| Open Roads - fast bikes
Isle of Man is a Crown Dependency, outside the direct control of
Westminster, and the House of Keys is able to introduce unique legislation
that might not be possible or wanted in the rest of the British
Isles. An example was the introduction of road closing legislation
to allow racing on the Island's public roads.
Road racing was rapidly becoming popular in mainland Europe as
a way of competitively testing new automobile technology. Unfortunately
for British racing enthusiasts, the British Government refused to
allow roads to be closed for racing or to relax the strict speed
A solution was found when Julian Orde, Secretary of the Automobile
Club of Great Britain, talked to his relative Lord Raglan, Lieutenant
Governor of the Isle of Man, in March 1904, with a view to the Island's
roads being used to stage road races.
Raglan introduced the required road closing legislation to Tynwald,
although he commented:
'I need hardly point out that a race held at a
rate of 14 miles an hour cannot be exceedingly useful for the purpose
of finding out the best cars !'
It was agreed that the roads would
be closed and speed restrictions lifted and The Highway (Light Locomotive)
Bill was speedily passed. As a result road racing became legal on
the Isle of Man in time for the Gordon Bennett Time Trials in 1904.
The hopes of the House of Keys that the Trials would both bring
extra tourists here and be an important 'first' for the Island,
were realised within a few years. The annual T.T. (Tourist Trophy)
races were established for motorcycle racing in 1907, and have continued
to flourish as a unique Island attraction.