Category Archives: Obituaries

Jim Pickering

Jim Pickering - Chris Sharp photo
Jim Pickering on one of his Drayton creations – Photo: Chris Sharp

The trials world was saddened to hear of the passing of Kidderminster’s Jim Pickering on October 4th 2018, best known as the man behind the ‘Drayton’ brand special framed machines that have come to dominate Pre’65 classic trials over the past few years. Jim bravely fought cancer which did not preclude him from riding in trials, the sport he loved.

A talented engineer, always full of enthusiasm and advice, Jim was a regular competitor at classic events countrywide and was overjoyed when Scotland’s Gary Macdonald was the first Scotsman to win the Pre’65 Scottish in 2017 on a Drayton Triumph.

John Moffat of Trials Guru said: “I bought a frame kit from Jim to house a spare BSA B40 motor I had lying under the bench. He could not be more helpful with advice. He was a very friendly, open gentleman who I enjoyed very much conversing with when we met. He will be greatly missed in the sport.”

Trials Guru send it’s sincere condolences to his widow, Jayne and the Pickering family.

Jim’s funeral will take place on 18th October, 2018 at 15.30 hrs at the Wyre Forest Crematorium. The family have requested casual dress code with jeans acceptable. Please, family flowers only. Donations if desired, to West Midlands Air Ambulance & Millbrook Suite , Kidderminster Hospital.

Andrew Dignan trials enthusiast

The Scottish trials world was saddened by the news that Lochaber man, Andrew J. Dignan, father of three trials riding sons David, Kevin and Simon and also Mike and Graham, passed away on Thursday 19th July, 2018 aged 84 years.

Andrew for many years, with his wife Grace, were stalwarts of the Lochaber & District MCC and  after Grace’s death in 2001, the club has run an event in her memory every year since.

Trials Guru’s John Moffat said: “Andrew Dignan was a man who always met you with a cheery smile and a good firm handshake. He was a true trials enthusiast who never competed but put a lot into the sport, having observed and officiated at the SSDT and local trials which he helped organise with his wife Grace.”

Moffat continued: “On a personal note, I had a lot of time for Andrew and we could chat for many hours when we met. I valued his friendship highly and I will miss him greatly”.

Andrew’s funeral took place at Noon on Saturday, 28th July 2018 at St Margaret’s Church in Roy Bridge, near Fort William. The R.C. church was filled by neighbours, friends, family, shinty and trials enthusiast from far and near.

His son Graham read a eulogy and his grandson, Cahal Dignan had written a special poem which he read  out.

As already mentioned, Andrew’s wife and sole-mate, Grace passed away in 2001 and part of Andrew died with her, they were a very close couple. They are now buried together in Cille Choirill cemetry high on the hill overlooking the road to Fersit where the Grace Dignan Memorial trial is held.

Young Sandy Cameron from Fersit played the pipes as Andrew’s coffin was carried from the church, the tune being ‘Sands of Kuwait’.

Andrew was awarded the Lifetime Achievement award by the Scottish ACU in 2014 in recognition of his dedication to Scottish trials over 30 years as an observer, parc ferme marshal and time check controller at the SSDT and his work for the Lochaber & District MCC. Many of their members were at Andrew’s funeral. He also won recognition from the local Lochaber Cammanachd club for services to Shinty.

On a lighter note, the priest commented that the family had all mentioned that Andrew always had a can of WD40 close by, as he believed it sorted most things that had gone wrong, even his arthritic knees!


There was a collection for the local Belford Hospital – Ward One, endowment fund.

We send our sincere condolences to the Dignan family.

Photo courtesy of the Dignan family

Walter Dalton

WD - Mable Dalton - AP
Walter with his wife Mable at their Weardale home – Photo: Alan Pennington, Stanhope

Trials Guru reports the passing of Weardale stalwart Walter Dalton, one of the North East’s best known trials characters.
Walter was employed by Portland Blue Circle Cement at their Weardale plant at Eastgate and was a regular competitor across the border in Scottish trials which also included the Loch Lomond Two-Day and Scottish Six Days events, plus the Pre’65 Scottish.

