The Peel Rally, 22-24 July 2005

What a fantastic Rally. There was something going on all three days, I want to go back to see the island. I must admit I went with some trepidation, the sea and I don’t mix and the Irish Sea can be rough! Andrew and I set out in a hired van containing our P50 and Trident at 10.30 am on Thursday morning. Sadly, neither of the cars were runners the illness and subsequent death of his father-in-law had put paid to Andrew’s plans of getting them both MOT’d. The P50 was very nearly running but just needed a bit more tweaking. The Trident looked very pretty but with no gear linkage and electrics could only be pushed. Still Grant wanted as many Peels as he could muster so off we went. We only just got to Liverpool in time for the 4.30 pm boat but the sea was like a mill pond and we finally arrived at our hotel at 10 pm having taken the scenic route (inadvertently) to Peel from Douglas. On the Peel side of the island the wind had increased and the weather didn’t look too promising. The first person we met was Stuart Cyphus who was still trying to get to the campsite have used public transport from Oxford to Peel. We booked in only to find because it had been realised rather late in the day that Mr and Mrs Hammond were son and mother needing single rooms, we were on the fourth floor (no lifts) so by the time I got to my room I fell into bed too tired to care.

The next morning it was a little overcast but the view from the window was stunning. At breakfast we met the other guests most of whom we knew it would seem that our hotel and the one next door had been taken over by the Peel Register the rest were at the campsite. There were nine Americans (including Jeff Lane and his wife complete with their Trident and a freelance journalist from New York), Norbert Mylius and his friend Albert had travelled from Austrian in their motor home with his P50 ingeniously perched on the back plus all the people from the mainland, about fifty in the party altogether I think. However we had no time for chat because the Manx Transport Society had laid on a tour of the island in every kind of transport you can imagine. Coffee at the Douglas Steam Railway station was followed by a visit to the railway workshops, then a Horse Drawn Tram to Derby Castle, next the Manx Electric Railway to Laxey where we had lunch and had time to travel on the little Laxey Mines railway to see the famous water wheel. Andrew climbed to the top of the wheel and admired the views but there were a few stairs too far for me! Then we were picked up by a coach and given a guided tour of part of the TT circuit which had been used only a few weeks previously, and the coach driver pointed out the vital corners and the speeds that were attained through the well padded bends. Back in Peel after a quick wash and brush up we attended a Reception and Celebration evening meal at the QE11 School. George Gelling, the former workshop foreman at Peel Engineering with the help of lots of illustrations told us all about the production at the factory forty years ago. Several other ex Peel Engineering staff were in the audience and judging by the banter it had been a happy crew.

Saturday was the day for the Peels to tackle the TT Course, so another early start to gather at the Grandstand and starting line. All the Peels were taken there for a photo shoot but only nine actually crossed the starting line. Sadly, our P50 was not one of them in spite of valiant efforts pushing it up and down the starting grid, she would not fire up. Andrew and I abandoned our P50 and Trident at the Grandstand and followed around the course as a back up vehicle. Not that we were needed, of the nine cars that started only one P50 failed to make it as the gradients got steeper and had to be put on a trailer and another P50’s brakes failed about a mile from the finish but the driver limped home under his own steam. All the six Tridents made it, including the driver who rather spectacularly rolled his car on a hairpin bend on the mountain section. He jumped out, righted it, climbed back in and completed the circuit shaken not stirred. He was unscathed but sadly the Trident’s dome and side were very badly grazed. I understand the fastest time for the 37 mile circuit by bike is 17 minutes, the Peels took 5 _ hours!! One must of course take into account the ‘pit stops’. Morning Coffee at a private bike collection, lunch at Mooragh Park in Ramsey with the Peels on display in the bandstand and afternoon tea at the Motorcycle Museum at the Mountain Road Stop, Bungalow. That evening we all gathered together for an evening meal with a free drink for all Peel drivers who had attempted the TT Circuit. The large number qualifying, I think was a shock to the system of a certain Scotsman.

The final day was taken up with re-enactment photo shoots around the Peel Engineering factory with 21 cars in all. All the familiar pictures known to Peel enthusiasts from the 1960’s magazines were re-created including some of the publicity shots of Helen ( now a little older but still as photogenic) sitting in and on a P50. Later that morning we joined the Rally display area from which the Peels were to lead a cavalcade of old vehicles along the Promenade. The interest we caused was immense and there was very little time to see the attractions of Peel itself, we were too busy answering questions. Norman Wisdom, who lives in Peel, was to start the cavalcade treated us to some songs and in spite of his age climbed in both a P50 and a Trident for more photographs. I did hear one Peel enthusiast say that those photos together with meeting and talking to his hero as well as getting his autograph was the icing on the cake for the weekend. Much to Andrew’s delight our P50 burst into life after just another small push and he was able to join in the cavalcade. A final meal together with the Peel Engineering staff and members from Manx Transport Society brought a wonderful weekend to an end.

We were due to catch the 7 am boat from Douglas the next morning and fight our way home to Kent through the mainland traffic congestion. Norbert Mylius and his friend followed us in their camper van for a quick look at our collection before going through the Channel Tunnel to Austria, but we did not reach the Farm till 7pm. Enough said about that part of the journey.

Jean Hammond