Club History

Chapter 1 – How did it all start ?

G E Gott, J Knott and J Mansfield were said to be the founder members of the Southern Sporting or The Bar One Motor Cycle and Racing Club as it was founded fifty years ago. The Club was founded in 1938 as a motorcycle racing club and specifically set about to bar the riders of Norton motorcycles. Why the Norton? The Racing Scene was totally dominated by the Norton racing machines of the time and the founders of the Club believed that any rider on a Norton would beat those members on other makes. The founders were in no way ashamed of this action as the name implies – Bar One (The Norton), indeed the Norton’s were proud of the need to have a devoted opposition.

The Club management was formalised on 6th January 1939 at a meeting commencing at 7.30pm and lasting 2 hours fifteen minutes. The venue was not recorded but those present were:

  • R C Walker – General Secretary
  • J Knott – Racing Club Hon Secretary
  • E Gott – Treasurer
  • W Abigail – Assistant Treasurer
  • D Wood – Captain
  • J Mansfield – Vice Captain
  • S Tufnell – Racing Event Organiser
  • M Tufnell – Chairman

The first event to be organised was a birthday supper at the Ace of Spades, the Kingston Bypass on Saturday, January 28th 1939. The supper started at 8 o’clock with tickets at 3/6 a head or 17.5p.

Chapter 2 – The Link to Contact

The Bar One Motor Cycle and Racing Club originally produced a broadsheet entitled News Bulletin. The earliest copy known to be in existence is for May 1943 which proudly announced the purchase of a duplicator for the production of the Bulletins. Previous Bulletins had been produced by the Secretary of the Hillingdon and Uxbridge Club since 1939. The Editor was Stan Barclay.

May 43’s Bulletin contained a report of a run to the Forest of Dean and an auction. The Auction confirmed the Club members’s sense of reality when three Official A-CU Pocket Handbooks were auctioned separately, the first being sold for 1/- (one shilling or 5p), the second for 1/6 (one and six or 7.5p) the last made a phenomenal figure of 1/8.5 (8.5p). The cost of the Handbook from the A-CU was not recorded but was probably 1/- !

It was July of 1943 that the Committee announced the News Bulletin would, henceforth, be known as The Link. The credit for the name went to Bob Spicely, one of the oldest and most enthusiastic “serving” members.

The final News Bulletin also carried the award, for the first time, of the Bateman Cup. Two articles were considered worthy of the award, J C Mansfield’s “My First Trial” and W Andrew’s “A Clubman reflects”. As the two articles were of equal merit, the Bateman Cup was awarded jointly.

August 1943 saw the first edition of The Link. In the excitement to publish it would appear the Editor forgot the date. As the first article was a report on the visit of the President Mr John Wooler and the Vice President Mr H Willsher to the clubroom on 23rd July, it was possible to place The Link date. The visit also prompted a discussion of the Club’s name – more on this subject elsewhere.

The Link continued its format of single sheets until February 1945.

in October an announcement of a Club quiz described the prizes:

  • Best solo performance – Special cigarette lighter
  • Each member of the winning team – 10 cigarettes

The new year of 1944 brought with it a quite hard hitting article entitled “APATHY(?)”. It seems a debate on Design was planned with the president in attendance. Whilst the President attended prompt at 8 o’clock, only 2 members were present. This state of affairs improved little with only eight members present after an hour. Bob Walker, the Secretary, hit out at the membership thus: “It is with regret I find it necessary to say a few words on a really lousy show of enthusiasm it was my misfortune to witness on the occasion of the “Debate on Design”…..”.

Considering the style of the magazine was “proper” this was quite out of character but as the article continues with the line “In conclusion whilst I am aware that the visibility might have been suitable for record breaking attempts……”, it seems to show the criticism to be even more aggressive than even first reading appears.

Another change to The Link was the new Club name – Southern Sporting Motor Cycle Club – in March 1944. This copy of The Link carried the report of the AGM that agreed to the name change and the new Club badge design was unveiled. This AGM found the Club with a new Chairman Mr G. Edgar Gott.

The magazine contains reports of discussion of motorcycling after the war. Club life seemed to continue despite the war and, with the exception of petrol rationing, nothing is mentioned about the disruption caused by the war. The only aspect of the war which comes through the pages of The Link is the reports of members overseas or somewhere in the UK serving in the armed forces.

