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