Defunct Speedway Tracks

 

 
 
Miscellaneous
Part 5
 
Craig Pendlebury's Photos      Daily Mail Book (1950s)  Russ Pursehouse  Wall, Loop and Globe of Death & Speedway   Denmark v England 1952   Argentina 1930s  Skid and Alma Skinner
     

 
 
 Metal Enamelled Advertising Sign
 
Courtesy of David Pipes
 
David Pipes says: On my recent holiday travels I came across this metal enamel advertising sign for Wills Star Cigarettes and thought that you might like to put it on your website. Not sure which category to include it under – possibly miscellaneous or even in the Cigarette cards section?  I’m not sure whether the rider smoking the cigarette has already lapped the other three or whether he is just finishing his smoke and intends to catch them up !!
 

 
 
Early Riders Falling
 
 
Speedway has always been a very dangerous sport.  In the early days, the bikes were not very powerful but the bikes often unseated their riders as shown above.
 

 
 
Jack Wood Picture
1929 Denmark
 
 

No need for goggles or a face mask for this Douglas rider. Do you know who he is John

John says:  I thought the above rider was Sprouts Elder but once again I am wrong!
Hello John  I have found some information about this picture.  This rider is named Jack Wood .Picture taken in 1929 in Denmark (Copenhagen)
Greetings Sebastian Sojka
Dave Gifford says: Hi John mate, the Douglas rider with no goggles or face mask looks very much like Sprouts Elder to me but I wouldn't put money on it unless it was yours! Not only is he riding without the aforementioned items but I bet he doesn't have four helmets painted different colours and a flunky to follow him around the pits with a hand held fan between races! I also suspect he wouldn't have had a pit crew of four to put fuel and oil in the bike, and if a race didn't go as planned he would have probably said "I screwed up" not, " we missed the setup!!" As for airbag safety fences? The shame would have killed him!
I think I might be having one of my cynical moods but flowers and peace as always,     giffy.
John says:  Thanks Dave, your words echo my thoughts!  Nicki Pedersen springs to mind re the fan to keep him cool.  I could do with a fan wielding flunky when I have to deal with my in-laws!
 

 
 
 England v Overseas
 
 

Bob Bath says: Hi John, the rider in the strange race jacket is Chum Taylor-World Finalist in I think 1955-rode for Poole in last year of Prov Lge. and Cradley Heath in 1966-I recall seeing him then though that was at the tail end of his career.

Chris Sweetman says: This race jacket was used for a Test Match series, England v Overseas in the mid 1960s.
 

 
 
Jack Parker &
Bluey Wilkinson
 
Courtesy of Bob Newton
 
Jack Parker left and Bluey Wilkinson right. Picture would have been taken in Australia but no other info is to hand so if you can supply any info please email John
 

 
 
"W" Race Jacket!
 
Courtesy of Graham Gleave
 
Graham sent me this picture.  I hadn't come across the race jacket before.  I first thought Weymouth but couldn't find a match then Graham said "This is Ivor Davies and the team... Wolverhampton Wasps!
John says my investigations show Wolverhampton were the Wasps from 1951 to 1954.  In 1950 the team was known as the Wulfrunians!   Wolves is such an obvious nickname for Wolverhampton I wonder why they were ever called anything else
 

 
 
Craig Pendlebury's Photos
 
Craig says: Here are some recent (2013) pictures of Reg Wilson, Doug Wyer, Neil Machin and myself taken at Torun when we went to watch Tai Woffinden win the world title...Reg & Doug with Per Jonsson, Reg & me with Jerzy Szezakiel, 4 of us with Jan Zabik who was at Sheffield briefly he is manager at Torun and one with old girlfriend!
 
 
Doug Wyer, Jan Zabik Neil Machin, Reg Wilson Craig Pendlebury
 
 
Doug Wyer, Craig Pendlebury and Neil Machin
 
 
Doug Wyer, Craig Pendlebury and Neil Machin with A.N. Other
 
 
Reg Wilson, Per Jonsson and Doug Wyer
 
 
Jan Zabik, Craig Pendlebury, ? Reg Wilson and Doug Wyer
 
 
Craig Pendlebury, Jerzy Szezakiel, Reg Wilson
 

 
 
Circa 1950 'ish
Daily Mail Book
 
John Skinner says:  I received the following scans some time ago and cannot now recall whom I got them from. If the person who sent me them will get in touch email me here John.  I will be happy to give you credit for supplying them or if you prefer anonymity that is fine, I will leave the items as they are.
 
