Eric Adcock

My late fa­ther Ron had pur­chased a new DOT as one of his first ever tri­als ma­chines. The sto­ries of tak­ing it back to Manch­ester on the train to the DOT fac­tory were al­ways a con­stant source of amuse­ment, as it was def­i­nitely not ‘Devoid Of Trou­ble’. Over

Classic Trial - - CONTENTS -

Words: Eric Adcock talks with John Hulme • Pic­tures: Alan Vines, Brian Holder, Don Mor­ley, Mal­colm Car­ling, DOT, Brem­mer’s Press Agency, Ray Bid­dle, Old­ham Chron­i­cle, Ray­mond’s Press Agency, Bob Light for the Mo­tor Cy­cling, G M Pel­lett, Mo­tor­cy­cle News, The Nick Ni­cholls Col­lec­tion at Mor­ton’s Archive and Isle of Man Times. Eric do­nated the pic­tures in this ar­ti­cle from his col­lec­tion given to him over the years. With the pas­sage of time, we could not find out who many of the copy­right own­ers were, so we do apol­o­gise if some are recog­nised by the own­ers. Please con­tact us if you feel we have used your pic­tures.

Early Days

I was lucky to be born into a mo­tor­cy­cling fam­ily as both my par­ents had mo­tor­cy­cles in the 1920s be­fore they mar­ried. By the end of the 1920s and 1930s my fa­ther had joined the Old­ham Mo­tor Sports Club and was com­pet­ing in all types of off-road events, on Rudges in the Sad­dle­worth area. The war cur­tailed his com­pe­ti­tion ca­reer, and af­ter the war, we would go to watch tri­als and scram­bles in the North West and Cheshire. At one event at Marple, I got to know a youth about my age who had cy­cled from Mos­ton. His name was Jack Mathews, and we re­mained friends un­til his un­timely death in 1993. We used to meet up most week­ends and makeup tri­als sec­tions for our push bikes, and this was our train­ing for mo­tor­cy­cle tri­als a cou­ple of years later.

It was while we at­tended scram­bles I learned how to ride a mo­tor­cy­cle, as at these events as the car park emp­tied I would ride my fa­ther’s out­fit around the car park! As I ap­proached 16 we started to look for a tri­als ma­chine, but as I was only about 5’ 4” and nine stone the four-stroke mod­els were too big and heavy, so we placed an or­der for a new 197 DOT with Auty & Lees in Bury. The owner, Ginger Lees, was a friend of my fa­ther from pre-war events. As my birth­day ap­proached they could not tell us when a DOT would be de­liv­ered, so we looked else­where to see what was avail­able.

An­other big mo­tor­cy­cle dealer in Bury was Cliff Holden — later to be­come the Ossa and SWM im­porter — who was also a good scram­bler and had a new BSA Bantam on dis­play. Af­ter try­ing it for the size, we bought it. The sales­man was none other than Bill Barugh, who was just start­ing his long as­so­ci­a­tion with DOT mo­tor­cy­cles.

First Trial

My first trial was the Old­ham Ace Trial start­ing at the Glen View Café, Delph, and I won the Best Novice Award by fin­ish­ing 10th over­all. I had to ride the ma­chine to all events, and in March, af­ter five tri­als, I en­tered my first Na­tional, the Bem­rose Trial which was south of Bux­ton on the Ash­bourne Road.

By the time I reached Bux­ton it had started snow­ing, and af­ter the trial started it be­came im­pos­si­ble to see the route mark­ing, and the or­gan­is­ers cur­tailed the trial af­ter one lap. The event was won by pri­va­teer John Giles on a clean sheet. I lost 14 and just missed out on a Third Class Award, and fin­ished 47th out of 133 starters. Af­ter the event, it was a 35-mile jour­ney home in the heavy snow.

