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1955 Senior MGP

Course name: Mountain (post 1914)

Course length: 226.38 miles (6 laps)

Description: Race report from the IOM Weekly Times 9 September 1955 p.1, below which is a full list of competitors:

Geoff Tanner’s Great M.G.P. Double





The Start, Thursday
Geoff Tanner today became the sixth rider to complete the Manx Grand Prix “double”, a feat also accomplished by Eric Lea in the last Amateur T.T. in 1929. Geoff won the Senior leg of the double at records speed, but at two stages his victory was in doubt.

At the end of two laps his old rival, Alastair King, led by two seconds after each had smashed the lap record, but mechanical trouble slowed King up and Tanner was in the lead at the half distance.

Jimmy Buchan caused a surprise by leading on the fourth lap, but Tanner, with another lap record, went into a comfortable lead on the fifth lap and was never again challenged. He won by 1 min. 32 secs., smashing the lap record in the fifth and then in the last lap, finally at 93.14 m.p.h.

Tanner was early in the news. From a standing start he was within three seconds of Denis Parkinson’s two year old lap record and his speed was 90.56 m.p.h., nearly 1 m.p.h. better than Parkinson’s average winning speed for the whole race.

Alastair King was ten seconds behind Tanner and Nortons were in the first five places, with Alan Holmes fifth. Jackie Wood was in sixth position with his B.S.A. But Alan met with mechanical trouble on the next lap.


Tanner regained the lead at the end of the third lap when King said his machine kept slipping out of first gear. With the Londoner 17 seconds in front and the race half over, that double looked so much nearer.

Low lying cloud on the mountain section delayed the start for 1¼ hours. At first it was hoped to start at 11.15a.m., but a meeting of the stewards decided that a further postponement of half an hour was necessary.

An announcement stated: “It is just a matter of a quarter of a mile between the Black Hut and the Bungalow. We feel that it is going to clear, and that the delay is going to be justified.”

Once the mist had cleared, conditions would be ideal – roads all round the course were dry, and there was only a slight breeze.

Non-starters had reduced the field to 93 from an entry of 113.

Geoff Tanner, favourite to complete the double, had the coveted No. 1 starting position, and was assured of clear roads in the early stages of the race.

Among the 16 trios entered for the team award were two from the Southern Club (winners on Tuesday), and one from the Peveril M.C.C.

Favourites for the award were Alastair King, Trevor Williams and Jimmy Buchan, representing the Mercury Club. Southern “A” (Eddie Dow, Eddie Crooks and Alan Holmes), and Peveril (Jackie Wood, Dennis Christian and Bob Dowty) were both favoured teams.

At 11-50 it was announced that the stewards had held their final meeting, and had decided that the start would be at 12 o’clock. Riders were warned that conditions would probably vary on the Mountain, and to expect the fog warning flag at the Mountain Box.

First Lap
Conditions seemed ideal when No. 1 Geoff Tanner, pushed his Norton off the grid to make a text book start. Not so lucky was R.H. Carman who discovered during the warming-up period that his A.J.S. had a broken rear suspension unit. He and his mechanic worked frantically to effect repairs, and Carman was allowed to start at the rear of the field.

He ran into further trouble, however, and lost valuable minutes before getting away. A faulty plug delayed A.H. Frost, A.J.S.

Tanner, whose speed and style left rivals far behind in Tuesday’s race, had spectators hurriedly consulting their watches as his scoreboard lamp glowed signalling him at Governor’s Bridge.

From a standing start, Tanner was only three seconds outside Denis Parkinson’s 1953 lap record. He covered the lap in 25 minutes exactly, a speed of 90.56 m.p.h.

Leading rival, Alastair King, lying second on the road, took 25 mins. 10 secs. for his opening lap, 89.98 m.p.h.

Ellis Boyce, Jimmy Buchan and Alan Holmes made it 1,2,3,4 and 5 for Nortons, with Jackie Wood, B.S.A., lying sixth.

A first lap crash at the 13th milestone put H.D. Briggs out of the race. Kirk Michael reported that Briggs was unhurt.

Jackie Wood called at his pit for a change of goggles at the end of the opening lap. He took on no fuel.

D. Christian (Matchless) with a lap time of 25 mins, 54 secs. was ninth man, and Eddie Crooks (Norton) was 12th, time 26 mins. 5 secs.

Second Lap
The leader, Tanner, was climbing the Mountain for the second time, while the tail end of the field was still completing Lap 1. Glen Auldyn reported that King appeared to be closing the gap.

He was indeed! While Tanner had broken the lap record by nine seconds on his second circuit, King had slashed his rival’s time by a further 12 seconds – with a lap of 24 mins. 36 secs. – 92.07 m.p.h. This put the Scotsman two seconds in the lead.

Hopes of the Mercury Club were dashed when Trevor Williams retired at Ramsey with a broken petrol tank casing.