There are no photographs in this book.  The writer and illustrator was Roland Davies, he has used his artwork instead of photos and it works for me. Roland did a brilliant job.
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 

 
 

1930's Argentina

 
 
 

The above rider looks like Frank Varey and because the bike is unusual, a Scott, ridden by Frank at the time, can you confirm John

 
 
Who are these 1930's riders in Argentina. One is Frank Varey, can you name the others John
 
Terry Stone says: number 13 on top of car Eric Langton number 3on wing is Frank Varey, number 2 on other side ? is it Sprouts Elder. 
John says: Yes 3 out of 3 Terry you get my special prize of a round of applause clap clap!
 
Arnie Gibbons says: The attached programme scans are from the 20 November 1930 River Plate programme - River Plate v Team Huracan. Note the riding numbers match those in the photo for Langton and Varey, but Elder is listed as 4 with no rider allocated no 2.
 
 
 
 
 
Sprouts Elder
In Argentina
 
 

Sprouts Elder in Argentina.  Do you have any info on Argentina speedway. John

 

 
 
Wall Of Death 
 
 
There were many Speedway Riders who doubled up as Wall of Death Riders.  I have started this Miscellaneous Speedway item as a tribute to the brave guys and girls who rode the wall.  My memory is not great but I know NZ World Champ Ronnie Moore was also a wall of death rider.  More evidence of speedway's wall of death riders follows below: -
 
 
Russ Pursehouse Wall of Death & Speedway Rider
 
Kathryn Danzey sent me some pics of her dad: - Russ Pursehouse, he rode speedway at Fleetwood Lancs and was also a top Wall of Death rider.  Kathryn has sent me 8 pictures of her dad.  John says: As a boy, I was fascinated by the wall of death when it appeared once a year, in my home town, Newcastle upon Tyne. The "Travelling Show" that came to Newcastle every year during my childhood had two really old bikes, Red 1920s Indians, I think?
 
So here we go with pictures of Russ Pursehouse (Kathryn's dad)
 
 
 
 
 
 
Russ Pursehouse The Loop Of Death & Speedway  
 
 
Russ was obviously a daredevil and an entertainer, hats off to him for doing the wall and the loop: below are pictures of Russ at Fleetwood Speedway.
 
 
This is Clifford Russell Pursehouse but everyone called him Russ, and when he raced on the speedway, he was apparently, ‘Red Russ”, as he wore red leathers.
 
 
 
John says: Thank you  Kathryn.  Is that you in the above picture?  John
 

I am always on the lookout for interesting items/stories.  If you have one and want to share it then send me an email John

 
Alan Mercer says: Hi John just saw these photos of Russ Pursehouse on your website, I have been looking for this rider's name for 5 years! could you please pass my details to Kathryn Danzey or give me her email so that I can add her fathers name to the riders register I have written. You will find other speedway riders on my website www.vintagewallofdeath.co.uk together with my riders register that still changes daily, regards Alan Mercer
 
John says: It's  always good to hear from someone who found his visit to www.defunctspeedway.co.uk useful.  I have put Alan in touch with Russ Pursehouse's daughter so both of these visitors to my website have had a worthwhile connection and may mutually, get a whole lot more out of it?
 

 
 
Wall Of Death &
Speedway List
 
Alan Mercer's List Of Speedway Riders Whom Also Rode The Wall Of Death, dozens of speedway riders rode the wall.
 
 
There may be other speedway riders not on Alan's list, who doubled up on the "Wall" side shows.  If you know of any and have documentary evidence or better still photos of them doing wall related stunts please email me John Skinner and NO! Skid Skinner is no relation of mine.  I wish he was!
 
