1931 Harley Scramble - Buckland Hill, Mosman Park
28 june 1931, hosted by the HARLEY DAVIDSON Motor cycle club
Photos: [Left] Harley Scramble co-founder and three-times event winner Aubrey Melrose (Isle of Man TT Profile); [Centre] 1933 Harley Scramble winners (left to right) Melrose (2nd), Roy Charman (1st) and J Kieley (3rd) – The Western Mail; and [right] A rider crashes at the the inaugural Harley Scramble on 17 June 1928 at the WA Rope Works Circuit at Buckland Hill, Mosman Park WA – Lloyd and Barb Hartree Collection.
Harley Scramble cofounder Aubrey Melrose wins his second of three titles in 1931
On 28 June 1931, Aubrey Melrose won the prestigious Harley Scramble at the famous Rope Works Circuit at Buckland Hill in Mosman Park, opposite Cottelsoe Beach on the outskirts of Perth (WA).
It was Melrose’s second Harley Scramble. The 30-year-old, who cofounded the event with Roy Charman in 1928, won the 4th Harley Scramble showing the heavier Harley V-twin riders what a lightweight BSA 250 was capable of. He would also go onto win the event for a third time in 1935 on a BSA, after winning in 1929 on a Harley Davidson.
In 1931, 21 of the State’s leading motorcyclists were invited to compete for the prestigious Harley Scramble title, with only ten riders lasting the distance – four circuits of the four-mile course in the morning and afternoon.
Although a shot-gun start was later introduced, but abandoned because of the safety risk, this year the riders started in pairs with the low powered machines given the advantage of starting first on a harder track and clearer pathway. Previous winners and place getters from previous events were the last to start.
The 1930 winner Roy Charman secured the fastest time in the morning, with Melrose in third, 13 seconds behind J.Kiely, whose machine broke down in the final stages of the second race.
Aubrey Melrose, who was one of Australia’s earliest Isle of Man contestants witnessed scrambles during his stay in England in 1927 and bought the idea back home. He called the original event on 17 June 1928 the “1928 TT Scramble”. But as this title meant little to the reporter at The West Australian newspaper, he nicknamed it “The Harley Scramble” and the name stuck!
The riders rode heavy bikes (like 1000cc Harley Davidsons and 500cc B.S.A.s) with suspension being non-existent.
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Photo: A rider being assisted up a steep incline at the Rope Works circuit (The Western Mail).
The circuits were longer – like an enduro – with the original start line at the Rope Works being located half-way along the main road from Perth to Fremantle at Buckland Hill – with the first event finishing at Billy Goat Farm on the banks of the Swan River.
The ascents were so steep that gangs of helpers were stationed at the top, armed with ropes and grappling hooks, to haul stricken riders to the top if they failed mid-climb.
The Harley Davidson Motor Cycle Club (and on occasions with support from the BSA MCC) hosted the Harley Scramble between 1928 and 1964 at the Rope Works circuit, with breaks only during the war years.
The event continued at York in the 1960s and, with several breaks in between, was resurrected in the 1980s at Newburn Park, Belmont and still runs today at Noble Falls.
1931 Harley Scramble Winners
Photo: 1931 Harley Scramble winning team – Members from the Harley Davidson and BSA Motor Cycle Clubs (L-R} Roy Charman, Aubrey Melrose and W. Bailey (The Western Mail).
Aubrey Melrose (BSA)
Harley Davidson and BSA MCC
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