Solent Rally

The Solent Motorcycle Club was formed on 22 February 1969 by a group of likeminded enthusiasts who once used to meet in the local coffee bars. Places like the Penny Farthing at Bishop's Waltham, the Ashfield Bakery near Sholing, the Waikiki at Park Gate, and the Wait-a-While in Gosport, to name but a very small number.

Photo shows outside Waikiki, Middle Road, Park Gate 1964, it's John Wade from Highlands Road, Fareham on the Norton 500 Dommi, with yours truly with the hair and by the Yamaha 250 Reg. 42 LOR from Bishop's Waltham, believe the lad beside the Suzuki is Dave from Fareham.

Some of the lads and girls from the Waikiki at Park Gate off to the Bakery at Ashfield, Nr. Romsey. Left to right Richard, Pat Weston from Stubbington, Bruce Forsyth and Sonia Valenavitch from Locksheath with the Triumph sprung hub outfit, Dave Fairbrother and Sonia from Hedge End, after me its Chris Varley, the male nurse from Funtley with cousin Geoff on the Enfield, Richard on the faired Norton, Phil and Jan Lipscombe from Titchfield Common and last Carol Knight and Barry Jones from Fareham

Most of the above named were the instigators of the Solent club, not that we were aware at the time. It was more of a case of "lets meet for a blast round the cafés and youth clubs of the area".

Author with 42LOR

Just a few of the crowd at the Waikiki 1964 ish.

Anybody remember the visit of the Rev Bill Shergold to the Penny Farthing in Bishop's Waltham, in the 60's? (think it was about 1963, but can't be sure) Over 450 motorcyclists packed the village that night. that was reported in the local press, the atmosphere I assure you was fantastic, being one of the lucky ones and member 6286 of the 59 Club of Paddington, Hackney Wick. It was "ACE".

Sorry folks just getting a bit nostalgic and remembering the dim and distant past!

A vast majority of those who went along that night were from the local area, although it must be admitted close on 150 came from the London and Guilford area.

Then followed trips to the Island for the T.T. from '62 till '70, including the Manx occasionally.

Also the Dragon and Elephant Rallies and many other rallies, both home and abroad. Not to mention the regular camping hols up and down the country.

Like most, sooner or later you reckon its time to settle down and leave the family home. No more coffee nights in our front room, much to the disappointment of Jake from Portsmouth and John and Glenda, also better mention little Sue Smith and Eileen Knight and Ritchie Dear.

So I brought a house in Lee on the Solent after flogging a couple of the bikes and working all the overtime I could. Then it was a case of "Ok, now lets find me a hobby" and so it started with a coffee night with some of the crowd, "How about forming a club?"

The first meeting took place at 83, Seymour Road, Lee on the Solent, hence the club name. Total number of interested enthusiasts that night was 18, all crammed into my front room.

The outcome, was to decide that we would meet locally in Lee on Solent if possible, and fortunately we managed to secure the hire of the Lowry Hall, Portsmouth Road, Lee on Solent, this was to be a regular meeting place every Thursday for the next three months.

What followed was a hectic production of a number of visiting cards inviting fellow enthusiasts to come along to the Lowry Hall, nearly opposite the library in Portsmouth Road, Lee on Solent

Local bikers were asked and all the motorcycle parks in the surrounding towns and villages had a card trapped by the clutch lever offering the chance of meeting other like minded motorcyclists.

These meetings proved successful, and a couple of film evenings were held together with a quiz night and a talk from a couple of interesting individuals together with slide show to show their travels, mainly on the continent, at different venues.

In the month of May the club moved to the Highfield Diner, a café on the Bursledon road, near Bitterne, Southampton. Here the club grew from a maximum of 25-30 members each week to a massive 80 in a very short while and remained constant. Here the owners let the club run the café like an original bikers café with film evenings etc.

The club stayed here for 15 months with its membership rising steadily, much to the concern of the Southampton & District M.C.C. whose social side appeared to be suffering.