Af­ter about seven events I was told by the North Western Cen­tre Sec­re­tary that they had de­cided that I was no longer a Novice as I had won three 250cc cups. To get more ex­pe­ri­ence, I en­tered events in North Wales. At an event near Oswestry the BSA got stuck in bot­tom gear, but luck­ily my par­ents had fol­lowed me to the trial – so we lashed the front wheel be­tween their back wheel and the side­car to get me back to Old­ham! Dur­ing the next cou­ple of weeks, my fa­ther made a fix­ture be­tween his ma­chine and side­car to tow the BSA with just the back wheel on the ground.

The Bantam was short of power for some of the events, so we in­vested in a Fran­cis Bar­net road model with a spring frame and con­verted it for tri­als; my re­sults im­proved and I won my first trial! When Fran­cis Bar­nett an­nounced a gen­uine tri­als model, we bought one. This was still a three-speed model but with a rigid frame. On this ma­chine, I ven­tured into York­shire to ride in a Hal­i­fax Trial at the re­quest of Jim Cross­ley, who was much in­volved with the club, and I sur­prised the reg­u­lars by fin­ish­ing sec­ond to works BSA rider Tom El­lis out of 107 starters. Out of 37 tri­als I rode in 1952, I man­aged to win four. Af­ter fin­ish­ing sec­ond in the 1952 North­ern Ex­perts, I tied for first place in 1953 with Tom Leach and Arthur Shutt but lost out on the brake test so fin­ished third. In 47 tri­als I won five and never fin­ished lower than ninth.

At the end of 1953 we made our an­nual pil­grim­age to the Lancs Grand Na­tional on Hol­combe Moor, and in talk­ing with Bill Barugh af­ter the event was in­tro­duced to Burnard Scott Wade, the owner of DOT to see if they could lend me a ma­chine. The re­sult was an in­ter­view at the fac­tory, and a prom­ise of a ma­chine in Jan­uary, to­gether with en­tries and ex­penses for all trade sup­ported tri­als which I grate­fully ac­cepted.

Na­tional Ser­vice

In my sec­ond Na­tional trial on the DOT, I fin­ished fourth, and Best 250. In Septem­ber I re­ceived a let­ter from Nor­man Mo­tor­cy­cles in Kent ask­ing if I would be in­ter­ested in rid­ing their ma­chines, but I was happy with the DOT, and I de­clined.

1955 was my best year so far as I won three Na­tional tri­als and two 250 awards, and qual­i­fied for my first Bri­tish Ex­pert trial. I also rode in my first Scot­tish Six Days, and it was in­deed an eye-opener, as the trial started in Ed­in­burgh and went to Fort Wil­liam; a dis­tance of 150 miles and with only 23 sec­tions. On the sec­ond day, the route went as far north as In­ver­ness and in­cluded a climb of about 2,000ft up a steep, twist­ing track con­sist­ing of 10 sec­tions with tight bends. The track had been made by com­man­dos dur­ing the Sec­ond World War to train mules! At the end of the week, hav­ing cov­ered over 900 miles and rid­den with a bro­ken foot from Tues­day, I won a First Class Award and missed a Special First Class by just three marks.

In Oc­to­ber I re­ceived a let­ter to re­port to Cat­t­er­ick Camp for two years’ Na­tional Ser­vice. I de­cided to write back to see if they would de­fer me for an­other month so I could ride in my first Bri­tish Ex­perts trial. To my sur­prise, they said yes, and I fin­ished 15th and was the third un­der-200cc ma­chine. It also en­abled me to ride in my first Scott Trial, and I won the Best New­comer’s Award. This was the end of my tri­als rid­ing for 1955 af­ter win­ning 19 events.

Af­ter fin­ish­ing my train­ing and hav­ing ini­tially been told I was go­ing to Ger­many, I was sud­denly told I was to be posted to the Army M T School at Bor­den, Hamp­shire. Af­ter trav­el­ling nearly 300 miles by train, I was in the mess hav­ing tea when a ma­jor came in and asked for Pri­vate Adcock. He said ‘you have a week­end pass to ride in the Bem­rose Trial in Der­byshire’. Fur­ther­more, as there were no trains at Bor­don he said he would drive me to Alder­shot – and he turned up in a 1928 open topped Bent­ley! So af­ter 20 hours and trav­el­ling 600 miles, I ar­rived in Old­ham. It was worth the long jour­ney as I won the Best 250 Award.

