We’ll go no more a’sail­ing

Old Bike Australasia - - CLUB DIRECTORY - Edgar Jes­sop

is a keen devo­tee of the ex­ploits of Edgar Jes­sop and the Spag­forth dy­nasty, and de­votes many of his wak­ing hours to re­search into the great man’s colour­ful past. He has un­cov­ered yet an­other amaz­ing episode in the Spag­forth saga, which he has shared with us…

16th cen­tury York­shire clair­voy­ant Mother Ship­ley’s proph­esy that steel would float was still be­lieved by many York­shire­men in 1926. They pre­sumed that mo­tor­cy­cles would float too. One night, young tear­away Edgar Jes­sop, was rid­ing his mo­tor­cy­cle home from the Nags Head af­ter con­sum­ing ten pints of Theak­ston’s “Old Pe­cu­liar.” He suc­cess­fully crossed Ilk­ley Moor, (with­out a hel­met) and was travers­ing the foot­bridge over the river Lune when he swerved to avoid a bad­ger, and crashed into deep wa­ters.

Jes­sop emerged from the river, sans mo­tor­cy­cle, which he claimed had been swept out to sea. The po­lice in­quiry, based on the times Jes­sop boasted for leav­ing the pub and hav­ing the ac­ci­dent, re­vealed that he had crossed Ilk­ley Moor at 92.4 mph. This em­bel­lished statis­tic soon came to the at­ten­tion of Sir Carruthers Spag­forth; now he had found the rider he was seek­ing to en­ter the pro­to­type Spag­forth Light­ning at the Isle of Man TT.

With only weeks un­til the TT races, a strike at the Isle of Man Steam Packet Com­pany meant that al­ter­na­tive trans­port to the is­land was ur­gently needed. Ever the en­ter­pris­ing mogul, Sir Carruthers en­gaged a lo­cal car­pen­ter, Lenny Larch, to build a sea-go­ing side­car (the pro­to­type Spag­forth Tetra­pod), which was cou­pled to a Spag­forth Ger­bil. Fi­nally, Edgar and me­chanic Arthur Thistleth­waite were ready to leave for the trip to More­cambe Bay and the cross­ing to the is­land. The towns­folk of Gig­gleswick all turned out, and the Heck­mond­wyke Col­liery Brass Band saw them off to the tune of Edgar’s favourite, “On Ilk­ley Moor baht’ at.” The trip to the sea­side was un­event­ful, but upon rid­ing across the sand and into the ocean, the com­pletely in­ad­e­quate flota­tion qual­i­ties of the Light­ning were im­me­di­ately ap­par­ent. For­tu­nately, the cap­sized pair were res­cued in shal­low wa­ter by lo­cal whelk gath­er­ers. The com­bi­na­tion lay sub­merged in the mud for many years un­til it was ex­ca­vated by smug­glers. The Ger­bil, cor­rectly deemed use­less, was thrown back into the ocean, but the Tetra­pod was pressed into ser­vice, run­ning con­tra­band truf­fles and gar­lic be­tween the French coast and Pen­zance. Larch con­tin­ued mak­ing side­cars, and in later years one made a cross­ing of the English Chan­nel. How­ever this time the owner first un­cou­pled his mo­tor­cy­cle from the side­car.

ABOVE Edgar Jes­sop strad­dles the Spag­forth Ger­bil with builder Arthur Thistle­waite in the pro­to­type Spag­forth Te­tra­pod side­car.

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