The first Solent Motorcycle Club Rally was held courtesy of Lord Montague of Beaulieu, who permitted a small motorcycle show and camping week-end in his old rally field. Now this is where the Motor Museum is sited and the main arena. This took place on the weekend of 25-26 July 1969.

The Forestry Commission permitted camping on the old Beaulieu aerodrome, where a number of impromptu sprint events took place as shown in above photo, much to the concern of the local constabulary, who could not believe that permission had been granted by the Lord Lieutenant Sheriff of Hampshire, it caused quite a stir. His Grace Lord Montague even gave of his own free time to attend and support the event. It was a shame that the weather was appalling and that this was to be a one off happening, especially now with the fabulous Motorcycling Extravaganza which happens every July.

Wally in about 1971/72

In August 1971 the club moved to the Crofton Community Centre at Stubbington, Hants. Here the club gained stability and regular events and weekly Thursday club nights were a must for the 40-50 machines which regularly attended these events. A social evening with a number of facilities, including darts, table tennis, billiards and snooker or indulge in a read of the club's library which included bike handbooks for the mechanics amongst the members. Future events, film evenings, talks and club outings, together with the chance to relax with other fellow enthusiasts just chatting about motorcycling matters in the lounge area, all this meant that these nights quite often continued past the normal 8pm-10pm with the blessing of the Centre. The club also gave great assistance to the centre on a large number of occasions, with physical help from its many members.

Typical Thursday night Club night at the Crofton Community Centre at Stubbington.

With the help of a family friend who was running a local Scout troop in Stubbington, the club managed to come to an agreement with the Scouts to use their training site at Possbrook Lane, between Titchfield and Hill Head for the 2nd Solent Motorcycle Rally on the first weekend in September 1970. The attendance was a fantastic 325, with enthusiasts coming from all over the country and even from Belgium.

It was Jaap's first Solent Rally. In all he attended a total of eight over the coming years. But our bearded Norwegian friend riding a combo upstaged him, to win the long distance award. (Roll into this photo)

More photos of the Solent Rally at Greenwoods, Possbrook Lane, Titchfield.

Anyone for a coffee or a burger, courtesy of yours truly and Bob Hall the club treasurer.

Tony Rimmer's classic Triumph outfit, he is the one in the middle, a regular at the Solent Rally with his young son, down from the North of London.

The event was an outstanding success and all seemed to have thoroughly enjoyed themselves, but boy, were we all well and truly knackered on the Sunday afternoon and no one wanted to go home, just curl up and sleep!

The start of January 1972 saw a number of hardy enthusiasts make the trek to the Elephant Rally at the famous Nurburgring circuit in Germany, a must for all the keen continentals. Absolutely thousands turned up for this event, but the ride there was great fun, so everybody would have you believe. All that white stuff everywhere.

In the March of 1972 the 1st edition of the Solent Motorcycle news sheet was produced, listing all the forthcoming runs, talks, rallies and other items of interest to a membership of over 70.

The Solent MCC then joined up with the RAC/ACU local Motorcycle training, which took place every Sunday in the outside car park at RNAY Fleetlands, and on the 18th June 1972 they jointly held the Gosport Motorcycle Road Safety Competition.

Here are a few photos from the local press covering the event.

The 3rd Solent Rally on the 1-3 September 1972 continued with the usual great attendance and magic weather, the numbers rising towards the 390 mark. It was thoroughly enjoyed by one and all, judging by the comments and letters received.

As an event to encourage the club to go out together, a 60-mile run with a mid-day stop was arranged for Sunday 25 October 1972. The 9 o'clock start saw nearly 40 machines taking part. It was quite a success, although some member's map reading resulted in covering nearly 90 plus miles.

For the off road members or those who owned trials machines, a green roads run was held on Sunday 17 December. The run started from the Lunways Inn on the old London road, just outside of Winchester and arrived back there in time for an early evening brew. All told 20 members enjoyed a real rough and testing route.

Members enjoyed a relaxing coach trip to the Racing & Sporting Show in London on 13 January 1973, the stop at the Wooden Bridge at Guilford was a great idea to round off the day. Judging by the amount of luggage on board, most had taken the opportunity to grab some great bargains at the show.

