A  History of Classic Racing  50cc Motorcycles


The 1964 Isle of Man Tourist Trophy Program

A programme is always a must at any motorcycle function but the TT Official Guide and Programme is a hive of information that even after 50 or 60 years it is picked up and read just to bring back the memories and excitement of the action that stirred us in our past.  

'In 1964, yes 56 years ago, this programme was one of those; a real treasure chest of memories, data and experiences, all in one small volume.  As programmes are often lost and memories fade, I have selected some of the articles and re-produced them as reminders of the excitement and satisfaction I and many others had as a motorcyclist in the "60s" and how good the TT's were.  (Comments and some photographs by "Jeep" the editor)'.

Foreword: 'The Ton Up'  By N. E. DIXON, O.B.E.   (Chairman, Auto-Cycle Union)

RECENTLY I have been asked on more than one occasion to say what I thought about the "Ton-up Boys”!  What I, and every other genuine motor cyclist concerned with the welfare of the sport, feel about these strange people is generally speaking quite unprintable and as John Hartle said at the Villa Marina “they almost make one feel ashamed to be a motor cyclist”. 

Perhaps all too easily they have come into possession of truly beautiful pieces of machinery capable of magnificent performances —really too good for them — and they affect the most outrageous outer garments and a startling helmet. 

Thus equipped they proceed to an unsuitable stretch of public highway and adopting what they imagine to be a racing crouch they indulge in their “ton up” exercises, “chicken runs” and other inanities. For the main part they are silly exhibitionists living in a world of pure make-believe, believing they are the objects of others’ admiration, and not their contempt; believing that they have all of what it takes to make a Mike Hailwood or a Geoff Duke when in fact they have nothing but a good machine; they deceive only themselves and not a single observer of their antics is impressed, except by the stupidity of it all. 

Perhaps it is not possible to keep these types away from this Mecca of motor cyclists, although they have nothing in common with the true racing enthusiast, but one hopes the Island authorities will find ways of controlling such unwelcome guests. After all the Manx authorities are less squeamish than we appear to be on the mainland and they retain some effective methods of dealing with such naughty little boys which could be very useful during the T.T. period. 

Another method would have been the ridicule of the great Archdeacon Stenning but unfortunately that splendid sportsman will not be with us this year or ever again. He was of the T.T. and his like will not be found however long the races may survive. My wish is that you should enjoy a thrilling T.T. week, have a delightful holiday in this beautiful Island, make new friends as well as meet up with the old ones but for the sake of the T.T. as well as your own good name don’t be mistaken for a “Ton Up Boy”!

Editors personal comment: I was one of the "Ton Up Boys" and I am not ashamed of it. From the age of 12 the Motorcycle became my main interest and I would lovingly pamper my pets until I was legally able to take to the road. I enjoyed the "late 50's and 60's", my first bike a 350cc Velocette MAC, the ACE Café, being a "Rocker" with my black leather jacket, eagle emblazoned red helmet and white scarf" but most of all the freedom of the road and also competing in motorcycle club road races. Also the odd occasion when a friendly 'Copper' would stop you, out of interest,  to look at your 'Café Racer'. We weren't all 'Sons of the Devil'

Panic in the Paddock - The Workshop and Other Places


HAVING been associated with this Island for so many years, the riders, the Officials, the Manufacturers, Trade Representatives, the Press, B.B.C., the Manx folk, and everyone concerned in making them the finest races in the world, I am at a loss to know where to start, and am sure that by the time this is in print I shall have thought of so many more incidents I should have included. I understand from my father that there was a possibility that the article may never have been written at all, as at the ripe age of two, I was posted as “missing” on the boat, and pandemonium reigned for some time among crew and parents alike. Picture: Reg Dearden looking after riders of the future. 

Each year from then on I have been a regular visitor—or nuisance—until finally I rode in my first September Race, and I was attached like a limpet to this Island, leaving skin on most corners, collecting many bruises and gaining a wealth of experience, and finally acknowledging that “Mona” was the boss, and not to be played round with, without retaliation.  Reg Dearden with a really special machine that was the Supercharged Vincent Black Lightning pictured here. It was built for an attempt on the world speed record by Les Graham but sadly he died in the 1953 TT.

In 1949 'The Motor Cycle', Britain’s leading 2-wheel publication, offered a Trophy, plus a generous £500 prize [more than the price of a new ’Lightning] for the first successful all-British attempt on the absolute World Speed Record, for which full streamlining was clearly a necessary requirement. Reg was then a popular high profile motorcycle dealer at Chorlton-cum-Hardy [Manchester], and he purchased a Black Lightning direct from the factory, expressly for the purpose of challenging the record. (Click the Bonham's logo)

Back to the 'Island' and at one time during practice week I and a very famous dirt track rider, used to be a one lap practice men, stopping for breakfast in “Glen Helen” and moving off when we thought the practice was about over, rushing back to the start, until finally, one large gentleman by the name of Doug Hanson asked me what sort of “Bl**dy” lap times I was putting up, and the stopping ceased forthwith.

A press friend said to me recently that probably in the history of these races, no man had so much fun and got so much out of them, without winning them, and never having the machine or the ability to do this, I certainly agree. As a matter of fact when I could ride a little, I could not afford the machine, and when I could afford the machine I could not ride it anyway, and this caused, I think, my sponsorship of quite a few lads, in later years. 

