A twist of the wrist that made his­tory

The Daily Telegraph - Business - - Women's Sport Monthly - By Rob Bagchi, with thanks to Kirstin Si­b­ley and her ex­hi­bi­tion and cat­a­logue: ‘Beryl Swain: The Need for Speed’.

On Satur­day, June 8, 1962, with a twist of the wrist, Beryl be­came the first woman to ride solo in the TT (above). In a field of 33, more than half of whom rode bikes with full teams be­hind them, Beryl came 22nd out of 25 fin­ish­ers de­spite clutch trou­ble lim­it­ing her to 55mph for all of the 37.4-mile sec­ond lap of the course. She vowed to be back the next year on a bet­ter bike.

But she never com­peted again. The Fed­er­a­tion re­voked her li­cence and en­forced a male-only rule. Even her protest was re­ported in a tone of sex­ism: “This wordy wife is hop­ping mad,” wrote the Mir­ror when her let­ter failed to over­turn the ban for the 1963 TT. Thwarted, she re­tired from club rac­ing and fo­cused on her ca­reer with Sains­bury’s. She died in 2007.

It was not un­til 1978 that Hi­lary Mus­son be­come the sec­ond fe­male TT racer.

Back in 1962, Pathe’s pro­file of Beryl ended with a voiceover that said: “Slowly and surely women, the weaker sex, are muscling in on man’s do­main. Prac­ti­cally no sport is sa­cred.” She did not sur­vive to see Car­rasco tri­umph but, thank­fully, she lived long enough to see all of Pathe’s “sa­cred cows” blown away.

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