Dungannon & District Motorcycle Club

The Dungannon and District Motorcycle Club was formed in 1922, in Dungannon, County Tyrone, Northern Ireland, and held a number of “bike runs”, an athletic sports day and supported their local racers in its year of inception.

In the club’s second year, they held a successful hill climb on the Coalisland Road/Oaks Road from the Old Engine Bridge (close to the present site of the Tyrone Crystal factory) to Workhouse Corner (presently the roundabout adjacent to South Tyrone Hospital).

Run in heats, the eventual winner was JW Shaw (Belfast) on a 3.5HP Norton, with Johnston Hill winning the Club event.

On the back of this event, the Club decided to run a 100-mile road race the following year. When the Club applied to the County Council for permission to hold the race on 30 July 1924, the matter had not been added to the agenda and had to wait until the following meeting of the County Council for the matter to be raised.

The date had to be changed to 20 August (a Wednesday, no road races were run at weekend in those times, but on the town’s traditional “early closing day”), and the event was run on a circuit starting at the Tyrone Sanitorium gates (now the gates to Drumglass Lodge and Sperrinview School on the Coalisland Road), heading into Dungannon town, turning past the Workhouse, heading in the direction of Cookstown, turning right at Tullyodonnell Crossroads towards Newmills, turning right again at Carland Meetinghouse and back onto the Coalisland Road at the Old Engine Bridge.

Torrential rain fell during the entire race, 19 laps of the 5.4-mile circuit, which had attracted spectators from both sides of the border, with, according to the Tyrone Courier at the time, “the high bank along the Sanitorium grounds [providing] a fine vantage point to view the race.”

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Of the twenty-nine entries, many of them local, two failed to start and just seven finished the race. Samuel McManus, a draper from the town, was the only faller requiring serious medical treatment when he fell between Tullyodonnell Crossroads and Carland Presbyterian Church.

Eventual winner of the race was localman Johnston Hill on a 500cc Douglas (fourth in the 70-mile Cookstown road race three months previously), second was TJ Gilmore (Belfast) on a Dot-Bradshaw, third was R Carson (Cookstown) AJS.

In 1925, the Club held a reliability trial. The 34-mile course ran from Dungannon, through Coalisland, Stewartstown, Coagh, Moneymore,Cookstown and back to Dungannon. The “schedule speed was set at 20mph with observed test hills en route.”

Top three finishers where J Shanks (AJS), Freddie Fairbairn (AJS) and J Rutherford (Raleigh).

The second Dungannon 100 was run on 1 July 1925 in superb weather and had “become to be recognised as one of the principal [races] of the season”, according to the Tyrone Courier’s report. The road race in neighbouring Cookstown was not held over a hundred miles until 1930.

The circuit was the same as the previous year, and, of the twenty-nine starters, it was SG Reynolds (Cookstown) on board an AJS that won, with Herbert Chambers (Belfast), AJS, second and F Donaghy (Dungannon) third on a Cotton, so favourably handicapped that he led the race until the penultimate lap.

Fairbairn and D Clancey were the only club members to finish the race (seventh and eighth respectively), as Hill and Shanks were unable to start and Capt TE Oliver, who set the fastest lap at Cookstown the following week, failed to finish for the second year in succession.

Reynolds set the fastest lap of the day, and received the JC Holland Cup and £15 for the race win. Chambers lost his life later that year in an accident during sand races on Portmarnock Strand in County Dublin.

In July 1925, Freddie Fairbairn was fourth in the Irish End to End Mizzen Head, Cork to Fair Head, Antrim Reliability Trial, and received an ovation from locals as he passed through Dungannon on the journey.

The third Dungannon 100, held on 7 July 1926 in good weather, had only five non-starters from a field of 41, with ten of them completing all 19 laps. One of them was FD Boydell, an Englishman, on a 172 Francis-Barnett, who was race-leader at the half-way mark, and eventually finished ninth.

Hill, winner of the inaugural race, was leading on the 16th lap when Fred Cupples, on board a 498 AJS, attempted an overtaking manoeuvre that took both riders out of the race.

The previous winner, Reynolds, had “persistent plug troubles” and “failed to get prominently in the picture”, while Capt Oliver, who won the Over-500cc rate at the Ulster Grand Prix later that year, had been doing well but retired on his ninth lap.

The fastest time of the day went to Belfast rider Tommy Stewart on a 344 Enfield, but lost out due to handicapping to Ballynahinch man JS Corbett (347 Matchless) and WJ Mills (490 Norton), Benburb. Dubliner Gordon Burney, who broke a chain on the first lap, was recorded as saying he’d prefer to do two Isle of Man TTs in one day than one Dungannon 100, such was the condition of the roads.

6 July 1927 saw the last Dungannon 100 road race. It had moved to a much faster circuit comprising Bush Road from Dungannon to Bush onto Laghey Corner, Killyman and back, and was marred by an accident involving James Gibson (Belfast) that led to his death from his injuries two days later.

The race was won by Captain TE Oliver (Coalisland) on a 574 Scott, with JW Shaw (Belfast) in second place, who also set the fastest race time and fastest lap of the day. Eight of the twenty-four starters completed the 17-lap race.

J Douglas (Bush), was the second rider despatched on handicap and it was not until the 14th lap that Captain Oliver took the lead from him. The Bush rider, on board a 348 AJS, finished fifth.

The club was revived in August 2005, and immediately set about starting a road race in Bush, Dungannon. The event was called “Bush Road Races” and was held 23/24 June 2006.