Reg Dearden's team 1958 Manx Grand Prix, Mike Kelly (Norton, 2) Eddie Crooks (Norton, 90) and Bob Dowty (Norton, 80) with sponsor Reg Dearden.

My first years as a rider were spent at “Dusty Miller‘s” Acacia House, Bucks Road, and for 50/s. per week you could sleep, eat all you could put away, garage your precious machines and with about 12 or 14 other riders have a whale of a time generally.

One of the great risks of digging at “Dusty’s” was the “water hazard”, and the steps at this residence continually ran with water poured down on any unsuspecting victim from the upstairs windows, from huge jugs which were in continual operation about 14 hours a day, on resident and rider alike.

One speciality was for the upstairs crew to wait until about 7 p.m., when anybody intent on a night out would be changed into their best, and pause on the front steps to take a deep breath of Manx ozone and from two flights up the crew would unload about four gallons of ice-cold water directly on top of the unsuspecting victim, whose next move was to get dried out and get changed again and evacuate, using the rear entrance for safety. I once recall hearing two very charming old ladies say as they passed the premises how strange it was that even when the sun shone water was always well in evidence in this particular spot.

Resident guests like Charlie and Jack Brett, Ben Drinkwater, Mr. Kitchen from Liverpool, Frank Cadman, Doug Price, and many other famous names took a very active part in the proceedings, and I am sure always look back as I do on these very fabulous times, and the atmosphere of friendliness which you had to be part of to believe.

All men helped the fallen when in trouble both with machines, finance and physical training, and the great trouble with most people was of course finance, as you arrived with very limited resources and if you dropped the plot you were really lucky to be able to manage.

Just after the war, I swapped to Fergus Anderson (with whom I spent a considerable time afloat-he was my Skipper), my ex-Harry Lamacraft Velocette for his 4-cylinder D.K.W., and I still firmly believe even today, this to be the noisiest machine ever in the Isle of Man. 

Picture: The ex-Harry Lamacraft, 1939 Velocette 348cc KTT Mark VIII Racing Motorcycle

This 4 cylinder machine consumed 21 gallons of fuel during six laps, being filled on number two and number four with seven gallons a stop, and on number four lap proceeding down Bray Hill and shedding the filler cap—from then on life was a nightmare as far as I was concerned as after managing to finish the course, I had to go to the Noble Hospital for eye renovation, and only just managed to be cleared to be able to “do” the Senior.

Whilst preparing the plot for practice in the garage which was situated behind a line of boarding houses, on the Sunday prior to the start of same, I was persuaded to cough the model up at about the start of dinner, and from what I can gather a certain Manx cat took off down the centre of the dining table with rather disastrous results to crockery, guests, food and other things, and I believe, according to one very irate landlady, is still missing. I well remember too that my good friend Bertie Rowell refused to "tow" me up to "Dusty‘s” Acacia with my Junior D.K.W. and told me I ought to be banned from riding same, as the war was only just over.

My one and only fishing experience occurred with my good friend Wally Reed, who after coaxing for about five days finally persuaded me to get on the train and spend a day on the water, hiring boat, tackle, etc., both parties taking off in flannel trousers and pullover and very little else. I personally rowed out for about a mile when Wally dropped sea anchor, we prepared rods, etc., and after about 10 minutes Wally was well away and snoring like a horse, and of course I decided this must be part of the fishing ritual and I followed suit.

Waking up considerably later, and heavy rain falling, a rather rough sea had developed, and looking towards Peel, our place of take-of, I was really scared to find the sea anchor hadn't and we were, to say the least, a rather long way out. Wally wanted to change spots and row, but I did not fancy the change-over at all, so proceeded to pull with great vigour in the general direction of Peel, and, on turning round to have a look after about 15 minutes, the gap did not seem any less.

To cut a long story short Dearden was still pulling on those oars, physically finished, wet through, when we made the country of origin, and a very industrious cannery were tipping fishes’ innards into the sea, I am sure timed to a second when we arrived.  Ten million sea-gulls then descended and proceeded with great noise to use our expedition for target practice, and I never believed till I went fishing, they ever carried so much ammunition. Two sorry sights then missed the last train that day to Douglas and from then on no human ever mentioned fishing to me again. 

All my racing career, apart from the odd machine, was spent with Norton Motors, of Bracebridge Street, and my very good friend, Joe Craig, who I shall always believe to be the finest team manager who ever lived; his running of the factory team, preparation of machinery, with the help of a very wonderful team—Bill Mewis, Frank Sherratt, Bill Stuart, Ivor Smith, Harry Salter, Charlie Edwards and other faithful henchmen—had to be seen to be believed. Although Joe was a very hard taskmaster, his sense of humour was fantastic, and when really in the groove he was a wonderful companion, and when not worried about his own machines, he decided to have a break from the garage, had a wonderful charm and wit. Picture: Joe Craig and Rex McCandless. This marks the first ever appearance of a Featherbed Norton by Geoff Duke at Blandford Camp Circuit, 1950.

During my many years in connection with the M.G.P. and T.T. I often came in contact with Canon Stenning, who was lost to us all very recently, and to me he will always take his place among the great personalities of the Island. On many occasions his great help to the riders, generosity and wonderful sense of humour, his advice to me on many occasions when feeling a little depressed, and with a weight on my shoulders, will always be amongst my fondest memories of this Island. 

