50 years on from motorcycle hero’s 100mph record win
News | Rhys Williams | Published: 16:00, Monday June 10th, 2019.
June 11 will mark the 50th anniversary of motorcyclist Malcolm Uphill’s record breaking Isle of Man TT win.
As well as taking the win in the 1969 race, Uphill, riding a Triumph Bonneville 750cc, was the first person to lap the TT course at 100mph on a production machine.
Born in South Shields on April 15, 1935, to Mabel and Lewis Stoves, Malcolm was adopted following the death of his mother by Ernest and Doris Uphill and lived in Second Avenue, Trecenydd.
Shortly after moving to Wales, Uphill developed a mastoid infection which caused him hearing-damage. He wore a hearing aid for the rest of his life.
Uphill attended Twyn Secondary School in Caerphilly and after finishing, began work as an apprentice and later a fitter and turner in the Caerphilly railway sheds.
His work involved lots of stripping and repairing asbestos insulated boilers – the cause of asbestosis in later life.
Uphill’s interest in motorcycling started at a young age.
In 1958, he entered his first race – the Thruxton 500-mile endurance race – with friend, Martin Borne, although machine problems led to their retirement.
He soon bought his first bike – a 350cc Norton, which he used on short circuits around Wales and England.
The TT was his ultimate ambition and in 1962 he entered his Norton in the Manx GP, finishing a credible 14th place. In 1963 he finished seventh and entered again in 1964 – this time in both the 350cc and 500cc races. He finished second in the 350cc race, but had to retire on the last lap of the 500cc due to a leaking fuel tank.
In 1965, Uphill finally won his first TT. He won both the 350cc and 500cc races to establish himself as one of the top riders of the sport and earning him the Freedom of the Town of Caerphilly.
He came second in the 1965 Welsh Sports Personality of the Year award, finishing behind rugby player Clive Rowlands.
The following year, Uphill had to retire from the race after having trouble with his engine. He was in third place behind Mike Hailwood and Giacomo Agostini – two of the most successful motorcyclists of all time – when he was forced to abandon the race.
In 1967, on a Norton, he lapped the TT course at over 100 mph – one of the very few to achieve this at the time.
In 1968 he rode for the Triumph works in several races, including the Production TT where he had severe problems with his bike, but still finished fifth.
The following year would be Uphill’s most successful. Riding a Triumph, he won the Production TT and became the first person to lap the TT course at 100mph on a production machine.
After his victory in 1969, Uphill took up the chance to compete at the 1970 Ulster Grand Prix on a 500cc Suzuki.
During the race, the bike’s engine seized and Uphill was thrown off, suffering career ending injuries in the process.
After his racing career was over, he set up his own business working as a contractor installing and maintaining roller shutter doors.
In his later life he suffered from asbestosis and died aged 64 on August 15, 1999. He is buried in Machen cemetery.
The Wetherspoon pub on Cardiff Road, Caerphilly, is named in his honour and in 2013 a plaque was unveiled.
Information for this article was kindly provided by Geoff Harris, who is giving a lecture about Malcolm Uphill at Caerphilly Rugby Club on Tuesday, June 11, at 8pm. Admission is free with the lecture being supported by the local branch of Adult Learning Wales.
Mr Harris said: “I was always an avid follower of Malcolm Uphill and I met him a few times.
“He always had a crowd with him. He was hugely popular.
“Malcolm also cared deeply about animals, and I want to explain who Malcolm was and preserve his legacy for future generations.”
Meanwhile, a motorcycle ride will take place on Sunday, June 16, starting at the Malcolm Uphill pub at 10am.
Entry will cost £5 and all proceeds will be donated to an animal welfare charity.