Originally, the idea of journalist Ralph Venables M.B.E., who was a very active member of the Sunbeam MCC for over 50 years. The Trial was first run on 3rd September 1959. Intially, the event was open only to Trials riders who had ridden pre-World War 2. A success from day 1 and as the number of eligible riders entering decreased through Anno Domini the eligibility was changed to riders over the age of 40 years. The Greybeards Trial is run on an open permit. This means it is open to be ridden by any ACU member from clubs Nation Wide.
The Event was run until 2009 at Stedham in Sussex and based on the pretty pub, The Hamilton Arms, on the common there. The Trial was run along roads to the various off road areas where sections were laid out. It was a 2 lap event and the mid-point between laps was back at the pub for drinks and BBQ. However, it had become the last remaining on/off road short route Trial in the South East of England and the entry numbers were decreasing as most Trials machines were no longer being run on the road and therefore bikes were neither taxed nor insured for road work. It is now run off road at one area. It will be at Jacksons Wood, Horsmonden, Kent this year. The Trial has 2 routes, hard and easy. All major awards are won by competitors tackling the hard route. That is all except the oldest rider who can be riding either of the routes and completes the course.
Awards are based on a handicap system which favours the older riders; the oldest competing in 2013 was Claude Crowder at 80 years old. The handicap system deems that all competitors have lost 70 marks before starting and from that is deducted 1 mark per year of age of the rider, thus a 61 year old rider would start with a 9 mark loss to which is added the marks lost on observation in sections. The winner in 2013 was Paul Casling, 55, with a penalty loss of 24 marks, 9 marks lost on observation plus a further 15 marks for his age under 70 years. An easier route was introduced some 20 years ago for those who found the hard route too difficult. At that point an easier route award was introduced, this was won in 2013 by Dennis Fleet, 75, who won on a credit of 5 marks. 0 marks on observation and 5 marks credited in respect of his age over 70.