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TT Who’s Who Biographies

Posted on 11.06.2020

Manx National Heritage’s TT Who’s Who Digital Volunteers have gone full pelt during the COVID-19 lockdown by publishing nearly 400 biographies of riders from the 1940s and 50s on imuseum.im.    Volunteering entirely online, the team has copied potted biographies from the original TT Special newspapers (already digitised by Manx National Heritage) and added them to the TT and MGP race profile for each rider.  These are now searchable on iMuseum TT & MGP.

Jack Wood

Manxman Jack Wood in 1956 rode ‘a machine with quite a history, for though the year of manufacture of the engine is unknown, it is certain that it was in Bill Lomas’s possession as far back as 1949.’

The biographies will make fascinating reading to any bike fan, listing as they do the international races many of the riders took part in and the finest of details about the machines.  The ultimate challenge of the TT to these top riders is clear in the race spills and thrills described.  But it’s also their personalities that shine through.  The biographies give the age, home, everyday jobs and hobbies (apart from bikes) of riders.  The hobbies especially can make interesting reading, anything from ‘hot jazz’, to ‘speed skating’ to ‘pub crawling and spinster evasion.’ (!).

Digital Volunteer Sharon Walker says,

I volunteered as I thought it would give me a productive, new activity to do to keep me busy during lockdown.  I’m a fan of the motorcycle racing we have on the Island and it’s been so interesting reading about the past riders, their other hobbies and the races run here.  Reading the riders “C.V’s” of racing experience and the lists of circuits they have competed at around the world, (a lot of which are no longer run), makes the T.T. and Manx seem all the more important and special.

Digital Volunteer and daughter of 1940s-50s MGP & TT rider Bill Doran, Jayne Doran says,

I have loved typing up these biographies. It has been an honour to represent these brave racers. Reg Armstrong was my mum and dad’s best man, so felt emotional typing his, he was a lovely man. Rod Coleman became one of my parents best friends and of course Geoff Duke another great rival of my father. Must admit typing up my father’s entry brought a tear to my eye. I have been proud to volunteer for anything that supports and promotes the historical Isle of man TT races.  Thank you Manx National Heritage for making it happen.

Bill Lomas

Jude Dicken, digital lead for the project at Manx National Heritage, says,

huge thanks to the Digital Volunteers who together have brought to life the stories of these amazing riders.  They’ve massively helped us celebrate the history of the TT on imuseum.im and found it fun and rewarding to give a virtual shout-out to these most remarkable of races.  Maybe at TT 2021 we can all meet at The Grandstand!’

Here’s just a taste of the biographies you can now read on imuseum.im.

Les Graham in the 1949 Senior TT, ‘less than three miles from home, when the race seemed in his pocket, broke down and pushed in to finish tenth.’

Italian Carlo Ubbiali in 1956 ‘won both Lightweight races in one morning.  By doing so he made TT history, for this was the first time that any rider had won both in one year – let alone in one week, and one morning!’

1956 German sidecar rider Wilhelm Noll gives as his occupation ‘Kraftfahrzeugmesiter – which he himself translates as ‘Master of all kinds of motor-driven vehicles.’

Manx National Heritage has also made it that the public can currently search, browse and download its collection of TT Special newspapers from 1930-1960 for free at iMuseum Newspapers & Publications.

 

Jude Dicken (Miss)

Manx National Heritage Collections Information Manager

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