In May 1944 C H Pritchard (Pritch) wrote to comment on the use mudguard badges and to bring members up to date on his Scott cum Pritchard Special.

Another change was foreshadowed in September 1944. The Link was also the name of a banned Fascist journal and it was considered that another name should be found for the Club magazine. The format of, now the double sided printed paper should be improved to a Gazette style with a cover. A new name was canvassed.

1944 closed with this extract from a letter by Sergeant Sam Beech RAF, home from South Africa. The Secretary Bob Walker wrote “Understand he struck a spot of trouble with the girlfriend who didn’t want to see eye to eye with Sam re motorcycling. However all will be pleased to hear he soon had the situation under control and dispensed with the troublesome wench and so set a fine example to other members so placed!!!”

The last Link appeared in January 1945 and was late out due to the Secretary Bob Walker being laid up with a stomach problem. The next month saw the newly named and formatted magazine published.

Contact was born in February 1945.

Chapter 3 – The Change of Name

The announcement of the proposal to change the Club’s name was first made at a meeting in July 1943 in the presence of the President Mr Wooler and the Vice President Mr Willsher Snr. The first reaction at the meeting came from G Edgar Gott, who was the joint founder of the Bar One Motor Cycle and Racing Club in 1938, and it was not favourable. Edgar said a name change would destroy the object for which the Club was formed in 1938 and five years of tradition. He continued by saying that the arguments that Nortons would not rise to supremacy after the war were unfounded as there would be no new designs brought out for sometime after the cessation of hostilities and therefore the 1939 Manx Norton would still be the “enemy”. He did concede that if there was to be a change it should be left till after the war as many of the original racing members are now in the forces and would not be able to have a say in the matter.

The contrary view was taken that the Nortons would not necessarily be the leading make after the war as there would be more competition and machines turned out as good as Nortons. To delay the name change until after the war would lead, it was suggested, to the Club being almost unknown where as changing it now would allow advertising to make the Club known and make good headway when peace is declared.

The meeting, which anyway could make no firm decision, agreed to set aside an evening to formally discuss the change of name. But to what?

The very same Link which carried the report on the initial debate also carried a list of suggested names. The point being made by those in favour of the name change was that Bar One was barring a class of motorcycle, the Norton, and the Motor Cycle and Racing Club title seemed to emphasise road racing and not the other competitive activities that the Club embraced. To this end the following names were offered as the first suggestions:

  • The Allrounders Motor Cycle Club
  • The Marksman Motor Cycle Club
  • The Southern Sporting Motor Cycle Club
  • The Musketeers Motor Cycle Club

The following appeared in the September 1943 Link:

It is hoped that every member that can get to the clubroom on September 29th will make every effort to do so, as it is the occasion of the debate on “Should the name of the Club be changed”. As you will understand this may have a far reaching effect on the future of our Club and its post-war activities.

Our President who, it will be remembered, is keenly interested in this subject and will probably be in attendance.

All told this evening, besides being most interesting, is second in importance only to the AGM.

