A landmark in the sporting history of Brighton was recorded in a French newspaper and can now be revealed for the first time in 65 years. On 5 December 1955, the regional weekly La Bourgogne Républicaine carried the news of what was probably a sporting world “first”.
Robert Doisneau: La Patinette de course 1934
[London -Brighton by scooter – 70km at 24km an hour
London, 5 December (Agence France Presse) – A scooter relay race, the first of its kind, took place in Great-Britain on Sunday. The aim of this unique competition, in which students from three universities competed, was to collect funds for the Union of Students. Having left London, the competitors had to reach Brighton 70 miles away. So great was the participants’ excitement that the first to cross the line, John Bayne, arrived at the finishing line an hour before the scheduled time, his team having managed an average of 24km per hour. Along the whole length of the course, there were large crowds to encourage the young students, most of whom were in their colourful academic gowns. As with any race worthy of the name, several competitors abandoned … and there were three collisions, fortunately none of them serious.
* * *
Either John Bayne and his team were using electric scooters (of which there is some evidence pre-1960s) or, dare we say it, he was not playing quite to the rules. Who knows?