The Mines Is For Trials

 27th September 2013

SONY DSCBack in June we reported that, Ards Borough Council had conducted an “Illegal Motorcycling Operation”, at the Lead Mines in Newtownards, in a clampdown on illegal motorcycling at the local beauty spot.

The operation which resulted in turning away motorcycles was reported as a multi-agency operation, co-ordinated by Ards Borough Council and involved the police, as well as staff from the Council’s Safer Ards team and Community Safety Wardens.

At that time Councillor Robert Adair, Chairman of the Council Services Committee was reported as saying, “This is not about trying to spoil anyone’s enjoyment of motorcycling. This is about addressing real safety concerns and protecting a delicate environment.

We will continue to stage these operations and would urge those with motorcycles to think carefully about how their actions impact on other users and local residents”.

The council also said, “Anyone who has any queries about the use of motorcycles on the Lead Mines should contact the Borough Inspector’s Office at Ards Borough Council.”

It now looks like what has happened, is beyond people simply contacting a council office, with the Council having their decision questioned and the banned riders, the majority who ride in a responsible manner, raising their concerns.


At Right To Ride we are quite happy to report and support the aims of an action group, which has been started as a result of the decision for a blanket ban, a ban that has affected those who use the Lead Mines in a responsible manner in what is a family sport.

The decision appears not to have taken the opinion of motorcyclists on board, the historical aspect of decades of motorcycle use that has enabled Trials riders to practice, to enable them to compete on the world stage and to enable the youngsters to have a chance at stardom in the future

Now that opinion has a voice with the setting up of an action group, with a website and of course in this day and age voiced onto social networking. With the support of local politicians – MLAs and MPs – reports in local newspapers and BBC Newsline, past and present world stars of trials riding, the group are looking for a successful solution.

If you are on Facebook you can head over to the groups page and join the group – Click Here

The Mines Is For Trials

BBC Newsline photo moto trial ni John WhiteThe Facebook group, “the mines is for trials, not a country park!” has been created as a result of the concerns raised on a social media site in reaction to the ban on motorcycling that has been imposed at the Leadmines in Conlig, County Down.

Local businessman and motorcycle enthusiast, Glenn Drennan, established “The Mines is for trials” group on Facebook to create an opportunity for fellow motorcycle enthusiasts to air their views and concerns over the decision to prohibit motorcycle trials practice at the Whitespots Country Park venue. This has in turn led to the start of the newly formed ‘Moto Trial NI’ Club spearheading the ‘Leadmines Motorcycle Trial Action Group’ in response to the problem.

The Leadmines are historically renowned as a haven for off-road motorcyclists. As a result of having the venue on their doorstep as a training facility, local riders have been able to achieve levels of excellence that have enabled them to compete in events on the world stage, as explained by the 1990 World number 7 rider Robert Crawford.

Crawford, who is highly concerned about the impact this is having on emerging stars of the future explains: “The Leadmines have been used for motorcycle trials practice and competitions since the 1930s. It was the site of the very first ever World Championship Trials round when the series was established in 1976. It was vital for my preparations in the lead up to my Trials World Championship campaign. The skills I developed at the Mines enabled me to achieve the world number 7 ranking and I am highly concerned for the young riders of today whose progress is being seriously jeopardised by having no practice area.”

Crawford should know; his prowess on a bike saw him ride factory Beta, Montesa, Aprilia, Yamaha and GasGas machines throughout his illustrious career.

He goes on to explain: “Our concern is that not only will the kids not have a place to practice, but without the Leadmines we are worried that unsafe practice will take place in areas not suitable for motorcycling which may result in destruction of property and injury or even death.”

“This is why the group has been formed. We want to raise our concerns in a responsible manner. With the success of the London 2012 Olympics there has been a huge uptake in the promotion of sport. Trials is extremely physical and is a perfect way to promote a healthy living lifestyle to the youth of today. It seems fundamentally unfair to deny our stars of the future access to the facility.

