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Douglas Pirie and 'The Gang' outside the garage at Acacia House, Douglas

Date(s): 1930s

Creator(s): Evans, G.H.

Scope & Content: Shows motorcycles being worked on by mechanics: Rudge (number 26) and Velocette (number 38). One man holds a tin of Castrol R oil and Pirie is shown kneeling next to 38.

Douglas Pirie was an architect from London who started racing on the Island in 1929 and won Manx Grand Prix (MGP) races in 1930, 1931 and 1934. Pirie stayed at Acacia House, Fairfield Terrace, Tynwald Street, Douglas which was a boarding house run by Harold 'Dusty' Miller and his wife Frieda Maud Christian Miller.

Pirie died, aged 28, competing in the 1935 Lightweight Isle of Man Tourist Trophy (TT) race. The race took place in bad weather. Pirie crashed on the mountain section of the course.

Ramsey Courier (21 June 1935, p.5) carried this report:

'Pirie's Effort.
D.J. Pirie's death as a result of an accident in the Lightweight race is a poignant reminder of the risks attached to riding in the TT races. Pirie, as is known, was an old Manx Grand Prix rider, and he was a rider who spared no pains in ensuring that his organisation was as perfect as possible. Very few people will know that Pirie spent his Sunday evening in Ramsey perfecting arrangements for a system of signalling which is his own idea, and which gave him the advantage of knowing his position at Ramsey as well as at the start of each lap. It was this system which helped him to win last year's Senior Manx Grand Prix.

TT Tragedy Theory.
The tragic death of D.J. Pirie is deeply deplored in the Isle of Man, for Pirie had a host of friends here, and was extremely popular. He was a fine athlete, a handsome specimen of manhood, and he knew not the meaning of fear. It is a pity that these races cannot be held without horrible tragedies of this description. One theory I have heard as to the cause of Pirie's accident was that his machine was too slow. It was not like Pirie to be lapping in 33 minutes; he was more at home with laps of 29 and 30 minutes. It is just possible that the machine, being slower than that to which he was accustomed, he took risks at corners which he otherwise would not have done in order to clip split seconds off his lap times. However, the sympathy of all will go out to his relatives and to the relatives of J.A. MacDonald - both good sportsmen.'

In 1936, his family presented a new trophy for the Manx Grand Prix Lightweight race (Isle of Man Times, 18 July 1936, p.6.). Douglas's brother John Pirie competed in the 1954 Sidecar TT.

Language: eng

Item name: photograph

Collection: Photographic Archive

Level: ITEM

ID number: PG/8319/4

Record class: Private

Subject tags : #TT&MOTORSPORT


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