Discussion

Welcome Guest 

Show/Hide Header

Welcome Guest, posting in this forum requires registration.





Pages: [1]
Author Topic: Wall of Death
peter
Newbie
Posts: 6
Permalink
Post Wall of Death
on: October 10, 2014, 17:34
Quote

The Surrey section hosted a talk by Allan Ford a Wall of Death rider on the 8 October 2014, at the Old Crown in Bookham. There were 20 people in attendance for very interesting and in-depth talk by Allan. He has also written a book entitled Riding the Wall of Death in association with Nick Corble. Allan had a very interesting slide show, and for every slide there was a story that came with it, that Allan commented on.

Allan started riding the Wall Of Death, in the late 1960's. Back then he worked for a local Norton dealer, Edwards Motors in Dorking in about 1965 and he also raced bikes. In the shop there was an unsold Norton 650ss that they entered into Production Machine racing. and they had a class win with the 650ss. He was up at Epsom Common and he saw a Wall of Death, and he asked the owner if he could have a go on the wall. The owner said that if he had his own bike then he could try riding the wall. He had a BSA Bantam at the time that he used to ride to work with, and he used that to ride the wall. From then on in he was hooked on riding the wall. He worked for John Barrett in Redhill in the winter, and he road the Wall in the summer.

He then went on the buy his own Wall of Death from Skegness, but this was in a very bad condition. This he over hauled and he then started his own Wall of Death, business. When riding the wall he explained that you are pulling 3G's, so it is three times the weight when it is on the ground. The banking track got you up on the wall, and the more you ride the wall the more natural it becomes. Your brain he explained becomes accustomed so you do not get giddy. He started at Brighton on pedal bikes.

The Wall of Death's were originally circus acts, The wall came from America and it started from board track racing. The wall was also used on the music hall stages. Another well-known wall act were the Tom Davies trio and they used Levis two stroke motorcycles. Cars, and go karts were  also used on the wall, and animals were used in sidecars and cars on the wall. Animals such as Lions and bears rode on the wall. The animals were given Aspirins to keep them calm. Billy Butlins also had allot of walls at his holiday camps. He also rode the wall, and he would never do any thing that he would not ask any one of his staff to do. A very well known Wall of Death ride was Tornado Smith with his lion Britain. The lion rode in a side car and in a car. This was at the Kersal in Southend, and he used to take the lion for a walk through the town. The lion would be sedated with Aspirin to keep it calm. During WW2 he could not get enough me to feed Briton, so he had to have his beloved Lion put down. He fled the country as he owed the tax man allot of money, and he ended up in South Africa, where committed suicide. A very sad end to a brilliant wall rider and showman. The lion Briton is buried in a car park in Dorking Allan explained and they go back to celebrate the life of this lion that rode the Wall of Death.

The wall is ridden at between 25mph to 30mph, too fast and the blood goes to your feet, and you can black out on the wall. The Todd brothers developed an act where by one of them was towed behind a bike on roller skates. No one else has ever done this. There were also BSA three wheelers also used to ride the wall. these were front wheel drive cars. The go karts and the cars would also break their chassis's and the bikes would also break their frames from ridding on the wall. BSA made Tornado Smith three very special ridged framed BSA 500 twins to use on the wall. Allan rode them on the wall, when he worked for another owner, but that wall was sold and the new owner took the whole lot to Australia, along with those special BSA motorcycles. Allan also rode the Wall of Death for three months in Iran, and he said it was a really good experience where he great time riding the wall.

In India the Wall of Death's can be huge and they can have up to six cars and ten bikes circulating at the same time.

The second half of the talk was concerning the bikes used on the walls. The Indian V twin motorcycle being the most popular and the most easiest to ride and do tricks on. Allan explained the reason why it was so good was because of his design. It used a left hand throttle, and a right hand advance and retard twist grip. Because the American police forces were Indian's biggest customers their bikes were built this was so that the police officer could use his right had to shoot as fleeing criminals, and use his left hand to open and close the throttle. The throttle cable also was routed via the handle bars, so the riders feet did not get tangled up when moving about the bike on the wall.

The German Wall of Death used BMW 250 bikes built by BMW for the walls, and there was in a picture of a German rider riding what looked like standard BMW flat twin on the wall. There were also CZ, used on the wall, as well as Spanish Bultaco's.

Due to the very nature of the buildings used for the Wall of Death, the demise of many wall riders is due to exhaust fumes being breathed in when riding the wall. Emphysema is a big killer of wall riders. The riders ride all day, and the walls used to be covered over with a roof. This made it worse for the riders breathing exhaust fumes all day when riding the wall. The roof's have now been removed so the exhaust gasses do not fill the wall, and the riders breath it all in. Allan explained to us the he too has been affected by the exhaust gasses when ridding the wall, and he to suffers with Emphysema. There were also many pictures of women riding the wall, doing allot of trick riding.

