls the first witness.

The film opens at a gathering of the Newcastle Motor Club, where the Chairman, Charlie Fairburn, outlines to members the details of a Weardale motorbike trial on Saturday 19th April 1952. He also drums up support from volunteers to take on marshal and observer duties. Prospective riders amongst the gathering want information about the course route.

Les Stockill shows a map of the course to some of the volunteers who will officiate at the trial. He points out that the start will be from the Weardale village of St John's Chapel.

A map shows the location of the village. At the start, the official starter Mr Ryan will send the first rider off on the first lap of the 1952 Travers Trial. The first rider Ronnie Clayton waits on his motorbike, talking to another rider, while onlookers mill around. His is the first bike to start the trial and he rides away taking a left turn down a road that leads to Langdon Beck.

A brief shot of a policeman is followed by shots of entrant number 2, EW Smith, riding a Francis Barnett 122, then number 3, E Usher, who rides a Matchless.

Two women sit behind a wooden partition. One of them hands out a programme. A close-up of the programme shows the list of entrants for the Travers Trophy trial, a total of 96 entries from around the country.

Number 11 on a Triumph, from Glastonbury, and Hugh Viney from London, on an AJS, ride off. Other riders sent on their way are number 12, T V Ellis, and number 18, G J Hitching, on an AJS.

The list of riders is shown in close-up next to a stop watch. Every 60 seconds a rider will be sent on his first lap.

A map shows the route to be taken across Weardale via Ireshopeburn, Grasshill Common and Jacksons Pasture [?], leading on to the timed trial sections.

A travelling shot shows the country road that is part of one of the timed sections, leading past Langdon Beck, heading on to Cow Green Mine. The motorcyclist passes a small number of whitewashed houses.

On the hill tops, rider number one, Ronnie Clayton, comes out of the mist and approaches a checkpoint, where an observer enters his time of arrival on a sheet headed 'Timed Section - Morning'. The time submitted means that the rider must complete the next six miles in 12 minutes. A minute more will cost the rider one penalty point. Ronnie Clayton rides off into the mist.

The film cuts back to St John's Chapel. A steady stream of bikes heads off from the start. A policeman on point duty controls the normal traffic, ensuring it doesn't interfere with the start of the trial.

General view of competitor number one, Ronnie Clayton, riding through rough country, taking in an area around the source of the Tees

After a shot of the route map, there's a general view of Garrigill and the ford crossing the South Tyne.

The film cuts to a shot of Ronnie Clayton riding away from the camera, creating clouds of dust on the rough track leading on to Haggs Mine.

Observers wait for the competitors to arrive. One observer is holding a clipboard and the other has a printed list of entrants. The observers go to their posts. There's a low angle shot of one of the female observers with her clipboard, followed by a shot of the route map showing where the riders will go through the village of Fiddler Street. (?) The film cuts to an observer waiting for riders to arrive.

Competitor number one, Ronnie Clayton, makes his way up a dry rocky stream, and is followed by his team mate E. Usher.

The film cuts to another rider, T W Wilkinson, as he attempts this taxing section, riding his Norton up the now dried up water course. The camera follows his progress as he skilfully negotiates a large 'step' in the track. There's a different view of the same dried water course as entrant number two attempts a clear run.

Back in St Johns Chapel an official, using the public address system, calls for the last competitor to start. This is rider Pike from Middlesbrough, number 96, riding a Norton [Reg. No. OHN 528] motorbike. A close-up follows of the printed list of riders.

At Garrigill ford, rider Bell enters the water. A high angle shot shows another rider attempting to cross the ford, demonstrating how difficult it is to control his motorbike in such difficult conditions. A closer shot shows a rider using his legs in an attempt to stay upright as he goes through the water. Harry Brown of Berwick follows, wheels submerged in several inches of water. Peter Armstrong is next across, followed by J D Williamson. A rider stalls in the water, and tries to kick start his machine.

Across the ford, a rider speeds off along a rough track towards the next observed section at Haggs Mine.

T V Ellis, No. 12, is being observed on this section. He makes his way up the rough track, which is lined with spectators. Rider T E Gilbern makes his way along the same route, wearing a distinctive white hat. He heads away from the camera up the hill towards other spectators. A general view shows the increasing numbers of spectators who have come to watch the event. Rider Bertarelli, from Whitley Bay manages a clear run, despite putting his bike down at the end of the section.

A route map shows the event's progress so far. The film moves on to Killhope Burn. A high angle shot shows competitor number seven riding down the burn itself. Small groups of spectators on different parts of the observed section watch his progress. A similar shot shows W S G Parsons follow through behind the previous rider.

Rider W L James, on a Triumph, completes the next section of the course up a steep hill. Harry Wood, from Seaton Delaval, goes down a steep section of the course, followed by TA Gilbern and, behind him, G L Jackson. Spectators are shown in silhouette as they overlook this section of the course. A closer shot of the upper part of this observed section shows Harry Wood bogged down in mud. Marshals, or observers, assist him on his way. One rider with a puncture attends to his motorbike. TA Gilbern rides cleanly up this section. A high angle shot shows number 24, rider Bell, watching Bill Nicholson, No. 23, on a BSA motorcycle riding this section with ease. Rider Bell follows, but in the stream he picks up penalty points by putting his feet on the ground to steady himself. General views show other members of the field struggling to complete the section.

