Photo courtesy of Hawick Museum
Jimmie Guthrie was born in Hawick on 23 May 1897. On leaving school he became an apprentice engineer with a local firm. He joined the Border Battalion of the 4th King's Own Scottish Borderers and on his 18th birthday headed off to the horrors of Gallipoli and the Great War. In a dreadful accident, 215 men were killed just miles from home, when their troop train collided with a goods train at Gretna and was subsequently hit by an express. Guthrie did not return to Hawick until the war ended, a gruelling tour of duty that took in Turkey, Egypt, Palestine and the Western Front in France.
It was in France that he became a dispatch rider and it is surely there that he developed his skills in handling motorcycles. After the war, Jimmie and his brother Archie joined the Hawick Motorcycle Club and took part in hill climbs and racing on grass tracks. Jimmie established himself as a promising rider, and the club, recognising his potential, put him forward for his first Isle of Man TT race in 1923. Sadly, his bike failed him in that Junior race (up to 350cc) but he went on to achieve great success on the island in later years, winning six times.
Articles that have been written on Guthrie over the years describe him as a sincere, quiet, generous and humble man. Once on a motorcycle, though, Guthrie was a formidable figure.
The curator of Hawick Museum, Richard White, talks of Guthrie being known for driving at speed in the roads around the town. “When the weather allowed,” White says, “he would get up early for a practice ride down to Keswick in the Lake District and be back in time for work in the motor business he and his brother ran in the town's High Street. He was a teetotaller and had a real sense of self-discipline.”
Photo courtesy of Bob McIntyre family