The members had a Beer and Skittles match against the Honda Owners Club at the Kings Head pub in Wickham on the evening of the 27 January. Who won? Don't know, but it was good fun.

A trip to Rickman's to see round the factory saw an attendance of over 20 machines and everybody seemed to get something from it, including some good raffle prizes for the club members raffle in March, a top box with universal fittings no less!

April saw for the first time a Tabletop rally held in the club room on one club evening. Even got some of the committee going, winner was presented with the Rickman Top Box.

Over twenty Solent Club members braved some miserable weather, which finally brightened up for the 20 May British Motorcyclists Federation rally held at Woburn Abbey in 1973. The club got runners up in the club attendance award.

BMF Woburn Rally 1973

During the last few days of May all the club smokers visited the Wills tobacco factory at Wilton near Salisbury, with many free packs of smokes for all.

Since June 1973 and every June since up to the mid eighties a camping weekend for club members and invited guests at Totland, near Alum Bay in the Isle of Wight. Note there was no badge, just a meeting of friends.

The first Portsmouth Rally was held in July at Catherington and a great deal of help and assistance came from within the club.

A group of twelve Solent MCC members went to the Stella Alpine Rally at Bardonechia, near Turin in Italy on the 7-8 July 1973 and a number of us were invited to stay for the Pass Bashing during the following week by Mario Artusio, the BMW Turin chairman.

At the top of the Col le Sommeiller (without oxygen)

Attendance was over the 550 mark, but we were all fortunate enough to receive a blessing of our bikes by the local priest outside his church in the village of Bardonechia. What a ceremony that was.

Fully loaded on the way down, and finally at the top of Colle Sommeiller 3000metres.

Three bikes, all two up, a 600 BMW, a Norton Commando and my 350 Yamaha, continued to stay for a further two weeks, touring Italy, Austria, Liechtenstein, Switzerland, Germany then back home through France.

The photo above, believe it or not, is the campsite for the Stella Rally. Yes it was that hard, bent more pegs than ever before. The crowd of children came from the local convent and beneath that lot is my Yamaha 350. Took the best part of 30 minutes to extract the bike before we could zap off to Venice.

The club once again joined with the Gosport Road Safety Committee and the RAC/ACU to run the Gosport Jubilee Motorcycle Road Safety Rally 22 July 1973.

On the night of the 11 August 1973, the club tried the first of many Midnight runs with members meeting at Crofton Community Centre, Stubbington. All arrived with a tank full of petrol and an eagerness to blast off into the night, having no idea where they might end up. Only the leader had any inkling as to the destination an route to take, but all were guessing as to the final meeting point. This turned out to be at the top of Beacon Hill above Exton after a ride of about 45 miles all around the country side. Here at the hill top, yours truly had arrived earlier and cooked up the sausages and chips, with coffee or a can to wash it down. Fifteen members tried it out and it proved to be quite popular. Best night ever was 40 bikes during the late summer. Quite a sight, all strung out through the lanes of Hampshire. Mind you, did attract the law, usually on the way home, "Where have you been son? What are you doing?" All the usual silly questions.

The 4th Solent Rally was held on the 31 August to 2 September 1973, prizes scrounged from the local dealers as usual and wonderful trophies from Bob Hall, courtesy of Vospers.

Photos show Bob's trophies, then Stu Warbridge on his 1920 ABC at the Rally and finally Siegfried from the Schwandorf club from Germany who won the Best club turnout with 6400 miles between 6 of them.

The first Brass Monkey Rally was invitation only and was held on 11-13 January 1974 at the Hampshire Bowman public house, Dundridge near Bishop's Waltham. Attendance for the first event was 110 enthusiasts and mine host Stan Montague of the pub was brilliant. Just a note about the place. I first visited it with my father for a shandy aged 11 and we got a pork joint over the bar as well! Incidentally for those of an older age group this pub used to be known as the Jubilee Tavern.

February saw another of the Tabletop Rallies taking place in the clubrooms and the attendance that night was up to over 40. Must have got something right. But for the film night in April it was rather poor by recent standards only attracted about 50 people all told.

