Club History

By Roger Chaplin

In the late 1950's several like minded people interested in motor cycling started meeting each Saturday afternoon at Johnny Cooper's Motor Cycle shop in Gaol Lane, Sudbury.  After a time it was suggested they formed a Club and a meeting was arranged at the Woodpecker Restaurant Market Hill (Bakers Oven).  The inaugural meeting took place on 14th August 1958 and was chaired by the well known local journalist Jack Leathley junior. A previous Sudbury Motor Cycle Club folded in 1934. A guest speaker, George Bowers chairman of the Bury St Edmunds M.C.C.  told those present how to start or re-start the club, what a club did, what is had to have, using as an example his own club which he helped to reform nine years earlier. He also said the club and all its members would have to become affiliated to the Auto Cycle Union (ACU). Another guest speaker P.C.  Jarrold of the West Suffolk Police Traffic Department told the meeting if the club was reformed it would have the blessing of the Sudbury Road Safety Committee and the local Police. P.C. Jarrold also said "we are 100 per cent behind the idea of any club.  You will not often find a bad motor cyclist in a Motor Cycle Club.  If we can be of assistance we are always glad to help".  Mr & Mrs John Sargeant were elected joint Secretaries and the temporary committee was formed and consisted of Messrs R Bitten, G Berry, J R Cooper, DH Mattock, D E Walker and E E Harman. The next meeting was arranged for 18th September.

At the meeting on September 18th Mr D H Steed of Great Cornard promised the newly formed Sudbury & District Motor Cycle and Light Car Club the use of land to be used as a track. A committee was elected and consisted of Chairman: Mr E Harman, Vice Chairman: Mr J Cooper, Secretary Mr J Sargeant, Treasurer: Mr G D Berry, Press Secretary: Mr P A C Keyse, Committee members: Messrs L R Bitten, C S Witt, D E Walker, Miss M Nunn and Mrs C Smith.  Subscriptions were agreed at 7s 6d (38 pence) for male members and 5s (25 pence) for lady members.  A club room was offered by the Spread Eagle public house in Cross Street with the first of weekly meetings starting on Tuesday September 30th.

The Final Account Book for 1958 to 1962 still exists and shows from formation to the end of the year the Club was very active.  There were 17 club nights, a Whist Drive and a Christmas Party as well as the affiliation to the Eastern Centre of the Auto Cycle Union on Sunday 8th November. Membership was 46 male members, 13 female members, 2 boy members plus another 2 members and the Club made a profit of £33.  In 1959 the Club became more adventurous as well as holding Whist Drives they organised Dances entered a float in the Sudbury Carnival, entered team in the Cornard Flower Show and the extra income enabled the Club to buy table tennis equipment and billiard table.

In 1960 the Sudbury Club held their first speed event at Tye Farm jointly with the Rendlesham Club (now Woodbridge Club).  This was a Mountain Grass Track and a Sporting Trial which proved to be a success.   The Club formed a Motor Cycle Stunt Team and attended several Fetes and the Final Accounts Book shows in 1961 the Stunt Team performed at Cornard Flower Show, Troston Church Fete, Bury Football Club Fete and Bildeston Flower Show.  One of the Stunts was riding through a blazing Tunnel of Fire and at the Troston Fete one of the team went missing but returned wearing only swimming trunks, crash helmet and boots and rode through blazing fire of the tunnel.  No film or photographs exist of this feat but the member was Bob Cadge of Long Melford.  In 1961 the Club promoted its first Scramble and Grass Track with the help of the Halstead Club.  Later in the year the Club held a Scramble for Anglia Television to be featured on About Anglia, the presenters were Bob Wellings and John McGregor.


1962 was a very big year for the young Sudbury Club they organised 5 Scrambles (only three were planned) and a Sporting Trial in December.  The first Scramble was on 1st April and attracted not only the local hero Dave Bickers also his greatest rival Jeff Smith from Birmingham.  The event attracted a crowd of 10,000 and was a great success.  The second meeting was in May and the third meeting in July was for the Sudbury Red Cross and a dummy for first aid purposes was donated by the Club.  The next two Scrambles had not been expected or arranged. The first event was arranged again for Anglia Television for another feature on About Anglia, the interviewer and commentator was Anthony Brown of ITN with local man Peter Wigg of the Ipswich Motor Cycle Club helping with the commentary. The next meeting was a total surprise it was a Scramble to be televised live on BBC Grandstand only the second event they had televised.  The commentator for the BBC was Murray Walker who was well known in the motor cycle world and took place on Saturday 3rd November 1962.  It rained during the event making conditions very muddy but the event was a success with the cream of the country's top riders competing.  The Sporting Trial took place in December with a 40 mile course being laid out, however it snowed over night and it looked the Trial would be cancelled. Some club members went out to see what could be salvaged and the course was reduced to two laps of 15 miles through deep snow.  Through the rest of the 1960's the Sudbury Club promoted Scrambles (including the annual solo and sidecars Eastern Centre Champion ships) and Sporting Trials.  In 1966 and 1969 the Sudbury Mammoth Olde Tyme Rallye came into being the main joint promoters were Sudbury Rotary Club, Sudbury Round Table and the Sudbury Motor Cycle Club. These events held first at Great Waldingfield and then Long Melford and consisted of Traction Engine, Veteran and vintage Motor Cars and Motor Cycles, Steam Galloping Horses, Light and Heavy Horses, Models.  The Sudbury Club were totally responsible for the Car Parking.

The 1970s saw the Sudbury Club promote Scrambles and Sporting Trials. The biggest event was the East Anglian National Trial in a consortium with Braintree MCC, Castle (Colchester) MCC and Halstead MCC. There were 12 groups of Sections over a 50 mile course and attracted the country's top riders over the duration of the event including the legendary Sammy Miller, Mick Andrews, Malcolm Rathmell and the three Lampkin brothers.  Amongst the events held included the Solo and Sidecar Inter Centre Championships, a round of the British Championships both Solo and Sidecar.

Two more Sudbury Mammoth Olde Tyme Rallyes were organised and again the Sudbury Club were joint promoters.