Motobirds, a 1970s all-girl motorbike stunt team from Leicester, have recently re-captured the public imagination.
The group re-united for an appearance on BBC One’s The One Show which aired on 1 April 2016. They hadn’t seen each other for forty years.
The Motobirds ‘travelled all over the UK and Europe, did shows with the Original American Hell Drivers in Denmark, Sweden, Norway, Iceland, etc. We were originally four, then six, then fourteen girls.
We performed motorbike stunts, car stunts and precision driving, and human cannon. We were eventually followed by the Auto Angels, an all girl group from Devon or Cornwall. I don’t know of any other all girl teams’, remembers founding member Mary Weston-Webb.
Motobirds were notoriously daring, and wore little or no protective clothing.
The BBC article offers this sobering assessment: ‘most of the women’s stunts would horrify modern health and safety experts’.
We were pretty overjoyed in the Great Bear studio when Mary Weston-Webb, the driving force behind the recent reunion, sent us a NTSC uMatic video tape to transfer.
The video, which was in a perfect, playable condition, is a document of Motobirds strutting their stuff in Japan.
As Mary explains:
‘We (Liz Hammersley and Mary Connors) went to Japan with Joe Weston-Webb (who I later married) who ran the Motobirds for a Japanese TV programme called Pink Shock, as it was very unusual at that time, mid seventies, for girls to ride motorbikes in Japan. It was filmed on an island and we rehearsed and should have been filmed on the beach, which gave us plenty of room for a run up to the jumps. The day of the shoot, there had been a storm and the beach was flooded and we moved onto the car park of a shopping mall. Run up was difficult, avoiding shoppers with trolleys, round the flower beds, down the kerb, and a short stopping distance before the main road.’
Enjoy these spectacular jumps!
Thank you Mary for telling us the story behind the tapes.