Most Edgar Jessop articles and tales have a basis on “The Great Wilson” or even Sir Francis Drake in that these characters are always there, immutable and ready to rescue us ordinary mortals from danger or the mediocrity of everyday life and to inspire and to take us to the limits of our imaginations and with Edgar our innate humour.
Edgar based on one Edgar de Montford Humphries who was a personal and lifetime friend of the great TT rider Alec Bennett of Wolverhampton was in spite of his family name A Dudley Corporation bus driver for over 30 years. A motorcycle accident in the early 1930’s smashed an ankle and so prevented any wartime service. Edgar entered Bennett in his TT races and was my Uncle from my Mothers side.
Edgar, of course first came to light in motorcycledom and fame when practising for the Senior TT on a very special 500 ohc machine and was definitely in for a top place on the leaderboard for he had taken new and daring lines through the 13 th and Douglas Corner and approaching Rhencullen through Kirk Michael had been so close to the right hand side of the road that the slipstream had bounced open all the letter boxes in the front doors of all the houses lining the High Street. The Rat-tat noise had created some early awakenings in the bedrooms and many Kirk Michael ladies wore a smile all that day!
Speeding onwards Edgar had arrived at Schoolhouse Bend on the approach to Ramsey and saw a football sail over the school wall into the roadway. It was pursued by two laughing schoolboys both oblivious to the TT practice or the high speed machine for it was running on Edgar’s patented “Controlled Silencer” and was whisper quiet.
Edgar’s reactions as could be expected were immediate. Front brake hard on rear brake locked and two downward gear changes had the machine snaking and broadside. At that moment the front brake plate lever ferrule broke releasing the bell shaped soldered end of the cable. The bike snapped upright and Edgar could see that boys and bike were on a collision course to disaster. With huge presence of mind over his own safety he slammed both his boots down onto the road to provide maximum braking effect and such was the enormous power of his legs that the soles of his boots ignited and flames streamed back from the friction points like a latter day re-entry flare from a space craft. But the bike slowed and the boys who never noticed their narrow escape ran through to the field opposite the school while Edgar collapsed into the school gateway where an enterprising marshal doused the burning boots with the contents of his tea flask.
Edgar was rapidly conveyed to Ramsey Cottage Hospital where the soles of his feet plus toes and ankles were treated by Dr Adrianne Pilling who was the Islands first ever lady doctor, Once his feet were dressed Edgar was given a sedative and his leathers removed from his comatose body. On examining him closely the good Doctor drew the curtains around the bed and little was seen of her for the rest of the day.
Back at the TT Grandstand the ACU had a full report of the incident and later Edgar’s request that he be allowed to ride wearing plimsolls as he could not bear heavy boots over the bandaged feet.
In view of his bravery the ACU jury considered the matter for some 11 hours before deciding that public opinion would weigh too heavily against them if they refused his request and so he became the only TT rider to be allowed to wear plimsolls a factor he much enjoyed for it enabled him to creep silently into the good Doctors room at night without any boots making clumping noises on the polished wooden floors of the hospital. Edgar’s return to his digs in Douglas over the mountain in the dawn light were estimated at 12 minutes warm bed to cold bed as it were!
Many stories exist that Edgar was a clog maker from Barnoldswick but my records show him as having been born in Tibet and being brought up in the court of the 13 th Dai Lama with later education in a UK public school where he obtained his mathematical and physical skills that later enabled him to not only become a noted racing motorcyclist but a top motor car driver and an aviator too. His close friendship with Francis Beart and King George (as Duke of York a motor and motorcycle enthusiast) often enabled him to develop the fine art of tuning an engine to such an extent that the story of his involvement with the Schneider Trophy aircraft and the Merlin itself have yet to be told. However, Edgar still relates how he was the first to lap the TT course in an aeroplane.
There is a final footnote to the story as the happy Doctor Pilling emigrated to the USA but later produced Edgar’s son. She telephoned him to ask what name she should give the little lad. However the line was awful and Edgar thought she was asking where he was going and replied “To the Isle of Man” which is why the child grew up as Tyler Mann.
More next time as to his crash at Kates Cottage when the lovely twin Kronk sisters decided that the fine figure of a man lying supine under their hedge should be immediately taken and put to bed without waiting for an ambulance!