John Skinner says: Alan Mercer has been able, so far, to answer my questions on the Wall, Globe and Loop.  I asked Alan to advise me of any speedway riders (not on his list above) who rode any of the 3 sideshows as well as the speedway tracks.  I have started the following list: -
   
Rider Speedway Track or Other Comment
   
Roy Mahon One of two Kiwi's brothers don't know Roy's brother's forename
? Mahon The Mahon brothers came over from NZ for late 30's early 40's here in the UK     
* Robert "Brisbane " Smith I assume Robert was from Brisbane in Oz?
Charlie Oates  Is one more speedway rider to add to the Wall of Death list
Charles Hornby Is another speedway rider to add to the Wall of Death list
   
 
* Robert "Brisbane" Smith     A sad report from the "Times" in 1931
 
Alan Mercer says: Hi John thanks for the reply, Kathryn has already emailed  me so that's a success. If you go on my website and go to the riders register, open the register and at the top there is Other Notes, if you click on that all the speedway riders I have found should come up. If not drop me a line and I will send you a copy. Attached is a copy of what I see on the screen. If any names I have missed please drop me a line also, I love finding new ones.
The array of bikes will shock you Indian Scouts are favoured still by the worlds best riders. If you tried for a wall at your event today you would be spoilt for choice, there are 5 on the road, one more currently in storage and another nearly completed after a 20 year lay up. There is a Harley Davidson Pea Shooter about to rejoin a wall in the US and I know of at last one Brough that went on the wall as a bet in the early sixties, there are bantams and 500 and 650 bsa and triumphs still in use also plus in Asia there are loads of 2 strokes, cheers Alan
Alan Mercer says:  Sorry to disappoint you but my research has turned up Robert "Brisbane" Smith being British, born in sunny Kilburn. Cheers Alan

 
 
The Globe Of Death
 
 
Circa 1930's Another fairground attraction closely related to the Wall of Death sideshows. Riders in the Globe of Death, looped the loop, riding upside down briefly. 360 degrees inside a globe of steel mesh, whereas riders on the wall did not ride upside down just horizontally, both sideshows took a lot of courage and I am not surprised that quite a few speedway riders also rode in these attractions.
 
 
Sheffield Speedway's
Billy Bellhouse
 
 
Billy Bellhouse was a former Sheffield Speedway rider who between 1932 and 1935 travelled throughout Europe on a Wall of Death show. His main specialty was in fact the Globe of Death, on which he performed gravity defying leaps on his 'Indian' motorbike.
 
Whilst performing in Spain in 1935, Billy Bellhouse had an accident and had to travel back to England. Although his love of motorbikes continued, he never performed on the Wall of Death again and opened a fish and chip shop business in Sheffield, a trade which his son Jim has continued.
 
John Skinner says:  This section on speedway riders whom tried their hands on the Wall or Globe is very interesting.  I would be happy to receive more photo scans or stories on these fairground attractions as long as there is a speedway connection.  So if you have items I would love to hear from you.  John
 

 
 
Skid & Alma Skinner,
Nee Johnson
 
John Skinner says:  My namesake Skid Skinner was no relation to me, maybe I should change my name from John to Skid for a laugh!  Or maybe not!!
 
 
 
Skid's wife, Alma Skinner/Johnson about to ride pillion on the wall.  Skid rode the wall but was better known on the speedways.  I will bet that riding the Wall on the back of the old Indian Scout is harder than riding on the front.  Skid had a seat and handlebars whereas Alma only has small footholds and her husband to hold onto.
 

 
 
Wall of Death & Speedway Rider Dick Campbell
 
 
Dick came to the UK from New Zealand as a wall-of-death rider in the circus, and only took to speedway when he saw the sport at Belle Vue, Manchester in the 1940s.  He rode for many seasons for Edinburgh joining the Monarchs in 1948
 

 
 
More Speedway/  Wall Related Pictures
 
From The Wall Of Death Man: Alan Mercer   
 
1930 Bob Lee
(Restall) Germany  
 
 

 
 
Curley Can & Wynn Souter UK  
 
 
John says: The lady (Wynn) looks very young.  Maybe like speedway, riding the "Wall" is for youngsters.
 

