Author Topic: Fay Taylour - The beginning.  (Read 20631 times)

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Offline alwyn

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Fay Taylour - The beginning.
« on: 30 Jul 2006 at 07:33 »


Hi all,
Over quite some time I have developed a strong fascination for the history of Douglas speedway racing. Of particular interest has been the exploits of Fay Taylour who arguably must have been the greatest woman dirt-track racer during the era late 1927 to 1932 particularly following the introduction of the sport of dirt-track racing to the UK by the Australians during the 1928 English summer racing season.

In my research and endeavours to learn more about her and her triumphs and her real life tribulations, (did you know that she was once imprisoned for her extreme pro-fascism views, being described in a MI5 report c 1940s as "one of the worst pro-Nazis in Port Erin"?), I became aware of some writings of one Frances Popley who interviewed Miss Taylour for the Womens International Motorcycle Association's Pearl Jubilee booklet which was produced in 1980. Frances has kindly granted permission to this Forum to quote from the transcript of that extensive first hand interview - accordingly, material enclosed in quotes in the following articles indicate that the material is borrowed from those writings and is attributed to Fay Taylour speaking in the first person on a one on one basis. We are fortunate - it is not possible in any other way to get closer to the source nor the truth of the matters covered.

Section 1 of the story begins...

The Fay Taylour narrative begins... 

At the outset of this interview, Fay Taylour describes what happened when she decided to 'have a go' at motorcycle speedway saying, "I bought a helmet so that I could mingle with the English boys at the next Crystal Palace practice session. I was discovered buying the helmet by Lionel Wills. I told him my plan, expecting to be laughed at, but he said that the track was where he raced and that he would drive me there.  Note: For more about Lionel Wills see the footnote to this page.

"The boys, practicing already, were too busy falling off and trying to get the hang of the new racing to notice me, but when the promoter Freddie Mockford came along and yelled for 'that lad' to be called in or the track would never be ready for racing the next day, he had a shock when I, the last rider left on the track, fell off and then removed my helmet for a moment. "Why don't you book her to race?', Lionel queried, adding that all the other promoters were booking me.

"Whether that fib helped or not I'll never know, but after first scorning me he ran after me as I was disappointedly descending the terrace, having washed the cinder dust off my face for the first and last time as I thought - 'Would you like to race here a week tomorrow?', he asked. Would I, I thought silently? - but I tried to sound casual as I agreed.  'You can practice all next week', he said. All that next week in a heat wave, I slogged round that track until at last, following tumble after tumble I'd taught myself to power slide, to keep the throttle open and stay on the machine. The night before racing I was going like an expert."


Photo: Fay Taylour at Crystal Palace c 1929.



The interview proceeds revealing that in the first race which occurred during the 1928 English racing season Fay found the track very different to that she had practiced on at Crystal Palace saying, "Although the surface looked smooth as the big rake circled it before we lined up, the deep ruts from the previous races were still there and my heavy 500cc Rudge, unlike the special light machines that the Australians used, was hard to handle. The races were of four laps and I hung on for three and three quarters of them, then, while out in front and not far from the finish, I went head over heels on that last bend! The following week I did the same thing.

"Freddie Mockford booked me once more saying, 'if you fall off this time ... finish!'- but this time Lionel (referring to Lionel Wills) lent me his light dirt track special and I stayed on."


That was probably Taylour's first introduction to Douglas. Whether she continued on Lionel Wills' bike or another Douglas is not made clear. However, she continues her story by relating successes she enjoyed during the rest of the 1928 English racing season, her performances causing her to earn the respected title of and to become well reknowned as "The Queen of Speedways". I think it is doubtful that all this would have been achieved had she reverted to riding her old Rudge machine.

In the North of England, Taylour was matched with another woman rider by the name of Eva Asquith. About this she says, "Giving her a good start I was able to win. She did not power slide the bends in the streamlined fashion as was the method then. Instead of throwing the bike wide into the turn, she rode round the inside with bent knee."

At this time she clearly was riding Douglas as the photo below shows both her and Eva to be mounted on Douglas machines.

Photo: Fay Taylour and Eva Asquith c 1928.




Footnote: "About Lionel Wills" - these notes regarding Lionel Wills are reproduced with due acknowledgement and thanks to the proprietors of the Australian Speedway Motorcycles web site. It was during the 1926/1927 season at the Royale, at The Sydney Showground Speedway, "The Royale", being  one of the world's great speedway venues, is located at  the Royal Agricultural Showgrounds at  Moore  Park near  Sydney, New South Wales, Australia. It is where Lionel Wills who was a holidaying Englishman at the time, saw an advertisement in a Sydney newspaper for a speedway meeting to be held there. Being a keen motorcycle enthusiast himself, Wills decided he would attend to see what this new motorcycle sport was. He couldn't believe his eyes when he saw motorcycles broadsiding around the circuit at speed. He had not seen anything like it in his own country and anxious to share his new discovery with his countrymen, he sent articles back to Britain which were published in some of the best selling motorcycling magazines. His vivid description of what he had seen, and also his enthusiasm for this new form of racing, caught the attention of many of the readers of his stories. One British motor cycle club decided to stage an event of the type Wills had described. This early Dirt Track event was the May 1927 Camberley meeting. It was during the 1926 - 1927 season at the Sydney Showground that Wills first met up with Johnnie Hoskins. They were to work together later in Britain, much of their time dedicated to selfish sexist strategies aimed at preserving motorcycle speedway racing a completly male dominated sport.

