Historic Hill Climb Revived

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A veteran hill climb venue is being brought back to life in autumn 2009. Vintage and classic motorcycle riders might like to take on this new challenge…

Kop Hill, Princes Risborough, is one of the oldest Hill Climb venues in England. In the period between 1910 and 1925 Kop Hill was one of several hill climbs in the Chilterns along with Aston Clinton.

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Kop Hill, where the first open hill climb was held, was a major event on the motor sports car and motorcycle calendar at that time. One of the fastest times was recorded in 1922 on a motorcycle by Kaye Don. He achieved a run time of 26 seconds on his 7.9hp Indian, an average speed of over 70 miles an hour! In 1925 Freddie Dixon on a 736cc Douglas set the record for the hill in 22.8 seconds, an average of 81mph! Many famous motor racing names had runs up the hill including Malcolm Campbell in his 12hp Talbot ‘Blue Bird’, Raymond Mays (Bugatti), Henry Segrave (2 litre Grand Prix Sunbeam), Count Zborowski (8 cylinder Ballot), and Archie Frazer Nash (GN).

A Morgan three-wheeler breasting the summit of Kop Hill in 1925

It was after a minor accident on Kop Hill in 1925 that it was decided to ban motor and motorcycle racing on public roads in the UK. At that time, on an open public road, pedestrians could not be restrained from going and standing where they wished and any vehicle had to be given the right of way if they wanted to drive up or down the hill during racing.

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There was a revival of the hill climb in 1999, as part of the Risborough Festival, which was organised by the Bean Car Club. The organisers of the 2009 commemorative run plan to replicate the one in 1999 and intend to hold the event on a regular basis in the future.

The commemorative run will be on the weekend of Saturday 26th and Sunday 27th September 2009. The hill will be closed to the public but there will not be any official timing of runs.

The organisers are planning for over 300 entrants and priority will be given to motorcycles and cars which could have appeared on the hill before 1925. The run plate given as a part of the entrance fee will be a unique memento of the event.

Kop Hill is just short of 1300 yards long and in this distance rises 304 feet. However, at the half way mark there is a gradient of 1-in-6 and near the summit the gradient is 1-in-4, sufficient to test all but the most powerful vehicles. The road surface is smooth and in good condition unlike in the 1920s.

Many spectators are expected to enjoy the action throughout the day from three strategic viewing points. The gate admission fee of £6 includes a souvenir programme and parking, and access to the trade stands and paddock area.

‘Veteran’ motorcycles on eBay

The photograph shows a Morgan breasting the summit in 1925 on a somewhat loose road service. It illustrates the potential dangers from racing on public roads in those times. The action in 2009 is likely to be considerably safer. If you’d like to try your hand at this hill-climb then the entry fee for classic motorcycles is £10 for one day, or £12 for both. Entries must be received by September 5th 2009. Veteran and vintage motorcycles would be especially welcome.

For those interested in participating in this historic revival of Kop Hill please refer to www.kophillclimb.org.uk for full details of the event. The site has just been launched and contains entry forms that can be downloaded.

Kop Hillhistoric hill climb revived

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