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Wall Of Death

Wall Of Death

I may have mentioned before of my interest in the British fairgrounds and more recently and specifically the wall of death.

There are I believe two walls travelling at present and they turn up at some of the bigger shows. Whilst the attraction has always been motor cycles being ridden at speed around the wall, before the war a number of people drove cars on the wall and post war, karts as well. A number of these cars were versions of the Austin 7, a car in which I have a special interest.
I have been looking to find a genuine Austin 7 special that once was driven on the wall, but so far they have eluded me, maybe there are none left.
To spice up the act in the 1930’s a number of riders rode with a lion on the sidecar. My good friend Richard Peskett has recently bought on ebay a picture of a BSA 3 wheeler car with a lion being carried alongside.
This is the first time I had ever seen a picture of a BSA car on the wall let alone with a lion. The picture is said to have been taken on Southampton Common in 1939. The driver “Speedy Joe” is thought to be Joe Grant The car is clearly lettered with “BSA Speedy” (and perhaps Joe as well but the photo is indistinct at this point).

I contacted Graham Skillen who has recently published “The BSA front wheel drive cars” (Amberley Publishing.) He told me: “This is a V-twin model. The wheel at the back has been canted significantly – it should be right behind the drivers elbow…. The trunnion carrying the swinging arm at the back is on two vertical bolts on the chassis, so removing one and fitting a spacer would cant the wheel out of line, but as the rear spring is inside the chassis forward of the trunnion it won’t fit any more, so I guess no rear suspension, other than the tyre.

“The rear wheel is 1931/1932, but the fronts are from a BSA Scout with the BSA logo in the centre, so the photo must be 1935 or later. It is definitely a three wheeler rather than a four as the swinging arm is visible. None of the bodywork aft of the bonnet is the original. Stability was undoubtedly a problem, as when getting the trike onto the wall it could easily overturn unless you had the rear wheel offset.
“No doubt the non-aligned tyre scream added to the attraction!”


from p. 11 of issue February 2017
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