GROWING up in Ansdell in the early 1970s, I remember the old smithy on Smithy Lane being demolished. I was told that TT motorbikes were assembled there. Can you tell me if that was true?
YES, that is correct. It was from The Smithy that Chris Tattersall, a blacksmith turned engineer, aided by Bill Dawes, built a handful of racing motor cycles. They were known as CTS, which stood for Chris Tattersall Special.
Chris eventually built 50 machines in the small garage, and used the best materials and components available from other machines building bikes to high standards – competing against cycles of many famous factory teams.
The first CTS appeared in 1931 in the Isle Of Man TT using JAP 250cc engines, but, by the late thirties, Rudge Python 250cc were preferred. From 1931 until 1953, CTS were being ridden in the lightweight 250cc class. On one of these, he won the Ulster Grand Prix Governor’s trophy in 1938.
Genial Chris himself was a professional racer since the age of 18. As a speedway rider, he appeared at the first dirt track meeting at Audenshaw in 1928. Locally, he competed in the first dirt track meeting at Highfield Road trotting track, South Shore. His love of the TT started in 1928 until 1939, then resumed from 1947 until his last ride in 1951. Described in the Express as a “remarkable man of speed” Chris had a personal best ride when he finished fifth in the TT in 1932.
As he prepared for the Ulster Grand Prix at the age of 51 in 1954, the Express wrote: “Fifty one is an age when most speed enthusiasts are content to watch, but Tattersall, fit and still possessing a steady hand, an alert brain and a sharp eye, which are essential in this testing, nerve-racking sport, still thinks he is good enough for another year or so of racing.”
But tragically within weeks Chris, who had raced on all the famous circuits in England, was taken seriously ill and later died in Rossall Hospital.
The CTS logo lives on because, in the national motorbike museum in Birmingham, there is a restored 1949 CTS preserved.
ALEX MAITLAND and MATT WARHURST
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