Many people have documented the story of the TTs number one icon, so I do not profess to be unique in telling the tale.
It was back in those years between the Wars when men were men and the only definition of a "dog" was a four legged animal with a penchant for cocking its leg against vertical surfaces.
As the TT developed and machines, road surfaces and riders became more sophisticated, there was a period when winning the race was the only target of every man in the entry list.
As a consequence, terrible odds were overcome and there are books and books on this subject.
However, the story that had grown men weeping and married ladies swooning, was that of Edgar Jessop, told in every public house, meeting place and tea shop in the land in a prolonged series of low whispers.
The tale grew to enormous proportions but still was based on fact.
Race day dawned and at the assigned time, the gladiators of the day set off to defy the TT Mountain Course with all its bends and climbs and flat-out straights.
In amongst the field was one E.K.G.Jessop on one of the first batch of Spagforth Lightnings.
He had ridden in practice well and with great heart, and made up considerable time on his opponents.
During the race, it was on the fourth lap that he took a minor tumble at Ballacraine with the Spagforth sliding down the slip road.
Edgar luckily was uninjured, but the machine had lost a footrest, torn off by the slide.
On one of those very rare occasions following accidents, the Marshall allowed Edgar to proceed, not having seen the absence of the appendage.
Edgars signalling station up at Kates told him he was still rising up the field and had attained fifth place even though he had taken time out to examine the road at close range !!
However, on the next lap, Edgar could smell burning rubber but could not place from whence it came.
In those days, races were seven laps long taking thirty minutes per lap.
By the sixth lap, Edgar was in second place but the smell of burning became worse and he felt a pain in his left foot.
Smoke was rising from his boot and he slowed to lift his boot to see what had happened.
He was dismayed to see that having lost his footrest, he had been resting his foot on the exhaust pipe.
The exhaust had burnt through the sole of his boot and his foot was now feeling the heat.
He still had one lap to go with a possibility of winning.
And so, for thirty painful minutes Edgar gritted his teeth and rode like the wind to catch and pass his adversary at Creg-ny-Baa on the last lap.
The crowds cheered as he rode by with smoke still rising from his boot.
By this time it did not smell of burnt rubber--It smelled of burnt flesh.
Edgar took the flag and slowed down to a halt.
He was in agony and was lifted off the bike and some sod lifted Edgars wallet.
The First Aid post took him in and dressed his painful wounds. (It was a punishable offence having naked wounds !)
Hours later after a Jury meeting, it was announced that Edgar had been disqualified for taking outside assistance after the crash, and for riding a dangerous machine.
There was an appeal which failed on a technicality, so Edgar did not make the record books.
The late great Mike Hailwood idolised Edgar Jessop in respect for his bravery in those extraordinary circumstances.
Mike related the story at any occasion and eventually became president of the EJ Fan Club.
Mike often took on the identity of Edgar.......
POSTSCRIPT 1 :
Variations include the untrue story that Edgar RODE the race in sandshoes. However this came from the fact that his foot was so swollen he had to wear lightweight shoes for many months subsequent to the aforementioned incident while his foot, treated with early special skin grafting techniques, healed. The other explanation was that when he found the boot sole beginning to wear through, he managed to acquire a ten inch long offcut section of discarded whitewall tyre, obtained from a member of the forecourt staff at the garage at Ballaugh. This he taped to the underside of the boot but it regretably melted through quickly.
He never raced again but was, for years after, in great demand to give lectures on his exploits...............POSTSCRIPT 2 :
It is interesting to note that in the 1959 SWISS GP, Geoff Duke won the 250 CC, 350 CC AND 500 CC classes...
The megaphone exhausts burnt a hole through his boot, badly blistering Geoffs heel.......POSTSCRIPT 3 :
Edgar was born Edgar Karhaki George Jessup but shortly after his entry in to the two-wheeled sporting arena he changed his Jessup to Jessop
and it is on this name on which this article is based......POSTSCRIPT 4 :
Edgars boots are in the Motorcycle Museum in Heckmondwike ( his home town ).........One boot is perfect as though it had just been purchased, the other is badly burnt......
POSTSCRIPT 5 :
Spagforth DID return to the TT to try their luck again.....see our next story......