Search records

1956 Senior MGP

Course name: Mountain (post 1914)

Course length: 226.38 miles (6 laps)

Description: 1956 Senior MGP. Race report from IOM Weekly Times, 7 September 1956 (p.10) , below which is a list of competitors:

Gruelling Speed Duel on T.T. Course


On Thursday on the T.T. Course he won the Senior Manx Grand Prix and thus brought off the M.G.P. double. His time for the distance was 2 hours 29 minutes 32 seconds, an average speed of 90.83 m.p.h. – and gave him a three-second victory.

Last year Londoner Geoff Tanner did the “double.” This year, Buchan has proved there is nothing that a Sassenach can do that a Scotsman can’t.

It was a magnificent race, with Alistair King-as usual-showing the other fellows the way round - until he took a spill on the Mountain on his third lap, and rode back to the pits!

Jimmy Buchan’s driving was superb - again as usual! He was lying third in the early stages; King’s retirement ought to have made him second, but he leaped ahead, and got in first.

Englishman Bob Anderson was after him in deadly earnest. He had driven a splendid race in second position-and retained that place until the distance was over. His time was 2 hours 29 minutes 35 seconds; speed 90.80.

Third man was Alan Holmes-time 2 hours 30 minutes 49.2 seconds; speed 90.06 m.p.h.

And in his last lap Alan Holmes, Manxman, beat the existing lap record for the Senior M.G.P. by 7.2 seconds-his time was 24 minutes 11.8 seconds; average speed 93.59 m.p.h. Manxmen Eddie Crooks and Bob Dowty rode into fifth and sixth places, and with Holmes brought back the team trophy to the Isle of Man. They were all members of the Southern team.

The race passed without serious accident, and 17 of the 97 starters received replicas for finishing within eleven-tenths of the winner’s time.

Principally because of mist on the Mountain, the start of the race was postponed for an hour. First postponement was for 30 minutes, but as conditions were not then good enough, a further half-hour was decided upon by the organisers. The weather brightened steadily and competitors as they waited on the starting grids were given the most exhaustive details of the weather they might be expected to encounter at different parts of the course. They were told that drifting mist on the mountains had cut visibility, but they had 150 yards on the top stretches. They would possibly receive the fog flag, and were warned to pay particular attention should it be shown.

Clerk of the Course, Mr W. C. Halsall, expressed his thanks to the travelling marshals and the “Met” officers for their assistance “in assessing the tricky weather conditions”.

From the start a tussle took place between Bob Anderson and Jimmy Drysdale - both Norton mounted - who followed him at over a minute interval.

They were joined by Ewan Haldane (Norton) and at the end of the first lap Drysdale led Anderson through the start, followed by Haldane.

Another battle was that between two other Nortonites, Alan Holmes and Alistair King, separated by two places on the road. These two very fine riders met with cruel luck in the Junior, and it was hoped that Alistair’s engine would not fail on this occasion and that Alan’s would not have a useless magneto.

M. A. McStay (B.S.A.) came off at Laurel Bank and retired, and O.E. Greenwood (Norton) retired at Crosby Post Office with engine trouble. The riders were reported O.K. It was reported that T. Godfrey (Velo) had retired on the mountain with engine trouble.

Some idea of speeds which were to be expected in the prevailing weather conditions could be gained from Anderson’s first lap, which was completed from a standing start in 25 minutes 44.2 seconds. His speed was 88 m.p.h.

The battle between King and Holmes must have been very exciting on the mountain, because it was the Scotsman who led the Manxman on the start of the second lap. They were both riding superbly.

Bob Dowty (Norton), who rode into third place in the Junior, was riding extremely well, and at Keppel Gate he had passed Alan Shepherd (Norton), who put up some good times in practices.

G. Little (Moto Guzzi) retired at Sulby Bridge with engine trouble, and this reason was given for the retirement of T. Godfrey (Velo). T. R. Graham (Norton), who lapped well in practices, stopped in the dip at Governor’s Bridge and started work on his machine. He was forced to retire shortly afterwards.

Despite Anderson’s comparative speedy first lap King was showing his superb capabilities by being leader with a sixth of the distance over. His time was 25 mins. 27.2 secs., a speed of 88.98 m.p.h., which put him 17 seconds in the lead.

Jimmy Buchan though, had something to say about this second place of Anderson’s. He didn’t quite catch him-but nearly, and when the times were painted up was less than a second behind. There was certainly a suggestion here that it would be as well to watch position clocks on the second lap to see who finished it first.

Alan Holmes was “tagging-behind” (at a speed of over 86 m.p.h.) for fourth place, with rather more than 18 secs, to make up; Bob Dowty following next (less than ten seconds behind), and he had to look to his laurels as well, because Bernard Codd was tailing him on time with only a scrap of a second to make up.