Af­ter ar­riv­ing back at Bor­don, I was told my du­ties would be mainly rid­ing mo­tor­cy­cles, demon­strat­ing to of­fi­cers and sergeants on rid­ing cour­ses how to ride them off road. The sergeants in charge were Mervyn Ed­wards, who I knew as he used to ride in the Cheshire Cen­tre when he was sta­tioned at Ch­ester, and Bill Brooker, who on leav­ing the Army was Com­pe­ti­tion Man­ager at Greeves. Dur­ing my first week, I was told that the Army was en­ter­ing teams in the ISDT to be held in Ger­many in Septem­ber 1956 and I was one of the 20 rid­ers to at­tend the se­lec­tion tests in the com­ing weeks. The tests took place over the old Sun­beam Point-to-Point scram­ble course. We were watched at dif­fer­ent points of the course, and at the end of each three-mile lap, we had to carry out a test such as take a wheel out while be­ing ob­served; ev­ery­body was on a 350 Match­less. Af­ter the tests, the num­ber was whit­tled down to 12, and these were en­tered in the Welsh Three Day Trial, with rid­ers to be se­lected for the Bri­tish teams us­ing this event as train­ing for the ISDT. I was one of the 12 rid­ers and BSA, Match­less, Ariel and Royal En­field sup­plied three ma­chines each. I was given a 350 Royal En­field, on which I kept on time at all the checks and must have im­pressed as I was one of the eight to be se­lected to go to Ger­many. Once a month an Army unit in the Alder­shot area would or­gan­ise a trial. Each one was like a na­tional trial, with en­tries in­clud­ing Jeff Smith, Pat Brit­tain, Peter Stir­land and John Har­tle.


In Au­gust the Army se­lected the teams for the ISDT, and I have en­tered as a re­serve again on a Royal En­field along with Colin Mo­ran. For the first five days, the route was over 200 miles, which was about 10 hours in the sad­dle with only a 30-minute break for lunch. The last day was only 80 miles, but then we had to com­plete a speed test which lasted an hour when a 350 had to av­er­age more than 50mph. I was lucky to fin­ish the trial as all the ma­chines sup­plied by Royal En­field broke their frames, so af­ter com­plet­ing the course Ron Langston and I were the only army rid­ers to win Gold Medals for los­ing no marks. Back to Eng­land and a fifth place and Best 250 in the Scott Trial, and win­ning the Na­tional Manville Trial rounded off the year.

In 1957 I took my DOT to Bor­den, rid­ing mainly in the south­ern parts of the coun­try, and won a few events and a First Class Award in the Scot­tish. Back up north in 1958 af­ter re­lease from the Army, I started win­ning again at the na­tional Green­smith and the High­land Two Day Tri­als. The ‘Scot­tish’ was a dis­as­ter, hav­ing to re­tire on the third day when the big end failed when ly­ing sixth. Then I was asked to at­tend the se­lec­tion tests for the ISDT by the ACU. Af­ter this, I re­ceived a let­ter from BSA ask­ing if I would like to ride one of their ma­chines in the ISDT, which was again in Garmisch, but DOT would not let me.

1958 was a busy year rid­ing every week­end, rid­ing in 58 tri­als and win­ning 25, in­clud­ing two na­tional tri­als and about six scram­bles as well as be­ing in the win­ning team at the Sun­beam Point to Point scram­ble.

In De­mand

One of my best years was 1959 when I rode in 23 na­tional tri­als and fin­ished out­side the top 10 only once. By the end of the year, I was fourth in the Bri­tish Tri­als Drivers Star com­pe­ti­tion be­hind Sammy Miller, Gor­don Jack­son and Roy Pe­plow. Af­ter the Scot­tish, in which I re­tired when the rear wheel bear­ings dis­in­te­grated, I re­ceived a let­ter from Henry Vale, the Tri­umph Com­pe­ti­tion Man­ager, of­fer­ing a Tiger Cub to try out. Af­ter about three months I re­turned it as I found I could ride the DOT bet­ter.

