World champion trials champion Dougie Lampkin loves Silsden

PUBLISHED: 02:53 16 January 2010 | UPDATED: 16:44 20 February 2013

Rosemary Kitsell with Grace and Jenny Bleakley

Rosemary Kitsell with Grace and Jenny Bleakley

The Aire Valley town of Silsden is not short of high achievers, as Emma Mayoh discovers.

Listen very carefully and you might just hear it. The low trembling of Dougie Lampkins motorbike is a sound Silsden locals are likely to recognise. Its not because he screams his Beta Evo bike around the streets of his hometown in the Aire Valley, West Yorkshire. The countryside that surrounds it is the perfect place for him to practice.

The 33-year-old world champion motorcycle trials rider loves nothing more than heading out onto the rugged terrain around the farm he grew up on. It is a training ground that has served him well. As well as winning five consecutive World Indoor Championships, he has also won seven consecutive World Outdoor Championships, six British Adult Championships, two Spanish Adult Championships and is a three time winner of the famous Scott Trial, one of the most challenging in the UK.

I just love it around here, enthused Dougie.

Its my home and always will be. I travel all around the world to rallies but I always look forward to coming back to Silsden. The countryside around here is the best place in the country for motorcycle trials. Theres no place like it.

Dougie, who was awarded an MBE for his services to sport, is the latest of several generations of his family to have success as professional motorcyclists. His uncle, Arthur Lampkin, was a regular winner on the British motorcycling circuit in the 1960s and was described as Britains most famous sportsman on two wheels. Dougies father, Martin, was the first trials world champion back in 1975 and was the reason his son decided to take up the high-octane sport.

Dougie said: It was all because of my father and I started when I was young. I loved nothing more than going out onto the moors with my family and spending a day out there. Im really proud to be part of a family of champion motorcyclists and I cant imagine doing anything else.

I had this opportunity to do something I loved as my job so I took it. Pretty much every member of the family rides, has ridden or has an interest in bikes but Im the only one who does it professionally. We just seem to keep churning out riders, I think there must be something in the water in Silsden.

This month Dougie, a member of the Bradford and District Motorcycle Club, will be taking part in the gruelling Hells Gate competition in Italy. He will have to ride non-stop for nine hours a day on his bike. And Dougie, who has two sons Alfie and Frasier, loves every minute of it.

There are few people in Silsden who do not recognise the family name now and they have become local celebrities. Throughout the years the local community have supported the family through their successes. There is a trial held every Boxing Day that is particularly important to Dougie.

He explained: I dont get many chances to ride in the UK because of all the travelling I do. Boxing Day is fantastic. Riders from around the area go out on the land around Silsden.

Lots of people head up onto the moors to watch and theres always a fantastic crowd. The community in Silsden have been really good to us and theyve always been really supportive.

And Paula Baker-Parkin is hoping to attract some of that trademark Silsden support. Just over a year ago she opened Projeto Gallery in Kirkgate, the main road through the town.

For the 28-year-old, who also runs a web design company from the same premises, setting up Projeto, which means design in Portuguese, was finally a chance for her to embrace her artistic, creative side.

She explained: Ive always loved art and I studied it at university but then I went into web design. All of the web work is virtual but with the digital art we have, it is all tangible. You can touch it, see it and feel it. I love it.

Paula comes from an arty family, including an uncle who works for the art department at Dreamworks and has worked on the latest Alice in Wonderland film starring Johnny Depp. During her short time in Silsden, she has tapped into a wealth of local talent. Some local artists work has formed part of exhibitions she has held over the past 12 months.
Paula, who used to offer private tuition for schoolchildren, is now hoping the gallery will become a place for the community to share and enjoy.

She said:
I want people to feel like this is a place they can come and spend time and gather to appreciate art. I dont want it to be a place where people feel scared to walk over the threshold and find out whats going on in here.

We held an open exhibition here where locals could bring in examples of their own art work and there were some fantastic pieces.

There is a lot of talent in Silsden, with a lot of creative people, and I wanted to try and support that and encourage more people to discover the talent they have. Im hoping that Silsden Art Club will bring their meetings here too. Were a bit different in the type of art work we do and show so I want the gallery to work in a different way too. Its important that were a part of the community. I love Silsden, its a lovely place and hopefully we will play a part in that.

Fact file

Take a walk along the Leeds Liverpool Canal and youll find Silsden Boats. The company, which has been running for about 30 years, was set up by boat and canal enthusiasts and now offers narrow boats and wide beam boats for hire for holidays and short trips.

Silsden is bursting with local community groups and organisations that make the community the bustling place it is. One of these is the all ladies group The Cobbydale singers. They were formed more than 15 years ago to entertain a disabled group in the town. Since then, they have gone from strength to strength and now regularly perform around the area., a community website, was founded by Peter Ford in 2002 as a way to get people in the area more aware of local issues. The site, which includes useful information about the area as well as local history and services, is dedicated to Peters friend, Edwin, who wrote poems, including some in local dialect.

According to the Guinness Book of World Records, the biggest ever onion was grown in Silsden. It weighted 10 lbs 14oz.

Silsden can be traced back to the Domesday Book when the settlement, then called Siglesdene, was named as the most important village in the Craven area.

Share your memories of Silsden and your stories from the town in comments below

Where is it?
Silsden is located off the A629 between Skipton and Keighley. Type BD20 0DE in your satnav to get there.

What to do?
There is plenty to do in Silsden. Take the family to feed the ducks at the weir that runs through the village, enjoy a walk along the Leeds Liverpool canal or browse the surprising number of shops and boutiques.

Where to park?
There is a public car park near Silsden Library in Wesley place. There is also some on-street car parking.

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