He was born in Shermanbury, Sussex, Stenning was educated at Downing College, Cambridge , and ordained in 1911. By profession a science teacher he taught from 1911 at King Williams College , where he was also school chaplain and Vice-Principal. Honorary Chaplain to the Queen , he was president of the Manx Antiquarian Society, a co-founder of the Manx Grand Prix and a Provincial Grand Master of the Isle of Man Freemasons (1957–1964). Ernest Henry Stenning MBE (27 January 1885 – 2 February 1964) was an Anglican priest . He was the Archdeacon of Man in the Church of England from 1958 until his death in 1964.

Another great man and a very personal friend of mine was the late Alan Wilson, whose devotion to Norton Motors and always to the unknown rider, no matter how much time and trouble was required to pull him through to push off on race day, was also a very privileged part of my Island memories, and a great blow to me when he passed away only a young man due to very bad health. Another man who must get a very particular mention is Mr. Gilbert Smith, the Managing Director of Norton Motors, whose devotion to motorcycle racing and the very responsible part he played in producing the machinery which put up such wonderful performances in the Isle of Man, on the Continent and everywhere where motor-cycle racing takes place, and whose help and encouragement to me has been invaluable, indeed.

The "trade boys" also must get a very special mention from me, and starting off with my old friend Dickie Davies, of the Dunlop Rubber C0., Castrol Andy, George Williams, Jimmy Hill, Jimmy Simpson (Senior and Junior), Brian Heath, Rex Munday, Sam Foster, Vic Doyle, John Theodosius, Maxey (Smith), Mr. Smith Amals, and his henchman Ray Battersby, R. H. Wood, Lew Ellis of Shell, Mr. Firkin Terry’s, C. E. Russell of Girlings, “Tommy” Dunlop, Ferodo, Ltd., and indeed to all the workmen who have done so much for me and the lads who have ridden machines owned by me I must take this great opportunity of saying “thank you” for so many years of devoted service to the sport and the companies they represent.

If I have missed mentioning many people in the trade by name, I beg to be excused, but do assure them I shall always remember their very great kindness to me. I do know that without the help of the trade many boys would not have been able to race at all, and I extend my thanks on behalf of all of them.

Going back again for a moment to about 1949 when approaching Quarter Bridge on the third lap, and slinging the plot across the road from the Café, I suddenly became aware, far too late, of a large patch of oil on the apex of the bend, and after looping the loop about three times, hitting the deck with great violence and velocity, the machine finished near the slip road and the body near the footpath. I picked up the old body and asked the marshal what had happened to my Norton, who informed me the sergeant had wheeled the battered model behind the crowd, and as finishing this particular race was a personal thing to me, I galloped across the road to retrieve same.  Picture: Reg Dearden (Norton) 1949 Senior TT

While all this was going on, bikes and riders were flying all over the road (I believe about 10 retired), the main cause being one 7R. A.J.S. shearing the oil tank spout, and shedding about a gallon of oil in the wrong place. 

The handlebar on my plot was bent into the petrol tank, so grabbing this component with my knee in the tank I gave a mighty heave and elevated said part to a very reasonable position. 

Isle of Man TT Quarter Bridge pre 1960. 

Quarter Bridge 1980

I then pushed off and fired up amidst great clapping from the spectators at this point, and in a murderous mood, arrived at Braddan, and on the approach to same, heard a most unholy row, which proved to be half the timing cover and rev counter drive complete with cable swinging around the front wheel, and being rather fascinated as to whether this part would rip the spokes out of the front wheel, almost dropped it again at Braddan. This component finally flew off the model on the last lap at Bedstead, and I arrived at the Grandstand to finish about 17th with many bruises, but a great sense of achievement. 

The particular practice week prior to this occurrence was spent in parties every night at various villas and hotels throughout the Isle of Man, and just before the start of this race, my very good friend Mr. Maxstead, of Smiths, had begged me to wheel the model behind the stands and “not bother” as the same gentleman had been in the same state as myself for about seven nights, and as I mentioned previously “Mona” will not stand this sort of treatment and allow a “rider” to get away with same.

Take notice all you young men, that crime does not pay when racing, and I was a very fortunate man to finish the circuit at all. I take this very great opportunity of giving my sincere thanks to the hospital staffs for the work they do for the riders, and give praise for the small hem stitch applied to my bits and pieces on so many occasions

Nobles Hospital and Dispensary Isle-of-Man Irish Architecture 1888

Nobles Hospital and Dispensary-Isle-of-Man 1949

Nobles Hospital and Dispensary-Isle-of-Man 2021

To the marshals of the T.T. and Grand Prix a hearty back-slap from everyone connected with the sport, and to the Manx Folk who suffer the noise and inconvenience of the mob who invade this island paradise, a particular thought for their kind indulgence, and to the Isle of Man Steam Packet crews for the mess we create on their ships, and the extra work we cause them.

And now to the lads you are to watch in the 1964 T.T. Races, who go round this circuit so quickly and with such great skill, courage and judgement that only a boy in the peak of health and physical and mental fitness, and who takes so much pride in machine preparation could hope to arrive in the finishing enclosure, you will, I know appreciate.

You will also remember that when our country is involved in a spot of bother these boys are the first to apply the knowledge gained from this sport in other directions, and without whom we would be lost altogether. With me give them all from the winner to the last man home, a special word or thought, both for their safety and the wonderful effort in putting this show on for us all. I do hope you all go back home with an experience you will never forget, as I do each and every year, my only regret being when I board the boat to leave this island and the many friends I have made, and whom it is my pleasure to meet year after year.