The film cuts back to the route map now indicating the race has reached Race Head. A high angle shot shows the top of another gully, where spectators watch as rider Clayton, number 1, comes through, while observer Leigh scrutinises his performance. The spectators look down into the gully. General views show some of the remaining field of entrants coming up the gully

At Race Head, rider Usher follows closely on the heels of number 1 rider Ronnie Clayton, who rides along a rough track towards the camera.

A general view follows of the riders speeding away across the hilltops.

Rider Wilkinson follows a track, heading away from the camera, then the W L James/Triumph combination.

Two motorcyclists speed towards the camera, a crowd waiting at the end of the section.

The next obstacle is a steep hill climb and a high angle shot where Ronnie Clayton easily negotiates the rocky track. A low angle shot over the same route shows rider Usher having problems staying upright. General views show other riders coming through the section.

Riders follow a gully in open country, as they make their way to the hill climb that others have just completed.

In another observed section Harry Wood negotiates the second part of the test. He rides up a very steep bank to a ridge which is almost vertical. Course officials discuss the number of falls that have occurred at this section. From the top of the ridge riders make their way further up the course.

The route map shows the route going from Westgate to Dyke Hill, then returning to St John's Chapel.

Back at St John's Chapel, Ronnie Clayton comes back with 50 miles completed and six minutes in hand. Rider Ellis, number 12, joins him. The other riders return to the village centre for a 45-minute break for lunch before embarking on the second lap.

The film cuts to a view from the top of Dyke Hill looking down on a dry stone wall as it winds its way into the distance.

A motorcyclist negotiates an observed section close to a dry stone wall along a very narrow track, Rider Blakeway manoeuvres his BSA motorbike around a tight corner. Rider Pugh, number 17, picks up penalty points when he puts his feet on the ground to steady himself.

A close-up shows an observer’s card as he writes down the performance of each rider. This section is proving difficult for all riders so they have all picked up penalty points.

A shot follows of rider Atkinson churning up mud along a narrow track or small water course. Derek Laing negotiates the route as marked out with small flags. He slips back on his machine as he tries to go up the bank.

J Giles collects points on his Triumph as he uses his feet to steady himself on a muddy track, but he is defeated by the muddy bank.

General views of others trying their best on this testing part of the track.

The next section is back at Garrigill ford. A rider in the middle distance picks up his bike, which is lying on its side in rock strewn water. Another shot shows two contestants and their machines, which have stalled in the water. Another rider falls off his bike into the water. Rider Smith from Bridgenorth, on a 197cc Francis-Bonnard, negotiates the deeper water channel before heading on to the rocks.

Opposite the ford on top of the hill some of the lower order riders are coming through. H W Thorne speeds past the camera. Johnny Karn, goes past standing out of his saddle. General views follow of riders coming through this dusty section of the route.

The film cuts to Burn Bottom, a particularly tortuous test for rider and machine. Rider R Winter on his James motorbike tries to come out of the gully and turn sharp left to come up a hill. He promptly falls off and his motorcycle lands on top of him. One observer gives him a helping hand, and another observer gives him 5 penalty points! The rider gets on his bike and carries on.

At Race Head, a long shot shows the gully the riders will ride along, with spectators in the foreground. There's a change in the leader, which is now rider Usher on a Matchless motorbike. He makes his way along the rocky gully, then speeds off up the hill and through a gap in the dry stone wall.

The rest of the field passes by camera along the gully, including number 15, Harry Wood. Rider number 20, Hugh Viney, rides along the gully towards the camera. An observer watches intently as each rider passes through.

General views follow of other parts of the route and the spectators.

On the next section rider P F Hammond in the Triumph team rides up a bank. The camera follows as he carries on up a hill. A high angle shot down the hill shows another rider about to start the climb, who immediately falls off his motorbike.

The film cuts to St John's Chapel, where Rider Ellis arrives back at the start. A portrait shot of him astride his bike, smiling, follows.

The rest of the competitors make their way back to the official start point in St John’s Chapel. Officials and riders gather around a large van equipped with a public address system. Riders and observers from the course are coming in to finish more quickly. The observer Mrs Leigh comes back laden with signs and other paraphernalia.

A close-up shows a table strewn with the observer’s cards, where officials assess the final results. With a number of retirements, it is estimated that 60 will have finished the course.

The next shot shows some of the contestants making their way home in wet weather. One contestant loads his machine onto the back of a lorry, with the aid of a hydraulic hoist.

More shots of score cards on the table. The results have been compiled and are placed on a notice board. Bill Nicholson wins the '500' cup. A shot shows him riding his motorbike along a section of the course. R A Brown wins the Bradford Ball. The NUT Trophy goes to LA Radcliffe. Ken Holloway wins the 150cc class on his James motorcycle and BW Martin wins the 350cc class.

The Travers Trophy is won by G J Draper on a Norton motorcycle with a score of 19. A shot of G J Draper shows him negotiating a hill section.

A panoramic shot of St John's Chapel follows as the commentator signs off the Travers Trial competition for 1952.

Title: The End