Leece Mu­seum

Gaven Dall’Osto wasted not a mo­ment dur­ing his trip to the 2017 Isle of Man TT. As well as tak­ing in the races on the oc­ca­sions when the track was dry enough to per­mit them to take place, Gaven sought out all sorts of mu­se­ums and other Manx at­trac­tions… I

Old Bike Australasia - - OUT ’N’ ABOUT -

Al­though it was a wet start to my day in Peel dur­ing TT week, there were plenty of in­door at­trac­tions to ex­plore. The Leece Mu­seum is a mu­nic­i­pal mu­seum de­voted to lo­cal Peel his­tory and is lo­cated in the nar­row but long three-level old Court House build­ing. Story has it that in 2015 the cu­ra­tor Roy Baker asked long time TT race spon­sor and mo­tor­cy­cle col­lec­tor, Wob­bly Bob Tay­lor, if he could lend a mo­tor­cy­cle or some mem­o­ra­bilia to the mu­seum for TT week. He brought along his Slip­pery Sam Replica. Wob­bly looked into the cave in the mu­seum base­ment and asked Roy what was down there. Roy said that it was the court house prison cell called the ‘Black Hole’. Wob­bly sug­gested that it would be a great mu­seum for mo­tor­bikes and so it has been fur­nished with a col­lec­tion of mo­tor­cy­cles ever since. The ‘Black Hole’ is re­ally a tun­nel with the walls and ceil­ing form­ing a large arch. With a nar­row cen­tral board walk and a row of mo­tor­cy­cles down each side it is cosy to say the least. On the flat wall on the far end is a painting in won­der­ful per­spec­tive of the TT circuit look­ing from Creg Ny Baa up the hill to Kate’s cot­tage. In the painting, the tar­mac is widest at the bot­tom where a painted floor mat con­tin­ues it on com­plete with the white cen­tre­line and syn­thetic grass each side. Two BSAs are parked on the mat look­ing like they are on the circuit hav­ing just raced down the hill. You are wel­come to sit on th­ese bikes for that “I’ve raced the TT Clas­sic” photo.

The Mu­seum is free to en­ter with do­na­tion buck­ets placed around the site for con­tri­bu­tions. The col­lec­tion is ever chang­ing as most are from Wob­bly Bob and other own­ers who sup­port the display by pro­vid­ing ma­chines from their col­lec­tions. Most mo­tor­cy­cles have a story board. There are also tributes to brave souls who once rode the display bike, and sadly some of them are no longer with us. I in­clude a lit­tle on my favourite ma­chines: – The Tri­umph triple-la­belled Slip­pery Sam needs a men­tion. Fa­mous for its many vic­to­ries in­clud­ing five straight years (1971 to 1975) in the 750cc class at the TT, it got its name from a not so glo­ri­ous oc­cur­rence. Dur­ing the 1970 Bol d’Or 24 hour race an oil leak blan­keted both rid­ers with a layer of na­ture’s an­cient fos­sil re­mains. No one named Sam was rid­ing but there is no doubt where the slip­pery came from. They still man­aged to fin­ish the race in 5th and as slip­pery as the sit­u­a­tion was, the name stuck and the words ‘Slip­pery Sam’ were later in­cluded on the mo­tor­cy­cle liv­ery. Wob­bly built the replica with a high de­gree of au­then­tic­ity and you are wel­come to sit on it while urged for a do­na­tion. Some of Wob­bly’s other dis­played bikes in­cluded a 1937 Match­less G90 Su­per Club­man, an early 40’s M20 BSA in­scribed with ‘Bloody Sore Arse’ on the fuel tank, a Tri­umph Tiger 100 Compy, a pre-unit Tri­umph pow­ered Nor­ton feath­erbed (Tri­ton) and a 1929 500cc Rudge Whit­worth racer which he rode on a com­mem­o­ra­tive lap at the TT cen­te­nary in 2010. Barnes Race bikes in­cluded a 1997 Honda RS125 and Yamaha R6 (co-spon­sored by Wob­bly Bob’s busi­ness Ather­stone Ac­ci­dent Re­pair Cen­tre) all in strik­ing metal­lic or­ange. A few Team Collins and Rus­sell Kawasaki Race bikes were dis­played. Des un­for­tu­nately passed away at the be­gin­ning of 2017 but has left an amaz­ing le­gacy. He was re­ally a sailor but got in­volved in sup­port­ing mo­tor­cy­cle rid­ers from 1970. He loved the sport and, along with his busi­ness part­ner Percy Wil­son, sup­ported no fewer than 54 rid­ers. They tuned to a sole Kawasaki out­fit from 1995 and in 2011 Dessie formed Team Collins and Rus­sell (TCR) with Ron­nie Rus­sell who Dessie spon­sored as a racer many years be­fore. The 1966 Kawasaki 250 A1R, two cylin­der two stroke and a 1972/3 Kawasaki H2R 750 triple were im­ported from New Zealand and re­stored by Dessie. The lat­ter had (now lo­cal Queens­lan­der) Kork Balling­ton’s name on the screen. Kork was given this bike to ride a few laps at the 2013 TT Clas­sic. Up­stairs was a group of black bikes all sport­ing girder forks. Along with Wob­bly Bob’s G9 and Rudge Whit­worth there was a 1935 Ve­lo­cette MOV 250 owned by Jim Blankhard. It’s plac­ard stated that it was the pre­cur­sor to the Ve­lo­cette Mac and was the

first mo­tor­cy­cle with a four speed foot change gear­box and fully en­closed over­head valves. Along­side was a beau­ti­ful 20’s Rex Acme TT racer. Small and quaint this mu­seum may be but it is def­i­nitely worth a visit. It’s op­po­site the Peel Ma­rina and close to Peel Cas­tle so the boats, seafood and lo­cal beer can also be en­joyed.

ABOVE Unique per­spec­tive of a painted TT back­drop fea­tur­ing Kate’s Cot­tage, and a cou­ple of BSAs. BE­LOW Early Bri­tish girder fork mo­tor­cy­cles.

TOP Im­pres­sive row of bikes, Ja­panese and Bri­tish. ABOVE Kork Balling­ton’s 1972/3 Kawasaki H2R 750 triple. BE­LOW Mod­est fa­cade hides some real trea­sur­ers.

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