A total of 25 Members in all went to the Avon Tyre Factory visit at Melksham, Wiltshire during the month of May, a few members even purchasing cheap tyres, which they needed.

As usual the month of June was highlighted by the annual club visit to the Isle of Wight for a good number of members, although the number of other events taking place during the month meant some juggling with the calendar. Included was the regular club display at RNAY Fleetlands for their Open Day, which proved fruitful for we gained six new members.

July saw all the Triumph owners make a pilgrimage to the factory, where a visit had been arranged, even attracting non-owners to the event.

The 5th Solent Rally at the usual September date in 1974 attracted a multitude of enquiries from abroad, especially from Belgium and Holland. A Belgian enthusiast by name of JAAP walked away with the long distance award having travelled some 850 miles to get there.

Between September and December there were rallies galore, so a hectic social calendar brought about some serious planning by individuals and committee alike.

The Christmas do was at the Rising Sun in Warsash and was thoroughly enjoyed by all as can be seen from the photo above. It attracted over thirty members in all.

Top photo shows the collection of awards for the Xmas Club Presentation 1973/4. The photograph beneath just doesn't do justice to the wonderful trophy that Bob Hall made. It even lights up!

The 2nd Brass Monkey Rally in 1975 was at the same place, despite the white stuff! Another cracking do, 115 drinking in the pub, could not believe it.

The first official GB Rally List was published by the Solent Club for all rally enthusiasts in 1975 and it gave details of all events or a contact number/address of organiser for invitation only events as well. The demand was rather overwhelming from all over the country and even abroad.

The club was invited to join the KRADNETZ SOS for rally enthusiasts riding throughout Europe. Cost was £5 and this was a one off payment if you offered to help any rallyist in need, by supplying your home phone number to give assistance if required. It attracted a dozen members from the club.

At the Centre on the club night in May 1975 the Steve McQueen spectacular 'On Any Sunday' film show must be a record. Over 78 members and friends attended. The Community Centre at Stubbington was packed, scores of bikes and loads of cars also.

About 20 Club members made the outing in June to see the Sammy Miller collection down at New Milton, his shop and display being fairly newly opened.

September the club held the 6th annual Solent Rally when the club played host to a total of 350 enthusiasts from both home and overseas.

The 3rd Brass Monkey Rally in 1976 was again held at the Hampshire Bowman at Dundridge near Bishop's Waltham and attendance was increasing with over 180 enthusiasts coming to the event.

The last Gosport/Solent Motorcycle Club road safety rally took place in the July of 1976. Sadly the attendance had declined and a suitable venue was unobtainable for the future.

The committee decided to attempt a return to the idea of a motorcycle show for local dealers who had supported the club over the past five years, with raffle prizes and encouragement since its conception. This resulted in the first Solent motorcycle show during 1976, on the 17-18 July at the Crofton Community Centre with eight local dealers, together with road safety organisations, police, hire purchase firms and accessories/clothing companies. Attendance at this first event topped over 1000 paying public and was considered a great success by all involved. From that moment on, it was to become another regular annual club event.

Once again the 7th annual Solent Rally 1976 took place during the first weekend in September with an unbelievable amount of foreign enthusiasts from Belgium, Holland, France and Germany, including the group from the MCC from Bremen, Western Germany who won the club award. This event was reported in the local press with the presentation to Wolfgang Kremer chairman of the club.

Christmas beer and skittles for the club members was held at the Rising Sun in Warsash, a favourite place amongst the members for the Christmas festivities.

Parringtons Farm at Upham, near Bishop's Waltham was the new venue for the annual 4th Brass Monkey held in January 1977. By now this had become a very popular rally and was attended by nearly 150 enthusiasts. The local pubs were very thankful for the invasion, notably the Alma Inn and the Woodman which were both within walking distance of the site.

By popular demand of both club and dealers the 2nd Solent Motorcycle Show was held on the 4-5 June 1977 and an additional 12 stands were added by the use of the Scout HQ alongside the Community Centre at Stubbington. The attendance was over double that of the previous year, with over 2000 attending. It surely proved that the idea was sound and even proved to be profitable for the club coffers.