The following is the report of the debate as it appeared in the Link of October 1943: The Debate This very satisfactory evening in which we were honoured by the presence of our President Mr J Wooler, went off exceedingly well. All points both for and against the proposed change of name being fully discussed. Proceedings opened with the Secretary announcing the points in favour of changing the name of the Club. The proposal came from one of our earliest members Bob Spicely, now serving in H M Forces, who stated in a letter (which was read to the meeting) his reasons, which were that he considered it improbable that the “Barred” M/C (Nortons) would have things all their own way after the war and that the racing field would be wide open in the post war years, also a matter equally important was that the Club no longer interested itself solely in racing but covered all forms of the sport such as trials, scrambles and grass racing, not forgetting the social side of affairs. This being the case he thought an all embracing name would be more to the point such as “Allrounders” or the “Musketeers”. Replies have now been received from over half of our serving members all of whom were in favour of changing the name, the most favoured of which was “Southern Sporting”. After the sec had given further details of his views along these lines, E Gott then put forward his reasons against the change. In the first place he considered it broke up the tradition of the Club and also changing the name would mean that the Club in effect would have to start from scratch again unknown to anybody and our present stock of Note-paper, Badges and Rule Books would be wasted. He then asked who seconded this proposal. R C Walker replied he had done so. W Andrews considered that the only way to get to the top was to be progressive and therefore things like tradition should not be allowed to stand in the way. This coupled with the fact that we intended covering all forms of the sport and suggested a more collective name would be advisable. Mr Wooler thought that we might look rather ridiculous if after the war another make of machine other than Nortons had a run of success, in which case we should have to be continually changing the machine that was barred from the Club. He further thought it had been proved that any one manufacturer could only hold the field for a given period. For these reasons he considered the Club should have a name catering for all stages and progress. R Waller thought the name “Racing Club” gave people the impression that we were only interested in Racing and it does deter the prospective trials or scramble enthusiast. E Gott then said if everyone was in favour of the change, why not keep the name and change the rules to show that Nortons were not barred and that we encouraged other forms of sport besides Racing, also that a notice to this effect should be put in the Motor Cycle Press. Another thing being Nortons had in the past taken it as a compliment that a Club had been set up as an opposition. After others had spoken it was decided to put it to the vote, whether the name should be changed, or keep the name and change the rules. The vote was in favour of the name being changed with one exception. A discussion was then held on which name should be adopted, the result of which was as follows: 1. ALLROUNDERS MCC 2. SOUTHERN SPORTING MCC The former name had a majority of three votes. It was unanimously agreed that the rules be altered where necessary and drafted out for the AGM in February when this matter will come up for the formal acceptance or otherwise depending on the final vote of serving members and others not present for this debate. The Editor. So as the Club leaves October 1943 it is close to becoming The Allrounders Motor Cycle Club. The Annual General Meeting followed on February 9th 1944 at The Pear Tree Inn, Harlington Road, Hayes. It was noted prior to the debate on the name change that all the members of the HM Forces had been written to and all had replied. The motion to change the name was passed with 14 postal votes from forces members and 21 votes from the members at the meeting. An amendment from Edgar Gott to preserve the name and amend the rules was defeated. When the vote for the name came, there was a majority of 15 in favour of Southern Sporting. It was further agreed that the full name should be Southern Sporting Motor Cycle Club. All that remained was to agree a new design of Club Badge. The Bar One badge was a triangle and its colours were red black and silver. Southern Sportings’s badge would be triangular, retain the same colours, but have the corners rounded. Edgar Gott proposed having the Bar One emblem in the centre of the triangular badge, where it remains to this day.

Chapter 4 – G Edgar Gott

Each year we run the Gott Trial. This trial was called the G E Gott Memorial Trial in memory of one of the Club’s founders G Edgar Gott. Who was G E Gott apart from the co-founder of the Club? He was a road-racer and in 1946 he was the Club’s chairman. He died in July 1946. To know more of Edgar Gott we publish the obituary that appeared in the August 1946 edition of Contact. OBITUARY The news that G Edgar Gott had died in hospital subsequent to injuries received when he crashed during the practice for the Belgian Grand Prix on Sunday July 14th. came as a shock to all. His machine ran off the road at a deceptive increasing bend which had a fast approach and hit one of the many trees that lined the course, at this point there was no grass verge to give the rider an opportunity to recover, and later another competitor crashed at the same bend. Edgar Gott at 32 years of age was a well known personality in the motorcycling world. He had raced on most British tracks including Brooklands, Donnington and Gatwick. At Brooklands he had ridden on all the circuits mountain and road, and won on his Gold Star lapping the course at over 100 miles per hour in 1939. It was in this same year that he won the last Wakefield Cup to be presented. His enthusiasm for motorcycles extended beyond racing into the experimental and design side, for the 498cc Vincent H R D Replica that he rode and which was an actual show model bought off the stand in 1937 and had since been materially modified by many parts and fittings of his own design and manufacture. At one time he had designed, built and fitted his own supercharger and at the time of the fatal accident, his machine was fitted with a set of telescopic front forks which had already proved reliable and to have exceptional handling properties on grass tracks and on the road. In 1938 he was one of the founders of the “Bar One” Motor Cycle Club and when the name was later changed to the Southern Sporting Motor Cycle Club, he was elected Chairman and served in that capacity until the present time. A resourceful and enthusiastic supporter during the difficult war years, he was at the forefront at all the Club’s post-war events, carrying out a large share of the work and organisation necessary for motorcycle meetings. He was an Associate Member of the Institute of Mechanical Engineers and at the time of his death was an Aeronautical Engineer in charge of the Development and Test Department at the Fairey Aviation Company, Hayes. His happy personality will be remembered by all who knew him, he will be remembered with respect and affection by his many friends in all the future years. The Committee S.S.M.C.C On August 21st 1946 an Extraordinary General Meeting was called to elect a new Chairman. The meeting went on to discuss ways the Club could honour and remember the memory of Edgar Gott. The eventual result of the discussions was the running of an annual “Open Permit” event called The Edgar Gott Memorial Trophy Trial which would if possible take place in the December of each year.

