West Glos & Dean Forest
Motor Cycle Club

Celebrating 71 Years of Motor Cycling 1953 - 2024

Club 50th Anniversary

The following was a brief run through of the club's history as presented at the the 50th anniversary do. We hope this does not offend any of the people mentioned within. You should be aware that a lot of comments included here were intended as jest and were taken as such by the recipients.

Wilf Parker at a Trial prior to the founding of West Glos. This photo from 1950

There was a desire amongst motor sport enthusiasts in the Forest of Dean, for an active club to cater for their interests. Up until now a small group of people had met and enjoyed social Sunday run outs from Cinderford to various local points of interest.

So it came to pass that Mr W.A. (Wilf) Parker called a meeting on Thursday 15 Jan 1953 at the Speech House Hotel. 7 people attended to hear the reasons, objectives and ideas of forming a club. All were in unanimous agreement to the following 3 points:

1. That an active club is desirable in the Forest of Dean area to cater for the interests of enthusiasts of motorsport, to include both motorcyclists & car owners.

2. That the objects and aims of such a club should be to foster & encourage sporting fixtures, social activities and the furtherance of road safety.

3. That such a club should seek ACU affiliation.

The club name was discussed and they resolved at "The West Gloucester & Dean Forest Auto Club" and a 10/- annual subscription was quickly collected from those present. With the essential business complete, all members were asked to invite prospective members to the next meeting on Jan 22.

O.J. Smith (from Ned's Top)

5 more people turned out for this meeting and were duly relieved of 10/- and the main topic discussed was the first club event. This would consist of a "road test event" comprising of acceleration and braking tests and questions on the Highway Code during a short run. An advertisement in local papers produced 14 motorcyclists and 10 cars to the event run on Sunday 22 Feb 1953 from the Speech House. Both the advert and the results have been found and are shown here tonight.

It is also recorded at this time that ladies would always be welcome on club nights and events, besides being gladly accepted as club members. Club nights should be held once monthly to enable members to get together for mutual entertainment and social intercourse.

On the 16th Feb the club was affiliated to the Western Centre ACU for the price of 1 guinea!

The March meeting saw 10 new members attend, two of these being Dave Annis & Ken Faull.

Club rules were discussed and recorded at the April meeting 1953 to the satisfaction of all present but the next point on the agenda was a disappointment to all and that was the section at the Wye Valley Traders Trial promised to the club had been otherwise allocated. The dissatisfaction was noted but those involved still agreed to attend the event.

Dave Annis 1954

The treasurer confirmed that the balance in hand was 12 18/- - not bad in 4 months!

Throughout the rest of 1953 skittles and darts matches were arranged along with competitive road trials and treasure hunts. 3 members: Dave Annis, Bryan Grindle & Wally Flood also represented the club at the Stroud Team Trial, this being a National event the club paid the entry of 1 10/-.

1954 saw Mr W Ashton take over as chairman and in April the first open to centre trial was run with classes for under 125cc, 126-250cc, 251-350cc and over 350cc motorcycles. This was to be known as the Speech House Cup Trial with 20 odd sections involving road work. Who could envisage trials as we know them to today 50 years on?

The year carried on with social runs, evening navigation trials and film shows. Correspondence of note came from the local civil defence authority regarding the recruitment of despatch riders. Surely the events from 10 years previous, WW2, were not to be raised again?

The annual dinner of roast duck was set at 10/- per head with music from a local dance band to provide entertainment. So tonight may not be quite as it was then, but there is more to talk about!!

Jim Saunders 395.

The following years up to 1960 saw the club branch out into the speed world with a successful Grass Track at Coalway in 1956. Where in Coalway could you hold a grass track today? The same event for 1958 took up much of the club minutes, but this time was run at Lydney. These events also held at Littledean, were part of the village show. One young man on the circuits then was Lew Coffin, who often travelled up from Dorset to take the spoils. He has sent us a birthday card for tonight. (We sadly lost Lew in Feb2015 aged 93.)

A moto-ball match was held at Yorkley, and such was the interest, a practice event was held at the Speech House in preparation. 50 years on and we still participate in this sport against Cheltenham Home Guard annually.

But it wasn't all fun and games. Forestry restrictions were also in place for the 1958 Speech House Trial, where noise was to be kept to a minimum in Soudley and Russell River was not to be blocked. Also riders travelling through the forest between sections could not smoke!

The first 7 years saw the club strengthen from 6 to 20 odd members and organise events from film shows to grass tracks and a bank balance to the sum of 57.

