More tributes paid to legendary Geoff Duke

Geoff Duke, who has died aged 92
Geoff Duke, who has died aged 92

Tributes have been paid to TT legend Geoff Duke OBE who has died at the age of 92.

The six-times World Motorcycling Champion, Sportsman of the Year in 1951 and six-times TT winner died on Friday at the Elder Grange Nursing Home, in Douglas.

He had been ill for some time.

St Helens-born Geoff first came to prominence in 1949 after winning the Senior Clubman’s TT and Senior Manx races and then, signed up to Norton, shot to stardom with a record-breaking win in the Senior TT the following year. He was the first to popularise one-piece racing leathers.

Geoff’s final race was the 1959 Junior when he finished fourth on a Norton.

He was crowned Sportsman of the Year in 1951 and was awarded the OBE in 1953.

Eldest son Peter said: “Sadly, I never saw my father race, although one or two videos have since helped fill that gap!

“What I recall most clearly is that while my father loved his sport, he also loved the Isle of Man and its people. Throughout his 60 years as a resident he strove to contribute not only to motorsport (including three proposals for a Grand Prix short circuit) and especially the TT, but also to the island community and economy. Innovation, development and entrepreneurship in hotels, sea freight, self service petrol and roll-on-roll-off ferry services are all part of his legacy to the island.

“A few people – including those who don’t follow racing – might also be glad of his idea for the TT access road!

“As a person he was always very modest and never one to “blow his own trumpet”, but he always promoted the island at every opportunity in every part of the world he visited and, although not Manx-born, he was as much a part of the Isle of Man as he was an icon and true legend in the world of motorsport.

“I will miss him dearly but I know I am not alone in holding many wonderful memories of a life lived to the full.’

Isle of Man Newspapers sports editor John Watterson said: ‘He was always a gentleman, always charming, always eloquent, always popular and always approachable. He was an icon of his era.”

David Cretney MLC, former Tourism and Leisure Minister who renamed the 32nd milestone ‘Dukes’ in honour of the TT legend, said: “He was a real gentleman, a charming, charming person.

“He was obviously a great rider but more than that he was a great innovator. Softly spoken and articulate, he was able to recall events from decades earlier so vividly. He had a very bright business brain and was of course a family man.”