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24 September 2014

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You are in: Isle of Man > TT > My TT: The Nostalgic

Bob MacIntyre

Bob MacIntyre

My TT: The Nostalgic

Wally Radcliffe's life long passion for the TT began at an early age. Here, he describes how.

My first memory of the TT was of my father describing this Italian rider, Omobono Tenni from before the War. I always wondered who this strange-sounding person was.

I was that determined to get up to the Races to see them for myself that I got Tommy the Tup, who used to take people up to the Creg from Ramsey on the bus, to hide me behind the seats so I wouldn’t have to pay. I was only eight years of age and going all that way on my own!

Once up there, I collected pop bottles which had been left behind by visitors, knowing that I could get a penny back on each one.

Les Graham signed photo

Wally's most prized possession

It was when I got to Kate’s Cottage that I heard a strange bike – not a kind I’d ever heard before – and I thought, “this must be Omobono Tenni!”  - and it was. He was leading the Race at that point.

I’ve always loved the different sounds of the bikes – of the Guzzis and the MVs, BMWs, MV Augusta and the NSUs. When I was a teenager, there was a whole gang of us young fellows and we’d be down for the first morning Practise and there’d be ribbing if you were late.

There was great excitement about who would be the first one to see a Guzzi or a Gilera. Today, all the bikes look and sound alike.

We’d chase up to the Hairpin to collect autographs, although I never did get autographs off my big heroes, Les Graham and Bob MacIntyre, though I did unexpectedly get Les Graham’s in a round-about way.

"Miss Kerr, if anything ever happens to you, can I have that photograph?"

Wally Radcliffe

It was when I was a paper boy. I used to deliver to Miss Kerr’s on May Hill. She used to keep a signal station for Les Graham, putting out signs for him in her garden, saying “You are in 1st place” or telling him what speed he was doing. 

She had a signed photo of Les Graham hanging in her hall and one day – I must’ve been so cheeky – I said, “Miss Kerr, if anything ever happens to you, can I have that photograph?”

It was years later, when I was married, I got a knock at the door and it was her housekeeper, telling me Miss Kerr had died and would I please take the photograph.

It’s now my pride and joy.

last updated: 11/06/2008 at 15:22
created: 08/05/2007

Have Your Say

What's your most memorable TT moment? Go on - share it with the rest of us!

The BBC reserves the right to edit comments submitted.

Paul Harrington
I dont remember where I was when I heard the news of president Kennady being shot. But I remember when Les Graham was killed, I was listening to my Aunts wireless, when the anouncer said the race had been marred by the sad death of Les Graham. I wonder what became of Omobono Tenni, or Carlo Bandirola. In later years I gave a pillion ride to Ken Kavaner(spelling?)around the grounds of the Douglas bay hotel(now gone)I was a motorcycle tally, and had just brought him some congratulatory telegrams. Happy memories.

Q > What does the TT stand for? A > The Tourist Trophy

jonathan penn
my only iom visit.i think maybe 1966.hugh anderson,the current 125 world champ after bike trouble on a wet 1st lap going roundat avge.nearly 97 mph.on an older twin cylinder aircooled 125!my 125 bsa bantam wouldnt make 45 even down the side of a cliff.

Chris Thorne
Meeting Gwen whilst out on a learning lap with Mick Grant, her house full of signed photos Mick daren't go past without popping in, he said if she found out she'd kill him !

callum susuki rm85
iv only jus got in to to tt and i live it!!!!!!!!

Geoff Bowdler, Birmingham
My most vivid recolection of the TT was in 1978, when I had an ear infection and had to visit the local cottage hospital. There were injured bikers on army type camp beds, in the corridors in the wards, in just about every available space. Most in plaster some in traction, it was just like a scene from the crimean war! well done I don't know how this small hospital copes! Is it still the same hospital today?

Malcolm Roberts
Standing at the bottom of bray hill in 68 and who was next to me was G duke,who said we better move back a bit as M Haillwood was coming down on the Honda and he was right,that bike seemed more off the ground than on ,listening to the engine noise

Roy in Dallas
What does TT stand for?