 
 
Speedway Promoter & Wall Of Death Owner Fred Mockford
 
 
John says: Alan Mercer sent me this picture. It is of the New Cross speedway team.  The promoter Fred Mockford had a Wall of Death sideshow and his New Cross Speedway riders Stan Greatrex, Nobby Key and Ron Johnson also rode for him on the "Wall".  Stan broke his leg on his first show on the wall for him!, and I thought speedway was dangerous!
 

 
 
1939 Poster
 
 

 
An Australian
"Wall" Rider
 
 
I believe in the "Land Down Under" water swirls down a plughole in the opposite direction as it does here in the UK and strangely I think Aussie and New Zealander Wall riders went around the wall the opposite way to us. My evidence to make such a claim, "the above photo"
So the photo shows An Australian Wall rider. Going the other way around the wall! Not really sure but I think Clockwise down under is the opposite to us in the Northern Hemisphere!  Or is it an urban myth? 
 

 
John says: I asked our Wall of Death contributor, Alan Mercer, did the 1930 era British Speedway bikes, Douglas, Rudge and JAP ever appear on the Wall?
 
Alan Mercer says: Hi John, there is little literature on the early bikes used in the UK, the Indians were still favoured as the trick bike (as now) as long as it could be made oil leak free it was used. Identification from photos has also been  hard, showing anything could be ridden, a 1000cc Vincent Black Shadow for example has been used on the Wall on occasions , cheers Alan
 
John says: If this "Miscellaneous" Item has made you want to see more Wall of Death stuff, visit Alan Mercer's great website www.vintagewallofdeath.co.uk
 
If you have any Wall of Death stories featuring speedway riders or photos please  email me
 

 
 

Odense 1952 Denmark v England Test Match

 
Courtesy of George Winstanley
 
Courtesy of George Winstanley
 

John says: Jack Winstanley's son George has sent me these images. His dad Jack popped up all over the place and was here in Odense 1952.  Can you name any of the guys pictured above?  John

 
Terry Stone says: Photos from George Winstanley are from Denmark 1952 Left to Right Howdy Byford 5th Phil Bishop 10th Bill Kitchen
 
Courtesy of George Winstanley
 
Can you name any of the guys pictured  John  Terry Stone says: Bill Kitchen is on the mike
 
Dane Soeren Kjaer has been in touch, Soeren says: The 3 items shown above are from an International between Denmark and England, 29th June 1952. I have some details which are shown below: -
 
Denmark Won 54 pts                  England Lost 53 pts                                                     
         
Leif Bech    15 pts. Bill Kitchen 18 pts.   
Orla Knudsen  13 pts Bob Beaker   16 pts.
Kiehn Berthelsen 12 pts.    Terry Courtnell 11 pts.   
Erhard Fisker 5 pts.     Lloyd Goffe 5 pts.  
Irving Irvinger   5 pts.  Phil Bishop  2 pts.  
Morian Hansen 4 pts.    Jack Davis 1 pt.  
 
Soeren then emailed me later saying:- by looking deeper into my files I found a second meeting the same year (1952), which I give you below. This time George's dad Jack Winstanley was listed in the England team.
 
24th August 1952, English - Danish team match:
 
After the narrow defeat to Denmark on June 29. There was no doubt the English team was determined to get revenge, and indeed they got it.
A convincing victory 64 - 44.
 
Team line up, However, no individual scores mentioned.
 
 
Denmark  44    England 64
   
Orla Knudsen Bill Kitchen
Leif Beck  Colin Clarke
Leif Hirsborg   Kid Curtis  (possibly Jack Davis?)
Oluf Elsberg  Phil Bishop
Kaj Larsen Lloyd Goffe
Morian Hansen Jack Winstanley
Reserve: Lindegaard Petersen  
 
John says: Not sure about Kid Curtis aka Jack Davis!  Kid Curtis was Fred Curtis imo but my thanks to Soeren for the information.
 
The last words on the Odense topic go to Soeren Kjaer he says:
After taking a closer look into the letter published, I can see that the writer mentions the Danish Championship final, which was ridden on October 5. same year.
Therefore I find it likely, the photos  are from this august meeting rather than the former, also  based on the name Jack Winstanley.  But Howdy Byford is not listed anywhere.
 

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