I must now mention the Auto-Cycle Union, the people responsible for the organisation, and the way the races are conducted, and say from the start that no races are put over as well in any country in the world. The safety of spectators and riders alike are the first and foremost consideration and if you, as a spectator, feel that sometimes an official shows too much brass, remember it is with this thought foremost in mind he seems rather severe. In my own case as rider and a sponsor of riders, I have many times had a “Bull and Cow” with the officials, but am not afraid to admit that nine times out of ten, when the point has been explained to me, and the heat of argument has died down, they are mostly right, and the rules are in the interests of the sport generally, so please try to be tolerant, and as helpful as possible.

All the experimental machines you watch in these races will eventually be part of the machines you will ride round your home towns, and probably to and from your work each day, so that possibly, in 1966, you will be riding a machine which acquires its road holding qualities, reliability and economy from fabrication and intensive testing in the Isle of Man, and as the type of testing you will witness is not possible “across”, we must be very grateful to the Manx Government for providing this most severe testing ground and keeping the circuit generally in such a good state of repair for this purpose.

Having visited circuits in most of the countries who enjoy road racing, I can assure you that in no other country is any road race laid on to compare with the spectacle you will witness here, and I shall, personally, continue to be a “Come Over" until it is no longer possible, and if I was lucky enough to be able to live it all over again, I should do the same thing again exactly. I do hope most sincerely that your visit in 1964 will be as enjoyable as I know mine will be, that the weather is perfect, and the races are the success they deserve to be.

To everyone connected this particular year, may it be the most memorable year ever. In conclusion to all you would be T.T. riders in between practice and race day (when the roads are open), the “Manx Copper” is a great guy, and hates to give you the treatment, so don’t ask for it. “Make haste slowly” especially with that wonderful girl on the tray, and enjoy Race Day watching the boys show you how it should be done, being well and truly satisfied with what you came over to see-it don’t half hurt if you drop it.

The ULTRA-LIGHTWEIGHT 50cc TT  June 12 1964

Enthusiasts, encouraged  by seeing Luigi Taveri (,M.Z.) put up a fastest lap in the 1959 125c.c. event, at  74.99 m.p.h., were even more pleasantly surprised when Mike O’Rourke the  following year brought a Herman-Meier-tuned Ariel “Arrow” into 7th place in  the 250 race, at over 80 m.p.h. Another British machine came into the limelight  in 1962, when Mike Hailwood astonished many a critic by his determined  and very fast ride on an E.M.C. 125c.c. machine, unfortunately brought to an  end by gearbox failure.  Events of the past two years have seen a profound change in two-stroke  racing fortunes; 

50c.c. and 125c.c. Suzuki machines have proved virtually  unbeatable, This week, two-strokes will be out in force in the smaller classes; and judging by their previous form they are well able to challenge the contemporary four-strokes for speed . . . but whether or not they can prove reliable  in this, the World’s Greatest Road Race, remains to be seen. Watch them keenly - more than one rider  will have anxious, sensitive fingers resting lightly on the clutch leaver.       

Having lost or mis-laid their programs, many people ask for details on who rode in the different classes and what was their number and motorcycle.  
Two riders who feature in the Entry List are Ian Plumridge and Charlie C M Mates. If you click on their names it will take you to their history page.

For those that require a copy of a program, this is a link to a web page where 'Dave Riley' has started a remarkable collection. The editor makes use of this service when necessary.
Contributions of programs and photographs are always welcomed.


Where to Watch and How to Get There. 

The clockwise course has a lap of 37.73 miles (60.72 km), from the start line at the TT Grandstand on Glencrutchery Road (A2 Ramsey to Douglas) in the island's main town of Douglas. After negotiating urban streets, the racing circuit turns right to leave Douglas at Quarter Bridge, then proceeds along the A1 Douglas to Peel road through the villages of Braddan, Union Mills, Glen Vine, Crosby, and Greeba.

The course then turns right at Ballacraine on to the A3 Castletown to Ramsey road, firstly through countryside glens followed by agricultural land interspersed by the villages of Kirk Michael, Ballaugh and Sulby, finally intersecting with the A18 Snaefell mountain road after negotiating urban streets in the town of Ramsey. 

The A18 then takes the course back to Douglas through the highest point, situated after the Bungalow at Hailwood's Height near the 31st Milestone and the UK Ordnance Survey spot height of 422 metres (1,385 ft) above sea level. The descent starts through countryside before entering the residential outskirts of Douglas back to the finish line. 

ON a Course of this length there are so many vantage points that it would require a book to describe each one adequately. All the popular vantage points are well served by public transport but if you wish to reach one of the less frequented points—and in many cases these are the places where the finer aspects of riding skill are to be seen, private transport is necessary. A 1" inch to the mile Ordinance Survey map is a great help. Remember that the roads which form the Course are closed approximately 30 minutes before the start of the first race and remain closed even between races. If you are using private transport and wish to move between races, you should park with a view to your departure—even though this may mean walking a short distance to your vantage point. 

How to get there: By Douglas Corporation Yellow Buses for the Start, Governor’s Bridge, top of Bray Hill and Quarter Bridge. It is approximately 1 mile to walk from Quarter Bridge to Braddan Bridge.

