When farmers asked authorities to stop Sutton Bank time trials

THE D&S reported 100 years ago that in the summer of 1921 farmers successfully petitioned the rural council of Thirsk to “prohibit the use of Sutton Bank for anything other than lawful purposes of passage to and from the towns to which it leads.

This was to prevent car enthusiasts from using the one-in-four bank as a time trial for their spitting vehicles.

It seems that the first time trial held on the bank was held in 1908, and in 1919, FW Dixon, on a 7 horsepower, 994 cc Indian motorcycle, set a record of one minute 22.20 seconds for the climb. His record stood for some time.

It was ‘Flying Freddie’ Dixon, the motor ace from Stockton, who won the Isle of Man TT races in 1923 and 1927 on a bicycle and with a sidecar – he had developed a lever in the sidecar which, when pulled by the passenger, allowed the sidecar to lean with the bike in turns.

Freddie Dixon with his innovative inclined sidecar at the 1923 Isle of Man TT race, which he won

In the 1930s he switched to cars, winning notable honors at Brooklands and Le Mans. In 1935 he was involved in a curious plane crash: he flew in a hired Gypsy Moth from Londonderry Aerodrome (one of the first private flying clubs in the country which became RAF Leeming) to his home at Linthorpe, waved to friends and then crashed at Linthorpe Golf Course. The plane was destroyed but miraculously escaped.

His antics on Sutton Bank were too much for the farmers, however, who in July 1921 persuaded the council that such holdings should be banned. But 100 years ago this week the council received a petition in favor of hill climbing.

“These motors bring in a good amount of money, which is split between hotels and merchants in the area,” said Cllr A Pearson. “The slight road damage and little inconvenience is outweighed by the benefits.”

The council agreed that for a single day in April, our region’s most famous route climb could again take place

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