Retirements “Pour In” in Second Lap

Anderson and Drysdale were “absolutely terrific” in the words of announcer Eric Teare at Glen Auldyn. They had the road to themselves, being followed at a short interval by Haldane. At this time King had gone through Michael, followed by fourth man, Holmes, and in the middle of all this excitement, it was announced that on the way to the Start, D. P. Legge (B.S.A.) had oiled up five plugs! R Jervis (Norton), a clubman’s rider of some experience, stopped at Creg-Ny-Baa and retired. He said he had a cold and did not feel fit enough to continue. K. G. Buckmaster (Triumph) had engine trouble at the Mountain Box and retired. He was reported as unhurt.

I. Stuart (Norton) packed up at the Highlander. His engine had seized but he was fit. At Ramsey, J. G. Trustham (A.J.S.) also called it a day with engine trouble but the rider was all right. The petrol tank of W. Fulton’s B.S.A.-he was injured in Tuesday’s race but was fit enough to ride again-was found to be loose and a supporting strut had broken. He said “enough” at the pits.

C. Appleyard stopped at Handley’s Corner with engine trouble and C. A. Thurston came out of the race with the same trouble at Ballaugh. L. S. Rutherford had a jammed throttle at the Quarter Bridge and retired. The rider was O.K. At Keppel Gate David Lay said that conditions had improved 100 per cent. Beinn-y-Pott (about 1,800 feet high) had practically cleared of mist and speeds were increasing.

No! Buchan was not to catch Anderson this trip; in fact the gap widened slightly to 2.6 secs between them. Holmes hung on to fourth place, and Bernard Codd had managed to grab fifth position. In the meantime King was driving in “kingly” style and still led the race, though his lead had narrowed.

Third Lap Sensation
Alistair King Out

The doughty Scotsman, King was out for victory all right. With only a seven seconds lead he went away on the third lap - but his luck was not to hold. Reports from round the Course told of his superb driving. The crowds kept their fingers crossed for this magnificent driver whose luck always seems to be out on the T.T. Course.

He was leading now, BUT on the Mountain his luck forsook him again. He came off, and the spill cost him his back brake. He rode into the Start, actually looking cheerful.

This was, for him, the final blow of the week - and the sympathy of the crowd went out to him as he walked away from the pits - and this sympathy was probably all the greater because he took his bitter luck with such good sportsmanship. In spite of his spill, he finished the lap in third place.

In the meantime, of course, the race was being waged to a finish by the other intrepid leaders left on the course. There was only a narrow margin on the time between them.

As on Tuesday, Jimmy Buchan had a “signalling department” along the course. He would know how little he was behind Anderson, temporarily leading. What would he do about it? Time would tell, and the seconds were ticking over steadily whilst we on the stand waited for news, and just about then, too, we realised that the cracking pace put up by the faster men was taking its toll of the slower.

C. Appleyard (Triumph) retired at Handley’s Corner with valve trouble and Australian George Coombes (B.S.A.) stopped at the Gooseneck with engine trouble. In both these cases the riders were all right.

Amongst the leaders it was a ding-dong battle. Before his spill, King had been reported only five seconds ahead of Bob Anderson, and Buchan had a narrow lead over Alan Holmes, of eight seconds. B. D. Codd was 31 seconds behind Holmes, who passed Alastair King at Keppel Gate. It looked as if the Manx boy was “pulling the stops out” to narrow the gap between himself and the Scottish journalist, Buchan, winner of the Junior. A. J. Gaunt (Norton) retired at Ballacraine, the rider being O.K., and this applied also to S. R. Hill (B.S.A.), who retired at the Gooseneck.

Yes, Buchan had done it!

When the third lap times went up it was seen that he had jumped into the lead over Anderson by five seconds and so led the race with half distance over. Alan Holmes was fourth man, but there was a margin of over a minute between Anderson and the Manxman.

Previously Buchan was reputed at Glen Auldyn “steady as a rock, extremely fast, comfortable and driving with polish.”

Even at this stage of the race many things could happen to upset the present state of the leader board and the crowds around the course, who were now enjoying sunshine, were agog with excitement and with the knowledge that there’s “many a slip twixt cup and lip.”

The Buchan-Anderson Speed Battle
Codd Out of the Race

In the fourth circuit Anderson rode through the pits, the leader on the road, followed closely by Haldane and Jimmy Buchan, though Buchan was the actual leader on time by a narrow margin.

Still more retirements were announced. Jarman (A.J.S.) at the Guthrie Memorial with a faulty clutch; at Ramsey R. Castle (Matchless), John Hurlstone (Norton), who won a free place to the races from the Clubman’s, at Kirk Michael, and M. J. Candy stopped at Quarter Bridge with a dead engine. He called it a day. T. Duerden (Norton) retired at the Quarter Bridge with a sticking valve.

