This week we celebrate the MCC’s 122nd birthday!
The legend ‘Founded 1901’ is engraved upon the Motor Cycling Club’s badge. 1901 was 122 years ago, they did things differently then because their values and lines of thought were totally different from those by which we live today. When our club was founded in November 1901, Queen Victoria had been dead for a mere 9 months, and British society was still totally Victorian in behaviour and attitudes. Wilbur and Orville Wright were then fussing over which engine to put into their Flyer: that improbable machine eventually took to the air in December 1903, powered by an inline four of the brothers’ own devising, using gravity-assisted fuel injection.
“The past is a foreign country; they do things differently there.” (L.P Hartley)
Our first president Selwyn Francis Edge (President - 1901-06) thought that the motor cycle might become a sporting substitute for the Equine, being essentially less temperamental, cheaper to house and feed, and much more hygienic in its habits. That was the climate which prevailed over a century ago at the birth of the MCC, and which was responsible for the Club’s long standing sporting and socially eclectic character. That character comes through strongly in the MCC’s 1908 Articles of Association, which indicate clearly that the purpose of the club was (and is) to provide ‘Entertainments’ and motor-sporting events for its members.
The Morris Minor of FG Webb and the MG M Type of WG Uglow at the MCC Sporting Trial in Litton Derbyshire in 1930. By Bill Brunell.
To qualify for a gold medal, each entrant had to reach Edinburgh within 23 hours of their starting time. Those who took an extra hour qualified for a silver medal, and if they were able to get there within 30 hours, a bronze medal.
These awards were subject to entrants being not at any time or place during the run fifteen or more minutes ahead of scheduled time, so they were anything but easy to obtain. For those who really revelled in the challenge there was a separate optional trial held in the return journey. With Gold Medals for all classes.
However, failure to qualify for a gold medal under the regulations governing the outward run meant an entrant would be disqualified from any award on the return run.
This left little doubt about the seriousness of the event and enhanced the prestige gained by those who won a Double Journey Gold Medal.
One thing to note on this 10th running of the event there were 81 motorcycles, of which 61 were sidecar outfits.
The MCC can probably claim they were the first to start competing in this country using motorbikes. In April 1902, at the Crystal Palace, The MCC ran it’s first race and hill climb meeting - thought to be the first ever British race meeting for motor cycles. So called because they were essentially cycles but with a motorised engine. Sounds trite, but they were a new fangled invention..!
1904 - First London to Edinburgh Trial. 70 bikes entered 46 started and 34 completed the journey of over 400 miles.
Two sidecars on Kirkstone Pass in the London - Edinburgh Trial.
1906 - The club allows cars to enter for the first time.
1907 - Membership had reached 200 in April.
1908 - The first London to Land’s End Trial
1909 - The first MCC speed event took place at Brooklands, just for bikes.
1910 - First London to Exeter to London trial.
1929 - First sporting trial starting at Virginia Water, finishing at Bridport.
1930 - The MCC Sporting Trial begins in Derbyshire.
3.6 litre Ford V8 Special in the 1948 Buxton Sporting Trial.
1930 - The Edinburgh trial is largely in Derbyshire which has now become its home, competing ever since in the Peak District.
1946 - Women are officially allowed to become MCC members. This didn't stop female competitors previously though. One notable rider, Muriel Hind, broke the record for the Land's End to John O' Groats as a solo motorcyclist in 1908.
1950 - The MCC Daily Express Rally begins. It runs until 1956, ceasing due to poor entry.
1950 - Following World War II, the annual Brooklands speed event moves to Silverstone instead. This includes a 45 minute high speed reliability trial and a 1/4 mile timed trial.
Every trialler knows about the MCC’s ‘Big Three’ trials (the Cold One, the Long One, and the Rough One, to quote Peter Jones of MG fame) and the Sporting Trial (the precursor to the modern Edinburgh); and those with a reasonable knowledge of MCC History will have heard of the Spring Trial (1980 and 1981 only). But I suspect that very few people know of the MCC Devon Trial, run once-only on the 31st July 1948 (the Saturday of a Bank Holiday weekend). I was aware of its existence, but very little more than the date, until a recent visit to the VSCC Library, to trawl through their magazine collection, revealed double-page articles about the event in both Autocar and The Motor.
Credit: Andrew Brown - Wheelspin
A DFP on Beggars Roost in 1926 close to Lynton where the Devon Trial Finished.