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Soap box derby

Morecambe Guardian 06 September 1955

Soap box derby attracts 10,000 spectators


With a car constructed in six weeks from pieces of scrap wood and metal, Morecambe’s Sea Scouts, the 4th Morecambe and Heysham Troop, competed in the Scouts’ Soap Box Derby before a crowd of 10,000 on the West End Promenade on Saturday.

They were beaten in their two heats, in the classes for wolf cubs and scouts, aged 11 to 15 years, having the misfortune to break the cable of the three speed gear at the start of the cubs race. Mechanic Bill Beckett repaired the break with a strip of adhesive tape and  the car, the “Morecambe Belle”, put up a good show in the heat for boy scouts but was beaten. Wolf Cub Paul Johnson was the driver in the cubs heat and Rodney Woodhouse drove the car for the second race.


The car, which was the first effort attempted by the troop, was constructed by scouts Bill Beckett and Rodney Woodhouse, in the backyard at the home of Scout Master J. W. Beckett, costing £6.15s to make -the permitted limit was £7. 10s -they made it from pieces of scrap wood, some wooden battens and the frame of an old cycle which cub Leo Pullen found in the mud on the banks of the River Lune. Coloured yellow and blue it carried Morecambe’s coat of arms by special permission of the corporation, and its appearance was enhanced by a grill at the front made from a wireless loudspeaker. They won their way into the Morecambe finals by winning the race at New Brighton at a speed of almost 21 mph.

The 74 cars entered came from every part of England and Northern Ireland. Northern Irish scouts sending seven cars. Two cars from troops near Morecambe, “Speedwell” entered by the Halton troop and “The Bomb” ridden by Arnside scouts won their heats but were defeated in the semi-finals.


The final for Wolf Cubs was won by the 26th Salford troop with “Gay Gordon” which reached a speed of 16.84 mph and the 5th Cambridge troop won the boy scouts final at a speed of 20.45 mph. The championship for senior scouts was won by the 38th Woolwich troop whose car “Jetless Jennie” had been paid for by the sale of jam jars, the revenue from which also paid the expenses of the troop to Morecambe. They also shared the prize for the highest speed of the day with the 1st Midsomer Norton troop, both cars attaining a speed of 21.43 mph, and won the prize for the car with the best appearance.

The 1st Ripley troop won the award for the best constructed car, “Beastie three” which won the prize for the most ingenious car for the 3rd Altrincham troop contained a centre beam and front axle made from an aluminium drain pipe. Its rear axle was constructed from the frame of a bow saw.

At the close the cars paraded along the Promenade headed by a 1905 Vauxhall car and prizes were presented by Al Read, comedian, who wore a scout hat and rolled the legs of his trousers above his knees.

The prizes included a totem pole, cash, camping equipment and tents.