Chapter 5 – The Training Scheme is Born

Contact first referred to the Training Scheme in the December 1947 edition under “Official Intelligence”. The one paragraph read as follows: The Youth Training Scheme committee comprises of Arthur Evans and Ron Ballard as technical advisers, and Johnny Ridler and Fred Bailey as practical instructors. The idea was born in the Clubroom at the end of an AGM that had to be extended to March 19th 1947 due to pressure of business. At the end of the meeting members were addressed by Wing Commander A M Maclachlan on the proposed Training Scheme and the background leading to the policy. Although the minutes of the meeting do not say so, it would seem this was the first contact with the RAC regarding the formulation of the scheme. Following several questions by the members, it was proposed by Mr R C Walker and seconded by Mr W Foley that the Club formulate a policy within the Club for action. From that small acorn came the Training Scheme we know today. August’s committee meeting received the offer of a 125cc machine for the scheme from the RAC / A-CU Training Scheme which was accepted as were the terms of the insurance offered by the RAC. The machine was to be dispatched to the home of Mr Ridler. The 125cc was a James and was received on 16th September. The question of the venue for the training was discussed with Osterly Park being suggested, Mr Willsher would contact the Southall police for permission. As petrol rationing was still in place, the Scheme had to apply for essential petrol and this was done in November as the Club now had some pupils wanting to learn motorcycling. By February of 1948 no land had been obtained, but forty two applications had been received, including several window cleaners. The list of instructors had been joined by the Club’s Secretary Ralph Bower. It was April 1948 that the following announcement appeared in Contact: YOUTH TRAINING A Press Show will be held on April 3rd, at 3pm, whilst the training scheme proper commences on April 10th. The ground is situated just off Feltham Hill Road, Hanworth, being the Twickenham Gravel Co Ltd. We hope to hold three weekly classes, two on Saturday and one on Sunday morning, each class having six pupils under two instructors. Fuller details next month. J W Ridler The Club launched its own Motor Cycle Training Scheme on the world on Saturday, April 3rd 1948. Who better to explain the work that went into that day and the day itself than the first Honorary Organiser, J W Ridley from his article in the May 1948 Contact. YOUTH TRAINING On Saturday, April 3rd the Club had the satisfaction of putting up a bumper show which was enjoyed by all who were present. It all started back on September 16th 1947 when we took delivery of the training machine. Since then nearly two hundred letters have been written to people enquiring after the scheme, and various road safety organisers and councils have been asked for help to locate a site on which to commence training. This was finally accomplished through the great help of the Feltham, Staines and Sunbury-on-Thames Road Safety Organiser, Mr D F Grant. As well as helping us out here, he arranged for road signs to be delivered to the ground, and on the demonstration day he also provided an amplifier and other useful pieces of equipment. The training ground which is a filled-up gravel pit was set out with a hump back bridge, made out of cisterns, concrete blocks, bricks and two lorry loads of fine rubble, the lecture room was the works canteen, adjacent to the ground, wonderfully rigged out by the Superintendent Dunsden of the RAC with nineteen illustrated charts and several motorcycle parts. Ralph, [Bower] our Secretary, was the lecturer, and he carried it out second to none. For the traffic lights and pedestrian crossing, the RAC road patrol man and police sergeant came in useful, while a mobile policeman toured round to put the finishing touch. Many thanks to our three clubmen for constructing the traffic lights, Ralph Bower, Kim Kempton and John Cook, and the lights worked in the correct sequence. In all about fifty VIP’s turned up, the technical press represented by Authur Bourne and Bernal Osborne and some small children completed the effect of pedestrians. As we have over sixty names on the list and a large number of senior scouts wanting to have a go, we are holding two classes at the week-end, and later one or two in the evenings. The instructors for Saturdays being Arthur Evans and Alan Willsher; Sundays, Fred Bailey and Ralph Bower, with Tony Williams to help us out in case one of the above are absent. I would like to take this opportunity of thanking all you chaps who came along on the 3rd. Thank goodness we have some enthusiasts in the Club to make a worthy scheme like this practical. J W Ridler, Hon Organiser

