Whilst recovering the history of the ISDT, sometimes from oblivion, much of what happened prior to the war is no longer accessible via living memory. Most of the pre-war racers and the event supporters have sadly left our company over the last 10-30 years. Whilst we may still have those copies of the old magazines ‘the Motor Cycle‘ and ‘Motor Cycling‘ neither are published any longer and so its a case of trawling old archives and eBay auctions to find any references to the ISDT which is often fraught with difficulty and significant cost. These magazines tell us the story from the enthusiasts point of view but it’s also clear the International was a major sporting man familiar with many people with little active interest in the events and it is intersting to see how it was perceived then by the man in the street to compare to the sports relative anonymity today. A surprisingly great source for this kind of material is the daily national and regional newspapers of the time.
the image of the cycling contraption is described in its caption as this: FAMILY CVCLE.— An unusual machine, devised by a resident of Kent, England, to solve the transport problem for five people.
This is born out by the Archives of the British Library in London which has started scanning all its collection of regional newspapers and putting them online.
If you have been checking any of the event pages on Speedtracktales you will see in the ‘What the papers said!‘ section examples of articles many local papers carried providing up to date reporting on the events across Europe up to, during and after the date which confirms the popularity of this news . Although a great service alas it is not free and each story has a cost to obtain, it still beats sitting down in the Britis hLibrary and thumbing through all the issues of every paper to find a small article.
I have therefore been delighted to find that not only does the National Library of Australia offer a similar service but for free, but that the newspapers of the interwar years were jammed full of stories about the exploits of the men and machines of the British Empire in a action at the ISDT
The top most image of the page is an extract of the Trove copy of the 10 May 1937 issue of the Courier – Mail a newspaper of Brisbane, Queensland, Australia which was active between 1933 – 1955. The article gives a lot of detail of the course of the event and changes to the events rules for 1937.
International Six Days’ Trial
By reason of Great Britain’s victory in the international six days’ reliability trial in Germany last year the Auto Cycle Union of Great Britain has undertaken the organisation on behalf of the F.I.C.M., and the trial this year will be decided over a 1500 mile course, the greater part of which lies in Wales. Llandrindod Wells will be the head quarters for the duration of the trial except for the last day, when a move will be made to Donington Park Derby, for the final speed test, The route foIlows much of that used in the 1933 International, and will be approximately as follows:—
Monday, July 12.— In a northerly direction Llandrlndod Wells — Welshpool — Llangollen – Bala — Llanldloes — Llandrindod Wells.
Tuesday, July 13.—In a northerly dlrec- tion. Llandrindod Wells — Bala — Dolgolley — Devil’s Bridge — Machynlleth — Llandrindod Wells.
Wednesday, July 14.— In a westerly direction. Llandrindod Wells — Devil’s Bridge — Tregaron — Lampeter — Llandovery — Llandrindod Wells.
Thursday, July I5.— In a south-westerly direction. Llandrindod Wells — Llandovery — Lampeter — Carmarthen — Ammanford — Builth Wells — Llandrindod Wells.
Friday, July 16.— In a southerly direction. Llandrindod Wells — Builth Wells — Ammanford — Ystragynlals — Crickhowell — Kington — Llandrindod Wells.
Saturday, July 17. — In a easterly direction. Llandrindod . Wells — Donington Park, Derbyshire.
Little alteration has been made to the regulations, except that there arc now defined classes for 125 c.c. solos, 350 c.c. side cars, and 350 c.c, 500 c.c, and 750 c.c. three wheelers. One Important addition has been made to Article 19, in which it is stated that the cylinder head will be sealed to the cylinder barrel, and the barrel to the crank case. Machines must be in full touring trim, with lamps (in working order) to comply with the International Convention, 1926, mud guards, two efficient brakes, silencer(s), saddle, and a starting device.
There will be no special tests other than the speed test at the finish. As in Germany last year, there will be a check each morning within two or three miles of the start, to test ease of starting. It can be gathered from the length of the course that the trial is likely to prove a strenuous one.
Many of the newspaper articles appear, on reading, to be often driven by articles seen in one of the main British Motor Cycle publications that arrived in Australia (all surface mail there was no airmail back then) or press releases provided by the dealers or importers of British motorbike makes.
You can check out the ISDT contents of TROVE here
Trove for Australian readers is well worth a check out not least because it indexes the entire collections including books of the National Library of Australia so apart from the press cuttings on the events, it also lists books it has in stock that should be available on loan to Australian readers including a number of books on the ISDT History including;
- International Six-Days’ Trial / Mick Walker & Rob Carrick.
- ISDT ’73: the Olympics of motorcycling : the official pictorial record of the 48th International Six Days Trial, Pittsfield, Massachusetts, USA. / Text by Ron Schneiders. ( a copy of which is currently on sale on eBay for a few hundred uk pounds)