Ken Moore My Clasic Motor bike time
My time at the TT started with the "motorcycle excursions". In the 1949 TT and back in 24 hrs[senior]-I finished around the 80s. We came over the mountain one day "OH LOOK THEY HAVE BUILT A NEW HOUSE THERE". Yes we knew the Isle of Man. I have vivid memories of the Norton, Open end mega echoing around the Glen Helen hotel. The Duke riding his lovely lines. The picture of Terogeni Poveni and Luigi Teveri either side of a lamp post in Braddan, and the Dunlop worn away on the walls of the tyers. Les Graham came thew the Glen Helen section with ear shatering noise. The M.V [fire engine] steering like a 5 bar gate, climing no end of places then hearing the crash at Bray hill. The Cockneys arriving at the boarding house and putting on there open end megers before taking off the luggage. Me turning off the Glencruchery road, puting my arm out "I AM GOING TO TURN RIGHT" .Puting my arm on the top of some ones helmet, sorry mate "it's okay"-Race day having the throttle stuck wide open-approaching Kirk Braddan- [cabble snaped]Having an army of bikes pass either side of me- Me poking my finger up the carb then sticking my hand up in the air- "I AM GOING TO STOP" Droves of bikes passing either side of me.Then having to push the bike around the corner to Kirk Braddan and looking up to see the whole of the grand stand having the crack, waveing and chearing. The riball comments from the cockney "YOU WANT TO PUT SOME PETROL IN THAT" The police put my bike behind the straw bales. Just as the road closed car came, screaming past. Coming around the "Water works"on a G12 Matchless-Crouch-at Speed? Well i was 16!! Complete with the John Surtess helmet looking up and seeing hundreds of people looking on. I still cringe my happy memories of the Isle of Man. Well i enjoyed telling them. Be safe out there! Ken Moore

murray rudler
first time at the tt wont be the last absolutley a buzz amazing every thing i seen was great .inc meeting ago

Barry Jarman
I was at the Creg in front of the pub when Bob Mac came down the hill from Kates Cottage on the Honda 250cc 4cylinder, the sound and speed was unbelieveable.I will never forget that moment,Bob Macintyre will never be forgotten.

Rob, Wrexham
My friends were going to the 1962 Senior TT. We sailed on the Thursday midnight boat for the Friday's race. I had never seen a racing bike before. I was 17 years old. We went to a garden at the bottom of Bray Hill. It was the first year of the 50cc race. I was astounded at the speed of the 50cc bikes. Someone said "You haven't been before have you? You wait till the Senior bikes come." Two hours later the Senior Race started. I was just getting over the shock of the speed of the first few bikes through, then Gary Hocking appeared on the MV Agusta. The extra speed and the screaming of the bright red 4 cylinder machine was unbelievable. A few more single cylinder machines came down, and then Hailwood arrived on the second of the MV's chasing hard to catch Hocking. Gary Hocking won the race, and immediately retired from motor-cycle racing. His big friend Tom Phillis had been killed racing just a few days before. Gary changed to racing cars, but was sadly killed in a racing car before the year was up. My favourite TT rider would be hard to choose between Mike Hailwood and Joey Dunlop. Two phenomenal riders.

Ian Huntly, TTFAN for 60 years
My first visit was in 1947 but my most memorable TT was in 1960 when the japanese onslaught began. In 1959 Honda had sent a pack of 125cc machines to contest the TT and though people laughed at first, Honda went on to win the manufacturers team prize that year.....In 1960 Honda entered the 250-4s and more 125s and were joined by Suzuki. Yamaha had been represented earlier by a private entry ridden by Sonny Angel (who was at the 2007 TT)...Since 1960 Honda and the other japanese manufacturers have supported the TT and ruled the roost, however the British motorcycle industry collapsed as a result.

When Freddie Frith won the 350 race on a Velocette in 1947

Carl Bretherton
So many memories - where do you start?? Probably with the morning practices in the 60's helping Wally drink his flask of coffee whilst waiting for Mike the Bike et al.. And then a beer or three in Duckett's with Wally and the other marshals after evening practice had finished. So many memories and all good!Long live the TT!

Clive S. Stewart
Sitting in the grand stand in 1955 when they announced that Geoff Duke had done a lap at the "ton" and when they put the times up on the scre board I checked it against the speed which was shown in the programme and I could see that it was not quite the hundred. I was 14 years old and I pointed this out to my father who told me that there must be some mistake!Very soon it was announced that there had in fact been some mistake!Also in the same grandstand in 1952 or was it 1953 when Reg Armstrong crossed the line to win the Senior and I spotted the primary chain dragging on the ground.Have not been back since 1966 and would just love to be there.

peter knowles
just 18 sitting on the bank at hillberry, at my first visit,when the first bike (500 manx) of the 1954 senior came by the sound travelled up my legs and resonated in my head, 53 years later I can still feel the shock and shivers

keith woodings australia
meeting mike hailwood 1964 on douglas waterfront i was 22years old fantastic racing

pete sped
I spent the day with Wally up at Guthries with my mate Dave during the 75 Classic. We were giving signals to John Williams who went onto win - what a day, felt like I was in the winning team!

g w wardle
Agostini going the wrong way on the TT course as well as Mike Hailwood both on MV Augusters

arrol johnson
lap 2 senior race June 1957 when the flying scot(Bob McIntyre) did the then magic ton. I was at Conk-ny-Mona and when the news got back to us the crowd roared there delight.

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