Chapter 6 – The Training Scheme Continues

Following it’s successful launch the Southern Sporting Training Scheme continues as the RAC / A-CU Training Scheme grows. A test has been arranged for 8th August 1948 with twenty five pupils to be examined by Peter Knight of the RAC. Peter Knight believes the test will take eight hours! In the event the first Southern Sporting Training Scheme Test is conducted on the first Sunday of August and seventeen pupils undertake the second RAC / A-CU test, Crystal Palace had the honour of the first test. The result was not broadcast very loudly but it seems that five pupils gained a pass. The test was surrounded by controversy over hand signals but, as was observed by the Organiser Jonny Ridler, both instructors and the examiners learnt a lot. By November of 1948, the first enthusiasm had waned and the Organiser was pleading to members for more instructors. During the article for more instructors, Jonny Ridler thanked Ken Stone for his assistance. This was the first mention Ken had had in connection with the Scheme and he became a member to watch for the future. The Club courted publicity. By performing in front of 500 Scouts and by conducting a test on 13th November before two delegates of the Traffic sub-committee of a leading Netherlands motor club the Club gained publicity in Motor-Cycle News. The Club’s efforts were rewarded when a former pupil wrote the following to the RAC Motor Cycle Manager: Dear Sir, I thank you very much for the handsome Certificate of Proficiency that I received towards the end of last week. I found the course very interesting and helpful and I would like to add also that I found the members of the “Southern Sporting Motor Cycle Club” with whom I came in contact very helpful and friendly and always ready to advise. Yours faithfully A R Chard Letters continue with the RAC General Manager, A W Philips, writing to congratulate the Club on its performance after four proficiency tests. The letter concludes Your Club is certainly well to the fore in the number of successes obtained in all your Proficiency Examinations and I sincerely hope that this truly excellent record will be maintained in the future. After starting and making the Club’s scheme very successful, Jonny Ridler had to resign as organiser due to evening classes (whether to teach or attend is not clear. Contact reports he resigned when the schoolmaster caught up with him). The new Organiser, Cyril Abley, took over at the August 1949 committee meeting. The scheme went quiet both in the minutes books and in Contact until February 1952 when the Organiser became Norman Casling. No reason for Cyril’s departure is given. Norman Casling did not stand for re-election in 1954 and his place was taken by Mr Kempton who was prepared to organise the Scheme, but could not instruct on a sunday morning. J R Carter took over in February 1957. August 1957 and trouble. The Organiser J Carter was having no success in getting instructors for the course and despite pleas in Contact, no new volunteers had come forward. The Committee meeting resolved that if no volunteers came forward by the end of August than the scheme would be wound up. August came and went and only Mr R W Manley came forward. Mr Manley put to the committee meeting in September his conditions for taking on the post of Organiser. Following a lengthy discussion, at which Mr Manley was not present, the Committee rejected the advances and the scheme was wound up. With the machines returned to the RAC, the RAC wrote to ask what they should do with the Club badges (these were the badges fixed to the bike’s mudguards). The Committee minute tersely suggested they should dispose of them as they wished. It was just over five years before the thought of having a training scheme was again discussed.

