Ashley’s Great Grandfather, Fred Watson, raced in one of the Britain’s earliest trials – riding non-stop from London to Edinburgh in 1910 and again in 1911. He won a gold medal on both occasions.
The trial was organised by The Motorcycling Club, one of the first MCs in the world, started in November 1901 by half a dozen pioneers of the then recently invented Motor Cycle. Meeting for the first time in a dimly lit London Pub, they organised race meetings and social runs from the off (not much has changed).
The Motorcycling Club archivist delved into their records and learnt that Fred Watson left Highgate Gatehouse at 9.47pm on 2nd June 1911, he raced through the night to arrive in the Scottish Capital at 7.33am the next morning.
Riding one of the first Triumph models ever made, a 3.5php single cylinder with a top speed of 40mph, Fred Watson followed the Great North Road and completed the journey in under 10 hours. A considerable achievement when factoring in the power of the machine, the lack of visibility whilst riding at night and the condition of the roads – strewn with potholes and horseshoe nails.
On the other side of the World, in a small outback town called Barmedman, Australia – two of Ashley’s Great Uncles, Les and Stan were also motorcycle enthusiasts. Pictured below on their Ariel machines with their girlfriends of the time (not much has changed).
These ties to the early days of motorcycling have been a continuous source of inspiration and a catalyst to research the functional clothing worn by the pioneering riders of the early 20th Century. In turn, this has had a great influence in the direction of Ashley’s work.