Walter, Montesa Cota mounted in 1969

In later years he took up riding Pre’65 trials on a 500 Ariel and supported Spain’s Carlos Casas on a 200cc Triumph Cub for many years in the Pre’65 Scottish.

Walter Dalton on an AJS in the 1980s

Dalton competed in many Scottish Six Days Trials back as far as the late 1960s. He rode both Bultaco and Montesa machinery.

Walter Dalton, Triumph Cub mounted around early 1960s

In 1984, Walter entered the SSDT and the Pre’65 Scottish on a Reg May built ‘RM Special’, this machine was actually road registered as such. The machine was a BSA B40 motor in a much modified Bultaco Sherpa frame, with Alpina front wheel and Pursang rear wheel and a modified 340 Sherpa alloy tank and specially fabricated oil tank. The machine was not strictly Pre’65 but the organisers were less strict in those days.

Walter Dalton - 2007 - JH
Walter Dalton in 2007 – Photo: John Hulme/Trial Magazine

Trials Guru extends sincere condolences to the Dalton family.

Big Billy Maxwell 1942-2018

Billy Maxwell - JY
Billy Maxwell, seen here Bultaco mounted in the Aberfeldy Two Day Trial in 1980 – Photo: Jimmy Young, Armadale

It is with great sadness that Trials Guru reports the death of North-East trials rider, Billy Maxwell.

Born on the 14th December 1942, Billy was a big man with a big character and a very good rider in his day. Originally from Biggar in Lanarkshire, he emigrated to the North East of England in 1966 and set up in business as a demolition contractor in 1972 as Maxwell’s Demolition.


Maxwells Demolition

As well as riding in his ‘native’ north-east he regularly rode in Scotland especially the Loch Lomond and Aberfeldy Two Day events. His best friend was John Noble of Candie-burn, Biggar.

Maxwells Demo
Billy Maxwell’s Atkinson with Cummins Diesel engine and a Tasker four-in-line low-loader trailer – Photo: Maxwell Demolition, Newcastle

Trials Guru’s John Moffat knew Maxwell for over 40 years and said: “Billy was a great guy, always willing to help an unfortunate rider. This he demonstrated to me as a young rider when in 1975, I rode my first Loch Lomond 2 Day and had not adjusted my drive chain properly, it kept coming off the rear spocket when traversing the moor. Billy arrived with Jimmy Ballantyne close behind. They stopped and Billy got wired in about my stricken Bultaco and properly adjusted the chain cams and soon I was on my way. When I came into the finish, he came over and rechecked the chain and asked if I got round alright.

JY - Billy Maxwell
Billy Maxwell (Montesa Cota 247) at Scottish Experts & National Trial, Achallader, Bridge of Orchy 1978 – Photo: Jimmy Young

Moffat continued: “I once asked Billy why he didn’t properly buckle up his Alpinestar trials boots, he always seemed to ride with the straps flailing about. He said in his Geordie accent, ‘It’s simple John, they don’t make boots wide enough to get around me calves’. I looked and sure enough Billy had the thickest calves I have ever seen and there was no way they could ever have buckled up properly.”

Billy owned a number of classic motorcycles, an Ariel HT5 which he rode in the Pre’65 Scottish and the ex-Ron Thomson Gold Star BSA, PFS916. He certainly loved his bikes.

Ron Thomson 1964SSDT Achintee
Ron Thomson in 1964 at Achintee Farm on the 500cc BSA Gold Star PFS916, which many years later became the property of Billy Maxwell – Photo Courtesy Mrs Ron Thomson, Fort William.

Moffat added: “Billy Maxwell was a big built, tough hard working man, but he also had a heart of gold there is no mistaking, he was one of the sports true enthusiasts.”

Here’s to you Billy!

Maxwell - Billy

Funeral Arrangements:

The family have asked Trials Guru to include the following intimation.

Bill Maxwell’s funeral will take place on Wednesday, 14th March at 1.15 pm at the West Road Crematorium, Newcastle Upon Tyne – NE5 2JL. Followed by a celebration of Bill’s life at the South Gosforth Club, Gosforth, -NE3 1RS

Ulf Karlson 1980 World Champion

Ulf Karlson - 1975
Ulf Karlson (Montesa 348) in 1975 at the German Round of the World Championships at Gefrees – Photo Rainer Heise

It is with sadness that we report the death of the 1980 World Trials Champion, Ulf Karlson aged 65 years.

