Harewood History Pages

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Harewood hillclimb 1960

The following was first published in the Yorkshire Centre Golden Jubilee Circular

For a number of years we had our eye on a farm at Harewood which looked to be ideal for a hill climb course and excitement mounted when we heard that this was coming on the market. We knew the price would be far above anything the Centre could afford, we had not the faintest idea what we would do with a farm between hill climbs but we were prepared to have a go. One of the nice things about a club like ours, is that in the coming together of motor sport enthusiasts from all kinds of jobs and backgrounds you find you have access to an amazing range of talents, skills and knowledge. Plans were made to raise the finance and even how we hoped to be able to repay.

Then, once again, we had cause to be grateful to Arnold Burton who must occupy a very major position in the Centre's hall of fame. Arnold had a desire to own a farm, he was also a motor sport enthusiast so he reached the best possible solution. He bought the farm and gave the club the right to improve the farm road and use it for Hill Climbs.

The building of the Harewood Hill Climb is another story, which could almost fill a book on its own. In this history we must pay tribute to all the members who helped with professional and technical knowledge on the law, planning acts, survey and road construction down to the rank end file who provided much of the labour force. Derek Scott, the legal eagle and Bill Varley, the highways engineer must come in for special mention coupled with Michael Kellett who was our unofficial Clerk of Works.

At first all the money we could afford, and which was borrowed, was laid out on providing a good solid foundation and the top surface was tar and chippings which we hoped would see us through for a year of two until we could afford a more lasting surface.

The first meeting was held in September 1962 when a modest collection of some 70 cars part. In the main they were saloon and sports cars with only a couple of real competition cars the driver's impressions of the new hill ware that it would be good later but at present it was very rough. We carried on with a full programme of three events in 1963 of which the September meeting was to be our first National event. Unfortunately the June meeting was held on what became the hottest day for about 26 years. The tar melted and by the end of the day our road surface was reduced to a rutted cart track

Money was tight but things were really drastic so we had to agree to go ahead with the next stage of the planned final road surface without delay. We arranged to hire a road-laying machine far a few days during the August holidays with a few skilled "Paddies" employed on a dally basis for pound notes. The preparatory work, excavation, casting of concrete kerbs, etc., we would do ourselves by voluntary labour. In this John Holroyd and Michael Kellet worked like trojans, flogging themselves and their willing band of helpers, not used to this kind of labour, to be ready in time far the delivery of the tarmac.

Like all such operations there were dramas. The greatest of these came when the road-Iaying machine broke down after only an hour's work. The hillside was littered with lorries laden with steaming tarmac. The drivers were on bonus on the number of loads delivered and they were all ready to tip their tarmac where they stood and leave us to sort it out. Thanks to some top level diplomacy. Messrs Kellett & Holroyd managed to get them to hold off until the machine was repaired otherwise the story of the Harewood Hill Climb could well have come to a full stop at that time.

Written by the late Mike Wilson


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