The emphasis of the club had now moved more towards motorcycles but the Avery Cup (Alas, where is it now?) was still being run for cars and motorcycles in the form of navigation trials. The Avery cup was presented by Mr & Mrs Avery, the hosts of the Speech House since the club formation & Mr J Avery being the first president. Mr Avery informed the club in 1960 that with regret, he and his wife would be leaving in Sept. A new president is not recorded until 1962, that being Mr W Parker, the originator from 9 years previous, a fitting tribute.

The members in 1963 also showed their generosity with a collection of 10 for a wedding present for John Cecil.

Our last event of 2002 being Boxing Day at Bixhead Quarry, was again a success with the rain staying away until the riders were loading up. This is a date the club has held as records show since 1960, which was then held at Moseley Green and in the years after at the Speech House. Names of note then were Roy Breakwell, Dave Harris and Bryan Grindle all 3 were riders then and present 3 weeks ago. Will the younger members now be stalwarts like these in 30 years time?

Bryan Grindle in 1958

1960 saw the start of scrambling in the club with venues at Littledean and Ned's Top. At Yorkley Regulations for the 1963 event, defined a non-expert as a rider who had not won 5 since 1961. We understand that Roger Ennis is still a non-expert under this ruling!!! The scrambles disappear from the records in 1967 and the July meeting post mortem at the Severn Bridge in Chepstow noted that it clashed with Farleigh Castle and due to poor spectator attendance the club made a loss of 65. Farleigh's attendance was 30,000 and only B&Q get those figures nowadays!!

The main topic for the '68 AGM was the lack of activity, and was it worth keeping the club together. Foot and mouth had hit the country hard and all clubs were in the same position, the bank balance was only 52.5/. 5 down on the 1960 balance, the secretary reported a drop in membership also. Lean times had arisen with no records for '68 or '69.....

....May 1970 and a meeting was called at a new HQ - ~The Nags Head, Yorkley, this very quickly became an AGM. Pete Remnant took the chair, Secretary Cliff Hannam and Treasurer Alf Bendall.

The past 2 years had been so bad that it was pointed out that perhaps the general public didn't realise that a club still existed, so perhaps a change of name was now necessary as the FOD Motor Club had started up and that the motorcyclists were part of that - of all the insults!!! (The FoD MC formed in 1967 after car ownership, and hence car sport, increased and an individual identity was required separate from motorcycles. They went on to run the superb Wyedean Rally plus many other events. Here is their website. ed.)

A long discussion ensued but John Cecil stuck to his guns and proposed the new name should be "The West Glos. & Dean Forest Motor Cycle Club" as we know it today, The club had effectively started again and to boost membership Treasure hunts, film shows and a bar-b-q were arranged, along with green lane rides with the help of Trevor Hunt. 5 months on and the talk of running a scramble and the Boxing Day Trial were overshadowed with a letter of resignation from the secretary Mr Cliff Hannam. The minutes state:

"The letter was shown to all members present and was met with a general lack of interest, with the exception of John Cecil whose comment was "at least we know where we stand". Pete Remnant wrote a letter back sympathising with Cliff's work commitments but pleading with him to return. He didn't until November of that year and then presented the club with a bill for 11 8/6.

What a difference a year can make. The 1971 AGM had the attendance of 19. The year previous had seen 2 trials run and thanks to Pete Remnant whose own money ran the scramble had the bank balance up to 142. perhaps the new blood of Godfrey Hannam as competition secretary had turned things around.

But in the eyes of Les Remnant 1973 was not so good. The club proposed a new post of Public Relations Officer and who better to fill this post that the ever popular Mr C Hannam.

A Grass Track was proposed by Jim Saunders but due to the lack of support by any other members this did not happen.

Club nights only attracted 2 or 3 members and they did not turn up until 9.30pm. Was a Public Relations Officer really needed?

The scramble at Woolaston did go ahead after a great amount of hard work by the few. This was July and the rain had to be seen to be believed. Kim and Les Remnant had the cheek to sell soggy programmes and to the pleasure of the club the first race was won by the up and coming member Frank Luther.

Unfortunately this event still did not attract an interest to club nights until an AGM in March 74 attracted 16. It seemed back then, as is now the joke, 'Miss the AGM and end up with a job', forced high attendance. It didn't last.

A proposal of sending out reminder letters to members led to 17 being sent and an attendance of 9 for 1975 but the real kick up the arse for members was perhaps a proposed merger with Zona One. Les Remnant stated that if members could not be bothered to get to the Nag they wouldn't go to Gloucester and John Cecil argued 'why should our money go into another club'. Thankfully this proposal was dismissed and just as well - where are Zona One now? (OK, update is called for here. Actually Zona 1 have had a rebirth and are doing exceedingly well. ed.)