By Isle of Man Road Services Red Buses for all sections between Douglas and Ballacraine; Douglas and Onchan (for Governor’s Bridge, The Nook, Signpost Corner and Hillberry), Ballacraine and Kirk Michael (over the Course) and between Douglas and Ramsey (not over the Course).  

Both the Yellow Buses and the Red Buses leave the new Bus Terminal in Lord Street, Douglas, at frequent intervals for approximately 2 hours prior to the commencement of racing. 

By Isle of Man Railway trains from Douglas Railway Station (top of Douglas Harbour) for Crosby, St. John’s (for Ballacraine and Ballig), Kirk Michael, Ballaugh, Sulby and Ramsey. Service continues during racing.  

By Manx Electric Railway for the Bungalow (change at Laxey) and Ramsey.  A very frequent service of trains is operated but early departure is advisable for the Bungalow.  

By private coach to many parts of the Course. A large fleet of modern coaches operate excursions from all towns in the Island to all the most popular positions. Pre-booking is advisable but not essential.

Viewing points (amended - additional information has been added for general interest)

 Bray Hill (Half mile) The Bray Hill section runs from St Ninian's Crossroads, where the A2 Glencrutchery Road (from the TT start-line) meets the side streets of Ballanard Road and Ballaquayle Road on the A22, continuing to the base of the hill where it becomes the A2 Quarterbridge Road at a crossroad-junction. An exceptionally fast descent between the houses with an awkward right-hand-sweep at the bottom where the machines almost touch the curb. Public Address System, restricted free accommodation but paid accommodation available in private gardens fronting the Hill.  Good parking, very easy access.

Quarter Bridge (1 mile) The A2 Quarterbridge Road is part of the Snaefell Mountain Course used for the motorcycle TT races (since 1911) and the Manx Grand Prix (since 1923). The start line for the 1911 TT races was originally situated on the level section of the Quarterbridge Road between Selborne Drive and the 1st Milestone/Alexander Drive. An acute right-hand bend from a downhill approach over the bridge with an adverse camber. Public Address System, reasonable spectator accommodation, good parking, very easy access. 

Braddan Bridge (2 miles). It is a landmark on the Isle of Man TT road-race course, situated in countryside close to the outskirts of Douglas town where motorcycles slow to negotiate a left-right 'S' bend over the river. A traditional viewing spot with seating, in common with other vantage points around the local Douglas area.  A section demanding rapid acceleration in low gears.  After a very fast approach there is an acute left-hand bend followed immediately by an acute right-hand bend. An excellent place to study riding skill and the handling qualities of the machine. Public Address System, limited free accommodation but excellent accommodation in private grandstands on the outside of the Course. Restricted parking, reasonable access. 

Union Mills (3 miles) Union Mills village is situated between the second and third milestones of the Snaefell Mountain Course road-racing circuit, used for both the Isle of Man TT course since 1911 and the Manx Grand Prix since 1923. A very fast right and left downhill sweep through the village. Limited spectator accommodation and reasonable parking. Access by private transport from outside and inside the Course. Red buses before the commencement of racing. The Union Mills railway station was one of the original stations on the Isle of Man Railway's Douglas to Peel line. It was located at the east side of the A1 just south of the junction with the A22. The station was opened on 1 July 1873. The line was a single track, but at Union Mills it had a passing loop.

Ballacraine (7.5 miles) The Ballacraine sections of the A1 and A3 roads were part of the St. Johns Short Course used for the Isle of Man TT races between 1907 and 1910. In 1911, the Four Inch Race Course for automobiles (The name of the course derives from the regulations for the 1908 Tourist Trophy adopted by the Royal Automobile Club, which limited the competitors' engines to a cylinder-diameter of four inches. 101.6mm) was first used by the Auto-Cycling Union (ACU) for the Isle of Man TT motorcycle races. This included the Ballacraine section. A very fast right-hand corner with very little favourable camber. Public Address System. Reasonable spectator accommodation. Public House. Good access and exit facilities during racing. Good parking. Easy access by public transport. 

Laurel Bank (9 miles) is situated between the 10th Milestone and 11th Milestone road-side markers on the primary A3 Castletown to Ramsey Road between Ballacraine and Glen Helen in the parish of Kirk German. One of the most interesting sections of the Course. A series of right and left-hand bends. Plenty of accommodation beside the road. Very restricted parking. Access for motorcycles during racing over a difficult track from the Staavey Road. During the 1962, Junior TT the former FIM World Motorcycle Champion, Tom Phillis riding a 285cc Honda crashed fatally at the approach to the Laurel Bank section of the TT Course.

Glen Helen (10 miles) Glen Helen is located in the Rhenass valley and the glen entrance is situated between the 11th Milestone and 12th Milestone road-side markers on the primary A3 Castletown to Ramsey Road between Laurel Bank and Sarah’s Cottage in the parish of Kirk German in the Isle of Man. The national glen contains two waterfalls and is the confluence of the Lambfell stream, Blaber River and the River Neb at the road-side entrance of the Glen Helen national glen. The area of Glen Helen is part of the southern slopes of Lambfell Mountain. One of the more inaccessible parts of the Course which provides very good spectator value. A fast up-hill bend to Greg Wyllie’s Hill with an ‘S’ bend in the middle of the hill. Refreshment facilities available at Glen Helen. Good parking but no access or exit during racing.  Red buses Douglas/Kirk Michael before the race.