There is much more to relate about this absorbing history. The story will be continued in further postings later. In the meantime if you have comment or any information at all about Fay Taylour and her exploits, or relevant pictures to share, please do so by posting in this forum.

Alwyn
Moderator

Edit 03/12/2008: Extraneous characters removed. Alwyn
Edit 05/12/2008: Small textual corrections effected. Alwyn
Edit 06/12/2008: (1) FayTaylour image added.
                        (2) Footnote re Lionel Wills added.
                        (3) Hyperlink link to text source created.  Alwyn
Edit18/12/2008: Added headers re section number and  the beginning of FT narrative.   Alwyn

   
« Last Edit: 18 Dec 2008 at 11:01 by alwyn »
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Offline trevorp

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Re: Fay Taylour - The beginning.
« Reply #1 on: 30 Jul 2006 at 07:49 »
do u have a picture of her bike i beilive it was on show a few years ago where is the bike now

Also this may be worth a look but not sure if it is to do with fay
"The New Speedway" is in the Register,
20 April 1928, page 6c

"World's Record Broken Several Times at Speedway Royale" is in the Observer,
8 February 1930, page 23a.

Information on a women's motor cycle club is in the Register,
10 February 1930, page 3e.

« Last Edit: 30 Jul 2006 at 07:59 by trevorp »

Offline alwyn

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Re: Fay Taylour - The beginning.
« Reply #2 on: 20 Nov 2006 at 23:03 »
Quote from: Alwyn
There is more to relate about this absorbing history that will be continued in another posting later.
My resolve to continue this narrative has not waned but merly deferred when I learned about the existence of a new book written by Brian Belton entitled "Fay Taylour - Queen of Speedway" published  in February, 2006. I felt I should read this before continuing.

For those LDMCC members who may have read Reg Holme's report about the book in the current issue of NCR and also for others who may have learned about it in some other way and have contemplated buying the book, I offer the following warning.
 
As soon as I learned about the new book, it was on the 14 September last, I immediately ordered a copy from Panther Publishing Ltd., - however it has not arrived to this day more than 9 weeks since order and payment, (a fact for which Rollo Turner trading as Panther Publishing Ltd., writing in response to a number of e-mails I have sent to him in the interim has this morning profoundly apologised for and he has promised to send another copy "post-haste", which I have interpreted as being via AirMail).

The inordinate delay has been due to the book being sent via "Surface Mail" a factor not anticipated when I ordered the book on Panther Publishing Ltd's web-site, my assumption then being that it would be sent AirMail which  is customary with these things nowadays. Not so in this instance! 'Shipping' on this website means just that and if you intend to order a copy of the book and you wish to receive it within a reasonable time then you are well advised to negotiate directly with the vendor rather than order on the web as I did.

Alwyn
Moderator.

As anticipated, the book was quick to arrive. Fay Taylour's image appears
on the cover which is reproduced below...




Edit 05/12/2008: (1) Minor textual changes effected.
                        (2) Photograph added.                     Alwyn.

Edit 06/12/2008: Book image size reduced        Alwyn


« Last Edit: 07 Dec 2008 at 12:38 by alwyn »
Quotable Quote - "640 k should be enough for anybody"! - Bill Gates - 1981.

Offline Speedway Researcher

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Re: Fay Taylour - The beginning.
« Reply #3 on: 22 Nov 2006 at 11:57 »
Brian Belton has written a book on Fay Taylour which was published in the UK earlier in 2006.

 
Thank you Speedway Researcher,
As you may have read by now, my order on Panther Publishing Ltd., has now been fulfilled.

In explanation, the book was inadvertently forwarded by surface mail. The Publisher represented by Rollo Turner, has apologised for the error and when informed of it, immediately and graciously sent another copy via air at no additional cost. Rollo wishes me to assure all of our readers that procedural matters concerning mailing from this publisher have been radically overhauled and same day despatch of orders by airmail is now the norm.

I have inserted below a copy of the rear cover of the book which describes its content clearly.
The photo also displays some notes headed "About the Author" which are informative regarding Belton. 

This is a very comprehensive summary of Fay's  involvement in Douglas dirt-track racing. It contains charts of race results and an Appendix listing her major achievements from 1904 - 1930. It also comfortably embraces the careers of competitors who raced against Fay during that epic period of 1929 and 1930 describing in detail their individual styles and personal idiosyncrasies of these erstwhile champion speedsters .

The book is recommended as being worthy of a place on the shelves of all Douglas enthusiasts.

