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The mad Englishman and the Black Shadow

In July of 1955, locals in the southwest of England were somewhat bemused to see a large, burly figure unloading a sixteen-foot plank from the side of a dangerous-looking motorcycle, on the banks of the River Severn. Home to one of the largest tidal bores in the world, the Severn is England’s longest river, and flowed fast here, in the narrows. To the onlookers’ consternation, the man appeared to be preparing to enter the swift-moving current.

 

They protested. The man merely laughed. Then he went surfing.

 

John Malcolm Thorpe Fleming Churchill, better known as Mad Jack Churchill, thus found himself adding yet another footnote to a life that defied reason: He became the first person to surf the Severn tidal bore. He rode the waves for roughly a mile and a half, then walked back to his motorcycle, which was, at the time, the fastest road-going vehicle on the planet. (Of course it was.)

 

Read the full article on Hagerty.com:

https://www.hagerty.com/media/automotive-history/the-mad-englishman-and-the-black-shadow/

Replies (12)

Replies (12)

Great story,thank you!!

Pit Crew

"Said Red Molly to James, that's a fine motorbike, a girl would look special on any such like; said James to Red Molly, my hats off to you, it's a Vincent Black Lightning, a 1952..."

Detailer

The world could learn a few lessons from characters like Mad Jack!  As a 68 yo motorcycle track day junkie, I think I have another idol.

Another Jack.

New Driver

I'm sure Mad Jack doesn't translate to 2020, but he should be mandatory reading for anyone young person with a sparkle in their eye and a desire for adventure

New Driver

History trumps fiction every time!

Intermediate Driver

Interesting read, thanks. But being a Vincent enthusiast I would like to point out that a few items. The first photo is a Series A HRD Rapide - a very different machine than the later version of the 1947 Series B mentioned in the article. And a Rapide (the touring model) is quite different from a sporting Black Shadow, even with Black Lightning race upgrades. Thanks for sharing though.

Passenger

another great story and a storied motorcycle!!

Pit Crew

Is that Mad Jack’s Vincent parked on the Sea to Sky Highway?

New Driver

Incredible.  What happened to the Vincent?

Pit Crew

I like bikes!

Pit Crew

Bravo!!

Passenger

Now, there was a MAN!

Pit Crew