Event to be held in memory of first solo female TT racer

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An event is being held to remember the life of Beryl Swain – the first woman to race solo at the Isle of Man TT.

Swain made the headlines back in 1962 when she entered the 50cc race on an Itom, ultimately finishing in 22nd place despite her bike suffering from a mechanical problem.

This caused an upset in a male dominated world, resulting in her licence being revoked to prevent her from competing. The resulting ban of female competitors lasted until 1978 when Hilary Musson competed in the Formula 2 on a Yamaha.

To celebrate her life, an exhibition is being held in her home town of Walthamstow, North East London, as part of the E17 Art Trail.

The ‘Need for Speed’ exhibition, which has been curated by Kirstin Sibley and designed by Rachel Gomes, will tell the story of her career and will feature one of her helmets, archive film footage, photographs and original documents (including her international licence).

As part of the exhibition a free-to-attend ride out is leaving from the Bike Shed, to Beryl’s birthplace where the 1B Window Gallery is hosting the exhibit.

There will be talks from the curator Kirstin Sibley and Gemma Harrison from the women’s motorcycle collective VC. After the exhibit the ride will make its way past Beryl’s old house in Walthamstow and end at The Duke, which was Swain’s local pub.

From there attendees will be able to see the unveiling of a new mural of Beryl by Wood Street Walls.

All are welcome to join the ride out, which will leave from the Bike Shed Motorcycle Club, Shoreditch, at 9:30 on Saturday, June 1. If you can’t make the ride out, the exhibit runs from June 1 until July 25. For more information about the ride out visit the Facebook Event.

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