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Christopher Julian was born in 1937 on March the 4th in Fraddon which is situated in central Cornwall on the A30.

In the early days of Christopher’s interest in competitive motorcycling, the teenager took part in grass-track meetings in his local area and the West Country, by 1959 he was taking part in second half races at Exeter and working to improve his speedway technique by attending practice sessions at the St Austell speedway track. The ability he showed whilst at these practice sessions caught the attention of St Austell’s promoter Trevor Redmond.

At this time St Austell was running on an Open Licence but Trevor Redmond knew that the Bristol track was about to enter a team in the Provincial League for the 1960 season and helped Chris to get a team place with the Bristol Bulldogs, during this, his first year of league racing he did well for himself and the team managing an average points score of over five and a half. Chris was only destined to be a Bulldog for a very short period because after 8 matches for his team the venue was closed and later sold for housing development.

However the performance of the young Chris secured him a place at Plymouth for the 1961 season riding at the Pennycross Stadium once again in a team carrying the name of Bulldog and talking of Bulldog it seems it would have been an apt name for Chris himself although he was known as the Cornish Express. Not built in the more usual light framed manner of many speedway riders Chris was a Gent of sturdy construction perhaps of proportions more expected on a Rugby Forward than a Speedway Rider.  Stories are told that Chris was not backward when it came to using his size and weight on the track but it is said he was fair handed and viewed all others on the track as competitors.

Now unfortunately for Chris the Plymouth team was to close in 1962 but by then his home track at St Austell had decided to run a team, at the time called the Gulls, in the Provincial league for 1963 so Chris was able to join the team as their number one. Nothing to do with Chris Julian I am sure but once again the team he was riding for was to withdraw from league racing after a short period, in this case one season.

Chris was once again without a team to ride for in 1964 but St Austell’s 1963  promoter Trevor Redmond, himself taking over the promotion at Glasgow, offering a team place to Chris there for the 1964 season.  Now it is not for us to reason why he accepted to ride for a home team so very far away from his residence but it must have proved very time consuming and stressful and let’s face it central Cornwall is a long journey to most places but Glasgow must be taking matters to the extreme when it comes to unproductive time and effort.  And it would seem this was the conclusion that Chris came to after a season of traveling a thousand mile round trip for every home meeting because he asked to be transferred after one season with the Glasgow Tigers.  

Joining the West Midland’s team Cradley Heath in 1965 must have offered some travel relief although it seems moving from teams that were members of the Provincial League to one that was in its first year of British League racing did prove difficult for Chris as it did for many of the Heathens team. However the following 1966 season, although proving difficult still for the team as a whole, but not for Chris as his performance improved considerably achieving a maximum in May at Belle Vue his results continuing to improve throughout that season at which he was ever present achieving a points average of 6.45 and 1967 also proved a season of improvement for Chris who in this season managed two maximums and a points average of 6.88.

1968 and the Cradley Heath Heathens had improved throughout with Chris continuing his strong riding style to good effect creating much excitement amongst the home supporters who were angry and disappointed when Christopher Julian was sent to race for Newport by the Rider Control board. (For those who are not in the know the Rider Control board was an attempt to make sure that no one team became too strong and to achieve this end they moved riders about at the beginning of each season in an attempt to keep the teams as even as possible – this is no longer done in this way)  Chris spent two seasons with the Newport team before returning to Exeter – remember Exeter where Chris first started his speedway career riding second half sessions at the Exeter track.

Chris remained at Exeter for, as things turned out, the longest continuous period with one team in the whole of his career, moving to ride in the British League Division One for Exeter Falcons for the 1970 season until retiring at the end of the 1974 season only to be coaxed back for 12 matches during the 1975 season. During his time with Exeter he had a points average of around 5.5 not at all a bad point at which to decide to retire although before finally doing so he spent a brief time with the Second Division side of Mildenhall.

1975 proved to be Chris’s last speedway season retiring from the sport in his late 30s no doubt to the disappointment of speedway spectators for whom his flat-out ‘take no prisoners’ style was appreciated well it was by the home supporters anyway but not sure that the same could be said of his fellow riders who may have been pleased not to have to face the 16 stone flying Cornish Express any more. I would like to think that may be Chris retired to fully indulge in the design, manufacture of something called a Giro-copter, something that to me from the photos I have seen to resemble an air born speedway bike, I say I like to think that this activity was his all involving passion because in 1997 he died when he crashed his Giro-copter and it would be good to think that he was enjoying his life to its end at, sadly, only 60 years.

Chris Julian

By Jackie Hodkinson
Cradley Photos kindly supplied by
John Somerville
and Newport by
Robert Rogers

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