Alwyn
Moderator





Edit 05/12/2008: (1) Response to 'Speedway Reporter' added.
                        (2) Image added.                 Alwyn
Edit 06/12/2008:  Notes re book amended and image size reduced.   Alwyn



« Last Edit: 07 Dec 2008 at 12:39 by alwyn »

Offline alwyn

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Re: Fay Taylour - The beginning.
« Reply #4 on: 03 Dec 2008 at 03:51 »
In this posting dated 30 July 2006, I said,,,
Quote
"There is more to relate about this absorbing history that will be continued in another posting later."

Well, it is 'later' and my concience pricks me - this is such an absorbing part of Douglas history that it is essential that it must be recorded here for the benefit of our members and readers and even more importantly, that it is recorded within the safety of these annals for posterity.

As often as I have recalled my promise since writing the original article there just hasn't seemed to be an appropriate time to fire up the boilers to 'get on with it!' again. Now, facing terminal illness, I have realised it is literally 'now or never', or at least it is for me, so I begin again, apologising for the inordinate delay and trusting that I'll be able to pick up the old thread in orderly fashion as I continue.

I reiterate that the owner of the original material, Ms Frances Popley has generously granted us unfetterd permission for its use. The ownership should be respected and the material republished here and in the successive pages should not be copied for reuse save for strictly private use and certainly it must never be reproduced in any public media without first obtaining express permission to do so, in the first instance by referring the matter to your own Forum administrator.

The initial posting quoted above summarised Fay's determined efforts to dirt-track motorcycles with as much courage and daring as the menfolk about her demonstrated. After all, she was mere woman trying to break down barriers of inequality for members of her own sex - other women had taken on the cause, some dropped out by the wayside, others persisted and entered the sport but few were as totally dedicated as Fay. That she was used by promotors of the time as a publicity tool rather than being regarded as a true competitor comes to the  fore repeatedly in which ever media you read. Fay was forced to race under handicap provisions that gave her substantial starts in a non-standardised handicapping system devoid of basis in statistics or formulae for the seconds of handicap meted out: these were no more than crudely calculated advantages to bring Fay home first for nothing if not just for the the sake of publiclty - Fay abhorred it and was even galled by being handicapped over competitors she could beat so easily on her own terms without the need for such gratuitous assistance! - but being the determined woman she was she did not deviate from her aim to become the best.

This photo depicts a typical promotional advertisement published pre-races by the promoters to generate interest in women's participation in motorcycle racing - 'teasers' in fact designed as much to further their own causes as to genuinely promote Fay's.



Fay's subsequent triumphs over the sport and its administrators speak for themselves! Following her debut season of competitive dirt-tracking the English circuits in 1928, the year the Ausies took it upon themselves to travel to Britain to coach the Brits into playing the sport as they themselves had practiced it since about 1923, Fay lived the dream and followed the Australians back to Australia to compete against the best of the world in their Summer Season of 1929, exchanging her Rudge machine late in the '28 season for a 500 cc RA model DT Douglas, a Freddie Dixon designed machine derived from his TT model and taking one spare engine with her. Fay was the only 'British' competitor to have made the journey at that time, the male dominators of the sport preferring not to take up the challenge against the stronger Aussies.

On the 5th January, 1929, Fay tasted her first success in Australia defeating Frank Brown in a match race in Perth but bigger and better was to come! On the 26th January amidst great interest and excitement of the enthusiasts and promotors alike, including her legendary Australian promotor Johnnie Hoskins, she was pitched against the Western Australian Champion Sig Schlamm to race at the Claremont Speedway. There Fay beat the man thought by all to be unbeatable on his his home track and was heralded by the excited and appreciative "down-under"spectators as well as by those watching from home! The promotors were delighted too of course! She went on to other successes during that season beating local champion Reg West in Melbourne along the way.

Note: Sadly and as an aside to this story, the great Western Australian Speedway Champion, Sigismund "Sig" Schlamm, whom Fay had defeated in January, 1929, died from injuries he received on the night of 1 November, 1930 whilst competing in the 'A' Grade Handicaps held at the Perth Speedway (located at the WA Cricket Association grounds). He was just 25 years old.

The picture following is of the legendary Johnnie Hoskins,
Fay's one time promotor. He was later involved in the
implemtation of the ban preventing female riders from
participation in speedway racing, returning it to a male
dominated sport!




On her return to Britain after this triumphant tour of Australia and New Zealand during 1929, Fay won the coveted Cinders Trophy for achieving the fastest lap in an international contest, a record previously held by Ray Tauser of the USA and at Southhampton she finished ahead of the mighty 'Sprouts' Elder, the top American rider reknowned for his dramatic performances on the long-wheelbase Duggie.

This photo below is of the great American speedway competitor, Lloyd 'Sprouts' Elder. Fay found his style of dirt-track racing intimidating - Sprouts physical bearing seemed to give him such advantage on the low slung Douglas machines he rode - and he was notably faster and steadier than at least his British competitors - he had the knack of leaning his bike at absurd gravity defying angles skidding violently at the same time keeping the front wheel almost vertical and maintaining that attitude right up to the bends, momentarily righting the bike out of its seemingly interminable skid to near upright to take the bend then immediately accelerating into a similar almost grotesque attitude for the return run down the oval - it must have been exciting stuff to watch as a spectator!

