Reproduced here are two accounts of the early days in the Club's history. The first written by an ex WLMC President, ex Yorkshire Centre President and Life Member of both. The second one written by one of the founder members of the Club .
The earliest record of the club can be found in an old semi-hard backed booklet which originated, (I believe), from the Leeds Health Dept., Market Buildings, Leeds, the workplace of one of the founders of the club, one Bernard Beckwith, who subsequently became the Secretary of the club. The date at the top of the dog-eared page is Wednesday April 17th 1947, so it must be assumed that this is the date of the first real meeting of interested people, although we know of other meetings which took place in a pub (naturally) in Lower Wortley Road, before that the first record is as above, so we will take it from there.
The club grew quickly, being the first new motor-cycle club to rise in the Leeds area after the 39/45 war, when everything was in short supply, and I mean everything, hence the dog-eared book mentioned above. At the first election recorded. Harry Dancaster was made President. With a committee of eight, including Tom Wortley, Tom Ellis, Arthur Spencer and Eddy Flintoff. The club affiliated 54 members to the West Yorkshire Group of Clubs & to the Yorkshire Centre of the Auto Cycle Union (the National governing body of motor-cycle activity). At this time, the whole of Yorkshire came under its jurisdiction. It was later to be split into two zones. It was the largest Centre in the country, with a club membership of over 32 at its peak, giving top side of 3000 individuals, all able to take part in trials, scrambles, grass track or road racing events against one another. In which WLMC took quite a few trophies.
The motor-cycles used for competition in the early days of the club where mostly standard road bikes adapted by their owners for each type of event they were going to take part in. The majority of our members had only one machine, and in a lot of cases had to be transport for the rest of the week as well. Weird and wonderful things were done to the bikes in order to be "one-up" on the opposition, some to be copied for the next week's event. One chap I remember fitted a long tube from the carb intake to under the saddle to keep it out of the water. I won't mention his name, but it became known as SO & SO,s submarine.
The club had so many different trades and occupations in the membership that we could cover almost any job we wanted to do from farmers to legal people, which kept the club running successfully.
In 1951 we gained the tenancy of the area known as Post Hill in Farnley, an area designated by the Yorkshire Evening Post for motor-cycle sport in perpetuity, it had been opened officially by the Lord Mayor of Leeds in 1926. We ran many televised scrambles at this venue, and still run trials there to this day. Most of the top riders of the day entered these events with the sole intention of "having a go" at the hill. Not bad for a circuit within the city limits!!
In 1960 two members decided to put on a distance trial. With two other members a 64 mile one lap course was plotted starting from a little place called Foxup. (Where the tarmac road ends). All forty-odd farmer/land-owners permissions gained, Centre permit granted, we set off on what was to become the renowned National White Rose Trial, in which any rider in the British Isles can take part. It produced the longest serving Clerk of Course for one event we have ever known, a 36 year stint. The marking out of the course is done over a two-day period by club stalwarts who stay in the area, having jollifications in the evenings.
Also in the early 60s the club went into a "Limited by Guarantee" state giving members some protection against claims.
Over the period of its existence, the club has produced a couple of National Champions, and at present has the Centre Trials Champion. We have also produced three Centre Presidents, with the fourth (a lady) due in 2004, an auditor for the two governing bodies, and many Stewards, without whom an event cannot take place.
So you see we are a very mixed lot, with mixed outlook. But all with the need to enjoy our motor-cycling.
Why not come an join us.
After World War 2, in 1946 trials restarted with a few events. I was running a 1939 Triumph Tiger 100 at the time (1947) when a chap I knew slightly from Alwoodley, Phil Green approached me and said “We're thinking of forming a new motor bike club, the first meeting is next Thursday, how about coming along”. Only knowing a bit about motor cycle sport from reading the ‘Blue un' and the ‘Green un' I went along to a pub in Whingate called the Fleece (I think that's where it was). A committee was formed and decided on the name. The West Leeds Motor Club. This followed the trend in those days to omit the word ‘cycle' from the name so as not to exclude car owners, although they were in the minority.
Bernard Beckwith was appointed secretary, Roy Palmer (not the more recent version!) I think! was Chairman and Harry Dancaster was President. At that meeting it was proposed that we ran a Trial on the following Sunday (try doing that nowadays). I was told to nail a plate under the engine and the Triumph would be ok.
There were one or two ‘proper' trials bikes but I had a go complete with road tyres, lights, the lot, finished the course and I don't think I was last. One of the members Fred Sowden, who also rode a T100 said to me that I showed some promise and that I should get myself a proper trials bike. (Fred was a great pal of Tommy Wortley who at that time rode for AJS and he usually attended events with him to offer ‘advice').
In due course I bought the Triumph 600cc side valve from Stuart Hyslop, who owned the Timble Inn, and he had had it attached to a sidecar for the 1939 ISDT which started in Germany but was aborted because of the war. This bike was a bit of a tank but it started me off in trials.