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Feats on the Hill - March 18, 1932

Pics and article supplied by Chris Offer

The photos and story are about Cecil Pearce, uncle of Christine Offer competing in a “one-in-one” gradient hillclimb outside Portsmouth, England. This article was published in 1932.

Cecil Pearce bringing his bike back down the hill,
          almost as difficult as going up!
The ninth “American-style hill climb” of the Portsmouth Motor Club provided many thrills on Sunday on what is known as “Yule Konk Hill”, an acclivity (Look it up) in the front of Fort Southwick with the remarkable gradient of one-in-one and rising to a height of about 206 feet.

About 4000 spectators gathered at the spot, and were rewarded by seeing two competitors reach the summit - the first time this has been accomplished.

The event was divided into two classes: one for machines with plain or standard tyres; and the other for machines with competition or spiked tyres.

The programme opened sensationally, for the second competitor in Class 1, Mr Reg Clark, riding a 500cc Douglas magnificently reached a distance of 192 feet which smashed the existing record of 167 feet easily. R. Wigmore 350cc AJS made a very creditable climb of 119 feet.

Cecil Pearce with some of his trophies, October 26,
Another excellent ascent followed immediately afterwards when C. A. Pearce, 500cc Douglas (a previous holder of the record), made his attempt. Snaking from side to side with spinning rear wheel, his climb looked hectic, but he came to a standstill at 159 feet, with the wheel buzzing round merrily. His brother V. Pearce AJS was obviously over-geared and only reached 86 feet.

Reg Clark, on his second run, made an even better performance than his first, for riding superbly he succeeded in reaching the summit, the crowd cheering him enthusiastically as the first rider to accomplish this feat.

With Iron-Spiked Tyres

With the standard tyre class proving so good, the spectators waited for the inevitable “fireworks” which were bound to follow when competitors had fitted their specially prepared tyres with iron spikes. They were not disappointed, for the first man, C. A. Pearce, now having no trouble with wheelspin fairly streaked up the gradient and disappeared from view over the top, the crowd again thundering their applause.

When Clark was announced everyone held their breath, but what looked like another “over the top” climb was spoiled half-way up when his rear chain snapped. Some breathless moments were experienced when “Skid” Hodges’ machine, went well up the hill, and dashed off at a tangent amongst the crowd lining the side of the course. The spectators literally fell down the hill out of the machine’s way, but fortunately it came to rest without hurting anyone. Later E. Tilbury’s machine reared into the air and somersaulted over and over in a sickening manner to the bottom where it lay looking badly bent.

Crash into Bicycles

By this time R. Clark had fitted a new chain, and his next attempt was up to expectations, for in one surge of power he roared up to the top and leaped three feet into the air. Unfortunately, however, some spectators had carelessly parked their bicycles in the direct line of his course, and his machine crashed into them and he was thrown heavily. Luckily he received nothing more serious than a sprained wrist, although his machine was somewhat damaged.

Cecil aboard his “ Cammy Ajay” at the Centre Rally,
          July, 1933.
C. A. Pearce made one more climb over the top and this closed a most interesting and thrilling display. The event gained additional interest inasmuch as it was filmed by Pathe Gazette and Movietone News and will be shown in all their reels at cinemas at the end of the present week.

The Portsmouth Motor Club during the afternoon made a collection for the Portsmouth Royal Hospital, and this is believed to have realised a handsome sum.

The results were as follows:
Class I: 1, R. Clark, reached summit; 2, C. A. Pearce, 159 feet; 3, R. Wigmore, 119 feet.
Class II: 1, C. A. Pearce and R. Clark, both reached summit; 2, R. Wigmore, 125 feet; 3, “Skid” Hodges, 121 feet.

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