The photo shows 'Sprouts' Elder at rest on his bike showing off his best captivating smile!




...but back to the basic story as related by Fay herself to Frances Popley for the Womens International Motorcycle Associations Pearl Jubilee Booklet published in 1980.

The story continues to section 2...

Fay Taylour continues her narrative...

"I bought a helmet so that I could mingle with the English boys at the next Crystal Palace practise session. I was discovered buying the helmet by Lionel Wills. I told him of my plan, expecting to be laughed at, but he said that the track was where he raced and that he would drive me there. The boys practising already were too busy falling off and trying to get the hang of the new racing techniques to notice me. But when the promoter, Freddie Mockford came along and yelled for 'that lad' to be called in off of the track as he would never be ready for racing the next day, he had a shock when I as the last rider left on the track fell off and removed my helmet for a moment! 'Why don't you book her to race?,' Lionel queried, adding that all the other promoters were booking me. Whether that fib helped or not I'll never know, but after first scorning me he ran after me as I was disappointedly descending the terrace having washed the cinder dust off my face for the first and last time, as I thought. 'Would you like to race here a week tomorrow?' he asked. Would I?! - but I tried to sound calm and casual as I unhesitatingly agreed.

"You can practice all next week," he told me and all that next week in a heatwave, I slogged around that track 'till at last, after tumble after tumble, I'd taught myself to powerslide, to keep the throttle open and to stay on the machine. The night before racing I was going like an expert!

"but alas! - the track was very different the next day when my race was due. Although the surface looked smooth as the big rake circled it before we we lined up, the deep ruts from the previous races were still there, and my heavy 500cc Rudge, unlike the special light machines that the Australians used, was hard to handle. The races were four laps long and I hung on for three and three quarters of them, then while out in front and not far from the finish line  I went head over heels on that last bend! The following week I did the same thing. Freddie Mockford (the Promotor of the new sport) booked me once more saying 'if you fall off this time ...finish!' - but this time Lionel lent me his light dirt track special and I stayed on.

 
"I was then booked for Hove, near Brighton, where I defeated the local champion. From then on I never looked back. I went North and in Middlesbrough, Salford and Liverpool my press cuttings record many wins. I was called 'The Queen of Speedways' and often billed as the only girl dirt track rider but in the North I was matched against another girl rider in Eva Asquith. Giving Eva a good start, I was able to win. She did not power slide the bends in the streamlined fashion as was the method then. Instead of throwing the bike wide into the turn, she rode round the inside with bent knee. Three or four women made some rides on the speedways in those early days but did not prove fast enough to be spectacular".

This photo of Fay appears in the middle spread of the book "The Illustrated History of Douglas Motorcycles written by Harold Briercliffe and Eric Brockway (ISBN 0-85429-799-5) - It is another book well worthy of a place on all Douglas enthusiasts shelves.




In the next episode of this intriquing account of "The Queen of Speedways" the Australians, so successfully having introduced their favourite form of motorcycle racing to the English during the 1928 and 1929 English seasons, invite 'the Brits' to compete against the best again, this time back in Australia.

Alwyn
Moderator.

Edit 05/12/2008: (1) Photo Johnnie Hoskins added.
                       (2) Some general revisions and grammatical corections effected.
                        (3) Note re the death of Sig Schlamm added.
                       (4)  Image of leaflet added. 
                      (5) Image 'Sprouts' Elder and comments added.               Alwyn
Edit 07/12/2008:  Image Fay Taylour added.              Alwyn
Edit 18/12/2008: Added header FT continues her narrative...    Alwyn





« Last Edit: 18 Dec 2008 at 11:12 by alwyn »
Quotable Quote - "640 k should be enough for anybody"! - Bill Gates - 1981.

Offline alwyn

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Re: Fay Taylour - The beginning.
« Reply #5 on: 03 Dec 2008 at 04:09 »
Note: Are you about to copy this material?  It's fine to do that provided it is strictly for private use only but please refer to previous posts about the need to first obtain permission if you have any intention at all of republishing it in any form of public media.

The story continues to section 3...

Fay Taylour continues her narrative...


"It was so thrilling to new audiences that the tracks were packed just to see the Australians and a few Americans do demonstration rides and match races. Even Royalty attended! Team racing had not yet started. Press cuttings record that I drew record crowds and still did so when the number of spectators lessened.

"When that first season ended in England, the Australian riders returned to their country. Their summer and racing season was just starting. 'I'd like to see Australia!' was a thought that came into my head, and before long I found myself on a ship heading that way, complete with the speedway bike I had exchanged late in the season for my 500 cc Rudge of the time, though I really only hoped and expected that I might be permitted to do just demonstration rides. I felt I needed a great deal more riding to be able to go as fast as I'd like to. Unlike the boys who raced in every event more than once a week, I was confined to match racing mostly and could not race at all at many of the tracks, so I felt very much a beginner still and not too safe in spite of the many good performances I'd managed to make.

