Name: Beryl Swain 
Birth date: January 22, 1936. 
Birth Place: Walthamstow England 
Date of Death : May 15, 2007 (aged 71) 
Place of Death :Epping 
Nationality: English 
Gender: Female
Beryl Swain. The first female solo TT competitor.  A study in concentration.
The first woman solo motorcyclist to finish in a TT race

In an era when riding a motor-bike was not thought to be a terribly ladylike occupation, Beryl Swain became, in 1962, the first woman solo rider to negotiate the notorious Isle of Man Tourist Trophy course in an official event.

That year she rode her Italian Itom 50cc Racer into 22nd place in a field of 25 in a TT race round the notorious 37-mile mountain road course, which has claimed many lives and inflicted fearful injuries over the years.  It was the first year in which the 50cc Ultra Lightweight class had been granted world championship status, and the class was to prove immensely popular. 

But this was not, alas, to be the start of an international career for Beryl. Feeling that Isle of Man TT racing was far too dangerous for solo women, the sport’s ruling body moved swiftly, and revoked her international licence, effectively putting paid to thoughts of a career at that level.
Engine Preparation in the Kitchen
Beryl at Quarter Bridge in the Isle of Man 50cc TT in 1962
At Speed in the Isle of Man 1962 50cc TT
Born and bred in Walthamstow, where she went to school, Beryl Tolman worked as a senior secretary at P&O in the City before her marriage in 1959 to Eddie Swain, the owner of a motorcycle repair business. 

From that point on her passion for bikes developed rapidly. A member of several motorcycle clubs, she became a keen competitor in events at Brands Hatch and Snetterton. The 50cc class was to be ideal for her, but she also flirted with 500cc bikes at Hackney Wick speedway. 

After the end of her racing career she went to work for Sainbury’s, and was for many years a departmental manager at branches around the London area. In retirement she lived in Woodford, Essex, and then Epping. An outgoing character, she was secretary to WI local branches and helped to organise meals on wheels for the elderly. 

Latterly she had suffered from Alzheimer’s disease. There were no children of her marriage, which was dissolved. 

Lets look at her involvement in the 50cc scene
Beryl Swain in 1960 on the Itom.  An early picture of the bike without fairing.
Beryl on one of her early ITOM's
Lets look at Beryl's involvement in the 50cc scene. 

The TT Goddess of the gas pedals
     by the Isle of Man BBC.
Piston Rings
Piston Rings
Piston Rings
Beryl Swain the 50cc Maserati. In road trim ans she used to ride it on the roads
Beryl on an early 1957 Maserati (TOAD) 50cc
Maserati Tipo50-T2-SS'Rospo'
Years of production: 1956-1959 
Two-stroke single cylinder 
49.635 cc engine 
Bore 40mm and stroke 39.5mm 
Compression ratio 12.0:1 
Power output 2.82 bhp @ 6700 rpm 
Maximum revs 7300 rpm 
Dell'Orto UA 16 S carburettor 
3-speed gearbox Max. speed 70/75 kph 
Dry weight 49 kg
Beryl Swain 1962 (A motorcycle paper press cutting) 

I Have been doing all I can to give lady riders as much publicity as possible.

Margo Pearson, Pat Wise and myself recently appeared on BBC's Television Programme ‘Sportsview’, which I am told had quite an interesting reception.  

Margo, Pat and I are the only three women racing at the moment, Margo rides a 125 cc motorcycle, Pat rides a 350 Norton and I ride an Italian ITOM 50 cc about which there has been so much publicity this year. 

As regards the TT races I think I am correct in saying that I shall probably be the only woman rider this year. Pat is not able to have an International Licence, and I believe that Margo is a little undecided at the moment. I am the only one who rides these 50 cc machines and the A-CU Will only permit women riders for the TT providing they have the International Licence.  (webmasters note - There were other Lady Riders at this time and they all enjoyed the press coverage and excitement of the track).

If you did happen to see SportsView you may remember that the announcer commented on the fact that I am always placed on the last row at Brands Hatch and as I usually come in with the first ten riders I should be placed on the second row, but I presume that because I am a woman I must be lucky that I am allowed to ride at all.
Collection area at Brand Hatch waiting for the 50cc race.
Beryl, No. 181 in the collecting area at Brands Hatch 23rd September 1962
Beryl putting on the Stars Helmet before the race.
Flat out on the back straight of the GP circuit and Brands Hatch.
Helmet on for Another meeting at Brands Hatch - 1962
Beryl again in 1963 at Brands Hatch after Eddie had fitted a tuned exhaust to the ITOM. New red colour scheme but the stars were still her emblem
People ask me what I enjoy about racing and I usually tell them - speed. These ITOMs are reaching around the 80 mph mark. Two or more weeks ago I went to Brands Hatch with the TV people and after filming I tried a couple of fast laps. 

This was my first try for six months and my hands were frozen round the twistgrip, but I was told I had managed to get within three seconds of the lap record for 50 cc's, being (I believe) 1 min. 17 secs. My time was 1 min. 20 secs, which I think proves I was doing over 70 mph, Brands being a 1¼ mile circuit.
Beryl Swain at the 1962 Isle of Man TT.  Eddie is checking the bike.
Berly Swain at the first 50cc class Tourist Trophy Race in the Isle of Man in 1962  She is seen here with Eddie Swain who acted as Spanner Man for the race meeting.  At this time Beryl rode under the Yellow and Blue colours. 
Beryl waiting on the step through Honda Moped that she rode in the Chiltern 250ml Enduro

JEEP's Archives
Motorcycle Magazines 
On-Line encyclopedias
News Paper Cuttings
Scrap Books/ Submissions
Isle of Man BBC - Goddess of the Gas Pedals
An Obituary from the TIMES
Beryl Swain's Picture Gallery
Piston Rings
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