Trea­sures of the past

Southern Gazette (South Perth) - - South Of The River - Natalie Naz­zari

PERTH mo­tor­cy­cle racer Sig Sch­lam was a sport­ing su­per­star in the late 1920s, but his fame was cut short when he died af­ter a crash at the WACA ground at the age of 25.

Welsh­pool’s Col­lec­tions and Re­search Cen­tre, which stores items for the WA Mu­seum, has re­ceived two tro­phies won by the dare­devil speed­way ace – a golden hel­met and a golden crown.

His­tory depart­ment cu­ra­tor Joanne Hy­land said Sch­lam was a high-pro­file mo­tor­cy­cle rider who was young and flam­boy­ant.

“A lot of peo­ple were in­ter­ested in him, he would draw a big crowd,” she said.

“In the in­terim sea­son, he went to the UK and was pro­mot­ing the sport there be­fore it started in Eng­land.

“When he came back around Septem­ber 1930, there were ru­mours in the pa­per that he had been of­fered to ride over in the East­ern States.

“The WACA was try­ing to start up their own speed­way track, maybe in com­pe­ti­tion with Clare­mont. So for their in­au­gu­ral event on Novem­ber 1, 1930, he was their big draw­card to get peo­ple through the gate.”

Ms Hy­land said peo­ple came to see the star at­trac­tion, but Sch­lam’s story ended trag­i­cally.

“He had a great night, but in one of the last events he hit a bump in the track and veered off into the fence and he was thrown back onto the track and he had se­vere head in­juries,” she said.

“He died the next day and he was only 25 years old.”

Ms Hy­land said Sch­lam was born in Boul­der in 1905. He won the golden hel­met from the 1928/29 sea­son and the golden crown the fol­low­ing sea­son.

An­other in­ter­est­ing item in the cen­tre’s vaults was a twopage let­ter writ­ten and thrown over­board off Al­bany by sol­diers head­ing to war in April 1916.

Harold Coxon (20), Regi­nald Swift (24), James Valen­tine Brown (26) and Henry Wil­liams (19) co-wrote the let­ter, which has been pre­served in a jar.

It was found in 1930 on a beach in Al­bany.

The let­ter, which is still in good con­di­tion, has the four sol­diers’ ini­tials, reg­i­men­tal num­ber and bat­tal­ions writ­ten on it.

Pic­ture: Elle Borg­ward

Cu­ra­tor Joanne Hy­land with Sig Sch­lam’s tro­phies and the let­ter thrown over­board by sol­diers leav­ing for World War I.

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