Also in 1959 Hugh Viney, Com­pe­ti­tion Man­ager of AMC, of­fered me a Match­less to try. The day af­ter the Ex­perts I rode the Match­less in a lo­cal trial and won, but I still found the DOT eas­ier to ride, so I re­turned it to AMC. Pat Lam­per was now Com­pe­ti­tion Man­ager at DOT, and he and I de­cided to have a try at Speed­way. We spent most Mon­day evenings at Belle Vue, train­ing un­der the guid­ance of Dent Oliver, but it was not for me.

1960 was a good year in cen­tre events, never fin­ish­ing lower than sixth, but not quite as con­sis­tent in na­tion­als al­though I won the Lo­max. Dur­ing this year DOT re­cruited sev­eral new team rid­ers in­clud­ing David Younghus­band, who later achieved fame as an Eng­land Speed­way In­ter­na­tional rider, and in the South West the Body broth­ers Mal­colm, Terry and Henry who achieved a lot of suc­cess. The Hal­i­fax club en­tered Eric Sel­lars, Doug Chad­wick and me in the York­shire Cen­tre Team Trial, and much to ev­ery­body’s sur­prise we beat the Brad­ford team of Ar­tie Rad­cliffe, Bill Wilkin­son and Ray Sayer. We all turned up at the Cen­tre Din­ner to re­ceive the Tro­phy but the Brad­ford club, who had won it for many years, could not find it — it was even­tu­ally found sev­eral months later in Al­lan Jef­feries’ shop!

In 1960 I fin­ished sec­ond to Miller again in the Manx Two Day Trial and the Mitchell Trial. I fin­ished the year on a good note by win­ning the North­ern Ex­perts from Gor­don Blake­way, af­ter hav­ing fin­ished sec­ond for the last two years.

1961 started well when I tied with Sammy Miller in the Na­tional Alan Trial but lost out on the tiebreak. In the Scot­tish, I was third on the Wed­nes­day be­hind Gor­don Jack­son and Sammy Miller, but af­ter a dis­as­trous fourth day, I even­tu­ally fin­ished 14th, win­ning an­other Special First Class Award. Jack­son won the event los­ing only one mark all week on Grey Mare’s Ridge, a sec­tion only cleaned by four rid­ers in­clud­ing my­self.

The ISDT re­turned to Wales in 1961 and DOT had been de­vel­op­ing a new ma­chine, with a square frame and al­loy bar­rel. I kept on time on the first day and was go­ing well un­til late on the sec­ond day when it seized solid due to the chrome on the bore flak­ing, so end­ing my In­ter­na­tional.

In Au­gust I mar­ried my wife, Dorothy. We hon­ey­mooned on the Isle of Man, and at the end of the week I rode in the Manx Two Day Trial and won a First Class Award. At the end of the year, I fin­ished sec­ond in the North­ern Ex­perts be­hind a 17-year-old Mick An­drews who recorded his first ma­jor suc­cess.

For­ever DOT

In March 1963 I won the lo­cal Na­tional Red Rose Trial, be­com­ing the first Lan­cas­trian to win the event. This year’s Scot­tish was my best ever, and on the first day, I was joint leader with Miller and Jack­son, even­tu­ally fin­ish­ing fourth be­hind Miller, Jack­son and Mick Ran­som.

I fan­cied hav­ing a ride with a side­car in tri­als and hav­ing ob­tained a DOT I got lo­cal engi­neer Bert Foster to make a side­car for me. I rode in sev­eral events, but the best I could do was a sec­ond in a South Liver­pool Trial.

