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Brian Haskell

Posted: Tuesday 18th August 2020

Author: Derek Browne

Brian Haskell, turned Independant for the Viking team in 1957, but it would appear, that Viking supplied him with a bike in 1955, when he rode as an Aspirant for the “Leaguer” team in the Tour of Britain in September of that year. The following year, 1956 he reverted to amateur status scoring 16 victories. In 1957, along with his Huddersfield R.C. teamates, Tom Oldfield and Ted Penvose, plus Sheffield rider Dick Bartrop  they formed the Viking team.

The team used Duprat 3 arm hollow cranks, with TA adaptors and rings (I have the origional chainset) with Cyclo Benelux gears, the front was a manual type.

I do not collect a particular Marque of bike, I like to find a bike such as this Viking, with a racing history. and this particular bike owned and ridden by Brian Haskell will take pride of place in my collection, along with the 1947 Ellis-Briggs which Des Robinson used to win the 1949 Manx International, and which he also rode in the 1950 and 1951 amateur “Worlds”.

Brian in his amateur days, riding a Hilton Wrigley

1957 Viking “Severn Valley”  Brian Haskell’s team bike, Frame No. V1289; seat tube 22″, top tube 22.5″; Head angle 73 / Seat angle 71
Nervex Professional lugs. Dropouts Agratti with brazed on Cylo hanger. Brazed on Cyclo gear lever bosses. Bike is equipped as for the 1959 season. Derek says that he is sure that the frame was re- furbished, probably around 1958. At this point he thinks that the origional Agratti plain dropouts, had the Cyclo hanger brazed on and probably the gear lever bosses also. The mettalic grey and blue was retained, but rather than two broad blue panels on the seat tube, narrower bands with a gold edging were put on.

Wheels: Fiamme 32/40 sprint rims on Airlite small-flange QR hubs. Chainset: Stronglight 49D with TA adaptor ref 2175; T.A. rings, inner ref 104 44t, outer ref 106 51t. (see below)

Pedals: Philips steel quill; Gears: Rear Cyclo Benelux MK7, front Cyclo Benelux; Brakes: Mafac Racer, levers half hoods; Bars/Stem: Cinelli steel,model 17d engraved “Giro de Italia ” bars on Cinelli steel, 3½” stem; Saddle/seat pin: Unica-Nitor, model 1960 on micro adjust pillar; Extras: Pump Bluemells – 18″ alloy, Bottle cage – French “Vit” model 731 downtube mounted.

Viking advert from the 1958 B.L.R.C. handbook

The advert shows just how dominant the Viking team were in the 1957 season, and the bulk of the victories would have been scored by Brian Haskell who was the top independant for most of the late 50s. I did race against the Viking team through this period, however they were so much superior to my abilaties, that I never got to really know them. Later in life, I called on Brian’s company, “Salamander Fabrications” and got to know Brian very well. he told me that on three occasions, he was invited to be a member of the Great Britain team in the Tour de France He turned the invitation down, as although he was a dominant force in the UK he knew that due to business commitments he could not train enough to reach the standard required to race at this level. I have always thought, that this was a momentous decision to take and was very honest, unlike many UK riders who went to ride the “Tour” only to last 2 or 3 days. I am absoloutely certain, that if Brian had had the time to train correctly he would have been a climbing star in the “Tour”.  He had shown his climbing powers in the “Peace Race” when he took the King of the Mountains title when he rode for the England team in the race that was called the hardest amateur race in the world.

Brian sadly passed away on Saturday the 11th of March 2012 aged 83, the Salamander Fabrication Co. is now run by his son, and they still sponsor Brian’s old club the Huddersfield R.C.

Thanks for reading

Posted: Tuesday 18th August 2020

Author: Derek Browne

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