Although social events were very sparse, Stan Howitt picked things up in 1977. Club attendance was growing with numbers up to 25.

Julian Bishop at the Talmag

Julian Bishop at the Talmag

A new venue for the scramble at English Bicknor held good for 2 years, backed up by the boxing day trials at Jerks Rough Aylburton.

With a lack of suitable accommodation at the Nag, the Crown at Coalway became the new HQ. In 1977 Julian Bishop became understudy to John Cecil in the chair. Thanks to Julian the trials scene looked to be on a stable footing but the scrambles suffered again.

How the time seems to have passed on with Jim Delahay proposing a Pre-65 trial, only 15 mins ago I was Pre-65.

Into the 1980's and Mr J Bishop took the chair and such was his charisma, stayed until 1986 with the assistance of Stan Howitt as secretary for a couple of years and thereafter until 1988 by Mrs Jackie Jones.

Meeting minutes unfortunately run out, but AGM notes are luckily still in existence and from these we have been able to put together the last 20 years.

1980 Roger Ennis and Frank Luther resurrected the scramble at Bicknor for 5 years until lack of ACU riders in the centre and club members interest being more towards enduro's forced 1984 to be the last one ever to date to run.

1981 and Mr Barry Smith proposed another change of venue to Berry Hill Rugby Club. The motion was carried by 7 to 4 votes but when the page was turned, we find the 1982 AGM at the Miners Arms, Sling. This venue obviously being much closer to Milkwall than Berry Hill!

Roynon Breakwell

Current Club President Roynon Breakwell on the Sherpa

With the exception of the Bicknor Scrambles, trials were the mainstay of club events and new venues were created at the Royal Spring, Lydbrook, Fetter Hill, Ellwood and Cottage Farm, Rockfield. Hadnock was resurrected thanks to Mr Breakwell, using sections from years gone by. Mr Bishop's comments regarding sporting events for 1983 were that it had been one of the best years ever.

The club had run: 3 closed to club trials, 2 open to centre trials, 1 open to centre scramble, 2 Road Trials (Treasure Hunts), 1 Video Show

It is noticed at this time in the records that many new names have appeared and those that we have heard from up until now have done with their riding days and moved on. I am sure that those who did move on wished the best of luck to the new blood.

To come out of this was the emergence of Colin & Jackie Jones from some other local club. (Bloomin' cheek! says web editor Colin. I was helping Goff with entry sec work back in 1969 and observing at every opportunity. ed.) Here are two people that threw themselves to the front of all club activities even taking on the organisers' role. It was then that, with an idea from Julian riding the "Border 100" event, that the Wyegate Long Distance Trial was born.

Julian and Clare Bishop on the Iron Horse at Welsh 76

Julian and Clare Bishop on the Iron Horse

"The landmark of the 1983 year" commented the Chairman.

A trial of some 50 miles for the pre-65, trail bikes, and sidecars using local green lanes with observed sections and a special test. This trial has been the main fund-raiser of the club since the scrambles up to the present day with this year's event well into the planning stages to be run in March. It is worth noting that here that with the exception of 2001 when we were hit with foot and mouth, Tony Falconer has ridden all 19 events.

Going into the latter part of the 1980's, the records show that this was probably the healthiest club in the Western Centre. Club meetings held a good attendance with the AGMs bringing together over 20 members. Events in 1986 ran to:

3 open to centre Trials, 3 closed to club Trials, 1 charity Trial, The Wyegate Trial, 4 Road Trials (Treasure Hunts), 3 Skittle Matches, and due to the enthusiasm of members in "Trail Riding" Anthony and Andrew Moore ran a Trail bike Trial. Lastly we attended 2 local fetes with a demonstration of trials riding. This had been done 20 years ago in Blakeney. Have we missed a money spinner here? As this type of event is now the basis of the "World Indoor Championship", but I don't think our current bank balance, although healthy at 1800, would cover such an event.

Julian Bishop on the Enfield

Julian Bishop on the Enfield

With trials now being the basis of the club's competitive activities, Julian Bishop and Secretary John Lewis had the notion of running a National event. The Stroud Valley club had lost their land for the Cotswold Cup Trial and as we had a number of riders competing at national level, their thoughts were to take this event on.