Allan explained that a Wall of Death requires a huge amount of work and maintenance, and when they go to an event they take spare parts for every thing. If they do not have the part then they do not earn any money when the wall has been erected. There is also always a need for new panels to be fitted to the wall. It is very hard work to erect a wall and one of the most dangerous part of getting a Wall of Death up and running.

There are only five Wall of Death's running at this time in this country. It is very hard Allan explained to earn enough money to keep a wall in operation, as there is huge out lay to run one. There is also the problem of some where to store such a huge amount of equipment. The steam fairs Allan explained are dieing out, and the music festivals, such as Glastonbury are now a good source of income. Allan had his Wall of Death at a Kempton Park show, and this was shown in his commentary in his slide show. Allan explained that the Wall of Death has changed over the years, since Allan started back in the late 1960's. There has also been many fatalities on the wall and Allan himself has not escaped any mishaps as he walks with a pronounced limp. There was also a slide of Screaming Lord Sutch or Dave Sutch in his slide show. This brought back many memories for me, as I was once a roady for Dave Sutch back in the 1970's. He was a wonderful man to work for, and I have so many happy memories of my times with him. My friend Bobby Woodman was his drummer, and I also met Jet Harris when I was working for Dave, at a Warren Street  venue, where Jet Harris was playing  before Dave. I also got Jet Harris's autograph when I met him.  He was named Jet because when he was at school he was such a fast runner.

At the very end of the talk, Allan then turned to the assembled audience, and said that he knew we wanted him to start the bike. Well this Indian V twin was inside the pup's back room, while he was conducting his talk, and there he was on the kick start, and low and behold it roared into life. The sound reverberated around the room, and bounced off the walls, and for about a minute  the room shook with that vibration. Allan stopped the motor and silence was once more restored.

Can I thank Allan Ford for taking the time to do this for us, for giving us such an insight to an amazing world, and for our very own Mike Duffell for arranging it all. Mike knew Allan form his school days so they are very firm friends from all those years ago. Those who did not make it you missed an amazing event from a true showman and skilled riding great.

The pictures show Mike Duffell, and Allan Ford at the Old Crown. Allan Ford of course is in the orange jumper.

One of our members Mike Petryszyn has passion of Bee Keeping. He has some delicious “home grown” honey that you may wish to sample or even use to supplement a Christmas Hamper! Mike was at the event and he was selling his honey to the members

The pictures show Mike Duffell, and Allan Ford at the Old Crown. Allan Ford of course is in the orange jumper.

Anthony Curzon

Press Officer, Surrey section NOC.

Pages: [1]
Mingle Forum by cartpauj
Version: 1.0.34 ; Page loaded in: 0.003 seconds.

Other Upcoming Events

Dec
12
Wed
7:45 pm Club Night @ The Stepping Stones PH
Club Night @ The Stepping Stones PH
Dec 12 @ 7:45 pm – 10:45 pm
Club Night @ The Stepping Stones PH | Westhumble | United Kingdom
We’ve Moved! – Come and find us at our new Meeting venue of ‘The Stepping Stones’ in West Humble – just down from Ryka’s near Box Hill. It’s still the 2nd Wednesday of each month[...]
Jan
9
Wed
7:45 pm Club Night @ The Stepping Stones PH
Club Night @ The Stepping Stones PH
Jan 9 @ 7:45 pm – 10:45 pm
Club Night @ The Stepping Stones PH | Westhumble | United Kingdom
We’ve Moved! – Come and find us at our new Meeting venue of ‘The Stepping Stones’ in West Humble – just down from Ryka’s near Box Hill. It’s still the 2nd Wednesday of each month[...]
Feb
13
Wed
7:45 pm Club Night @ The Stepping Stones PH
Club Night @ The Stepping Stones PH
Feb 13 @ 7:45 pm – 10:45 pm
Club Night @ The Stepping Stones PH | Westhumble | United Kingdom
We’ve Moved! – Come and find us at our new Meeting venue of ‘The Stepping Stones’ in West Humble – just down from Ryka’s near Box Hill. It’s still the 2nd Wednesday of each month[...]
Mar
13
Wed
7:45 pm Club Night @ The Stepping Stones PH
Club Night @ The Stepping Stones PH
Mar 13 @ 7:45 pm – 10:45 pm
Club Night @ The Stepping Stones PH | Westhumble | United Kingdom
We’ve Moved! – Come and find us at our new Meeting venue of ‘The Stepping Stones’ in West Humble – just down from Ryka’s near Box Hill. It’s still the 2nd Wednesday of each month[...]
Apr
10
Wed
7:45 pm Club Night @ The Stepping Stones PH
Club Night @ The Stepping Stones PH
Apr 10 @ 7:45 pm – 10:45 pm
Club Night @ The Stepping Stones PH | Westhumble | United Kingdom
We’ve Moved! – Come and find us at our new Meeting venue of ‘The Stepping Stones’ in West Humble – just down from Ryka’s near Box Hill. It’s still the 2nd Wednesday of each month[...]