"I landed in Western Australia. The tall gum trees and wide open spaces were like a dream-land. Not so dreamy was the terrifying prospect laid before me of racing against the West Australia Champion, Sig Schlamm, on his home track, the famous Claremont speedway. (One of Australia's and indeed one of the world's oldest and longest running Speedway venues). There was no-one else nor anywhere else to prove an England versus Australia race. I was the only rider from the British tracks who had made the trip. It was January 1929. English riders came out the following season but right here and now it was just up to me! ...how ridiculous, I thought? The speedway paper had said that everyone was waiting to see who could beat the canny Sig Schlamm who appeared to be so unbeatable. He held the record which had stood for over a year. It was a half-mile track, twice as large as I'd been riding on.

"Although I'd brought the latest fast speedway bike from England, Schlamm had exactly the same model, for he had been one of the racers in England.


A photograph of Fay mounted on a DT Douglas that is very likely to have been the one and the same bike that she brought to Australia for her races against the Aussie champions during 1929?  Can anyone offer a positive identity from the photo as being a 1928 model?



"Perhaps being scared is an advantage! I won that race. The official who drove me to the track said he didn't think I could win and that speedway fans would have their stopwatches to check it wasn't a fix. It turned out that I had equalled the long-standing record and had made the fastest time of the meeting. In Melbourne, I broke two records, defeated the champion and won two races. In Adelaide, a fast third-mile track, I broke the season's four-lap record and defeated two top riders - but in Sydney I fell and broke myself and woke up in hospital!

In the next abstract of this intriquing story Fay continues the narrative of her continuing journey back to Britain via New Zealand. Read on and enjoy!

Alwyn
Moderator.

Edit 05/12/2008: (1) Note re illicit copying amended.
                       (2) Photograph Fay and Bike added.  Alwyn
Edit 17/12/2008: Minor format change.    Alwyn
Edit 18/12/2008: Headers amended.    Alwyn

« Last Edit: 18 Dec 2008 at 08:32 by alwyn »
Quotable Quote - "640 k should be enough for anybody"! - Bill Gates - 1981.

Offline alwyn

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Re: Fay Taylour - The beginning.
« Reply #6 on: 03 Dec 2008 at 04:34 »
Note: Are you about to copy this material?  It's fine to do that provided it is strictly for private use only but please refer to previous posts about the need to first obtain permission if you have any intention at all of republishing it in any form of public media.

The story continues to section 4...

Fay Taylour continues her narrative...


"I went on to New Zealand, first going to Wellington. I won two races but crashed on the third and a doctor was called in the middle of the night to stitch up a finger on my right hand. General Motors provided a white Chevrolet so I travelled by car. I was entertained with the Australian tennis team who seemed to be touring the same route so we watched each other perform and sometimes two or three of them would travel with me while we chased the train with their fellow members on board to the next city. I don't know if speedway racing had been established as long in New Zealand as in Australia but I managed to defeat some of their top riders. Admiral Byrd who had just flown over the South Pole, was on a small ship that was taking me back to Wellington. The Captain gave a party for us both and I was pleasantly surprised to meet a handsome man in his thirties instead of the bearded old seafarer I'd expected!

"Back in London, the astute promoter Johnnie Hoskins, now running the Wembley speedway, entered me for the Cinders Trophy.  This was a contest promoted for the purpose of an attempt to break the lap speed record. I was representing Ireland where I was born. It was really a stunt to draw the crowds. The track seemed strange and tricky, so I think I was more surprised than pleased when I broke the record and circled the track with my trophy.

"I made another trip to Australia and New Zealand (presumably this was during 1930 or even 1931 by this time although it is known that she also raced in Munich during 1930? A.) and then had a few more rides in England before the promoters for the time being finding their crowds dwindling and searching for ways to get extra publicity decided to stage a women's race and then to immediately announce a ban on women riders!

Apart from the Northern girl, Eva Asquith, the few women riders whom some promoters had used occasionally were too slow to hold the interest of the spectators and it was a race between such riders that was now staged as a forerunner to the ban announcement. Conveniently one rider fell on the approach ramp before reaching the track and broke a collar bone. Next morning came the big announcment! Women Banned From Speedway Racing!. It gave the promoters such headlines. They had initially put women on the tracks to get their publicity and now they were banning them for the same purpose!
 
"I was on my way back from Australia at the time and when I arrived a friendly promoter said 'I'm sorry, girlie, but it means you too! His offer of a free ticket to watch the racing galled me. I was permitted to enter one last race, this time at Southampton against the Northern girl, Eva Asquith.

"Press cuttings record that I won easily in a faster time than that recorded by many of the men heat winners. I came within a split second of the overall record. I was sad that I couldn't have a second ride there for I felt I could then reduce that split second further.


On that 'sad' note the Fay Taylour narrative of her interview with Frances Popley is concluded. It is a mark of Fay's greatness to have wanted so badly to hold that overall record in a sport she so loved and excelled in until the ban on womens' participation in the sport curtailed her motorcycle racing career.