Bottom of Baarregarroo (13 miles) Halfway between Cronk-y-Voddee and Kirk Michael.  This spot well justifies the trouble taken to get there.  One of the fastest parts of the Course with a steep drop down Baarregarroo Hill and a half-left bend at the bottom  which requires precise judgment to be taken at full speed.  Reasonable spectator accommodation but no parking  except in a field near the  Course. Access to top of  Baarregarroo Hill during  racing where parking is available.

Kirk Michael (14.5 miles) The main road running through Kirk Michael village forms part of the Isle of Man TT road race course, on the A3 leading towards Ballaugh Bridge. The name of the village is derived from "Kirk" ("Church") of Michael. The parish church of St Michael in the village contains a large collection of Manx Norse crosses. This section is a very fast stretch starting with a right-hand corner approached downhill followed by a twisty section through the village. Reasonable spectator accommodation and good parking. Access by bus and train.

Ballaugh (17 miles) The Bridge was subject to road widening and reprofiling during the winter of 1953/1954 for the 1954 Isle of Man TT races including the removal of a garden wall[7] of the adjacent Ballaugh Railway Hotel (now the Raven Hotel).[8] Ballaugh Bridge is the only remaining hump-backed bridge on the TT Course after the removal of Sulby Bridge in the 1920s and Ballig Bridge in 1935. A section renowned for the spectacular leaps caused by the Bridge which is on a left-hand bend from the approach.  The exit to the right needs  great care. First-class riding skill is necessary. A favourite spot for photographers. Public Address System. Limited spectator accommodation. Public House, reasonable parking. Good access  and exit during racing both  inside and out. 

Sulby Bridge/ Ginger Hall  (20 miles)  Following one of the fastest  stretches of the Course (Sulby  Straight) the Bridge has to be  negotiated with great care and  demands excellent braking. (The notorious hump-backed Sulby Bridge on the A3 road located at the eastern end of the Sulby Straight (built c.1815),[11] considered at the time to be the most difficult part of the TT Course for motor-cycle competitors, was re-styled in 1922/23 by the Isle of Man Highway Board and the road widened and road profile improved. Rapid acceleration through  Ginger Hall. Public Address  System, good accommodation,  good parking, easy access and  exit, both inside and outside  the Course during racing.  Red buses and steam trains. 

Ramsey (24 miles) Ramsey is also known as "Royal Ramsey" due to royal visits by Queen Victoria and Prince Albert in 1847 and by King Edward VII and Queen Alexandra in 1902. The busiest times of year are Shennagys Jiu in March, Cyclefest in May, TT fortnight in late May / early June, (especially Ramsey Sprint Day, when thousands of biking fans visit to watch motorbike drag sprints on Mooragh Promenade), Manx Grand Prix/ Manx Classic motorbike race fortnight in late August. A very good centre with  many interesting vantage  points, including Parliament Square (Public Address System), May Hill and the  Ramsey Hairpin. Good accommodation, good parking facilities, excellent public  transport and meal and refreshment facilities.

The Gooseneck (25.5 miles)  An historic location on the TT race course after the climb up from Ramsey demarking the end of the tree-line and start of the Mountain section with a height of 550 feet (168 metres) above sea level, the Gooseneck is a popular vantage point for the spectators and one of a number of points around the course where the race machines slow enough to get a good look at the bikes. A good place for the camera wielding fan. An acute rising right-hand bend (almost a hairpin) with a difficult approach, excellent spectator accommodation, no access by public transport. Access by light traffic from the Douglas/ Ramsey Road at the Hibernia. Very limited parking (the narrow access road must be kept clear for use in emergencies). 

The Bungalow (31 miles) One of a handful of better-known vantage points spread around the Snaefell Mountain Course, is situated adjacent to the 31st Milestone roadside marker on the road junction of the primary A18 Mountain Road, the A14 Sulby Glen Road and the road-tramway crossing for the Snaefell Mountain Railway. This very fast left-and right-hand bend forms the focal  point of the Mountain stretch  for the walker who has free  access to the many fast  comers for miles on either  side. Public Address System. Good parking. Access during  racing from Sulby on the inside of the Course. Public transport by Manx Electric Railway from Laxey

Windy Corner (32.5 miles)  Prevailing wind, often strong and sometimes gusty, is channelled up a gully on the left (east). For spectators, the wind "whistles up your trouser-leg as you stand on the corner watching the riders hurl their bikes through the right-hander" A very fast downhill descent  around a sweeping right-hand  bend between the 32nd and 33rd milestone sections which are easily accessible on foot.  Unlimited free spectator accommodation and good parking. No public transport.  Access during racing for motor-cycles and light traffic by the old Pack Road from  Glenroy. Not recommended  for motor cars. 

Keppel Gate and Creg-ny-Baa  (34 miles) After accelerating to maximum speed, after dropping down to the left-hand section of Keppel Gate and Kate’s Cottage, drivers must brake to almost 30 m.p.h. for the right-hand corner at Creg-ny-Baa, followed by immediate acceleration down to Brandish Corner. One of the most exacting and thrilling sections of the Course. Public Address System at Creg-ny-Baa and Keppel Gate. Excellent local accommodation including grandstands at Creg-ny-Baa. Unlimited parking at Creg-ny-Baa and restricted parking at Keppel Gate. Creg-ny-Baa is easily accessible by the back road from Douglas and Laxey. No public transport but hundreds of private coaches serve  the Creg-ny-Baa area.  One of the most photographed views on the course is from here, looking back up a long straight away from Kate's Cottage.

