Category Archives: Obituaries

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.

Tom Ollerton the Bultaco Original

My beautiful picture
Tom Ollerton at Gorgie Market, Edinburgh in 1962 when competing in the Scottish Six Days Trial on his Bultaco when he worked at Anelays Motorcycles. This was the first Bultaco to be ridden in the SSDT.


It is with much sadness that Trials Guru brings the news of the passing of  Tom Ollerton at the age of 91 on Christmas Day, 2017.

Ollerton was an active member of Darwen Motor Cycle & Light Car Club (now Darwen Trial Club) in Lancashire, being at one time their club secretary. Tom had the accolade of being the very first rider to compete in the Scottish Six Days Trial on a Bultaco in 1962. The Bultaco machine he rode was a 196cc ‘Sherpa S’ registered in Blackburn, Lancashire as PBV700, his riding number was 8 that year.

He worked at Anelays Motorcycles in the town of Blackburn, Lancashire who were the original importers of the Bultaco brand in the UK and had racing connections. However having ridden the modified Sherpa S in the 1962 Scottish Six Days and again in 1963 riding another Bultaco Sherpa of 155 cc capacity under number 18. Tom was joined in 1964 by Oriol Puig Bultó from the Bultaco factory who provided him with a factory prepared prototype machine riding number 40.

Tom Ollerton 1963
Tom Ollerton on his factory prepared prototype in the 1964 SSDT, tackles ‘Glen Ogle’ on the first day.

Oriol who is the nephew of Senor F.X. Bultó the founding father of the marque, was very impressed by the modifications that Tom had carried out to the standard, dual purpose ‘Sherpa N’ and Puig Bultó set about altering his own factory machine to a similar specification. Oriol was a very competent international motocross rider as well as being an expert trials and ISDT competitor.

It could be said that Ollerton was the fore-runner/creator of the machine that was the basis for Sammy Miller’s ‘Sherpa T’ of November 1964, the model with increased capacity to 244cc, that literally changed the world of trials forever.

Trials Guru’s John Moffat who has followed the history of the Sherpa since childhood said:   “Tom Ollerton’s involvement with developing the ‘Sherpa N’ to close to ‘Sherpa T’ specification has all but been forgotten except for a handful of enthusiasts. Tom Ollerton has been the ‘missing link’ in the Bultaco Sherpa story, my aim is to put that right. Tom Ollerton’s contribution to the Sherpa’s development was significant in nature, having competed in the toughest trial in the world three times on the brand. I wouldn’t take any credit away from Sammy Miller of course, but the trials Bultaco had been in a constant stage of development before Sammy did his secret testing sessions in company with Roy Peplow in the October of 1964 at Senor Bultó’s ranch, called San Antonio.”

Moffat continued: “Sammy Miller’s development work on the Sherpa which eventually became the production Model 10 is well documented, but Tom Ollerton’s contribution to the Bultaco Sherpa, less so.”

Moffat also said: “Having got to know Oriol Puig Bultó very well over the past few years, we have discussed this many times in conversation. He told me that in 1964 he drove a small Fiat 500cc car with a trailer carrying two Sherpa prototype machines, one for himself and the other for his friend Tom Ollerton to ride, all the way from Barcelona to Edinburgh in Scotland for that year’s SSDT. I know that Oriol held Tom Ollerton in high regard, I am certain he will be much saddened to hear of Tom’s passing.”

Our sincere condolences go to the Ollerton family.

Tom Ollerton’s funeral service will take place at St Anne’s Church, Turton, BOLTON, Lancashire BL7 0ER at 1.30pm on Monday, January 8th 2018, followed by cremation at Pleasington, Blackburn, Lancashire BB2 5LE.

Oriol Puig Bultó wrote on 3rd January 2018:

“I am very sad today by the news of Tom Ollerton’s passing.
This brings my memory back to May 1964, when I drove all the way from Barcelona to Edinburgh taking on my trailer two Bultaco Trial prototypes prepared at the factory for the SSDT, one for myself and the other for my team mate Tom Ollerton. The experience we gained at that event helped us to further develop the Trial model towards the Sherpa T. My sympathy and condolences to Tom’s family.”

