Just in case anyone is in any doubt of the historical use of Epping Forest and motorcycling here are a few snap shots of the old speedway events. My Grandmother used to love these events and speedway was a massive thing back then for the area. Most likely she used to go and get a nice cuppa from Bradley’s Great uncle Ernie in much the same manner as we do today.
For many people who couldn’t afford holidays these events were a focal point of the year.
It is beyond me just why this little element of the history of the forest is not celebrated along with the other important historical facts. The Isle of Man has managed to embrace the explosion of popularity that happened with motorcycling and people from back in this time and turned it into lasting legacy now entwined along with the rich ancient history of the Island. It has become an important economic factor of the Island, a benefit.
I do not see that it is not possible for the Forest to embrace this part of its history in a positive manner, protect its history and celebrate its ties. It could end up being a benefit to all.
In much the same way as it is now people would have had horses, bicycles and walked in the forest along with the speedway riders and the masses that came to see them. A rich blend of people all using the forest for recreational purposes. There is only one thing changing here and it doesn’t seem to be the desire of the people to use the forest for a very similar purpose as it was back then. To enjoy it.
The history of the motorcycling element seems to have been forgotten and these retreats attributed to the earlier use by Lord Shaftesbury bringing deprived working class children into the forest. Even back then cycling to the forest, using horses and walking was important but there were no motorcycles then and the business that the Miller family run today is a legacy of the motorcycle era where others such as Butlers are from earlier times and slightly different reasons.
Butlers retreat has seen extensive restoration works, and rightly so yet the green huts also are a landmark for many people and I feel it is important to recognise the importance of these in our local social history along with the rest. Whilst many locals complained of the earlier events such as the children from London being brought out through Loughton to High Beech many others capitalised on this and set up stalls in their front gardens etc to serve the visitors.
With the masses attending the speedway some locals complained but some took the chance and served them with refreshments, this is all part of the local social economic history of the area, one of these businesses still exists in the same family in the same manner for the same reasons and I feel it is wrong to break this tradition.
Still today the legacy of these events continues with a unique community of Horse riders, walkers, cyclists and motorcyclists, families and the elderly all using the same business and the kids from London? well they are still being brought to the forest to enjoy it and many of them are using the same hut as us.