Brass Monkey Rally

Report from Les Hobbs about this rally on the south coast in Hampshire

Well I did 2 of these and despite the name they were not cold. In fact the 1975 rally it rained on the Saturday night. I can distinctly remember waking up Sunday morning and finding the frying pan full of water and having to bail a couple of gallons of water out of the tent. That particular incident spelt the end of the road for the blow up igloo tent that I had about 4 years. The idea was good, but after a couple of years it started to leak and I couldn't stop it or the ridicule being heaped upon me. It was bulky, heavy and you had to carry a foot pump. The wind would try and blow it down so I used to try and find a tree to tie it to. You would wake to find yourself being smothered by 15 square yards of material and trying to find the door then having to pump the thing up at 3 in the morning in your underpants or try and find something to use as a pole. It was easier to buy a new tent.

1974 rally. Geoff Fulford and his then girlfriend Joyce came around to my parents house just as I was finishing my breakfast. He was a little early so we all had a cup of coffee and as I was just strapping the tent to the bike, my mother asked Joyce if she needed to use the toilet. Not the kind of thing us blokes think about. So off Joyce trots to the bog while I get my gear on. I asked Geoff if he was tanked up to which he said full.

Right, off we go, 180 miles - 9 am, BMW R90/6, Triumph Tiger 100, should be there around 12.30. So we get of the estate and onto the A4123 heading towards Birmingham dual carriageway. Three miles later I look in the mirror, no Geoff so I pull over.

We had just come over Burnt Tree Island, Dudley and I couldn't see it, it was just over the rise. Now Geoff had told me he had a full tank so he's not filling up at the petrol station by the island, and he was what you could call accident prone so he's dropped it. Lets go back. So I turned at the next set of lights and went back to find Geoff on the forecourt, not filling up but waiting for Joyce.

She needed the toilet again, and again at Statford on Avon, and again at Abingdon, and again at Newbury, and again just out side Winchester. She's a gold medal contender if they ever make it an Olympic event and she wasn't even pregnant.

We eventually made the rally site around 13.00 so it didn't work out too bad. We had time for the customary pint or two and there was some silly games going on, the winner getting a half pint bottle of beer. A normal good nights drinking and chatting with old friends, a uneventful drive home when Geoff finally managed to get out of his tent.

1975 rally. this year I traveled down alone and met up with the lads down there.

There was quite a few lads from the Manchester area; Tony Cormack, Allan Giddens, Alan Barclay, Dave Wood, and others.

On the night time in the pub someone dragged a half yard of ale glass out and the competition was on. The winner, if I remember correctly, got a crate of (24) half pint bottles. Second place got half a crate (12 half pint bottles) and third place was 6 half pint bottles. There were quite a few of the regulars there including Roger Halfyard and his cousin Kelvin Clouting along with his younger brother and some others from the Hackney area of London.

Next thing you know we are going at it with a purpose having several turns getting quicker. First place, then second, then third, then another go back in first place again, then second, then third then out of the running, then another go back in first place then I think I'll just nip out side for a breath of air.

Strange stuff that fresh air. It made me feel quite strange. I must of had just a bit too much of it. I think I'll just lie down for a moment, 9.30pm and I'm out of it. Next thing you know I've got a splitting headache (that bloody fresh air again) and it's daylight and people are asking me "what happened to you last night? Nobody could find you. You got the second fastest time in the half yard of ale."

"Who won?" and "Great where is my half crate of beer?"

"Roger Halfyard won and said he'd look after it for you."

By the time I got to Roger and Kelvin's tent it was evident that there was not going to be a lot left. I came away with just one bottle.

Still we'd all had a great time.

- Les Hobbs

1980 rally reported by Dave Ranger who found a novel excuse for getting plastered.

Start of quotation This rally (which is still being held today) is Solent MCC's winter rally.

