Elspeth Beard

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Elspeth Beard is an architect and motorcyclist, who is noted for being the first English woman to ride a motorcycle around the world.[1][a] Later on, she redesigned Munstead Tower in Godalming, winning the 1994 Royal Institute of British Architects award for South East England. Beard now owns an architectural firm based in a converted stable in Godalming.[3]

Motorcycling career[edit]

Beard learned to ride a motorcycle on Salisbury Plain at the age of 16.[4] She began her round the world journey in 1982, after the third year of her architect training course, using a BMW R60/6 motorcycle.[2][1][3][5] She began her journey in New York City, having shipped the bike from the United Kingdom. From there, she motorcycled to Canada, Mexico and Los Angeles before shipping her bike to Sydney.[4][6] In Sydney, she spent eleven months working as an architect, before motorcycling across Australia. In Townsville, Queensland, she had an accident which left her hospitalised for two weeks.[1][4] After Australia, she travelled to Singapore, after which she travelled into Asia. In Thailand, she collided with a dog, and recuperated staying with a local family; the family fed her the remains of the dog that she had crashed into.[1][7] Beard forged the necessary permit to get out of the Punjab region, and travelled into Pakistan, before riding back into Europe via Turkey.[1][3] She arrived back in the United Kingdom in 1984, having travelled 35,000 miles (56,000 km); in doing so, she became the first Englishwoman to motorcycle around the world.[1][6][3][a]

Victorian water tower[edit]

After her motorcycling feat, Beard bought the derelict Munstead Tower in Godalming, a 130 feet (40 m) tower built in 1898. Over the course of five years, she renovated it, converting the former water-tower into a habitable house. The renovated tower was featured on a 1995 episode of Homefront, and in 1994, the tower won the Royal Institute of British Architects award for South East England.[8][6]


  • Lone Rider: The First British Woman to Motorcycle Around the World, Autobiography, 2017, ISBN 9781782438045


  1. ^ a b Some sources say she was the first British women to ride a motorcycle around the world.[2]


  1. ^ a b c d e f "Elspeth Beard – One of the Early Globetrotters". Motorcyclist. 24 February 2009. Retrieved 18 April 2016.
  2. ^ a b Slade, Rob (2015). "10 of the greatest moments in adventure motorcycling from the past 85 years". Retrieved 18 April 2016.
  3. ^ a b c d "Famous Firsts For Women". Trivia South Africa. 21 August 2014. Retrieved 19 April 2016.
  4. ^ a b c Hickson, Kenric (20 February 2001). "Typical biker: Elspeth Beard". The Telegraph. Retrieved 18 April 2016.
  5. ^ Welsh, Jonathan (13 January 2016). "Sizing up 'Adventure Bikes,' the SUVs of Motorcycles". Wall Street Journal. Retrieved 19 April 2016.
  6. ^ a b c "Encounter Extract: Elspeth Beard". Overland Magazine. Archived from the original on 5 May 2016. Retrieved 18 April 2016.
  7. ^ Long, David (May 2015). Bizarre England: Discover the Country's Secrets and Surprises. Michael O'Mara Books. ISBN 978-1782433767. Retrieved 19 April 2016.
  8. ^ Gillian, Lesley (17 June 1995). "Towering over all their neighbours". The Independent. Retrieved 18 April 2016.