Hillberry (36 miles) A very fast sweeping right-hander is situated at the 36th Milestone road-side marker on the Snaefell Mountain Course. The run downhill from Brandish bottoms out at Hillberry, before heading steeply uphill towards Cronk-ny-Mona. An iron-framed spectators' grandstand remains at the site. Within easy reach of  Douglas and with good spectator accommodation. Public Address System, good parking, no public transport  but access during racing by the Little Mill Road.

Signpost Corner (36.75 miles) The name derives from a signal station for the Isle of Man TT races and Manx Grand Prix. The signal station at Signpost Corner was connected to the race scoreboards located in Glencrutchery Road in Douglas by a telephone land-line. Race officials would instruct local Scouts on the scoreboards to switch a light on above an individual competitor's scoreboard which would indicate to the pit crew and race officials that a particular rider had passed through Signpost Corner and might shortly be pulling into the race-pits located at the Grandstand on Glencrutchery Road to refuel. A slow right-hand bend with a falling gradient and adverse camber after a difficult approach. Limited spectator accommodation, good parking. No public transport but an easy walk from Governor's Bridge or the Manx Arms, Onchan. 

Governor’s Bridge (37 miles) is a road junction, hairpin bend and bridge over a stream, on a stretch of the original historic course. Traditionally a damp and slippery road surface due to the overhead tree canopy and very little air movement in the dip. Probably the slowest section of the Course. A twisty narrow downhill approach to an acute right-hand hairpin with adverse camber followed by a sharp drop, a sharp left-hand hairpin and an exit on a rising gradient through a fast right-hand bend into the final straight before the grandstands. Public Address System, reasonable accommodation, good parking, plenty of public transport by Douglas Corporation Yellow buses. 

All photographs for 'Viewing Point' are copyright: Isle of Man Tourist Board, “Motor Cycle” and “Motor Cycling”  



The Isle of Man T.T. Marshals Association

By A. C. UNDERHILL -1964

THE inauguration of the Isle of Man T.T. Marshals Association is of very  recent origin, but in order to trace the beginning of marshalling in the Isle of Man it is necessary to delve deeply into the past, perhaps long before most of  us were born.  

Many have seen films of bygone races in the lsle of Man, both car and motorcycle, and having seen the tortuous tracks these machines were required to negotiate, there is little wonder that marshals were necessary to assist these intrepid heroes who must. have had constitutions of iron! 

The reliability of the machines in those days must have left much to be desired, and the condition of the road surfaces left much more to be desired!  There is no doubt that the duties of the marshals then were to try and keep the machines on the track by pointing the direction of the course to the riders and if once they left the track to assist them back on to it. The incidence of engine breakdowns must have been fairly high and marshals were permitted to assist riders in pushing their vehicles to get them going again once repairs had been effected. Picture: First race after the Great War. Marshal assistance 1920 Isle of Man TT

This of course, is not permitted today, but I rather doubt whether many of the mechanical wonders of yesteryear would ever have sprung into life again if this worthy band of marshals had not been there ready and willing to assist.

What facilities had these marshals? Firstly, there was no telephone, and I have it on good authority that the marshals kept in touch with each other around the Course by means of blowing a whistle! We have certainly come a long way since then to our present novel method of assistance—the helicopter.

The roads were not closed for the first car Races, but in 1907' on the eve of the first motorcycle T.T. race a Special Tynwald Court met at St. Johns to empower the Governor to close the Insular Roads for Road Races. The experience gained in these Races must have indicated the urgent necessity for some organised assistance to supplement the Police Force in enforcing the Road Closing Order and generally to assist the organisation. 

Police Officer with itinerant circa 1900. The officer is pictured wearing a duty armband on his left wrist. The Special Police Constable was similarly dressed.

At the 1908 race, there first appeared the Special Constables, sworn in, decorated with brassards and all addressed by the Governor, Lord Raglan, on the importance of their powers and duties. Thus, the first semblance of organised marshalling was born.  In 1909 the ‘Short Course’—St. Johns, Ballacraine, Kirk Michael, Peel and back to St. Johns—was considered not safe for machines travelling at such speeds! (Lap record 50 m.p.h.) In 1911 the Races were transferred to the new Course, although it was not quite the same course as today.

This longer and more isolated course, together with the increased speeds, demanded a greater degree of marshalling both for the benefit of the rider and of the organisation. Local interest, particularly amongst the younger set, grew and before long the initial small band of marshals grew to considerable proportions.  

After the Second World War the Chief Constable of the Isle of Man, Major John Young, (In office from 1936–1954), was invited by the Auto-Cycle Union to become 'Chief Marshal' for the T.T. Races, and due to the increasing popularity of the Races and the high speeds involved it was found necessary to have a greater number of marshals and to put the whole question of marshals on a proper footing. 

It was then that the present system of marshalling was devised. Many who read this and having marshalled will know the drill but [I will briefly explain how the system operates. The Chief Constable has divided the Course into eight Sectors, and appointed in each Sector a Sector Chief Marshal, who is someone well known locally and who has been associated with Marshalling for a number of years. The current system, for marshalling purposes finds the course split into 12 sectors as shown in the picture, each with its own Chief Sector Marshal and numerous Deputy Sector Marshals. More than 500 marshals are required across the whole twelve sectors for every single practice or race session.

