Monday, November 21, 2016

Rare image of a 1923 Matchless race bike

This blog doesn't normally include scans from magazines as content but the below image is so rare that it deserves an exception. In the pioneer days and through the fifties Matchless were well known for their racing machines and successes but during the twenties and thirties there was something of a hiatus.

The image depicts Fred Neill. Fred was a dispatch rider during WW1; on demob he got a job in the Matchless 'engine shop' and worked his way up to Charge Hand before moving to the Testing Department, the Experimental Dept and Service Dept in turn. Fred raced the TT in 1923 (dnf) on a Matchless and rode the ISDT through the 20s. The image is believed to show Fred on a works racer from 1923.

Later on in his career Fred Neill became the Matchless service manager and wrote the Pearson's Handbook on Matchless motorcycles.

The image is taken from the Motor Cyclist's National News vol 1, number 1. Feb 1949.

Matchless man Fred Neill with 1923 works racer.
Postscript: thanks to Bob McGrath for correcting that the image is in fact from 1923, not 1926 as I first wrote (this was in fact the year given in the Motor Cyclist's National News).


  1. The photo dates from 1923. Matchless didn't quite get their new 350ohc motor ready in time so raced with a temporary Blackburne engine fitted instead. There is an article giving full details of this bike and their plans in "Motorcycling" of May 23, 1923.
    Bob McGrath

    1. Thanks Bob. The post is now corrected. All the best, Richard