Sporting memories: Back to the days of scrambling, hydroplane racing, and the Melbourne air race that started from Mildenhall

A photo, we believe, from the 1950s of scrambling in East Cambs, The photo is of a group of riders

A photo, we believe, from the 1950s of scrambling in East Cambs, The photo is of a group of riders but where were they racing? Who were they? The photo is courtesy of The Biran Lane collection. One suggestion it was at Littleport - Credit: Archant

If you take the period from before the last war there have been all sorts of motorised sports activity in this area. I am keen to know more and just to start you thinking I thought that I would start with some of my own recollections.

I suspect that the scrambling (now called motocross) racing on Old Bank, Littleport is an early memory for many of us with local hero Ted Power on his OK Supreme bike.

Whilst in Littleport, did they not have motorcycle grasstrack racing in the evening after the agricultural show?

Going back to scrambling there were tracks at Balsham, Arrington and elsewhere.

Then there was the motorcycle shop in Ely run by Andy Lee and Ken Covell, both successful scramblers in their own way. Andy was a protégé of Brian Stonebridge of Cambridge, a prodigious talent both as a tuner and a rider.


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I have some photos of international giants of the motorcycling sprint world performing.

People like George Brown (works test rider for Vincent motorcycles) and Bill Bragg on Yellow Peril. There were also car sprints there too.

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In Witchford, who was it who lived in the village and road raced a Manx Norton?

In the 1930’s there was hydroplane racing on the river at Prickwillow.

What about airborne sports? There are tales of Sir Alan Cobham’s flying circus operating locally in the 1930’s. There have been small planes flying from Sutton Meadows for a long time.

The Wallis brothers who ran Walbro, the cycle shop opposite the Lamb Hotel were flyers, the most famous of which was Ken Wallis and Little Nellie that was featured in the Bond movie.

And of course the Mildenhall to Melbourne air race started from RAF Mildenhall in the 1930’s.

I mentioned Andy Lee and Listers earlier. Lee made a version of the “Tribsa” bikes, a hybrid of a BSA frame and a Triumph engine.

Fordham had one important grasstrack meeting a year; on Easter Monday if I recall. Some will remember Arthur Stuffins and Austin Cresswell but of course there were others you may recall.

I am keen to research this subject and all contributions will be welcome.

If there are enough and if you give your permission I will try and get the Editor to show them here.

Email me at john650howe@hotmail.com

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