For more on the Bultaco story go HERE

Ivan Pridham 1931-2017

South-West Trials enthusiast, Mike Naish has prepared a tribute to Ivan Pridham:

72 knill Trial 3rd 250 Bulto

Ivan Alfred James Pridham 1931-2017

It is with much sadness we report the death of Ivan Pridham, he was 86 years young.

Ivan was a long standing stalwart of the South West Centre, a man who has had much success in Trials both locally and nationally, many before some readers were born. He was a rider who has represented his city in International sport and supported a handicap children’s charitable trust. He has carried on in his chosen sport for most of his life with humour, enthusiasm and good nature and who was a popular rider to boot.

Born at Latchley near Gunnislake in Cornwall, he moved to Plymouth when he was fifteen years of age. He did his National Service in the Royal Engineers when he was twenty-one, so that he could finish his apprenticeship with a small lift company which later in life he bought and made it into a business.

Ivan suffered latterly with a bad back that needed surgery after falling down a lift shaft and the operation did curtail some of his riding but he bore the pain stoically,  at least to the outside.

Our thoughts are with his wife Pat, daughter Wendy and family at this time.

Ivan’s funeral will take place at St. Mary’s Church, Market Road, Plympton, PL7 1QW on Wednesday 20th December at 1-45 pm.
St. Mary’s Church can be found by taking the road from the Marsh Mills junction towards Plympton (the old A38), the church is situated just off the roundabout.

On Any Sunday creator dies


The creator of the definitive bike-sport movie of all time, ‘On Any Sunday’, Bruce Brown has died aged 80 years on Sunday, 10 December 2017.

He was born on 1st December 1937 in San Francisco, California, but was raised in Southern California.

His first real film of note was ‘Endless Summer’ which captured the life-style of surfers. Brown was himself a keen board surfer. It was released in 1966 with ‘On Any Sunday’ released five years later, in 1971. The film followed many riders and motorcycle sports in the 1970 season in both the USA and Europe.

Footage of the International Six Days Trial (now ISDE) was shot at El Escorial, near Madrid, Spain and featured American, Malcolm Smith, the famous desert racer and off-road competitor who also featured in the Baja desert races in the film.

Brown was fortunate to enlist the services of Steve McQueen, a motorcycle enthusiast and racer as well as being an A-list movie star.

McQueen was the central character in the film and it showed that he wasn’t just playing at it either, which enabled him to gain even more respect in the world’s off-road motorcycling community.

But it was Brown’s talent as a movie-maker that was the real shining star. He didn’t have any formal training or education on film-making, but his slow motion filming or riders at speed was a revelation in documentary style films for the time. Brown acknowledged that his lack of formal training probably worked to his advantage as his innovative style was unconventional for the period.

It is thought that his film brought more people into motorcycle sport, not only in the USA, but anywhere the movie was screened.

Trials Guru’s John Moffat was at an early screening near Edinburgh, Scotland in 1971 aged thirteen years and said: “I was completely blown away by ‘On Any Sunday’, I had never seen anything like it previously and although by that time I had a motorcycle, it really captivated me. I remember the theme tune going through my head after watching it. In fact I can still hear it to this day, having bought a video cassette and then a DVD version of the film in more recent years. My sons have been brought up as kids watching it as infants and I believe my Grand-daughter has even been known to watch it too.”

Bernie Schreiber who featured in the remake, ‘On Any Sunday II’ said: “It is sad, I loved Bruce’s film ‘Endless Summer’. 2017 has not been a good year for legends.”

‘On Any Sunday’ covered almost every aspect of motorcycle competition from road racing, motocross, trials, enduro, dirt track, mile (long track), ice-racing and desert racing.

The soundtrack was specially scored by Dominic Frontiere, the American composer, which gave terrific atmosphere to the movie.

Photo courtesy of Cycle News, USA