Steel Horse Rally 69

by Roy and Chris

Les Davenport attended this rally, held in Belgium, in 1969.  This was the second time the rally had taken place.  Les told me that the original rally had not been widely advertised so they had missed it.  Les was a member of the Kent Three Star Sidecar Club and lots of club members also went along.  Being close to Dover the Kent club was widely known in Europe. as a lot of foreign riders used Dover as an entry point to England.  The Kent club often met the riders at the port and escorted them to Shorne, where Les and his wife, Rosa, lived

Motorcyclists were very well-organised at this time;  at home the Sidecar Federation had a list of contacts should you need help, and often accommodation was available.  Similarly in Europe the Kent Three Star Sidecar Club was a member of the federation of motorcyclists called the Bundesverband Der Motorradfahrer;  this organisation had contacts scattered throughout Europe, whose members could give you help if needed.

Les told me that nearly 1500 outfits turned up at the 1969 rally.  When Les and fellow club members arrived in Belgium they camped at Van Loppem overnight.  In the morning there was a procession of outfits through the area near to the castle at Tilleghem, and they attended a Holy Mass in memory of those killed on the road.  Riders came from all over Europe to attend this rally, some even making it from Ireland, which probably needed two boat trips to get there.

The rallyists then moved en masse to Bruges, where the final ceremony was to be held.  However the Kent Three Star members needed to get to the port to catch the boat home, so they unfortunately missed the final ceremony. They had had a great time at the rally, but Les was disappointed with his black and white photographs, as they did not do justice to the scenery.

I think that he went a few times to this rally, but he was subsequently armed with a better camera and embarked upon colour photography. 

The Kent Three Star Sidecar Club was very well known in the sidecar fraternity;  they were a great bunch of members with all kinds of outfits.  I was pleased to have been a member for a few years.

Article from the Gravesend Reporter about Les and Rosa Davenport and a member of the Japanese Sidecar community (Hajime Karasawa). I think that the article was printed most probably in the late 1970s. Les was a very keen sidecarrist (he’s the one who got me into sidecars!) and he was the Fed’s first International Representative.