Sammy Miller

The Scottish Six Days Trial in 1954

Sammy Miller has several claims to fame: motor cycle trials rider and road racer, inventor and museum owner. He was born in Belfast on 11 November 1933, and later moved to New Milton. He was inducted into the AMA Motorcycle Hall of Fame in 2007 and awarded an MBE in the 2009 New Year Honours.

His career included road, dirt/grass track racing and motorcycle trials. His Grand Prix career was limited to the years 1955-58, spanning the 250cc Ulster Grand Prix in 1955 to the Isle of Man TT 250cc Lightweight TT in 1958. During this time, he achieved six podium finishes from 14 starts, coming third in the 1957 250cc Grand Prix championship on a Mondial.

However, it is as a trials rider that he is best known. He was British Trials Champion 11 times, and won the European Trials Championship twice.

Isle of Man TT Parade, 1986

Miller is a winner of over 1,300 trials, nine gold medals at the International Six Days Trial, three victories at the North West 200, as well as coming 3rd in the 1957 250cc Grand Prix in championship.

The bikes Sammy has ridden are a roll call of the motor cycle industry. In Grand Prix events, he rode Norton, CZ, Ducati and Mondial. After riding James and Burton trials bikes, he developed his own lightweight SHS machine on which he won no fewer than 300 events.

He is best known for the 500cc Ariel HT5 that he lightened considerably from standard ex-factory condition. The bike was famously known by its UK registration mark, GOV 132. Other rides include Honda, Bultaco, SWM and a 1955 250cc NSU Sportmax a bike for which Sammy has a special affection and on which he won over 30 races including The North West 200 in three successive years from 1956 to 1958.

Sammy’s early successes on a bike of his own design led to further development work and the establishment of Sammy Miller Products. His company was based at New Milton from 1964, with a few old bikes on display for old times sake. The products company was sold in 2007, but the small collection of bikes expanded, and Sammy established a motor cycle museum in the same year. The bikes represent machines across time and from around the world, and include Norton, Scott,  König, AJS, Triumph, Motto Uzi, Broughton. Many have historic connections. Others would make most shudder: an early motor bike – little more than a Boneshaker with engine but no brakes – and a 1930s land speed record breaking machine topping 180mph.

On his Moto Guzzi

Today, some 340 machines, about 300 of which are owned by Sammy himself, are on display. All are in working order, with an active workshop continuing to maintain and restore historic models. The museum is set in open country and visitors are greeted by an unlikely juxtaposition of historic petrol pumps, alpaca, goats, donkeys and an aviary.

The lucky visitor may also find Sammy there as well, surrounded by the photos, memorabilia, and hardware from his days of racing, including 1,400 trophies!

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