It is believed that he fought a battle with cancer and passed away on 6th February 2018.

Born in Alvangen, Sweden on March 6th 1952, Karlson will be always associated with the Montesa brand to which he gave the Barcelona company their first World Championship victory in 1980.

Ulf was winner of fifteen trial Grands Prix, his first was in 1974 when it was still a European Championship and was on podium forty times during his European/World series career, which began with the then European Championships by winning his native Sweden round at nineteen years of age in 1971, on Montesa.

Ulf Karlson was not a flamboyant character, but was one of the quieter riders who merely got on with the job in hand without fuss. He was regarded as a true professional rider who, like many learned their craft in their domestic sport before launching onto the European and then World stage of trials sport.

Karlson retired from top line trials in 1983.

Miquel Cirera Lamarca, Team Manager of the Montesa/HRC Trials Team stated on the HRC website: “Today, all the Montesa family are in mourning. We have lost a great friend, an athlete and a great world champion. We are really sorry for the loss of Ulf Karlson, who had a long-lasting professional relationship and friendship with us for many years. We send our deepest condolences to the family and all the friends in the world of trial. Rest in peace.”

Ulf was eight times Swedish Trials Champion and twice Scandanavian Trials Champion.

Trials Guru conveys sincere condolences to the Karlson family.

Photos copyright:

  • Rainer Heise, Germany
  • Toon van de Vliet, Netherlands
Ulf Karlson - Toon van de Vliet
Ulf Karlson was the 1980 FIM World Trials Champion – Photo: Toon van de Vliet

Tribute to Tiger

Tiger Payne - AJS
Brian Payne on his AJS 16C in the 1964 SSDT – Photo: Brian Holder
Words: Neil Anderton

Brian ‘Tiger’ Payne was a founder member of the Yorks and Lancs Classic Bike Club in 1982 and subsequently appointed an honorary life member of Yorkshire Classic Motorcycle Club.

Tiger was always passionate about motorcycling and spent part his National service with the RAF laid up with a broken leg as a result of a motorcycle accident. He became interested in trials riding and rode his first Scott Trial in 1958, his start number was next to Arthur Lampkin. Once the flag dropped Tiger never saw Lampkin again. Tiger rode the Scott many more times, and then took up an observer’s role every year right up up to 2017 with his son John.

He rode the International Scottish Six Days trial from 1961 to 1966. Starting in Edinburgh and covering a 1000 miles in the week. 1964 brought one of the wettest trial in its long history. The second day crossed Rannoch Moor, a most inhospitable place and a little river crossing they normally splashed through was a raging torrent and impassable. Sammy Miller tried to jump it and failed landing in the water and drowning the bike. So Tiger and his mates Arthur Lampkin, Bill Wilkinkson, Blackie Holden and Ray Sayer formed a chain gang and standing waist deep in the water manhandled every bike across one by one. Ironically on the final day he broke down only a few miles from the finish in Edinburgh with a cracked piston, a huge disappointment and spoiled one of his best ever rides. Made of stern stuff, he once rode his AJS from home in Burnley up to Edinburgh, did the trial and rode home again.

In those days, socialising was a big thing at the Scottish Six Days and no opportunities were missed to enjoy themselves. Drinking and trials riding don’t go well together but even though he took the trial seriously the daily lunch stop wasn’t complete unless he could find a pub for a pint with Billy Gray and Jim Wallace his north Yorkshire Mates who were similarly minded, they were then set up for whatever the afternoon could throw at them

He was a good Pub singer and raconteur, his famous renditions of ‘Eskimo Knell’ and ‘A Fine Old English Gentleman’ would keep everybody well entertained into the small hours particularly if Dickie Davies (the competition manager from Dunlop) was there on the piano.

He loved Trail riding and often had trips with his friends Blackie Holden and George Slinger visiting his old trials stomping grounds and then trail riding in the Torridon region of the North West Highlands. Following his retirement, he used to have an annual pilgrimage to Crete where he would hire trail bikes and in lovely warm weather explore the mountainous regions of the island.

