A Whitegates Mystery.

Whitegates pub sign

A puzzle, with maybe a simple explanation. The Whitegates public house stands on Clipstone Road East, Forest Town. The pub sign carries a picture of some white gates standing behind a Brough Superior motorcycle, reg FTV 332, and rider. Brough Superiors, once called the Rolls Royce of motorcycles, were built on Haydn Road, Nottingham, between 1919 – 1940. Depending on the model, every bike was sold with the guarantee of having been road tested to 80+ MPH or 100+ MPH. As the pub is about 16 miles from where the bikes were built, one can only speculate about the reason for the sign picture. Opposite the pub is Clipstone Drive, which we presume was just a trackway 80 – 100 years ago. This is approx 1 mile of almost straight road. I have been told that this was used as the bike test track. Is anyone able to shed any light on this.

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  • The articles on the White Gates pub and Clipstone Drive bring back memories of my late father. He related to me that he used to watch the bike time trials on Clipstone Drive ( my father had a small engined motor bike) and also the cars that also used the Drive for time trials. I believe that Henry Royce was one of the participants driving his car.
    The Brough Superior was the dream bike of many young men of that era and it was the chosen ‘steed’ of T.E. Lawrence (Lawrence of Arabia ) who had, in his all too brief life, six of these bikes. He was tragically killed whilst riding his favourite bike.
    As a youngster I seem to recall that the White gates were still standing. This is long before the houses on the left side of the drive were built and the drive had an access path to Garibaldi ponds.

    By Liz Weston (15/07/2019)
  • Hi Chrissie, you’re welcome.
    Thank you for pointing out that the bike is a Brough Superior, name on (I think) the fuel tank, I hadn’t noticed that before, but it makes me even more convinced that the man riding it is George Brough. Unfortunately I haven’t been able to confirm that the registration number did belong to ‘Old Bill’, but I would be interested if anyone else can shed any light on this.

    By Jenny Wright (13/07/2019)
  • Hi Jenny, thanks for the info. It looks like a visit to the pub is needed when we`re next in the area.
    Chrissie.

    By Chrissie (12/07/2019)
  • Clipstone Drive was part of the Duke of Portland’s estate, as it was a private road it was closed off to the public by white gates, the gates stood somewhere in the vicinity of Park Lodge hairdressing salon.
    In 1900 the Duke made available a straight mile section of the drive for automobile speed trials and a couple of years later this was officially adopted by the Automobile Club as the site for both speed and braking trials.
    After World War 1, Clipstone Drive also became a venue for motorcycle speed trials and George Brough, the designer and manufacturer of the Brough Superior at Haydn Rd. who owned and raced his own bike, nicknamed ‘Old Bill’, is known to have taken part in the speed trials on Clipstone Drive.
    As you say, his bikes came with a guarantee that they had been tested to 100 m.p.h. before delivery to the new owner. This testing took place, due to a kind offer from the Duke of Portland, on the straight mile section of Clipstone Drive.
    I believe the man on the motorcycle on the White Gates sign is representative of George Brough riding Old Bill, although by the time the pub was opened in 1963 both the speed trials and the gates were long gone, but have been perpetuated in the name.
    Much of Clipstone Drive is still unmade road, once you get beyond the houses it is a dirt track all the way to Cavendish Lodge at the King’s Clipstone end.
    I have been told that there used to be a picture in the pub’s lobby that may give more information. I’ve not been in to find out if it’s still there, can anyone else shed more light on this?

    By Jenny Wright (11/07/2019)

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