However, Frances Popley in a continuation of her writings under a header 'Profiles of Women Riders' had these things inter alia to say which are pertinate to the Fay Taylour story so I include those parts deemed to be of interest in the following footnotes...

Footnote 1:
"As well as Eva Asquith mentioned by Fay above, Dot Dawson (nee Cowley) was another speedway competitor. Speedway kept it's ban on women until near the end of the century. When the ban was lifted, Julie Cross, sister of speedway rider Simon who had been competing in grass-track and Maxine Hill, a junior rider, were the first two females to take to the speedway track."

Footnote 2:
The ban of women from motorcycle racing did not deter this remarkable woman. Fay merely shifted her focus to speedcar racing at which sport she was equally adept and competitive. How could you not admire such spirit?

Footnote 3:
In summation, I think we all must agree that we are extremely fortunate to have been given the opportunity to add this wonderful record to the annals of the douglasmotorcycles.net forum site for posterity and safe keeping. It harks even the more remarkable for its unquestionable authenticity being spoken in the first person by the great speedway rider herself, Fay Taylour!

Footnote 4:
In the next posting we reveal the present whereabouts of Fay Taylour's Douglas machine on which she first raced in Australia during the 1929 Australian season opening at Claremont in Western Australia and on which machine she raced and defeated the exalted Western Australian Speedway Champion, the late Sig Schlamm.

Some photographs of this machine will be published and photos of other similar machines purporting to have belonged to Fay and raced in Australia or in New Zealand by her during the years 1931 - 1931 and that were exported relatively recently to the USA where attempts to market them at huge prices, so far as we are presently aware and can determine, were unsuccessful.

Enjoy,

Alwyn
Moderator.   

Edit 05/12/2008: Note re illicit copying amended.  Alwyn
Edit 17/12/2008: (1) Minor format change. (2)  Erroneous reference to Douglas model 'Red Devil' removed.  Alwyn
Edit 18/12/2008: Headers amended, some format and text changes made.
   Alwyn

« Last Edit: 18 Dec 2008 at 22:32 by alwyn »
Quotable Quote - "640 k should be enough for anybody"! - Bill Gates - 1981.

Offline alwyn

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Re: Fay Taylour - The beginning.
« Reply #7 on: 11 Dec 2008 at 06:57 »

In the North of England, Taylour was matched with another woman rider by the name of Eva Asquith. About this she says, "Giving her a good start I was able to win. She did not power slide the bends in the streamlined fashion as was the method then. Instead of throwing the bike wide into the turn, she rode round the inside with bent knee."

At this time she clearly was riding Douglas as the photo below shows both her and Eva to be mounted on Douglas machines.

Photo: Fay Taylour and Eva Asquith c 1928.



Hi all,
During a review of my research re Fay Taylour today, I came across this account of the race referred to in this post between Fay Taylour and rival female speedway star Eva Asquith - being scribed by an eye-witness to the event gives the story special emphasis and it makes exciting reading - it must have been a great race for the spectators - just how was it that the males of the day were able to engineer a complete ban on womens' participation in the sport? - a ban that remained in place right through until near the end of the century! Shame on those promoters and the male riders that lent their support to the ban!

A transcript of the eye-witness account begins ...

"SPEEDWAY QUEEN"

"This article has been produced with the kind cooperation of Miss Fay Taylour. She was the greatest of women Seedway riders, knew as much about speedway riding as any male and was a highly skilled mechanic. She was the first British Speedway rider to leave Europe to compete against Australians. She was not only famous for her bike racing. In the early twenties she was racing midget cars and high powered cars at Brooklands. From 1929 to 1932, Fay Taylour rode on numerous tracks all over the country but women were prevented from 1932 from Speedway riding by an A.C.U. ban - Miss Taylour received this news when she returned fron one of her Auustralian tours.

All over, Fay rode lap records and at Wembly held the lap record of 37.18 MPH before being beaten by a male opponent, Max Grosskreutz. Fay gave an exhibition of daring riding at the opening meeting of the Salford track. Before speedway riding she had gained herself a reputation for trials riding, hill climbing and grass track racing.

To Miss Taylour, dirt-track racing was a thrill and challenge and both in England and Australia she won the hearts of her spectators. I am sure Miss Taylour wont mind my reporting on one particular race where she was racing against Eva Asquith who was another lady rider of great skill. Fay and Eva were riding in a match - the best of 3 x four lap races.
They were one race each and then came the divider. The drama was that Eve appeared on the track, but not Fay. Time passed. If Fay didn't appear soon the race would go to Eva. But then almost too late came Fay. At that time riders came to the start with dead engines. When the signal was given to go the two pushers who appeared with each rider would get busy and it was hoped the engines would start. The signal was given and Evas's engine started almost at once but there was no sign of life from Fay's motor. Eva was away and down into the first bend when thanks to the effort of Fay's pushers her engine fired. Would it die or would it continue? Both girls were riding twin cylinder DOUGLAS machines and Fay's was firing on one cylinder. Her motor began to perform properly and she was off in what appeared to be a hopeless pursuit . By the time she was around the first bend Eva was going into the second and it really did look as though Fay was out of it.  After being struck dumb by those anxious first moments, we began shouting for her like we never rooted before. Things were beginning to happen. The gap was closing but could Fay make up the distance in all that was left of the race? The second lap came and went, and
the third also. Now was the last lap. Eva riding neatly and well on the inside with Fay, as she preferred riding wide and really sliding the bends. On the last bend Fay tried to take Eva by sliding around her on the outside but she couldn't quite make it. However, they came out of top bend almost level and in the remaining few yards to the finish Fay rode ahead to win by about a wheel. What a race! What drama, what fantastic riding and what excitement and between TWO LADIES!