Chapter 7 – A New Training Scheme

I was the Annual General Meeting of 1963 at which the question of re-starting the Scheme was raised. As the meeting was coming to an end the following minute appears: A short discussion was possible [due to time] as to the merits of the RAC / A-CU Training Scheme and this was led by K D Stone who thought we should re-enter the scheme but sought reliable support. The possibility of there being a lack of trainees was mentioned and also a machine and training area. It was however agreed that K D Stone be appointed Organiser and that he, with the help of R B Bower, contact Stan Turner of the RAC to seek guidance as to the possibility of a new machine, the known potential in this district of trainees and could he help to obtain Beacers Lane Camp as a training ground. The Press Rep to publicise the proposal in the local press. At the first Committee meeting after the AGM the two problems were reviewed. Land and a machine. Matters were again discussed at an EGM in April where it was announced that the Scheme now had 12 instructors and a machine with the promise of a second from a local dealer. As yet a training site was escaping Ken Stone. Discussions between the Twickenham Council and Ken Stone were beginning to bear fruit with the Committee being told in May that a verbal agreement existing between the Mayor of Twickenham and Ken Stone for the use of Twickenham Council Depot. For some reason the Council did not agree to the Depot being used. However 1964 saw the start of the Training scheme for a six week trial period at Isleworth Town School, Twickenham Road. The scheme re-started on January 18th 1964. To say the scheme was a success would be an understatement. The initial number of trainees expected was six possibly 12. Within the first four weeks the scheme had 19 pupils with the following course being fully booked. Ken Stone was asking for more instructors and was even looking to other schemes to offer some of our pupils. The first course had a test result as follows: of the 15 now on the course, 4 did not attend the test and seven of the remaining eleven passed. Ken Stone was now openly talking of courses with 36 pupils. One month later Ken’s prediction had become a reality. The second course was now full with 36 trainees. The second test was divided into two tests. The first resulted in nine passes out of ten with the second being 15 out of 20. The scheme was now the proud owner of a scooter from the RAC and indeed the number of pupils on scooters was beginning to increase. Profits for the Club amounted to £60 by August of 1964. Although the Scheme was now very much a success the lack of instructors was causing Ken Stone a minor problem, none the less the scheme continued. A Training Scheme Dance was held in December and a Planning conference in February. The February 1965 committee meeting was attended by Dave Marshall, deputising for Ken Stone. Ken Stone, incidentally, was also the Editor of Contact. At the AGM it was agreed the Scheme needed an Assistant Organiser and Dave Marshall was elected to the post. During the Scheme’s first year it had produced an income to the Club of £75, risen to seventh in the league of 144 schemes and had 65 trainees pass the proficiency test. Not bad after a six year lay off. The finances of the Scheme came under close scrutiny at the July 1965 Committee meeting. The Club balance sheet at the previous AGM simply showed the income from the Scheme with no expenditure given. It seems that the money from the scheme was handled by Ken Stone who passed over the surplus at the close of the year. The Club treasurer, Bill Carter, considered that all the money should go through the Club books. It was agreed that the Scheme was part of the Club and therefore the money from the Scheme should pass through the Club books. The matter was returned to the next committee meeting with a proposal from Ken Stone and Dave Marshall that the scheme start a separate account. One hour of discussion and a vote rejected the proposal. The scheme continued with a common account for some years to come. The training ground at Isleworth Town School was the cause of some problem during 1966 during to the resurfacing. The Committee was having discussions with the Council with a view to using the old bus garage at Isleworth which would have offered an excellent indoor training area. It was not to be. The Training Scheme continued to operate from Isleworth Town School, Twickenham Road. The AGM in 1966 saw a sharing of the Training scheme operation between Ken Stone and Dave Marshall. Ken would administer the paperwork while Dave would oversee the practical operation. Ken Stone resigned from the post of Organiser in December. No reason for Ken’s departure was recorded, but Dave Marshall was elevated to the post of Training Scheme Organiser. The minutes also recorded the position of Training Scheme Correspondence Secretary being filled by J Parmer (sic). This is obviously John Palmer. John’s co-option was proposed by Mike Pratt and seconded by Dave Marshall. Another AGM, this time 1971, saw another change to the Scheme’s Organiser. John Palmer added his name to Dave Marshall’s on the nomination list. John won the vote and became the new Organiser. Life at the scheme continued quietly until May 1977 when at a committee meeting, held at the new home of Mike and Di Jackson, John Palmer announced that the Scheme would not offer any more courses after the close of the current one. It was the last item on the agenda and the committee, after some discussion, agreed that a special meeting should be called to discuss this decision by John. The Bower house was full, 21 members attended the Extra Ordinary Committee meeting. John Palmer explained that the machines were not being cleaned or maintained and that he could not continue without much more help. The meeting lasted over an hour. The discussion was varied and drew offers of assistance. John Mason offered to help with the maintenance if John Palmer remained as the Organiser, but would be willing to assume the role of Organiser if John would not continue or was replaced. In the end, a motion was passed that ensured a new Organiser would be in place after the next AGM. John Mason was co-opted to the Committee. In the event John Palmer stood down as Organiser on July 31st 1977 and John Mason took up the role. John Mason guided the Scheme through perhaps its most important phase following the withdrawal of the RAC from motorcycle training.