Mr Rory Burke was approached as main sponsor and as an ex-rider he accepted to the tune of 75. Some new land had been found and that belonged to the landlord of the "Miners" so a proposed move of headquarters to the "Orepool" was put on hold. Due to the logistics of parking, the Orepool was used for the start and finish for the Cotswold. A bill for the use of land from the "Miners", was enough for headquarters to change to the Orepool for 1990. This was also beneficial to all as a start venue for the Wyegate Trial.

The second running of the Cotswold Cup in 1990 saw the start and finish at the CSMA Whitemead Park at Parkend. Here we had an excellent venue with all facilities for riders and spectators and a warm-up section before the riders set off for a single lap of 20 miles and 46 sections with the last 3 being only 200 yards from the finish.

Julian Bishop on the Enfield

Julian and Clare

This proved to be such a success that the ACU granted "British Championship" Status for the next 4 years and the single lap road event ran for the first 2 years. In 1993 & 94 the format had to be changed because the powers that be wanted a more "media friendly" atmosphere. So a 2 lap event based around Blackpool Bridge, but with road work to and from Parkend. Controversy surrounded the event in 94. This being the second "media friendly" running, the word had been put round that such a small club could organise a brilliant day with world championship scope for sections.

The press hacks turned out in force. The sections had been tightened by the clerk of the course from the year before as the ACU deemed that there was now a divide between the riders' abilities.

Two courses were required. 1 for the elite and a clubmen route.

Ian Hannam at the pointy end

Ian Hannam at the pointy end

3 weeks before the event Julian's press release stated the severity of the trial but some of the 105 entrants, who perhaps had seen better days but would not admit to it, did not heed the warning.

Wet weather during the week and a frost the night before gave very slippery conditions. Marks lost on the elite course ranged from 58 to over 200. The press had a field day; slating the event. Extracts of which are shown on the display boards.

As trials land around the country was becoming scarce, many clubs were now using the "closed lap" type event; i.e. no roadwork. This also gave the ACU the chance to be community friendly. By having a multi-lap closed event, everything was centred on one spot, so no big vans were blocking roads along with hoards of spectators. This caused the club to change the start venue to Wenchford picnic site for 1995 and after last year's help from the press, an entry of only 35 could be attracted. The saying " why should we bother?" ran between Julian and John, consequently this became our last national event.

Cliff and Marlene Hannam

Cliff and Marlene Hannam on Suzuki Outfit

Another event in 1989 that must not be overlooked, was our open to centre "Coalrun Enduro". Run on ground at Cannop, and again the instigation of the Jones's. This has to be said that for all the events the club has ever run , everyone on the day pulled together for another successful and well-organised meeting but although run in December, giving the ground plenty of time to recover before the masses returned in the Spring, the Forestry Commission did not like what they saw afterwards and have not granted permission again. Our neighbouring car club must have better contacts for the Wye Dean Car Rally.

Sidecars have never appeared to be over popular throughout the years of the club, but a few members have been attracted to this side of the sport and some mention must be given to these charioteers.

The early grass tracks, we understand, saw one Chris Vincent, who later went on to fame in the road racing world. Also the lure of the tarmac got a hold of Julian & Clare Bishop who achieved Championship success with the Vintage Club during the latter 80s. Their travelling mechanic, Ian Hannam, also caught the bug and ultimately dropped the spanners in favour of grabbing the handlebars. Along with Julian and Clare, Ian achieved national success on the modern scene during the 90s.

Enduro sidecars also have the speed factor and this excited the likes of Colin and Jackie Jones, Malcolm Harvey & once again, Julian Bishop.

Ian and Neil Hannam on BSA

Ian and Neil Hannam on BSA

Back to the mainstay of the club, and the trials scene was good for Cliff and Marlene Hannam during the late 70s. The class in the Wyegate Trial held good for many years until the road mileage of the event put many off. With Stan Howitt entering the long distance trials, Ian and Neil Hannam along with the Bishops (yet again!) are regular competitors in the national Sammy Miller series (in fact Ian continued with classic Sidecar trials and achieved the title of European Pre65 Sidcar Trials Champion with CHG's Debbie Smith in the chair.) The club now has enthusiastic members to run a sidecar only trial "The Sidecar Gate", a competitive pre-Christmas social on a shortened Wyegate course.

As we have heard, the club has seen both good and bad times, but all in all, most of them have been good. We have successfully organised (for the most part) many forms of motorcycle sport for both ourselves and others to enjoy. Many faces have come and gone, some are still with us, some have gone and come back again and are here with us tonight. Some new and preferably younger blood is required to take us into the next era. And so as I turn to our President (who has held the post since 1986), I am sure he will reaffirm his words from our 40th Anniversary, 10 years ago:

"Here's to the next..."