The list of local motorcycle stars that have used the Mines includes Sammy Millar, my father Benny Crawford, Gordon Crockard, Harold Crawford, Andy Perry, Robert Andrews, Gareth Andrews, Harold McQuaid and Philip Hanlon and world class female, Sasha Turkington. and the list could go on.

BBC Newsline photo moto trial ni Andy PerryThe list of world class riders who have used the Leadmines is vast, including World Champions Dougie Lampkin, Martin Lampkin, Yrjo Vesterinen, Eddy Lejeune, Bernie Schrieber, Thierry Michaud, Jordi Tarres, Marc Colomer, Tommi Ahvala and current genius Toni Bou. Reaffirming our claim that this is a world class practice venue.

On a different note, we have also been approached by a female walker who has told us that since the removal of motorcycling at the Leadmines that she feels very vulnerable now when walking there and is contemplating stopping using it. She said it was always reassuring to her that the trials riders were there practicing on rocks out of the way and that the sound of their bikes in the background gave her peace of mind.”

Trials is a family sport, it’s not only the dads and sons who get out to do it but the mums and sisters are involved too. This makes trials pretty unique in our eyes. The sport is also totally inclusive to all and while competition can be fierce, as a sport we are all friends.

We are urging the powers that be to seriously address the issues we are now facing and give us an alternative that is suitable for motorcycle trials practice to take place to enable the youngsters to have a chance at stardom in the future.

North Down DUP MLA Gordon Dunne added: ‘The Leadmines have been used for many years by motorsport enthusiasts for many years and have brought many benefits to generations of enthusiasts over the years. I appreciate the frustration that has been felt by genuine motorcycle enthusiasts who use the Leadmines following the restrictions which have recently been placed upon the use of the Leadmines.

It is important that Ards Borough Council recognise the rich heritage of motorcycling in the local area for many years and work with the enthusiasts and motorcycle clubs on an agreed way forward which will accommodate the needs of motorcyclists whilst respecting the natural environment of the Leadmines.’

Jim Shannon MP for Strangford has stated: “It is clear to me that the Leadmines can easily accommodate trail-bikes at this juncture and I have had a meeting with Ards Borough Council Officer Richard Brittain and have been impressed by the response that he made. The trail bikers who require a high-level of skill have used the Leadmines for 90 years and it has been the training ground for so many past and present stars in the field. A business plan and presentation will be made to Ards Council outlining the strategy and usage for trail-bikes and a plan that will involved many of them in volunteer maintenance of the location. A great meeting and an option of how to go forward is clear.

Links & Information

The mines is for trials, not a country park! on Facebook – Click Here
Moto Trial NI –
Spectator Newspaper report – Click Here
BBC Sport News – Click Here

BBC Newsline Report

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  1. Motorcycle Legend Supports Lead Mines Action Group

  2. Disgusted with Ards Councils about this.
    To use the excuse that motorcycling is hazardous and they are just protecting the riders and other users is a total copout.
    The Leadmines has been used for motorcycles for longer than I can remember, I used to go there as a boy and learnt to ride there, I also bought a small 4 stroke off road bike to teach my son to ride and went up there a couple of years ago, I then bought myself a motocross bike and went up with him to ride occasionally.
    There are no houses nearby so noise should not be an issue, I believe the large field is privately owned and I do not ride in that, just round the mines, causing no harm and not a danger to anyone.
    In fact it was a social outing and had many a chat with people out walking their dogs up there.
    It is not a trials bike only location, so to bleet on about wanting it to be exclusively for use with trials bikes is a spineless argument.
    Whatever happened to bikers sticking together?
    Where do the council think kids are going to ride their bike now?
    If the council argue they want to protect the “country park” then get some ground and let people use it, we’re not hurting anyone, and if we hurt ourselves then that’s the hazards, fed up with all these “not covered by insurance” excuses.
    They should be ashamed with themselves.

  3. Without PRACTICE the sport will die that is not fair on riders and future generation riders, please support trial motorbike practice
    Robert McClymont. Founder CEO

  4. So where can we ride in counties Antrim, Down or L’Derry????

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