Today in Motorcycle History

June 1904. Motorcycle record for Land's End to John o'Groats in 50h. 46m. 30s., beating previous records held by J. Silver and E. H. Arnott. George Pilkington Mills

1886 Wick - Mr G. P. Mills of Annfield Bicycle Club took only 5 days & 10 hours to cycle from Lands End to John O'Groats, a distance of 861 miles

1890. Mills, George Pilkington, Biggleswade, Cycle manufacturer.

1891 G. P. Mills, winner of the first bicycle race from Bordeaux to Paris.

1895 "Land's End to John o'Groats Cycling Record. G. P. Mills and T. A. Edge, on a tandem bicycle, yesterday completed their long ride and established a new record, beating Mills's single safety time by 1 hour 3 minues. The time occupied in the journey was 3 days 4 hours and 46 minutes."

1896 G. P. Mills A.M.I.C.E. appointed Works Manager at Raleigh. Formerly Chief Designer at Humber at Beeston.

By the end of the 1890s he was regarded as the greatest long distance rider the world had ever seen. He set many long distance records including seven in one season. At the age of 19, in 1886, he rode a penny-farthing from Land's End to John o'Groats in 5 days. Fellow Anfielders, who knew the roads, helped with the record-attempt. They organised accommodation and food, and ensured that local clubmen guided him along the way. Mills rode day and night, snatching little sleep, and his record for a penny-farthing was never bettered. During the next 15 years he took up the "end to end" challenge time after time, holding the record on the first modern bicycles, tandems, and tricycles.

1907 Won TT Race for International Heavy Touring Cars in a 30 h.p. Beeston Humber.

George Pilkington Mills (1867 - 8 November 1945, London) was the dominant English racing cyclist of his generation, and winner of the inaugural Bordeaux-Paris cycle race. He frequently cycled from Land's End to John o' Groats, holding the world record time on six occasions between 1886 and 1895. He was a member of the Anfield and North Road cycling clubs.

The record from one end of Britain to the other is the longest place-to-place challenge recognised by the Road Records Association. Riders are free to choose their own route but the distance worked out then, before ferries shortened it, at about 900 miles. The first record was set by J. Lennox, first name not known, who took six days and 16 hours in 1885 while being paced by tandems.

The following year, Mills, who was 18, broke the record twice, once on a large-wheeled penny-farthing bicycle and once on a tricycle. He rode the bicycle in five days, 10 hours. The record, on a penny-farthing, still stands.

The journalist and official Frederick Thomas Bidlake said: "The sensation was not that he was merely one of a sequence of record breakers, but that he knocked more than a day off each of the previous bests, in a sort of double event, riding virtually without sleep, certainly no more than a wayside nod."

In the summer Mills broke the Land's End-John o'Groats record, he also won the North Road 24-hour time-trial on a penny-farthing, set records on a bicycle for 50 miles and 24 hours (259 miles) and set a tandem-tricycle record for 50 miles.

George Mills won the inaugural Bordeaux-Paris race in 1891. He was invited by the organisers, the newspaper Veloce Sport because of his reputation in an age when long-distance racing was the fashion. A race from Bordeaux in the south-west to the capital in Paris would be the longest annual event in France.

The Bicycle Union - later renamed the National Cyclists Union - had strict views about amateurism and had demanded its French equivalent ensure that all taking part met its own amateur ideals. Only then would the NCU allow Mills and other British amateurs to take part.

The organisers expected the race to last two days and laid on meals and beds for riders along the way. Mills finished in 26 hours on a diet that included a lot of strawberries and British riders took the first four places. When Mills won, the Bicycle Union realised he was the works manager at a bicycle factory and decided he should be asked "whether he paid the whole of his expenses in the above-mentioned race." Only when he could prove that he had did the Bicycle Union concede that he was not a professional.

Mills joined the Anfield Bicycle Club, in Liverpool 1884, five years after it was formed. He was a founding member of the North Road Cycling Club in London. At his death on 8 November 1945, he was one of only two founding members still alive. The other was E. P. Moorehouse. With Mills dead and Moorehouse ill, the club cancelled presentations to mark their achievements and their long association.

Mills joined the army in 1889 and retired in 1906 as a major. He volunteered again in 1914 and in March 1915 was stationed at Colchester. He was a captain in the Bedfordshire regiment. He left for France in December 1915 and by 1917 had been promoted to lieutenant-colonel. He was awarded the Distinguished Service Order and he was mentioned in dispatches three times.

He became director of the small arms and machine gun department of the Ministry of Munitions after 1918. He joined the Home Guard in the second world war.

Mills moved several times for work. He was working at Beeston, home of the Raleigh company, by 1907. He moved in 1910 to west London to join Clement Talbot. It was from there that he joined the army. He worked for the Aster Engineering Co in Wembley after the war, then in 1924 at Belsize Motor Co in Manchester.

In 1929 he lived in Bathampton, near Bath, then in 1932 at Malvern, in 1935 in Bournemouth. From 1938 until he died he lived at Shirley, in Surrey.

Mills - On Nov 8, 1945 at the Westminster Hospital, George Pilkington Mills, D.S.O., Lieut-Colonel; late Bedfordshire and Hertfordshire Regiment. Funeral, Shirley Parish Church, Shirley, Croydon on Saturday Nov 17 at 2.30pm.

Source: Graces Guide

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