New speedway book revs up to rekindle special memories of speed trials along the East Suffolk Coast
PUBLISHED: 15:00 24 September 2017 | UPDATED: 15:00 24 September 2017
It was once a major spectacle, attracting tens of thousands of keen enthusiasts and competitors from across the world.
But the bygone glory days of motorcycle speedway along the East Suffolk coast in the 1920s and 1930s have remained relatively unknown – until now.
A new publication – showcasing images from another era and rekindling memories from yesteryear of the popular speedway dirt tracks and speed trials in the local area – has been unveiled.
A collection of reports, results and fascinating photographs fill the pages of Throttle Back, compiled by Peter Banks and James Saunders.
Featuring motorcycle speedway and speed trials along the east Suffolk coast in the 1920s and 1930s, this new book documents how England versus Australia test matches were held in Kessingland while Crown Meadow and the North Sea Wall in Lowestoft were popular venues.
Mr Banks said: “We’ve been going down to the Lowestoft Heritage Centre once a week for about four years, but the planning of this book has taken about two years. We saw these things about the bikes in the 1920s and 1930s and with the stories told to me by my father and friends about speedway and speed trial racing we thought it would be good to follow up on the memories of those bygone days.”
Thorough research through decades of newspapers, photographs and journals, along with meetings with prominent locals, has led to this book “recalling the riders, mechanics, officials and British motorcycles of that era.”
Among the numerous results, reports and racing details listed in this unique 80-page publication, it states that the “mile and a quarter” Lowestoft Sea Wall track venue “offers one of the finest short distance racing tracks in the country.”
Mr Banks said: “The Lowestoft North Sea Wall was quite famous for speed trials, and had up to 20,000 people attend in those days.”
Mr Saunders added: “The book features those who were racing locally, including the Clarke brothers, whose father Thomas Clarke was a motorcycle engineer dealer who lived and owned the local garage in the High Street, Kessingland.”
The book documents how riders from Wimbledon, Coventry, Bristol, Australia and Canada used to compete – including Australian test rider Jack Sharp – and other top names including E C E ‘Barry’ Baragwanath, who won the Lowestoft Hospital Cup in 1926.
Book is now on sale
The book’s preface states: “Throughout the 1920s and 1930s local venues along the east coast and close to Lowestoft once hosted the glory days of motorcycle speedway. These venues were situated at Kessingland, Pakefield, Gunton Hall Estate, Benacre Estate, Normanston Park in Oulton Broad, Crown Meadow in Lowestoft, North Sea Wall in Lowestoft and Bradwell.”
The authors said: “We have had a lot of help from John and Terry at the Heritage Centre, Crown Street Motors, the Clarke’s at Kessingland, the Green’s at Beccles and our family. It has been quite time consuming but we are really pleased with the finished publication.”
The book, which costs £15 and was published by the Heritage Workshop Centre, is now on sale at Wells in Queen Street, Southwold, Beccles Books Ltd at Exchange Square in Beccles and at the Lowestoft Heritage Workshop Centre in 80A High Street. It is also available online via www.lowestoftheritage.org