Celebrating the Pioneer Run

Article continues below...

Enjoy more RealClassic reading in the monthly magazine.
Click here to subscribe & save.

A new book commemorates 75 successful Pioneer Runs from London to Brighton on (very) old bikes…

The first ever book on the history of the Pioneer Run® has just been published by the Sunbeam Motor Cycle Club.

In its large (A4) format of over 250 pages the copiously illustrated book covers the whole history from the embryonic 1914 ‘Old Crocks Trial’, organised by the Streatham MCC to the first true Pioneer Run which started from Croydon Aerodrome in 1930.

Article continues below...

That initial 1930 run was such a success that spectators and their vehicles caused chaos on the Purley Way and held up normal traffic for hours…

An annual event ever since (apart from the war years and periods of petrol rationing, foot and mouth cessations), Pioneer Run has grown and grown as people enjoy the whole experience of finding, restoring, research and riding those ancient machines of any make. 1914 is the latest cut-off date for entrants to the run, and so in 2013 the youngest will be 99 years old. Many of the motorcycles which take part in the run are 110 years old or even older.

Entrants must pilot a motorcycle, tricycle, or bike and sidecar which left the factory before 1st Jan 1915, and each machine must be endorsed by the Sunbeam Club in advance. On motorcycles of this age, just completing the ride from Epsom Downs to Brighton is a major achievement – and not all of the 350-plus entrants will stay the course!

Article continues below...

'They know their place...'

Between 1930 and the present day the run has been staged 75 times, which is why the Sunbeam Club have chosen this year to produce ‘The Story of the Pioneer Run’. The book’s 23 chapters cover all aspects of the event and its history, from pre-war beginnings to famous riders, historic machines and their mechanical aspects, not to mention the complicated controls which the riders must master to stand a chance to enduring the arduous hills on the run’s challenging route.

Article continues below...

Having organised the ‘Pioneer’ for all these years the Sunbeam MCC has a staggering archive of early photographs, programmes and other illustrations. Over 200 photographs, colour and black and white illustrate the book, which is printed on high quality gloss paper.

This gargantuan task has been edited and compiled by Baz and Jenny Staple, with contributions by historians and specialists in their field. The pages graphically illustrate the progress of this now internationally famous event.

There are fascinating and amusing exploits told by not only entrants but also by the wonderful band of volunteers and helpers, without whom the Run literally couldn’t take place.

Allegedly Vintage bikes on Now…

A special feature of the 2013 Pioneer Run will be the appearance of seven of the original machines which participated in the first 1930 run. These will again be ridden to Brighton (all being well), and will be the first entrants to leave the line at 8am.

The Sunbeam MCC are proud to announce this historic book, which will surely become a collector’s item. The book will be available for sale at the signing off point on Madeira Drive at this year’s Pioneer Run, 24th March 2013, price £23.

Alternatively, copies are available mail order plus £6.50 p&p for UK or plus £9.75 p&p for Europe. Worldwide postage on request. Order from jennybaz.staple@gmail.com

The Pioneer Run® is a registered trade mark of The Sunbeam Motor Cycle Club


Like this page? Share it with these buttons:

Search for books and magazines on

Subscribe to RealClassic Magazine Enjoy more RealClassic reading in the monthly magazine. Click here to subscribe.