We’ll go no more a’sailing
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.