At Rhencullen J. F. Jackson (Norton) had engine trouble which put him out of the race. In all these cases, the riders were reported as being all right.

If the slower men were having their troubles the faster men were having their struggles, and Jimmy Buchan in his attempt to increase his speed came out of one of the mountain corners with a pronounced front wheel wobble.

He corrected this and went on quite steadily, but this was an indication of the chances to be taken by riders in keeping to the front. Buchan’s lead over Anderson at the end of this lap was but 5.8 secs. This margin was “dicey”, with a third of the race yet to be run.

Codd pulled into the pits and one could see that he was not happy. It was learned that his clutch was slipping and it was adjusted as much as possible and Bernard took to the road again.

A few minutes later news came through that he had retired at Quarter Bridge, thus did another of the leaders fall.

L. Flury (A.J.S.) retired at the pits and A.E. Willerton (B.S.A.) came off at Ballaugh. He removed the rear number plate and proceeded back to the start by a back road. G. R. Jealous (B.S.A.) ran out of petrol at the Bungalow.

Race Between the “Giants”
Leaders Find “the Extra Horse”

On the fifth lap the titanic battle between Buchan and Anderson was holding the crowd with excitement. Bob Anderson came out of the left bend at Glen Auldyn with a slight wobble, proof of the high speed at which he was lapping the course in his super-human effort to wrest the led from Buchan.

There was only a few seconds between them and Anderson’s fifth lap was completed in 24 minutes 24.8 seconds, a speed of 92.14 m.p.h. – up to then the fastest lap of the day.

Buchan to cap this, completed his lap some six second faster than Anderson, his speed being 92.52 m.p.h.

This was racing in its finest sense. The leader board was changing with each lap, and Eddie Crooks, the Douglas lad who came an admirable second in the Junior race, crept into sixth position at the end of the fourth lap. His compatriot, Bob Dowty, was then lying seventh, so that the three Manxmen were putting up a tremendous show against the brilliant Buchan and Anderson.

Buchan Stays on to Win
Could Anderson overhaul Buchan? That was the question which had people’s eyes glued to the scoreboards as the men were away on their sixth. At the end of the fifth lap there was a gap of 12 seconds between the leading Scotsman, though Anderson was reported as “cramming on all speed” as he completed the first leg of the course to Ballacraine.

By his excellent riding, Buchan was not giving one inch of the road or one second of time to his challenger. He sped off on his last lap and at Ballaugh it seemed that he was slowly increasing his lead, though Anderson was ahead of him on the road.

Manxman Alan Holmes, in third position, was going great guns and riding a steady race in immaculate style. K. Radcliff (Norton) retired with a split petrol tank and his left boot was frozen with petrol. S. Palmer (Norton) who had a bad start, retired at the pits with a broken gear lever.

As Anderson was signalled though Ramsey, Buchan was at Glen Auldyn and “going through like nobody’s business”, in the words of the commentator. This last lap fight for supremacy was warming the spectators who had been sitting on the mountain in indifferent weather conditions.

The clouds were lowering again on the heather-clad mountains, but with another Scottish victory in sight, it was possible that the Highlands would be rejoicing. And not only would it be a Scottish victory, but it would be a double win for the 21-year-old journalist, whose popularity had never been doubted.

As Anderson flashed over the line-the first man to finish the Senior Manx Grand Prix-Buchan was at Keppel Gate and roaring steadily and swiftly to the finish.

It was going to be an extremely close race-there could be few seconds in it only.

Anderson came from Signpost Corner so quickly that the chequered flag was not put out to indicate that he had completed the race, and he tore through and went down Bray Hill apparently unaware that his struggle was over for today.

Although the lap times were not known as Buchan and Anderson finished, it could be seen, with the two-minute lead that Holmes had over Haldane, that it was to be a Scotsman, an Englishman, and a Manxman in first, second and third places.

Perhaps the most exciting news for Manx people was that Alan Holmes on his last lap broke the existing senior lap record put up by Geoff Tanner last year. His time for the lap was 24 minutes, 11.8 seconds, a speed of 93.59 m.p.h., which is 7.2 seconds faster than Tanner’s speed.

It is gratifying to be able to add that Manxmen took third, fifth and sixth places.

Holmes, Crookes and Dowty are members od the Southern Isle of Man team, and captured the team trophy.

At Tuesday’s presentation Dowty said they “hoped to bring the trophy back to the Isle of Man.”

The Finish

There were 57 finishers and 40 retirements.