Chapter 8 – A New Era

The end, when it came, was quick. In December of 1981, Dennis Rendell, of the RAC, retired after being ill. No successor was appointed and would not be until after the conclusion of discussions with the Government over the need for financial assistance for continued training. It was 19th March 1982 when the RAC sent a circular to RAC / A-CU Training Organisers and Examiners, Local Authorities and Chief Police Officers. Entitled Termination of the RAC / A-CU National Training Scheme, the Chairman of the RAC Jeffrey Rose spoke of the extreme regret and reluctance in closing an operation that had been pioneered by the RAC since 1947. The reason for the termination of the scheme was simply money and the perceived costs of running the scheme with the new two part test. Southern Sporting had already become aware of the RAC’s reluctance to continue with training and had advised the Hounslow Borough Road Safety Committee that: The Club’s Committee is united in its belief that our training scheme should continue. Investigations are already in progress, the results of which will guide the Committee should the transition to an independent training organisation be necessary. On 23rd March 1982, four days after the RAC’s letter, the Secretary wrote the following to the Department of Transport. Our Motorcycle training centre would like to apply to become an Authorised Body under the terms of the recent regulations in order to train and test candidates for the Part 1 Motorcycle Test. To become an Authorised Training Body a member of the team had to be trained as a Part 1 examiner by the Department of Transport. Alan Totten attended and passed the one week course at Cardington. The Southern Sporting Motor Cycle Club became authorised to train and test candidates in the new Part 1 Motorcycle Test on 13th August 1982, under five months from the time the RAC ceased their National Scheme. Southern Sporting is, probably, the only true independent motorcycle club operated training scheme in the country, This has been achieved by the work of a small band of dedicated club members starting back in 1949. The leadership of latter day organisers, John Palmer, John Mason and Ian Slater, has enabled the scheme to make the transition from a Centre with the backing of the RAC to an independent training organisation.

Chapter 9 – Into the new Millennium

Following the demise of the Part 1 test and the introduction of CBT in 1989, the Training Scheme again adapted with Alan Totten being assessed by the DSA (Now DVSA) at Cardington (followed later by Ian Slater and Robert Wood). As the scheme moved into the new millennium however Alan Totten, a lifelong supporter of the Scheme, decided to step down as the Driving Standards Agency authorised individual in 2002 and retire from active involvement with the Scheme. Robert Wood took up the reigns supported by Ian Slater and more recently the current Training Scheme organiser, Ian Horne to continue the legacy of one of the few (if not only) motorcycling training schemes in the country staffed by trained volunteers. Elsewhere and away from the Training Scheme, 2000 saw the Club being asked at short notice to run a checkpoint for that year’s ACU/BMF National Rally. As always the Club rose to the challenge and not only organised and operated the Reading checkpoint, but also helped with the Slough one as well! The effort was recognised with an award by the rally organisers and has subsequently resulted in us regularly running the Slough checkpoint in subsequent years. Back to the Training Scheme and 2007 saw the 25th anniversary of its independence following the withdrawal of the RAC/ACU from training. This year also saw the Committee look towards 2008 and a number of important milestones: * 18th January 2008 44 Years of the SSMCC Training Scheme at Isleworth Town School * 10th April 2008 60 Years since the start of the SSMCC Training Scheme * Autumn 2008 70th Anniversary of the Bar One MCRC / Southern Sporting MCC Following an announcement at the 2007 AGM, the Club Chairman and President, John Mason, undertook to organise the anniversary arrangements to ensure these milestones were properly celebrated, before the Club and Training Scheme look towards the next 70 years! Researched and written by Alan Totten.