M.D. Arnold retired after crashing at Quarter Bridge. He was taken to Noble’s Hospital where a cut on one of his hands was stitched.

Chances of a local success were thinned by the news that Alan Holmes, who had lain fifth on Lap 1, was touring past Waterworks Corner, Ramsey.

Boyce and Buchan maintained their third and fourth places, while Jackie Wood took over Alan Holmes’ fifth position.

E. Crooks (Norton) was 10th man with a growing time of 51 mins. 50 secs.

Third Lap
The giants were really at grips now. From the commentator at Kepple Gate came the report that Tanner was faster than ever – his signallers were evidently on their toes today.

But if the London rider was cracking on the pace in a bid for the double, his Scottish rival was equally determined to gain an M.G.P. crown.

Both pulled into the pits at the end of Lap 3 to refuel. King reported that his machine kept slipping out of first gear. This cost him the lead and Tanner was back at the head of the field with an advantage of 17 seconds over the Scot.

Alan Holmes, after limping round the course from Greeba with a slipping clutch, repaired the defect at his pit and restarted.

Alan’s attempted clutch repairs were of no avail, and he was forced out of the race soon after restarting.

Ellis Boyce, lying third, overshot his pit when coming in to refuel and lost precious seconds.

Ellis Boyce, and Junior Clubman’s winner Jimmy Buchan, were engaged in a bitter struggle for third berth. Boyce appeared to be having the better of the battle and at the end of lap 3 led by four seconds.

Soon they would be scrapping for second place, as Alastair King was reported to be slowing considerably.

Geoff Tanner, the popular London Council gardener, seemed to be sitting pretty for his second M.G.P. win of the week. King, after pushing the lap record to 92.07 m.p.h., was forced to retire at Ramsey on his fourth lap with gearbox trouble.

While the field on its fourth lap flashed by him at Kirk Michael, B. McGuiness patiently searched the road for his primary chain. He had been stopped while on his third lap, and was still searching when Tanner came by on his fifth lap. Travelling marshal Morgan stated he did not think McGuinness would find the missing chain.

A.R. Sutherland was taken to Ramsey Cottage Hospital with facial injuries after spilling at May Hill. A cut was stitched and he remained there the night.

Crooks with a growing time of 1 hr. 17 mins. 22 secs. was 8th man.

Fourth Lap
Sensation! Tanner slowed and the 20 year old Perth journalist Jimmy Buchan, who had been lying third, jumped into the lead at the end of lap four. He headed Tanner by six second after lapping in 24 mins. 47 secs. 91.38 m.p.h.

Tanner’s fourth lap was his slowest to date, 25 mins. 18 secs., 89.51 m.p.h.

His 25 second pit stop had dropped his average from 91.15 m.p.h. to 90.73 m.p.h.

Ellis Boyce held his third place, with Jackie Wood fourth, Dennis Christian fifth and Alan Trow sixth.

Crooks was still 8th with a growing time of 1 hr. 43 mins. 42 secs.

Fifth Lap
Tanner’s loss of speed was only momentary. On his fifth lap he cracked Alastair King’s earlier lap record by five seconds, recording 24 mins. 31 secs., 92.38 m.p.h.

He started his final lap as fast and as impressively as ever, with a lead of 53 seconds over Buchan.

Jackie Wood was reported to be in difficulties at Handley’s Cottage. His Geoff Duke B.S.A. had developed engine trouble.

Ellis Boyce, the Hanwood, Shrewsbury smallholder, who had held a steady third place throughout the first four laps, crashed at Ballig Bridge on his fifth lap and was badly shaken up. He was treated for cuts and bruises and later went to Noble’s Hospital where one stitch was inserted in an elbow cut.

He came off his machine at the first bend after the bridge. The Norton went over the hedge, across a small field, hurled itself across the river and came to rest on the opposite bank.

Tanner went into his final lap as Buchan was climbing the Mountain from Ramsey on Lap 5. The London rider gave no signal to his pit as he flashed by.

No signal was necessary. With a lead of 53 seconds and his motor roaring healthily, Geoff was headed for the M.G.P. double – the first since Eric Briggs achieved it in 1947.

Jimmy Buchan looked a safe second, with Dennis Christian an equally safe third.

Jackie Wood retired at the Gooseneck with clutch trouble.

Last Lap
Just before 2-30 p.m. Tanner finished his second record breaking ride in three days.

As he wheeled his Norton into the finishing enclosure evidence of his terrific effort was clearly visible.

Grass clung to a footrest, while a large chunk had been scraped from his megaphone exhaust, and no wonder. On his final lap Tanner cut his time to 24 mins. 19 secs., a speed of 93.14 m.p.h. He finished in 2 hrs. 28 mins. 39 secs.

