Way back in 1929 the first Wall of Death came to Europe from the USA.
With this unique and exciting show came the now famous Indian Scout Motorcycles, machines that already possessed an international reputation for power and reliability.
A slogan used in advertising by the Indian factory proclaims
“YOU CAN NEVER WEAR OUT AN INDIAN SCOUT”
The Indian motorcycle became a legend, the red machines that took the chequered flag wherever they were raced, breaking land speed records and winning trophies for the daring heroes that rode them to international glory.
The Indian motorcycle company of Springfield Massachusetts USA marketed their machines throughout the world, they became a status symbol and toy of the wealthy and famous, envy of any man or woman that wished to be part of the 1920’s, a modern age of invention, style and daring adventures.
To ride an Indian Scout puts you at the forefront of modern engineering and design, constructed by craftsmen from its very latest materials. The throaty bark of the exhaust and smooth power of the vee twin engine took you in spirit up among the clouds with pioneering aviators that conquered the air, criss crossing the globe, the first, and the fastest. The daring made newspaper headlines such as “Charles Lindbergh crosses the Atlantic”
At exhibitions, state fairs or seaside amusement parks, thrill seekers could see the Wall of Death, its stage lined with shiny red Indians, the very finest machinery that money could buy. Beautiful two wheeled limousines smelling of hot oil as they stood ticking over ready for use inside the drome. The spieler introduces the stuntmen and women parading with their Scouts, Speedy, Hurricane, Tornado and Cyclone Jake Messham.
Today at Messham’s Wall of Death we still use the very same Indian Scout motorcycle that came from USA with that first Wall of Death in 1929.
Hard working machines passed down father to son through the Messham family. Tried and trusted motorcycles that have been used by Messhams and their renowned star artists for over 80 years.
JAKE MESSHAM held on to his personal trick riding machine up until the last years of his life. The 1925 Indian Scout had been stored under canvas sheeting since he retired in 1964. Tommy was learning the art and skills of a trick and stunt rider, top job with his fathers show. In the late 70’s young Tommy and his dad arrived at the family’s yard, Jake realising he no longer needed his faithful old Scout, took Tom to the shed and presented him with his Indian trick bike.
A moment of both sadness and excitement.
Tommy’s vintage bike saw him through several decades travelling up and down the country. At major fairs and abroad he entertained and amazed many millions with his exciting and expert performance.
Now the trusted mount has been taken up by Junior Messham who cherishes his heirloom, adding a personal dedication to the petrol tank “ROCK ON TOMMY” a design by showmans artist D.C.Slater in memory of its former keeper.
GEORGE (TORNADO) SMITH started at a Wall of Death as a mechanic, he was a hard working craftsman who learnt to trick ride with American Wall of Death performers. He rode abroad in the early days of the shows introduction to Europe, visiting Sweden, Spain, Germany and South Africa.
Having learnt all aspects of his chosen career he bought his own Wall of Death and set himself up at the Kursel South End, where he operated for 35 years until his retirement. He was known for his eccentric ways, in particular famous for his Wall of Death Lion, “Britain”.
James Messham has been fortunate in obtaining one of the two original and authenticated Indian Scout motorcycles owned and used by Tornado Smith.
This machine is used and exhibited by the Messham brothers as a tribute to Tornados popularity.
EDDIE MONTE operated his Wall of Death for many years, riding under the name of Speedy Williams and travelling the show with Pat Collins fairs. This Wall of Death passed into the ownership of Tommy Messham Snr.
When Tommy bought the Wall of Death from him “the bikes were useless, his bike was unrideable, a shortage of ball bearings in the whole machine, the reason for its incomprehensible as he had a cellar full of spares under Patrick Collins house at Bloxwich”. Tommy concludes he liked riding a very loose bike.
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