When Fay started racing cars again she won races at Brooklands and in Ireland and in post war years she was racing Midget cars in Australia, New Zealand, South Africa and the U.S.A. Today Miss Taylour has retired and is living in the North of England but still has great enthusiasm for motoring events. [Refer Footnote added 13/12/2008 - Alwyn]

Story by John Goodbury. The story is told here for the benefit of members and readers of this Forum only. It must not be copied other than for genuine personal use without the express permission of the owner.

Enjoy,

Alwyn
Moderator.

Footnote: Brian Belton in his book 'Fay Taylour - Queen of Speedway' reported on elsewhere in this series records that Fay died on the 2nd August, 1983 in Weymouth, Dorset in South-west England. She was 75 years old.   Alwyn.

Edit12/12/2008: Typographical errors corrected.   Alwyn.
Edit 13/12/2008: Footnote added.  Alwyn.
« Last Edit: 12 Dec 2008 at 22:23 by alwyn »
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Offline Dave

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Re: Fay Taylour - The beginning.
« Reply #8 on: 11 Dec 2008 at 20:58 »
Alwyn,

Thanks for all the time and effort you've put into researching and posting this information about Fay Taylour. These first hand accounts are really interesting to read and quite different to those written by others.

Dave
« Last Edit: 17 Dec 2008 at 01:16 by Dave »

Offline alwyn

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Re: Fay Taylour - The beginning.
« Reply #9 on: 16 Dec 2008 at 23:36 »
Note: Are you about to copy this material?  It's fine to do that provided it is strictly for private use only but please refer to previous posts about the need to first obtain permission if you have any intention at all of republishing it in any form of public media

The story continues to section 5...

The search for Fay Taylour's DT Douglas motorcycle...

This episode is about my attempt to discover the whereabouts of the DT Douglas that was imported to Australia in 1929 by Fay Taylour. It has been claimed, indeed almost universally believed that it had been left by Fay “in a museum somewhere in Australia” following her very successful Australian tour in which she raced and beat several of the best and most skilled Australian champion speedway riders of the time during that year.

Being South Australian the obvious place to begin my search for the Fay Taylour bike was in the Adelaide Hills not too far distant from where I live and where the townships of Birdwood, Lobethal and Woodside exist. These are the townships that had become heavily steeped in early development of motor car and motorcycle racing in Australia. The first official event recorded was a hill climb event staged there in 1937. Car and motorcycle races followed and were held from 1937-1940 and again after the War in 1948. On 2 January 1939 Lobethal was home to the Australian Grand Prix – the last such race held before the Second World War interrupted the world Grand Prix schedule.
 
It was at Birdwood, the home of the National Motor Museum where I began my search on the 25th May, 2006. First I visited Mr. Bill Mitchell whom I had telephoned that morning to arrange to meet with him with a view to explaining my mission to him and to seek his help. He was at the time in the process of relocating the motorcycle museum he had developed at nearby Lobethal over a period of several years to newly aquired premises. The new site is just across the road from the National Motor Museum.

I began by asking Bill “Do you happen to know where Fay Taylour left her bike after she cleaned up the Aussies in 1929?  He looked at me with a wry smile, "It's just across the road!" he said, as if I should have known the answer to my own question.

Full of hope and renewed enthusiasm I hastily took leave of Bill and went across the road to the National Motor Museum explaining my mission this time to the receptionist who kindly went off to get me "the right person to speak to"!

The gentleman who appeared to attend me was Mr. Jon Chittelborough. I was later to learn that he was a man long associated with the museum complex as a staffer rising to the position of Curator and later on in his retirement continued at the Museum as a senior volunteer in which capacity he was working on this particular day. Jon immediately guided me on a walk through the innards of the museum's extensive motorcycle section which led directly to the stand bearing the very bike purporting by signage to be that which I had sought.

As thrilling as that was to see I realised that my research had really only just begun. Many questions needed to be answered before I would be able to present irrefutable proof that this was the bike I had set out to find.

I thanked Jon for his help and set about gathering the vital frame, engine and gear-box numbers of the bike and explaining my interest to onlooking patrons who just couldn't grasp the significance of it all!

The following is a selection of the photographs of the machine displayed at the Museum bearing the placard purporting it to be the machine once belonging to Fay Taylour. I took the photographs during my visit on the 25th May, 2006...