1Buchan, Jimmy2:29:32.0090.83Norton
2Anderson, Bob2:29:35.0090.8Norton
3Holmes, Alan2:30:49.0090.06Norton
4Boyce, Ellis2:33:12.0088.66Norton
5Crooks, Eddie2:33:56.0088.24Norton
6Dowty, Robert2:34:01.0088.19Norton
7Haldane, Ewen2:34:03.0088.17Norton
8Washer, Ernie2:35:06.0087.57Norton
9Drysdale, Jimmy2:36:23.0086.86Norton
10Shepherd, Alan2:38:22.0085.77Norton
11Patrick, Ken2:38:45.0085.56BSA
12Sawford, Bill2:38:47.0085.54Matchless
13Eckhart, John2:40:35.0084.58Norton
14Jenkins, Tony2:41:23.0084.16Norton
15Lilley, Ron2:42:46.0083.45Norton
16Kershaw, B.2:42:56.0083.36Norton
17Bullock, Jack2:43:03.0083.3Triumph
18Carman, Richard2:44:40.0082.49Norton
19Davies, Eugene2:45:56.0081.86Norton
20Unwin, Eric2:46:39.0081.5BSA
21Mizen, Syd2:46:45.0081.46AJS
22Lund, Bernie2:47:38.0081.03BSA
23Thorp, Tom2:50:13.0079.8AJS
24Craven, Alan2:50:31.0079.66BSA
25Watson, Charles2:50:52.0079.49WRS Special
26Arnold, M.D.2:52:20.0078.82BSA
27Stephenson, S.R.2:52:20.0078.81Matchless
28Morris, A.R.2:53:13.0078.41Norton
29Whitehouse, Ralph2:53:14.0078.4Norton
30Dakin, D.L.2:54:00.0078.06AJS
31Clarke, Ian2:54:21.0077.91Norton
32Alcock, Geoff2:54:58.0077.63BSA
33Butler, G.R.2:55:15.0077.51Norton
34Packer, C.E.2:55:37.0077.34Matchless
35Morris, T.2:55:45.0077.29BSA
36Downes, Graham2:56:52.0076.8AJS
37Povey, Lawrence2:57:14.0076.64BSA
38Phillipson, T.H.2:57:42.0076.44AJS
39McGuinness, B.2:58:55.0075.92BSA
40Walker, George W.2:59:01.0075.88Norton
41Stretch, Ron2:59:25.0075.71AJS
42Wroe, Ramon2:59:35.0075.61Velocette
43Watson, T.F.3:00:02.0075.45BSA
44Legge, D.P.3:00:20.0075.32BSA
45Thurston, John3:00:47.0075.13BSA
46Snell, R.S.3:01:08.0075Matchless
47Naintre, Victor3:01:57.0074.65BSA
48Southam, Les3:01:48.0074.64Norton
49Young, Lewis3:04:14.0073.73AJS
50Sheene, Frank3:05:52.0073.08AJS
51Taubman, Ken3:06:09.0072.97Matchless
52Wilson, G.3:12:14.0070.66Norton
53Denniss, Brian3:15:57.0069.32BSA
54McIvor, A.3:24:32.0066.41Velocette
55Gobbett, J.3:25:30.0066.1Norton
56Dawson, Robin3:27:39.0065.42Vincent
57Newall, John3:38:14.0062.25BSA
RMurphy, George C.A.AJS
RAppleyard, Colin0Triumph
RBroughton, Colin0BSA
RCodd, Bernard0Norton
RCoombs, G.C.0BSA
RCortvriend, Barry0BSA
RDuerden, T.0Norton
RFitzsimmons, W.N.0Norton
RGaunt, A.J.0Norton
RGraham, Tom0Norton
RGreenwood, Owen0Norton
RHegbourne, A.V.0Norton
RHill, S.R.0BSA
RHurlstone, John0Norton
RJackson, J.F.0Norton
RJarman, Den0AJS
RJealous, G.R.0BSA
RJervis, R.0Norton
RLittle, G.0Moto Guzzi
RMcStay, Michael0BSA
RMorgan, P.E.0Norton
RPeacock, E.0BSA
RRatcliffe, Ken0Norton
RRutherford, Frank0BSA
RRutherford, Len0AJS
RStuart, Ian0Norton
RSutherland, A.R.0BSA
RSwetman, R.J.0AJS
RThurston, Colin A.0BSA
RTrustham, Jack0AJS
RWillerton, Arthur E.0BSA
RBuckmaster, KenTriumph
RFlury, LawrenceAJS
REvans, A.E.Norton
RGodfrey, TonyVelocette
RWalsh, PatBSA
RPalmer, S.Norton
RFulton, BillBSA
RKing, AlastairNorton
RBurgess, F.Norton
RCandy, MauriceNorton


Optional, not displayed

Manx National Heritage (MNH) will always put you in control of the information we send you. Read our privacy policy