The battle scars were collected between the 32nd and 33rd milestone on his last lap.

Said Geoff, laughing: “I was going far too fast.”

Second man home, Jimmy Buchan, Norton, also beat the existing race record. He finished in 2 hrs. 30 mins. 11 secs.


1Tanner, Geoff2:28:39.0091.38Norton
2Buchan, Jimmy2:30:11.0090.45Norton
3Christian, Dennis2:33:43.0088.36Matchless
4Trow, Alan2:33:53.0088.28Norton
5Thompson, B.2:34:00.0088.21Matchless
6Crooks, Eddie2:34:21.0088Norton
7Haldane, Ewen2:35:43.0087.23Norton
8Anderson, Bob2:35:55.0087.11Matchless
9Rutherford, Frank2:36:30.0086.8Norton
10Jervis, R.2:36:35.0086.74Norton
11Drysdale, Jimmy2:37:35.0086.19Norton
12Dowty, Robert2:39:48.0085Norton
13Anderson, William R.2:39:57.0084.93Norton
14Patrick, Ken2:42:06.0083.8BSA
15Voice, Harry2:43:08.0083.26AJS
16Kershaw, B.2:43:26.0083.11Norton
17Graham, Tom2:43:55.0082.87Norton
18Brindley, Joe2:44:45.0082.45Norton
19Whillier, P.E.2:44:53.0082.39BSA
20Harding, Richard2:45:09.0082.25AJS
21Murphy, George C.A.2:45:10.0082.24AJS
22Freestone, Brian2:45:33.0082.05Norton
23Jealous, G.R.2:46:13.0081.73BSA
24Washer, Ernie2:46:26.0081.62AJS
25Begg, George2:49:52.0079.97AJS
26Hurlstone, John2:50:13.0079.8Triumph
27Ratcliffe, Ken2:50:23.0079.73Matchless
28Morris, A.R.2:50:26.0079.7Norton
29Carman, Richard2:50:33.0079.65Norton
30Jackson, J.F.2:50:43.0079.57AJS
31Harrison, R.J.2:51:07.0079.38Norton
32Standivan, R.J.2:51:33.0079.18BSA
33Minion, F.2:52:37.0078.7BSA
34Boughey, Roy2:54:11.0077.99Velocette
35Minter, Derek2:55:01.0077.62BSA
36Cholerton, David2:56:59.0076.75BSA
37Jarman, Den2:57:08.0076.69AJS
38Rhodes, Ivan2:57:12.0076.66AJS
39Lewis, John2:57:45.0076.42BSA
40Burgess, F.2:58:00.0076.31Norton
41Carr, Peter2:58:19.0076.18AJS
42Thurston, Colin A.2:58:38.0076.04BSA
43Howe, David2:58:40.0076.03Norton-BSA
44Sheene, Frank2:58:42.0076.02AJS
45Redman, Frank3:01:06.0075.01Norton
46Southam, Les3:01:30.0074.84Norton
47Watson, T.F.3:03:06.0074.19Norton
48Cortvriend, Barry3:03:47.0073.91BSA
49Frost, Arthur3:04:13.0073.74AJS
50Walsh, Pat3:04:20.0073.69BSA
51Longman, George3:05:30.0073.23Velocette
52Dakin, D.L.3:06:28.0072.85AJS
53Thurston, John3:07:02.0072.63BSA
54Swetman, R.J.3:08:23.0072.11BSA
55Broadey, A.3:08:47.0071.96AJS
56Phillipson, T.H.3:09:29.0071.69AJS
57Buckmaster, Ken3:16:10.0069.25Triumph
58Craven, Alan3:19:25.0068.12Norton
59Bent, Herbert3:20:10.0067.86Triumph
60Adams, Michael3:20:48.0067.65BSA
61Newall, John3:22:58.0066.93BSA
62Reilly, W.3:23:40.0066.7Norton
RAndrews, David0BSA
RArnold, M.D.0AJS
RBoyce, Ellis0Norton
RChrich, T.M.0BSA
RCruse, Peter0AJS
RGreenwood, Owen0Norton
RHerdman, Drew0Norton
RHogg, D.A.0BSA
RHolmes, Alan0Norton
RMcGuinness, B.0AJS
RMorris, T.0BSA
ROldfield, Russell0AJS
RPennington, Grenville0AJS
RRiley, Harold0BSA
RRutherford, Len0AJS
RStuart, Ian0Velocette
RSutherland, A.R.0BSA
RTaubman, Ken0Matchless
RTrustham, Jack0AJS
RTurner, B.L.0Norton
RWatson, Charles0Norton
RWhitehouse, Ralph0Norton
RWilliams, Victor0Norton
RCook, RobertAJS
RDownes, GrahamBSA
RWood, JackBSA
RDow, EddieNorton
RKelly, RayTriumph
RKing, AlastairNorton


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