At the Vic­tory Trial in 1964 I fin­ished in fourth place and just missed out on the 250 cup, and it was the same again at the Bem­rose Trial — just miss­ing out on the 250 cup but still fin­ish­ing third.

At the Scot­tish, the bear­ing in the sprocket car­rier col­lapsed, and I re­tired again! At the Scott Trial, I was fourth best on ob­ser­va­tion but lost 14 marks on time af­ter hav­ing to change a throt­tle ca­ble and rid­ing the last few miles with a flat rear tyre. Over­all it was a good year as I fin­ished fourth again in the Bri­tish Tri­als Cham­pi­onship.

Fed up with just miss­ing out on 250cc cups we bored the bar­rel out to 254cc for 1965, and it paid off as I won the 350 cup at the Vic­tory Trial.

In the Scot­tish, af­ter be­ing joint third on Wed­nes­day, I could do noth­ing right and on Thurs­day lost 35 and fin­ished joint 14th and re­ceived an­other Special First Class Award.

In the Na­tion­als, I still won First Class Awards, but the Span­ish in­va­sion had started. It took a lot of per­suad­ing, but DOT even­tu­ally put tele­scopic front forks on, and it im­proved the han­dling, but the Vil­liers en­gine did not per­form as well as the Span­ish ma­chines, so it was still an up­hill strug­gle.

In 1968 came the news that Vil­liers would stop sup­ply­ing en­gines to DOT, Greeves and Cot­ton so even­tu­ally, af­ter look­ing at var­i­ous for­eign en­gines, DOT and Cot­ton set­tled for the Ital­ian Minarelli En­gine. It was not good enough to com­pete with the Span­ish ma­chines though. Af­ter watch­ing the Hill Climb at Bee­ston Cas­tle in Cheshire over sev­eral years, I en­tered the event in 1971 with the 170 Minarelli DOT. Six rid­ers reached the top, in­clud­ing my­self. In the run-off, by ‘zig-zag­ging’ across the hill, I reached the sum­mit and was the Cheshire Cen­tre Hill Climb Cham­pion.

Re­turn­ing the fol­low­ing year, I re­peated my suc­cess adding the ti­tles to my nine Cheshire Tri­als Cham­pi­onship ones. In 1974 I more or less stopped rid­ing in tri­als as I had started re­port­ing for MCN as a cor­re­spon­dent and stew­ard­ing at events.

In 1977 I started as Per­mit Sec­re­tary for the North Western Cen­tre, which I am still do­ing to­day. In 1978 DOT de­cided to start pro­duc­ing tri­als ma­chines again. Us­ing the old style frame and the new 250 DMW en­gine they asked me to eval­u­ate it; but not hav­ing rid­den re­cently, I de­cided to ask Mau­rice Bray­ford to help. Af­ter sev­eral changes, he rode it for a cou­ple of years but it was still out­classed by the Span­ish and Ja­panese ma­chines, and the pro­ject stopped af­ter six ma­chines were pro­duced.

When my son started rid­ing in tri­als in 1983, I got the urge to have an­other go on a 175 Yamaha and then a Beamish Suzuki; I found it a lot harder than I thought it would be so I put to­gether a 250 DOT and started rid­ing in Pre-65 events, which I did un­til 2000.

Af­ter 50 years since I first rode in a trial, I re­tired, and have not rid­den since. I rode in over 1,000 Tri­als, win­ning 250 of them, and about 70 scram­bles.

In 2011 I was pre­sented at the ACU Head­quar­ters with the “The ACU Medal of Hon­our” for ser­vices to mo­tor­cy­cling. The award was pre­sented by the ACU Pres­i­dent, The Right Rev­erend John Oliver. I am now Pres­i­dent and dat­ing of­fi­cer for the DOT Club and a Di­rec­tor, Trea­surer and Per­mit Of­fi­cer of the NWC.

My fa­ther Jack Adcock and pas­sen­ger Jim Dunker­ley (350 Rudge) in Oc­to­ber 1931, cross­ing a stream at ‘Scout­head’ about three miles from Old­ham town cen­tre.