The 1980 one was held around the New Forest area in January. Me and Woodsey went as we were the only ones stupid enougth to do so. It was freezing cold and as I unpacked my tent I was met by the smell and sight of mould as I did not know that you had to dry them out in those days.

On Saturday afternoon I was using a solid fuel cooker stupidly in the tent when I knocked it over. I managed to get everything out before the tent disintergrated. Great, I was now without a tent (well with all that mould I did not want it anymore anyway). I had to get plastered that night to sleep in the bell end of Woodsey's tent. End of quotation

- Dave Ranger

2010 rally reported by Graeme 'Ritchie' Cunningham who suffered a slapping from his tent.

Start of quotation I was invited to the 2010 Brass Monkey, which was being held in Fort Purbrook overlooking Portsmouth, by Andy Brown of the Solent MCC. Myself and few other members from the Royal British Legion Riders were invited probably as Andy is a member too.

We arrived at about 19:00 on the Friday evening with it raining and the ground a little soft under foot but no bikes went over all weekend so I was happy with that. Tent went up with a little help from the other lads and it was straight down to find the bar. The first evening was spent catching up and meeting new people. Loads of beer, loads of good food with the kitchen being run by Andy and his better half.

The first night's sleep was interesting to say the least with, what felt like, gale force winds. One person's tent took off and if the gates weren't locked I suspect they would\'ve driven straight home. As for me my tent broke a pole and the tent kept slapping me awake through the night.

The second day was spent resecuring the tents, all done with a baggy head. Point to remember for here is that the soil is very stoney so take strong pegs for your tent. Anyway there wasn't much going on during the day so a few of us took a walk into Pompey for brunch.

The evening was spent in the Fort drinking and eating listening to the live band that was on. I think they were called 'One Weird Fish' or something like that. Anyway it was a cracking weekend and if any more invites are going, don't forget me! End of quotation

- Graeme 'Ritchie' Cunningham

Start of quotation I was recruited into the Solent MCC in 1972 by Graham Cooper, at Fareham Tech where we both studied. I attended the Guilford Rally later that year on my BSA A10 Super Rocket. Graham (350 Yam\') and Dave Gladstaines (Fast back Commando) also went. Great fun, beer, dancing etc.

Anyone remember a character called Wee Jock? He looked like Charles the First on steroids - pissed and stoned before loosing his head!

I attended the first Brass Monkey Rally back in 1974 at the Hampshire Bowman Pub (still use the pub to this day with wife, sons and family). I was 20 back then, long hair and a shiny new green Commando Fastback bought from Harry Gill for £631 - a snip. The rally was brilliant - strong Gales 5X winter brew out of the wood, blew my socks off and I nearly fell into the log fire. A van outside was selling cottage pie in a foil tin - cracking!

Solent members in attendance included 2 Trevors, Nigel, Dave Gladstaines, Graham Cooper, Roger (Codge) from Southampton MCC, Bob the Treasurer and Old Eric on his BSA army despatch M21 (later killed at Paulsgrove riding it) Many more folk attended from all over the country.

My mate (now brother-in-law) Roy, and my other mate Rich (now a naturalized yank living in Arizona) attended all the rallies with me, and they still have bikes.

The publican was called Stan and he presented the awards (long distance etc) on the Sunday. He said "I don't have a leather or shiny badges, so I'm wearing my top hat and tails instead". The pub got it's name from the archery club that used the site - his wife (now passed away) was an Olympic standard archer. The pub was formerly called the Jubilee Tavern.

Went on to do three more Brass Monkies, many summer Solents, and over 60 rallies and race meets. Moved to a new yellow F1 Honda 750 four in 1975 and took my girlfriend (now wife of 31 years) to a dozen or so rallies.

After 14 bikes and reaching the grand old age of 57, I am now riding classic and modern Italian V twins (well someone has to do it)!

Hope to do some local bashes soon. End of quotation

- Tony Smith

As reported in the Solent Club History by Graham Cooper.