Members then had a relaxing weekend at the end of June as usual at Totland in the Isle of Wight, with glorious weather and great company.

Tug o War, always popular. Mud less so.

September saw the 8th Solent Rally, which took place at the usual venue of Greenwoods in Possbrook Lane, Titchfield. Attendance was an immense 425 bikers from both home and abroad. The site was completely full and if anything was oversubscribed by a host of late comers who turned up and were squeezed into what gaps remained. Without any doubt the site limit on numbers of campers had been reached. It was then decided that in following year's the Solent rally would be by invitation only, therefore limiting the numbers to something more manageable.

1978 was an eventful year for the club with a number of high profile activities taking place, starting with the 5th Brass Monkey which was held at Stakes Farm, Upper Ashton Lane, near Beechers Hill, Bishop's Waltham as the landlord at the Hampshire Bowman had changed and the new landlord wasn't keen to act as host as in the past. However he still had a large number of bikers who made the trek along Dundridge Lane from the rally site and was amazed at their behaviour and the amount of liquor consumed. The local pub the White Horse was also packed to the rafters with rallyists and some even made their way into the village where they had a large choice of pubs to drink in.

Following the success of the previous two years it was decided by the club committee to try to enlarge the Solent Motorcycle Show. After much discussion it was agreed that the most prestigious venue and the most well known in the area would be the Guildhall at Portsmouth. So, as chairman, it was left to me to make the approaches to the Leisure Services who controlled the bookings for the establishment. There was only one set of dates available and it was going to be a tight schedule, but we went ahead with the event and a good decision it was after all.

World Champion Phil Read, Kawasaki Dealer Peter Williams, Geoff Yuell and myself of the Solent MCC at the opening of the Solent Motorcycle Show on Saturday 22 July 1978 at Portsmouth Guildhall.

Organised in under 12 weeks from an idea, it comprised of 72 stands, 20 exhibitors displaying a total of 24 different motorcycle makes, with 146 machines in all for the general public to browse over and purchase on the occasion of the Solent Motorcycle Show in the Guildhall, Portsmouth on the 22/23 July 1978.

The local press and the motorcycle press, together with local radio also attended the Press Night on Friday evening. There were even glamorous girls to adorn the bikes. Sure attracted most of the club members, don't know why!

Above are photographs of the event and a copy of the programme signed by the 250cc World Champion Phil Read.

Midmorning of the Saturday and Sunday, we had the wheelie king Dave Taylor riding up and down the Guildhall steps outside much to the consternation of the local police. Thankfully we had the Hampshire Constabulary within the show to calm things down.

- Graham Cooper

Start of quotation Memories flooded back of the nights at the Waikiki with Norman Hambrook (The Nursery Owner) John Smith and his fantastic Triumph etc, in the early 1960s End of quotation

- Malcolm Bower

Start of quotation I was in the Solent MCC and had a G11000. I remember doing the charity bike push from Gosport ferry to the hard to raise money for Children In Need. I think we raised about £1000.

Dave and Doris Glover were great people but going to their house with a tarantula walking around was unerving.

Was a great club, still have my jacket and cut off but seems to have shrunk!

"I'll be a wild rover" has stuck with me for many years. End of quotation

- Neil Andrews

Start of quotation We had some great Brass Monkey and Solent rallies while being active members. One Brass Monkey was in the snow and still someone managed to get from Glasgow to Botley on a CB125.

Steve and Kay Andrews, Phil Northway, Malc Hickman, all hard working committee members making the Solent rally through the early 80s a huge success.

We had up to 200 members at that time. I wonder what happened to the signing in books?

I still see Trev Walker around very occasionally and the old fart Graham Cooper of course.

The badges are on a piece of black velvet, put on there by my dear departed mum when the leather they were on fell apart and became unusable, probably from one too many tarmac sliding episodes. The committee badge is the SMCC one. End of quotation

- Gordon Mackenzie

Some of Gordon's badges. Roll your mousewheel over the photo to zoom in.