About three weeks before the practising begins the Chief Constable causes a notice to be published in the local press asking for volunteer marshals to give their names to either their Sector Chief Marshal or the local Police Station. Marshals, who are required to be sixteen years and above, supply such particulars as their address, dates when they can do duty, and the place where they wish to perform duty. 

After collaboration by the Police and Sector Chief Marshals, rotas are drawn up for the whole Course and each Marshal has a postcard sent to him giving him information regarding his duties and the time and date of the “Swearing In”.  This card is in fact the marshals warrant card and although I have used the term “Swearing In”, such a ceremony does not now take place. By virtue of The Highway (Races and Entertainment) Act, 1962, the Chief Constable is empowered to “appoint” marshals and when so appointed they have the full powers of Special Constables for the Race period.  

On three evenings prior to the Practices a senior police official with his assistant goes along to the points named on the marshals’ cards and each marshal is presented with the following:

(I) Marshal’s armlet.

(2) Instructions to marshals. 

(3) List of riders. 

(4) Invitation to the Marshals‘ Supper. 

(5) Yellow duster to be used as emergency yellow flag.

This arrangement works exceedingly well, and provides that personal touch between Police, Sector Chief Marshals, Marshals Association and marshals which is so essential in a large voluntary organisation such as ours.  It is worthy of mention that the interest in marshalling often runs in families, and it is not uncommon to find both father and son as marshals. Local marshals are supplemented by enthusiastic club men, etc., who visit the Isle of Man for the Races, and they are particularly helpful on certain Race days when not all the local marshals are free.  

It was not, however, until the 1960 T.T. Marshals’ Supper that the first suggestion was put forward that a Marshals’ Association should be formed. It was indeed surprising that a body which then numbered no less than 450, and which had been in existence for over fifty years had taken so long to form an  Association.  This suggestion was put forward by Superintendent Kermeen who, as a youth, was a most enthusiastic marshal in the North of the Island. The idea was quickly taken up by quite a number who were present at the supper. 

A meeting of all marshals was called for the 5th of April, 1962, and it was at this meeting that the Isle of Man T.T. Marshals Association was inaugurated. A set of rules was drawn up and these set out the objects of the Association:

(1) To maintain and improve the standard of marshalling at road racing and other events.

(2) To foster ‘Esprit de corps’ amongst the marshals. 

(3) To establish liaison between the marshals and the Race Committee. 

(4) To encourage training of marshals in first aid, Race procedure and rules, handling of crashed vehicles, handling of crowds, and in exercising the powers of Special Constables. 

The Association has the blessing of the Auto-Cycle Union, the Manx Motor Cycle Club, and the Southern (l.O.M.) Motor Cycle Club, the patrons of the Association being the Chairman of each of the first two clubs mentioned, together with Rev, R. H, Reid.

The President is Mr. C. C. Beaty-Pownall, Chief Constable and Chief Marshal, and the Chairman is Superintendent R. J. Kermeen. The Secretary, from the inauguration of the Association until the present year, was Sergeant A. C. Underhill who still lends a hand as Assistant Secretary; the; Secretary is Constable G. A. Lowe. The police are keenly interested in the Association, and it is therefore not surprising that these four positions are held by police officers. When the Association was first formed the Isle of Man Tourist Board were extremely helpful in matters of finance, and it is now hoped that the Association will continue to be self-supporting. The Late Rem Fowler   First Honorary Member of the Isle of Man T.T. Marshals Association.   

It is with regret that we record the death of our First Honorary Member, Mr. Rem Fowler (winner of I907 Twin Cylinder Class at average speed of 36mph).  The present Honorary Members are Superintendent R. J. Kermeen, Mr.  G. D. Hanson (Clerk of the Course for Manx Grand Prix Races), and Mr. Alec Bennett (first rider to average 60 m.p.h. in 1924!). During the past two winters, meetings have been arranged when speakers, which included Mr. Geoff Duke and Mr. G. D. Hanson, and a doctor, have addressed the meetings. These talks which were followed by films on racing proved most popular.

The Association has brought to the notice of the Isle of Man Highway and Transport Board a number of points on the T.T. course where the road surface needed attention; immediate steps were taken by the Board to have these matters rectified. 

A number of suggestions have also been submitted to the Race Organisers and these were favourably received.  The multifarious duties required of marshals such as keeping the Course clear, picking up motor cycles and treating injured riders, passing information to the Start, manning telephones, etc., make them invaluable in the race organisation. It has been said on many occasions that the Races could not be run without the marshals, and when it is considered that there were over 500 members of the Association in its first year, some idea is given of their valuable contribution to racing.

It is not without some considerable effort that marshals attend morning and evening practices in addition to their daily work during the whole of each practice week. It has even been known or marshals to take their annual holidays to enable them to marshal during the Race period. 

To this worthy band who carry out their duties year -by year in all weathers without any thought of reward other than the thrill of racing and the companionship of fellow marshals, we salute you!

Inclusion by JEEP: I have added this video even though it is out of period. It was filmed in 2019 and does show the work and dedication shown by each and every Marshal in doing his duties and aiding in the running of the Tourist Trophy races.  IOM TT Marshals - Marshalling the TT Course - introductory film

If you have any information on this T.T. or others, I would welcome receiving it. I am currently looking for photos of the 50cc riders who rode in the TTRA Classic Parade from Creg-ne-Baa to the Finish line in 2002. Copies would be most welcome. jeep50@sky.com

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