On the 14th July 1963 a good strong entry of 123 solo competitors and 9 sidecar crews set off to compete on a single lap of just over 60 miles taking in 37 sections in the heart of the Yorkshire
Dales. The event was the Allen Jefferies Trial organised by the Bradford and District Motor Club. These nostalgic times in motorcycle trials attracted entries of over 100 plus, as seen here,
and were dominated by a massive industry in turmoil as the once mighty British motorcycle manufacturing was slipping into a decline it would never recover from. Scott Ellis was a factory supported Triumph rider, and a very determined one at that. Despite the onslaught of the larger capacity two- and four-stroke machinery ridden by his rivals he took the individual victory and
would lead the Triumph team to the prestigious ‘Best One-Make Team’ award
The entry included previous winners Johnny Brittain, Jeff Smith, Gordon Blakeway and Ray Sayer but the previous year’s winner Mick Andrews was missing, having broken two bones in his foot at a Scrambles meeting the week before. The manufacturer team’s award was very much sought after, as the battle to be the best of the ‘British Bikes’ carried some pride to be part of the winning team.
The event was contested on an overcast summer’s day in the heart of Yorkshire’s best scenery, and included in its sixty-mile single lap were hazards at Langcliffe Gate, Rainscar Beck, Fountains Fell, Coverdale, Plews Wood and Moorend, which is where the majority of the pictures used in this report were taken. The Moorend hazards could be found above the small village of Kettlwell behind the garage owned by the Wilkinson brothers, Bill and Mick, and it attracted a good strong crowd to witness the action. The hazards here are plotted out to take in the loose rocky limestone climbs where rear-wheel grip is always at a premium and 100% concentration as you attempt to hold the line is a must. An early casualty of the rocky terrain was Tom Ellis (249cc BSA) – no relation to eventual winner Scott Ellis – who trapped his leg between his machine and the terrain with such impact he began to wonder if it was broken! Despite showing tough Yorkshire ‘grit’ he was forced to retire from the competition when he could no longer change gear!
Sammy Miller was on a roll and was ‘The’ man to beat, having retained his British Trials Championship title since 1959, and for every other rider he was the one they wanted to deny victory. The pressure must have been immense but he generally took it all in his stride. At the Allen Jefferies he was out on his spare machine, the Ariel carrying the registration 786 GON, while the world-famous machine carrying GOV 132 was rested. Scott Ellis knew that a good consistent day’s riding would give him victory. Despite a five-mark penalty for a ‘stop’ earlier on in the day he maintained his concentration to part with just a further three marks and two single dabs to finish with a six-mark winning margin over the Brittain brothers Pat and Johnny, who had tasted victory at the event way back in 1953 and 1954.
What’s interesting in the results is the fact that the top ten finishing positions are dominated by the four-stroke machinery. Smaller capacity four-strokes were easier to handle but had to have the motors revved harder to extract the performance from them, whereas the larger capacity four-strokes could be ridden slower using the torque from the motor to the best effect. This afforded the rider the opportunity to pick his chosen line in a hazard and ride it at a slower pace. Twostrokes were now becoming more popular, manufactured by the likes of Greeves and Dot for example, who were using the Villiers supplied motors to use in their own chassis. The flimsy electrics required so much maintenance, but in general they were lighter in weight and considered by many to be the future power plant of all trials machines. Twelve months later, at the close of the 1964 season, that man Miller would change the face of trials forever as he moved to the Spanish Bultaco brand and with it the two-stroke Armada would start to arrive, putting another nail in the coffin of the British trials motorcycle.
Top 15 Solo Machines
Greeves 3, Triumph 3, AJS 2, Ariel 2, Dot 2, Royal Enfield 2, and BSA 1.
The sidecar scene and its competitors has always enjoyed a more sporting day out than the solo competitors. Sheffield based Alan and Merle Morewood soon became regular winners on their Ariel combination. The Mr and Mrs couple were very competitive and took the honours at the Allen Jefferies trial in front of Peter ‘Pip’ Roydhouse, who had the very brave Colin Pinder in the chair of the Norton outfit. They were followed home by Peter Wraight and Hugh Breland on another Ariel in a four-stroke dominated entry.
By the look of the clothing Johnny Brittain (248cc Royal Enfield) has on, it was not a particularly warm day We have had to cheat with this image of Pat Brittain (246cc Dot) as we could not find any from the event but wanted to recognise his second place finish. Don Morley rescued the situation with this shot from the Bemrose Trial in Derbyshire from the same year Scott Ellis (199cc Triumph) was a worthy winner on the doorstep of his Yorkshire rivals
Peter Gaunt (497cc Ariel) focuses on what’s ahead under the gaze of the observer Eric Adcock has always been associated with the Dot brand and was one of the first riders to use an aluminium cylinder barrel on the Villiers motorTed Usher uses every ounce of his body on the AJS to stay feet-up
The superb open tracks around Kettlewell in Yorkshire were made for a trials eventThe slippery rivers took no prisoners, as this rider finds out It’s time to push for Peter Wraight, as Hugh Breland moves his bodyweight across on the 497cc Ariel powered sidecar outfit