His knowledge of the Yorkshire Dales became second to none over the years. He once organised a three day off road endurance event for the Army Dispatch riders from Catterick Camp all in the Yorkshire Dales. In 2016, Tiger laid on a couple of organised runs in the Dales for the York Classic club.

He was also an active member of the New Imperial Club frequently riding with them on the organised road runs with John going along as well to help with a bike that was often a difficult and reluctant starter.

As well as being an enthusiastic observer in recent years, he put in many hours laying out our trials at Rogerham Gate the moorland venue which became synonymous with Tiger. He loved to go to the Rogerham Gate Inn after the trial to chat about the day’s events.

Although he retired from closed venue trials over ten years ago, he continued riding his favourite event the annual Beamish Trial run organised by the Vintage Motor Cycle Club. He rode this event over twenty times winning it in 2011 and finishing every time .His final Beamish was in September last year. The weather turned bad, the last hour was ridden in torrential rain. Without doubt a major personnel achievement on his old rigid and girders Triumph Tiger 80 for someone battling a debilitating illness and yet he still won a first class award.

Tiger wasn’t a one trick pony he enjoyed many things. Not confined to two wheels he once had a go partnering his friend Peter Roydhouse as passenger in his trials sidecar outfit in the Ilkley re Union trial.

Away from Motorcycling, depite never learning to swim he was a keen sailor and in his youth, a completive rower. He was also an accomplished crown green bowler.

Yorkshire Classic club trail rides in the future will be Tiger’s Legacy and Rogerham Gate will always be our Remembrance Day.

RIP Tiger, you couldn’t have achieved more.

Neil Anderton is the Yorkshire Classic Motorcycle Club President

Post script: Tiger’s AJS YNC526 ended up in the hands of Scottish Six Days assistant Clerk of Course, Alex Smith who rode the 1965 SSDT on the machine. It eventually ended up in Rogart, Sutherland owned by the local postman, John Macdonald.

John Macdonald, the local postman on his ex-‘Tiger’ Payne AJS 16C (YNC526) on ‘Sonnys’ at Rogart, Sutherland – Photo Grant Family Collection, Rogart

Mike Anderson Passes away after illness

Mike Anderson - Sammy Miller
Mike Anderson (left) pictured here with Sammy Miller MBE during a family visit to Sammy’s museum at New Milton in summer 2017


The Scottish trials community was saddened to learn of the death of Dalmellington club stalwart and keen trials rider, Michael Anderson on Monday 8th January, he was sixty years of age. He had been bravely battling cancer for some time, but throughout his treatment remained cheery and positive and continued to ride a motorcycle whenever possible.

Living at Sanquhar, Dumfriesshire, he was originally from Bishop-Auckland in County Durham. Mike as he was known to all, never lost his North-East accent. He was a trials fanatic and amassed a collection of machines over the years. He rode a Royal Enfield many times in the early years of the Pre’65 Scottish Trial and a BSA Bantam and was delighted when his trials riding son, Michael junior was successful in gaining an entry to this years’ Scottish Six Days Trial in May. An event the whole family looked forward to, as well as their annual visits to the Scott Trial in the October.

Mike was married to the hard working Dalmellington club secretary, Heather Anderson and father to daughter, Coral who has been involved in the sport as an observer for many years and latterly an official at the SSDT. He made his living as an opencast mine machine operator.

Funeral arrangements are as follows:

Tuesday 16th January at St. Brides Church of Scotland, Sanquhar, at 12.30 pm, 1:00pm at the graveside, thereafter to the Sanquhar Community Centre for a funeral tea where the family would like to invite all friends to join them.

Mike’s daughter Coral spoke to Trials Guru and said: “We have been overwhelmed with all the supportive messages, visits and flowers that we have received. It is so comforting to know that my Dad was loved by so many people”.

Trials Guru conveys condolences to the Anderson family at this sad time on behalf of the wider Scottish trials community.

Mike Anderson 1997 Loch Eilde Path
Mike Anderson on his BSA Bantam in the 1997 Pre’65 Scottish on Loch Eilde Path – Photo: Iain Lawie, Kinlochleven.