See larger view of above photograph here



See larger view of above photograph here



See larger view of above photograph here




There have been a number of claims made from time to time by certain internet sites that collections of motorcycles of concerns that they represent have within their collections a machine purporting to have belonged to Fay Taylour and some of these could well be true claims given the knowledge that Fay returned to Australia in following years for repeat tours and well may have brought up-dated models of the Douglas DT machines from Britain with her.

Certainly, there have been numerous machines about which similar claims have been made that have been offered for public auction sale on e-bay and there have been numerous others tagged with similar claims that have been offered for sale by private treaty including some offered as far afield from Australia as the U.S.A. at what can only be described as grossly inflated prices.

However, that the bike discovered at the National Motor Museum by virtue of my research is the one imported to Australia arriving in Perth on the 5th January, 1929 and is the one upon which Fay Taylour raced against the late Sig Schlamm and beat him at Claremont in Western Australia on the 26th January, 1929 prior to her going on to race in Adelaide and the Eastern States to win more races against other Australian Speedway Champions of the day, is supported by the the following facts…

(a) The frame, engine and gearbox numbers read directly from the machine by me during my visit to the National Motor Museum at Birdwood in South Australia on the 25th May, 2006 were reconfirmed by Museum staff on 13/12/2008, namely Engine numbered EL 118, Frame numbered TF 1044 and Gearbox numbered PG549.

The following is an image of the placard displayed with the machine.
The photograph was taken by me on the 25th May, 2006.




(b) In an e-mail communication addressed to me on 28/07/2008, Jon Chittelborough, then a senior volunteer working at the Museum on the day of my visit there on 25th May, 2006, formerly a long term Museum staffer and once the Museum Curator and whom has since retired, conducted my visit to view the machine said this…

Quote
”Dear Alwyn, Here are my notes on some of the Douglas's at the Museum. As mentioned on the phone Jack Kaines, the Museum's founder was a real Douglas enthusiast. He goes on to say… “Notes: Dirt Track Douglas, Engine No EL 118, Frame TF 1044, Gearbox PG 549 - Len Vigar 23.10.86 - brought out by Faye (sic) Taylor (sic), who broke lap record at Speedway Royale 1st or 3rd lap - male competitors not amused. Rode bike for two seasons, then sold it to Paddy Deane. Jack Kaines bought it. Rear wheel rim is wrong - too big, shld (sic) be 28 x 2.5 B.E. Throttle control links missing - Hope this is useful - Jon Chittleborough”[/i] ...cut... (end of relevancy.) End of e-mail.

The “Notes: quoted in the e-mail transcribed above apparently have their origin in a file memorandum prepared by Mr. Len Vigar who was part owner of the Blumberg Mill Museum with Mr. Jack Kaines. The owners sold the Blumberg Mill Museum together with the whole of the museum display stock to the Government of South Australia in 1965 with the full knowledge that the stock contained the Fay Taylour machine the value of which would have been enhanced because of its unique history and additionally because of its potential as a prize asset which could be used promotionally as an attraction to draw patrons to the Museum. In the event, the collection did form the nucleus of the motorcycles display at the National Motor Museum constructed at its present site shortly thereafter. It has its main public entrance immediately behind the old Blumberg Mill Museum.

There is no evidence that can be related to the on-sale of the machine by Mr. Paddy Deane to Mr. Jack Kaines as is referred to in the e-mail communication from Mr. Jon Chittelborough addressed to me on 28/07/2008.

Notwithstanding that intermediate sale, there is evidence existing that the machine actually passed with the sale to the S.A. Government in 1965. This appears in minutes of the SA History Trust Annual Report for the year 2002 where it is minuted under a sub-heading of “Collections Management” where it is recorded inter alia that ”…while a Douglas Speedway motorcycle, originally raced by Fay Taylor (sic), a pioneer female racer, was displayed at an historic speedway meet at Mallala Racecourse in February.

From this reference and from the preceding file notes it seems safe to assume that the machine sought in my research did in fact form part of the transfer of assets of the Blumberg Mill Museum to the new National Motor Musem and has been on display there or at least available there for display since the new National Motor Museum was first opened.

Therefore, it may be accepted to be the machine sought by my research, i.e., the machine imported to Australia by Fay Taylour in 1929 and raced by her during that year against the then Australian Champions of Speedway Dirt-track Racing at venues across the width of Australia, achieving such outstanding successes as are recorded by history.

 
The following image shows the Forecourt and the Main Public Entrance to the National Motor Museum
at Birdwood. Part of the rear elevation of the old Blumberg Mill Museum and its familiar dust extraction
chimney stack can be seen in the left background.


Alwyn
Moderator

Edit 17/12/1928: (1)Minor format change
                        (2) Note re illicit copying added.    Alwyn
Edit 18/12/2008: Headers amended and some minor text changes.  Alwyn




« Last Edit: 18 Dec 2008 at 11:36 by alwyn »
Quotable Quote - "640 k should be enough for anybody"! - Bill Gates - 1981.