CLUB HISTORY 2012
The Weymouth & South Dorset Club was first formed in the 1920s by, among others, Vic Kendall, Arthur Foxwell and Joe Caslake. They had been members of a Dorchester cycling club until then and no doubt decided to sample the delights of the new fangled motorised bicycles. An inaugural run took the form of a trip to the New Forest. Another rider present that day was Jim Batten, who would become a leading member of the Bridport Club in later years. Although Jim, Vic and Joe took part in sporting events, there is no record of any competitions run by the club and they appear to have remained a touring club pre war.
After the war the club was re-formed in 1947 at a meeting held in the offices of Messrs Pankhurst (Motorcycle Agents) The Town Bridge Weymouth. Vic Kendall carried on where he had left off as secretary, (a post he held for 34 years), Arthur Foxwell became treasurer, a post he carried for 30 years. Joe Caslake became President and remained so until his death. In later years he also became President of the Southern Centre. Other prominent members who joined the club were Reg Bicknell, Max King and Mark Savage. All these gentlemen presented trophies to the club at various times and these are still in use today.
The first General meeting of the Bridport Club was held on Feb 27th 1949 at the George Inn Bothenhampton. One of the founder members was Peter Williams who went on to give exceptional service to the club and is still a Vice President to this day. The Club became affiliated to the ACU in July 1949 and the earlier mentioned Jim Batten was elected President in Nov of that year. His work took him away from the area in the late 50s and the Presidency passed to another Bridport Club stalwart A J (Tubby) Wells.
The Bridport News Letter, "the Piston Slap", was first produced in 1950. I took the job on in 1967 and have been stuck with it ever since.
The first Bridport trial was a closed to club event held on Boxing Day 1949, won by a Mr H Matthews, who came from Lyme Regis. This trial became known as the "Boxer" trial. A trophy in the form of a Boxer dog on a plinth was presented to the club by Jim Batten and is a very coveted award. It is the only trophy that has been presented every year since 1950. The first Weymouth trial was also run in 1950. Joe Caslake supplied a cup for the winner. The trial became known as The Presidents Cup Trial with the Caslake Cup still awarded to the winner. The trophy was first won by a George Buttigig, a garage proprietor from Newberry.
The first of many joint scrambles was held on June 3rd 1951 at Mapperten Farm, near Beaminster. I am indebted to Mark Savage for providing a copy of the original programme. The landowner Mr Tommy Douch presented the Peter Ralph Trophy to the club. Peter and Ralph being the names of his two sons. The cup is still presented to the most successful rider in Bridport club events. The clubs continued to run joint scrambles until the late 50s, moving to a fine hillside course at Winyards Gap, near Crewkerne. This is where I got my first taste of motorcycle sport having ridden my bicycle up the main road from Toller Fratrum. After the demise of Winyards Gap the clubs went their separate ways. Bridport ran on another fine hillside course at Chilcombe Hill, near Askerswell while Weymouth moved to Chickerell Court Farm (behind the Wessex Stadium) where they ran the first ever televised scramble for BBC Grandstand. Bridport were themselves responsible for another trend in British scrambling being the first club to run a four strokes only race. This developed to the extent of running a four stroke only meeting at Bettiscombe on new years Day 1977. The club was also instrumental in starting the Haynes Four stroke Championship. Although the clubs still ran separately at this time they still remained very close and the same riders and officials could be found at both club events.
Trials had continued non stop during this time. A new innovation for the Weymouth Club was the Summer Series Trials organised by Mrs May Loder (of Loders Garage Dorchester) These were mainly Saturday afternoon events, the most popular ones ending with a barbeque at Moor Farm Chickerell, courtesy of the Vine family.
Mrs Loders husband Claude had been an enthusiastic rider in the early days but unfortunately died suddenly while riding in an XHG Tigers trial in 1949. Despite this tragedy the Loder family continued their interest in motorcycle sport son Richard becoming a very talented rider in the 1960s.The club still retains the Claude Loder Memorial Cup.
The club has been involved in three Southern Expert trials, in 1972, 1993 and again in 2019 at Portland. A trial which used both Weymouth and Bridport trials land.
Another innovation by the Weymouth Club was the running of a series of Wednesday evening scrambles at Goulds Hill, Upwey, sponsored by the local Devenish Brewery. These proved very popular with both riders and spectators alike, many holiday makers enjoying this surprise addition to their stay in Weymouth. Unfortunately it was the untimely death of trials stalwart John Poate that brought the clubs together again to run a joint event. A donation to both clubs in his Will was used to purchase a silver salver, The John Poate Trophy, which is awarded to the winner of the annual trial which carries his name.
By the end of the 1970s interest in scrambles had waned and both clubs decided to concentrate on trials. Although for a while the trials continued independently, a joint club championship was set up with points awarded from both clubs trials. At the beginning of 2011 the clubs formally amalgamated and became the Bridport and Weymouth Motorcycle Club. We hope this new name will be in evidence for many years to come providing motorcycle sport for this area of West Dorset. Although there is once again some concern over the shortage of manpower.
Ivan Rose 18 - 2 - 2012
CLUB HISTORY (Cont) 2015.
Quite recently a number of old trophy bases have been found. One of these shows that the Meech Cup was first presented in 1932 so the Weymouth Club did run competitive events pre war. No indication as to what kind of events these were, but considering club officials were into trials I suspect they were “reliability trials”, as they were called at that time. These trials were similar to the long distance events of the present day,stretches of road travel with a number of observed hills. Many of today’s tarred roads were rough tracks in the 1930s.
In fact the steep hill leading down to the Bridport Club’s old Eggardon Hill venue was still unsurfaced in the 1950s.
The Meech Cup was presented each year from 1932 until 1938. There is then a break (for obvious reasons) until 1949. Few of the names are recognisable but D Kelly (1937) could be Dennis Kelly who was a regular scrambles competitor in the 1950s at Winyards Gap. The last two entries 1950 and 51 show the winner as L G Broad. Les Broad was a leading member of the Frome Valley Club when I began trials riding in 1959. The same man I wonder? Who knows. Unfortunately the Meech Cup was lost some time in the 1960s.The present day Meech is a replacement and known as the Meech Trophy.
Another base is from the Claude Loder Cup, donated to the club in 1949, the same year that Claude unfortunately passed away (see above). A third is from the R J Watts Cup, awarded for outstanding service to the club. R J Watts were car dealers based in Trinity Street Dorchester. Many well known members appear on this base, most well known from the present day is Pete Knight. Still involved at the present time as Vice Chairman having previously been Treasurer for over 20 years. Truly outstanding service.
The discovery of these trophy bases has filled a lot of gaps in the club history
Ivan Rose Dec 2015.