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Cyclo-Cross (Bagshot Scramble)
Erik writes From 1938 untill the years '50 or '60 there was a very famous cyclo cross organised in Bagshot named "The Bagshot Scramble". It was organisated by Ealing Manor R.C. Is there more information regarding this cyclo cross ? A list of the winners, pictures or reports ? [May 09]
Eric Dunsdon tells us "The Bagshot Scramble was one of the classic events of the cyclo cross season during the 1950's and 60's. In later years the race was organised by The Edgware Road Club and attracted the country's top riders. In 1965 a special race was run for BBC television and was featured on the Saturday afternoon 'Sportsview' programme. The local St Johns Ambulance branch were kept vey busy due to the many crashes on the steep 'Saddleback' descents. I rode in this race and many others including the following year's South of England Championship and have many fond memories (and photographs) of The Bagshot Scramble." [Nov09 X]
To which Roger Craven adds "Yes! I remember well witnessing the carnage at the bottom of the "Saddleback" Hill" [Jan10]
Peter Summerton fills in some detail and resolves the comment I had previously made regarding illegal off-roading on Bagshot Heath. "I remember Motor Bike Scrambliing on Bagshot Heath during the Late 1940's and early 50's. These events were held three or four times during the summers near the Water Tower and surely must have been approved because of the shear numbers of competitors, spectators, mobile refreshment suppliers and the resultant noise! I recall one frequent competitor called Eddie Beasant. Us kids were all 'Eddie Beasant' on our walk back home across the common. This area was subsequently used as the test track for vehicles from the Fighting Vehicles Research and Developement Establishment based at Long Cross." [Dec 09]
And Ron Frost views things from a different perspective "I was a cadet in the St Johns Ambulance and used to attend the "Bagshot Scramble" whenever it was held. We had a Packard Ambulance. We had more customers from the fans than the racers."
Tony writes: I am doing some research on Steve McQueen and it is believed that he raced a motorcycle in the Bagshot scrambles events from 1957 onwards.,.,can anyone conform that ? Better still, has anyone got a photo of Steve on a bike ? [Jan10]
Alan Edwards adds: Like my old neighbour from Bagshot Green, Peter Somerton, I remember the motor cycle scrambling on Bagshot Heath. Sadly I was only allowed to go once with my older sister and brother. I'm 65+ now but still recall the sight and sound of large British Bikes - BSA's, Matchless's, AJS, Ariels etc charging up Water Tower Hill. As they were held on a Sunday I usually had to attend Sunnday School at the Mission Hall. From my own experience later as a member of the Windlesham MCC organising off road events the scrambles would have been legal with substantial fees being paid to the MoD. In the late 50s through increased use of the heath as a test track the events ceased and scrambling moved to Tunnel Hill, Pirbright. Eddie Bessant was known as the uncrowned King of Bagshot Heath . I believe his ashes are scattered on the old start finish line near the Maultway. Bagshot has a proud position in motor cycling history . The first ever Scramble (Moto X) took place on or near the Poors Allotments in 1926 to become what is now a world wide sport. The winner was a Bagshot man Mr Sparks of Sparks garage by the Jolly Farmer. The year before on Old Dean common the UKs first ever Speedway took place having been brought over from Australia. I believe that during WW2 British agents had Rough Riding training prior to being sent to enemy held Europe to assist resistance groups as part of their training at Normandy. [Oct10]
Dave Kell: I never saw Steve McQueen at the scrambles but I remember Geoff Ward and Johny Haynes very who were famous riders at that time. Ward rode a BSA500 and Haynes a Truimph which was unusual because they were too heavy to be considered good scrambling bikes. [Oct10 xx]
Charles Kirby: I was a regular competitor at Bagshot Heath, and I do appreciate seeing some of the old times when I raced with Ward, Archer, Stonebridge, Bob Manns, Geoff Duke. [Jun11]
Eric Dane's neice: I had an uncle who regularly raced his motorcycle on Bagshot Heath and even named part of the track 'Kilimanjaro' which I read in motorcyclenews in his obituary. Never could find anything much about it but have lots of pics! Apparently my Uncle together with a lot of his fellow bikers volunteered to join 'Campbell's Bluebirds' when Sir Malcolm Campbell asked them to form special despatch rider unit. He joined the RMP's and retired as Major C.E. Dane, stationed in Caen and Iceland. [Aug 11]
Bernard describes his experiences : I rode in the Bagshot Scramble in I think 1958 or 57 not sure which as so long ago! I do remember coming down the Saddleback at a rate of knots and coming off near the bottom and the rear wheel finishing in a figure of eight so that was the end of my one and only appearance! The Saddleback was awesome and really the only way down it was to either shut your eyes and hope for the best or to lock both wheels by braking and sliding down-not for the faint hearted-but great days! [Dec 14]
John Mitchell : I well remember cycling from my home in Richmond, along with a few mates to watch the motorcycle scrambles on Bagshot Heath during the late 1940's and early 1950's. The first scramble that I saw was at Hungry Hill Aldershot. We refilled our handlebar mounted water bottles at the drinking water tap on the horse trough in Aldershot before arriving at the scramble. Brian Stonebridge was the star of the day riding a rigid framed Matchless. Another well known competitor was Graham Beamish with a brace of immaculate BSA Gold Stars. Back to Bagshot,I remember the annual Eddie Bessant Memorial Scramble and riders such as Geoff Ward, who rode AJS machines before joining BSA later. Geoff's bikes, the AJS's, were provided by Taylor Matterson Motorcycles of Balham.One year Taylor matterson took on a Swedish teenage scrambler called Bill Nillson and there were some epic duels between Geoff & Bill. I remember that Bill had some excellent boots especially made for motor cycling with buckles all the way down the sides, whereas the vast majority of riders used ex WD sea boots or firemen's boots from Claude Rye or your local Millets at about thirty bob.Bill went on to be the first Moto Cross World Champion in 1957 on an AJS with a road racing 7R engine.In the lightweight class a young John Clayton was top dog with a Francis Barnett and in the allcomers races gave the chaps on big bikes a run for their money. [Feb 15]
Peter Marshall : As a scramble fan since the 1950s i have been researching some of the famous names from that time. I seem unable to find any information about Geoff Ward who was very successful for many years but disappeared after about 1956. Does anyone know what happened to him? [Sep 2017]
Bob asks : Was any scrambling was done on the Heath that is now Lightwater Country Park? I was told by a fellow dog walker that it did happen there, in the section that is known as High Curly. There is a long gulley that virtually runs top to bottom and may have been the result of this. I believe all this happened around the 30's or 40's [Dec 17]
John Burnell : My Dad, who pre war was President of the Bayswater MCC, used to take me to scrambles at Bagshot Heath in the mid 1950s. I do remember Geoff Wardbeing one of the top riders there. Great noise, smell of Castrol R ? and very exciting for me to be there . [Mar 18]
Connaught Cup (football)
The Duke of Connaught, who was the first President of the Surrey County Football Association, instituted a competion for senior and reserve football teams playing for the Connaught Cup. This was a fundraiser in aid of the 'Duchess of Connaught Memorial Nursing Home and Benefit Nursing Association' in Bagshot. Both cup competitions ceased at the outbreak of WW2 although there were attempts to re-start the competition. To this day the Surrey FA's headquaters building is known as Connaught House in recognition of the Duke's involvement. [Sep10, Aug 14]
Gary writes to say: I
have a silver fob medal which is for the Connaught football cup
Bagshot. Inscribed on back is runners up 1922-23.
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