1953: Welsh Two Day Trial on a four-speed Fran­cis Bar­nett; the sec­tion is Fe-Ll­wyd.

Manor Steps 1954, los­ing five marks and only a Sec­ond Class Award.

1952: Red Rose Trial on the new Fran­cis Bar­nett; fin­ished 10th and won a First Class Award.

At home in 1954. The large tro­phy in the cen­tre is the Cheshire Cen­tre Team Award won by the Manch­ester 17 MCC with Doug Chad­wick, Tom Leach and my­self.

1952: Clay­ton Trial at Robin­son Rocks; won a Sec­ond Class Award.

1954: The first year on a DOT that they sup­plied with a rigid frame. Nant Gwilt is the haz­ard in the Welsh Two Day Trial; I won a First Class Award.

1955: Manor Steps in the Clay­ton Trial and a clean climb, to fin­ish 13th out of 202 starters and win a First Class Award.

1956: Army Cham­pi­onship in the sand at Bor­den.

1957: The South­ern Ex­perts or­gan­ised by Ralph Ven­ables. I rode in this event just as I was fin­ish­ing my Na­tional Ser­vice. The sec­tion is Black­well Bank.

1957: Manch­ester 17 MCC Box­ing Day Trial, which I won. The sec­tion is in the steam at Wash­gates.

1956: ISDT on the way to a Gold Medal on the Royal En­field.

1959: The Scott Trial, un­known sec­tion; fin­ished 10th and an­other Sil­ver Spoon.

1959: Al­lan Jef­feries Trial. Sec­tion is Moor End, Ket­tlewell; fin­ished sec­ond – two marks be­hind Ray Sayer – and won the Best 250 Cup.

1961: ISDT Trial held in Wales. The mo­tor­cy­cle is the pro­to­type DOT ‘Square Frame’ model with an alu­minium cylin­der bar­rel. I was still on ‘Gold’ sched­ule when it seized on the sec­ond day.

1960: Manx Two Day Trial. Fin­ished 2nd, four marks be­hind the win­ner Sammy Miller, and won the Best 250 Award.

1963: Scott Trial at Wash­fold Splash; fin­ished 9th and won a Sil­ver Spoon.

1964: Scott Trial at Bridge End; fin­ished 19th and won a Sil­ver Spoon.

Out­side the DOT fac­tory in the early six­ties en­route from work to a Na­tional Trial on the Saturday.

1961: Brad­ford Trial

This pic­ture is from around 1960 out­side the DOT Fac­tory, on one of Bert Foster’s 50cc DOT ‘Vivi’ road rac­ers.

1963: D K Mansell side­car; the only trial with Manch­ester 17 Club­man Ge­off Brass­ing­ton in the ‘chair’. We fin­ished 37th out of 64 starters.

1966: SSDT on Cal­lart Pass; fin­ished 18th and won a Special First Class Award af­ter only los­ing two marks on the first day.

1967: In the Vic­tory Trial, at last with tele­scopic front forks fit­ted.

1995: Back on a DOT at the Pre-65 Scot­tish on School House.

1972: On a Bultaco af­ter no DOT ma­chin­ery was avail­able, at the In­ter Cen­tre Team Trial rid­ing for the North Western Cen­tre.

1974: On a Montesa bor­rowed from Tom Robin­son on Roo­ley Moor.

1973: In­ter Cen­tre Team Trial. The trial was run by the Rochdale & DMCC. I am on the 170cc Minarelli DOT on Roo­ley Moor.

1986: High Peak Vin­tage MCC DOT night. The en­gine on the left is a Brad­shaw, which DOT used in the late 1920s. The other is a mod­i­fied 122cc Vil­liers en­gine from the 1951 TT ma­chine. The peo­ple from left: Ted Hardy, DOT His­to­rian; Bill Barugh; Nor­man Reed, Vin­tage Club; Ann Davy and Pat Davy, DOT Mar­que Spe­cial­ist; and Eric Adcock.

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