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The Testers' Run 2007
Saturday 18th and Sunday 19th August 2007

The lack of an exhaust nut – the Register’s stock of spares was all out of the smaller, 1½ inch size for my 1931 Lion – means I am on the sidelines for this, the club’s 25th anniversary run. To make amends I called by at Marston on the Saturday morning to show support and wave off this year’s coterie of modern-day testers … and to get a fix of ‘Beams in full and working order rather than languishing in a shed minus exhaust nut!

The Saturday morning sky held little promise of sunshine for the weekend ahead. And, from experience, I know it never gets brighter as you travel into the uplands of Mid Wales. ‘Usual tester’s weather then’, I hear one of the stalwarts say as he pulled on layers of protective gear.

With changes at Marston, a smaller or as Trevor Davies, the Register organiser, would say, 'selective' band assembles at the works with their associated machines. The models are mainly saddle tanks from the 1930s but not exclusively. At the upper end of the performance range is a couple of  Model 90s from the late 1920s but looking a world apart. One is an immaculate 'bullnose' flat tank of c.1928, the other a saddle tank model of c.1929-30 with its paired Brooklands’ cans gleaming in what little sunlight there is.

The support team are in good spirits, Trevor Davies bringing order to the proceedings, ably assisted by Derek and Audrey Spencer – all Marston. Retired Sunbeamland employee George Peck is present lending an air of continuity with the Sunbeam factory testers of the inter-war period. He can with authority speak of seeing the factory's original testers in the 1930s.

The talk amongst the present-day testers is probably very much as it would have been back in the 1920s and ‘30s - of bikes and their performance and reliability, and of the weather. Whilst speaking with Audrey and Derek I hear of the good work being done over at the Black Country Living Museum, Dudley in running and restoring the Marston Collection of vehicles there, and making the link between the vehicles and their archives, records and histories. All of which helps to tell their tale to a new generation.

The motor cycles are soon fired up and head off towards Bridgnorth, for a short while filling the air with a pleasing distant rumble of ancient engines. The support team are soon on their way too, very kindly inviting myself and the good Mrs Side-valve to the rally awards ceremony tomorrow at the Sun Inn at Corvedale on the Craven Arms to Bridgnorth Road. Wouldn’t miss it!

.... Sunday morning arrives, and we're able to make our way in time to the Sun Inn, to be greeted by a car park full of well-used Sunbeams. Just time to grab a pint before the lunch-time awards are handed out to riders.

Trevor Davies presides as MC for the event (photos below). George Peck, now in his late 90s, we are told, didn't fancy a trip out given the awful weather. And, who can blame him! Trevor does a marvellous morale-boosting job in handing out the year's badges along with a number of special awards. The Register's special edition 25th anniversary badge is also handed out. I am pleased to receive one.

With lunch and the awards over, and the weather not looking too good, riders seem eager to get off. The support team waves them back on to the road to Bridgnorth.

The Shropshire lanes once more reverberate to sounds of the Marston testers and their machines as Sunbeamland's finest return on the final leg of this year's Testers' Run. Next stop, I would guess is a well-deserved hot bath to round off the weekend!


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