Members of a famed motorbike stunt troupe are set to make a one-off return to action this weekend.

Donning their signature old army greatcoats and riding whimsical Honda 90s, The Purple Helmets thrilled generations of motorcycling fans with their acrobatic and often hilarious displays during their decades on the stunt circuit.

But after years performing their unique routines, the group, made up of up to 20 performers at the team’s height, finally decided to hang up their greatcoats and park up their bikes for good in 2022, disbanding after their last show at the Laxey duck races in August of that year.

This weekend, however, nine members of the Purple Helmets will reunite at the Isle of Man Motor Museum in Jurby to officially christen a bespoke display set-up in their honour.

Steve Glynn, museum administrator at the museum, said: ‘They [The Purple Helmets] approached us after announcing they were disbanded and asked if we could find room for some of their bikes and equipment in the museum.

‘It took a while to organise with a few emails back and forth but once the negotiations got going, it all came together pretty quickly.’

The Purple Helmets exhibition at the Isle of Man Motor Museum in Jurby
The Purple Helmets exhibition at the Isle of Man Motor Museum in Jurby (Media Isle of Man)

For 2024, a corner of the museum subsequently transformed into a shrine dedicated to the Purple Helmets with a number of the troupe’s old bikes and equipment now on display.

They include the legendary long bike, roll bike and piano bike as well as some of the gang’s old helmets and greatcoats.

Among the members of the Purple Helmets attending the museum appearance will be performer and legendary commentator Derry Kissack.

Mr Kissack previously wrote and published a book on the history of the Purple Helmets named ‘At speeds approaching 100 miles an hour’.

In June last year, the Victory Cafe staged a signing event for Mr Kissack’s book, thought to be one of the last official events that members of the Purple Helmets attended.

In December last year, Mr Kissack was awarded a British Empire Medal (BEM) on the King’s New Year’s Honours List for his outstanding contribution to charitable, cultural and community work in the island after years of fundraising activities.

The Purple Helmets’s treasured items have been on display to visitors since the museum first opened for the season on March 3 however, Mr Glynn said it will be a coup to see nine members of the team reunite for their museum appearance.

‘They’re very well known to locals and TT visitors,’ he said.

‘They must have hundreds of different stories from all their performances and it will be great to see and hear them regaling people.’

The Purple Helmets first came together during the 1995 Isle of Man TT after a group of motorcycle stunt-performing pals – who already had the now infamous coats and bikes in preparation for a trip to Poland for the International Six-Day Enduro (long-distance race) – were approached about putting on a performance for the crowds.

Since that event, the popularity of the troupe grew and the Purple Helmets went on to perform at a number of events across the island and world over the following decades.

The Purple Helmets

They performed at every TT event since their formation and up to their ‘retirement’ in 2022.

They group even put on a private display for Prince William at Government House and took part in a number of other events off-island.

In 2017, they performed at Onchan’s Nivison Stadium, welcoming the White Helmets to the island.

Officially the Royal Signals Motorcycle Display Team, the serving soldiers had travelled from Yorkshire to do a final joint act before disbanding.

The Manx group embarked on a ‘farewell tour’ in 2022, performing at a number of events across the island before calling time on their stunt careers. Speaking in 2022, Jim Davidson, a long-time member of the Purple Helmets, said the decision to disband the Purple Helmets was made due to a number of different factors.

A photo from the last ever TT performance by the Purple Helmets at Peel Day. Photo by Callum Staley (CJS Photography) (Cjs Photography)

‘One or two of the guys have got other interests and aren’t as keen, one of us is sadly quite ill,’ he said.

‘We all got together and thought that maybe it’s the right time to go out while we are still popular.

‘Some of these things go on too long, so we said let’s call it a day this year.’

‘We used to do Onchan stadium as part of TT, and it was great but such a big stadium to fill in terms of our stunts. Our stunts are quite small, and we used to have to work for months beforehand to make new contraptions and things like that.’

* Members of the Purple Helmets will be at the Isle of Man Motor Museum between 1pm and 3pm on Good Friday (March 29).