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13th March 2006


60 Years of the VMCC

The Vintage Motor Cycle Club is 60 years old in 2006. So how did it get started, wonders Rowena Hoseason, and what's it all about?...

Browsing through the latest copy of the VMCC's monthly journal, March 2006, I was delighted to discover a piece written by the club's founder, Titch Allen. He tells an interesting tale in its own right, explaining how an illustration on a Christmas card rang memory's bells all the way back to a day in Belgium in 1944 shortly after the failure of Operation Market Garden.

Allen explained; 'a DR is seated on a BSA 20 ready to set off on a run… The scene, with snow on the ground and a tank and a jeep, is much as I remember the Christmas of 1944 when we were pulled back into Holland. We at first pitched our tents in the snow but then we were billeted with starving Dutch villagers delighted to share our Christmas treats. Taking over the empty bus garage on Christmas Day we gave the village children the part of their lives…'

So that was Christmas, 1944. Just two years later, Titch Allen and his motorcycling chums were involved in another momentous occasion -- although they probably didn't recognise its significance at the time. 0n 28th April 1946, a band of 38 enthusiasts assembled at the Lounge Café on the Hog's Back near Guildford, intending to form a Motor Cycle Club for owners of machines manufactured prior to December 1930.

A heated discussion followed shortly hereafter, with Mr Woolford (right) contending that the white tyres were a deviation from the original fitment.

The majority of those who attended that meeting had ridden there on vintage machines and, despite very bad weather conditions, came from as far afield as Cheshire, Nottinghamshire, Shropshire and Leicestershire. Allen, who had been the main promoter of the event, took the chair after lunch and outlined his ideas. His main objective was to encourage the use and preservation of vintage machines and it is from this basis that the Vintage Motor Cycle Club was formed.

Initially, membership was restricted to owners of motorcycles manufactured prior to 31st December 1930, solos or sidecars, but not three-wheelers. Over the six decades since then, the VMCC's remit has broadened to include all motorcycles over 25 years old, and there's now even a Post-60 Section for those bikes manufactured between 1961 and 1981. You no longer need to own a bike to belong to the club - it has developed into an organisation for all those who are interested in older two-wheelers. As a result the VMCC has grown steadily, so that in its Diamond Jubilee year the membership roll stands at over 15,000. However, because the club is organised into many local sections, 78 of them throughout the UK, none of the camaraderie or personality of the original club has been lost.

This combination of grass-roots groups and the clout of a national, non-profit organisation means that the VMCC has become the foremost custodian of Britain's motorcycling heritage. The VMCC's library is now the largest collection of motorcycle related paperwork in the world and it is an invaluable source of information and technical data. There's even an online search facility so you can see if the club holds any information about your bike at the click of a button - and then request the details at very reasonable rates (VMCC members get a discount, of course).

Humbernut, feeling the effects - judging by the expression on his face - of a long ride on that saddle.

Although the VMCC's sphere of interest has enlarged to encompass all of classic motorcycling, it still holds true to its vintage - and earlier -- roots. For instance, the club now supplies brake blocks and drive belts for veteran machines, and also offers a factsheet on all aspects of pre-moulded brake blocks and their application as well as uncut slab material. The VMCC has also taken over supplies of replica pumps as fitted to pre- and postwar machines, as well as replacement Acetylene hose to keep those gas lights glowing.

James Hewing, the VMCC's CEO explains what the Club aims to do: 'I am delighted that the VMCC can now continue to ensure that supplies are maintained to help the oldest machines stay on the road for future generations to marvel at.'

Random Vintage Stuff on eBay.co.uk

There are celebrations a-plenty in this, the VMCC's Diamond Jubilee year. The Club's biggest bash will be the rejuvenated Festival of 1000 Bikes, to be held at Mallory Park circuit on July 8th and 9th. (We'll be there! Hopefully, with a bit of an RC get-together [See the message board for more information], too). But 60th birthday events are going all year round, and throughout the country - there's bound to be something going on at your local section. See the Club's website at www.vmcc.net for more details about all the benefits of membership (we've only touched on a few of them here), or to look at the extensive calendar of events - there's a VMCC run, rally or trial going on somewhere, every weekend of the year. Annual membership to the VMCC now costs £28, including a £3 joining fee.

And on 28th April 2006, we will raise a glass and wish the VMCC a very happy 60th anniversary. The club has come a very long way since it was formed in the months after the Second World War - let's hope it goes from strength to strength in the years leading up to its centenary celebration in 2046!


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