The following write up formed an article in Enjoying MG reporting on St Albans and District MG Owners’ 10th Birthday Celebrations. It also represents the club and its members as they were in 1996.
St Albans & District MG Owners Club’s 10th Birthday Bash
11 & 12 May 1996
Roydon Leisure Park, Harlow
Firstly, let me give you a brief history of the club and some background into our prospective. 10 years ago, Helen Thrussell and Simon Rossiter formed the club and at that time we met at the Elephant & Castle in St Albans. Helen is still a leading light as are fellow founding members Shirley Ferrie and Dave and Alan Brooke. We run our affairs on a very adhock basis without “formerly” elected officers although we are presently guided (and prodded and cajoled and generally lead round the bend in the nicest possible way) by Neil Venn who has taken up the reigns - in the past we have to thank Andrew Down, Helen Thrussell and Linda Ball for directing our path. Apologies for anybody I’ve missed in this regard.
Our MGing covers a wide spectrum. It may come as a surprise to some of you that apart from usually making the most noise at social events (see Roche’s comments in “Letter from the Secretary” in the July edition of Enjoying MG!) , we also take our MG racing, sprinting, hill climbing, endurance runs (we had two cars in the Le - Jog, a fleet in the London to Edinburgh, etc.) and concourse preparation very seriously. Those yellow sweatshirts get everywhere - even to Le-Mans this year.
Our cars are mainly MGB Roadsters and GTs and Midgets although if Mike and John who came along to our last club meeting become regular attenders there will be four MGFs in our host.
Whilst the majority of our members are of the younger set, the more mature should not be put off. After all I’m well into my third childhood and will soon be eligable for SAGA holidays. I certainly do not feel out of place - it’s all in the mind, so come and join us!
Plans to celebrate our tenth anniversary really got underway a month after Christmas 1995 as the haze of the festive season’s celebrations began to clear. We proposed a two day event with a communal barbecue and party on the Saturday afternoon and evening followed by a run and treasure hunt on the Sunday.
Surprisingly our first obstacle was to find a venue. There’re not many camp sites with the right facilities just north of London, hence our final decision to rely upon the hospitality of Roydon Leisure Park, at Harlow.
We advertised in the “Events Calendars” of five well known classic motoring magazines and made a nuisance of ourselves at other local MGOC area’s club nights. We must admit to becoming worried at the apparent lack of initial support, in the end, however, I counted 29 MGs of various shapes and sizes, a large number of Euroboxes and some 30 tents - not a bad turn out for our first event! We even attracted Chris and Jan from Sweden in Jan’s MGB roadster who lent an international
With the promise of “proper facilities”, not those that we have seen at continental motor racing events and a full English breakfast at the on site cafe on Sunday morning, Sharon, my long suffering MG widow - how many times have I said I’m just popping out for a minute to adjust the thingymejig on the car only to spend the rest of the afternoon under the bonnet! - agreed to spend her first night under canvass.
To celebrate the occasion, we bought a new lightweight igloo tent to replace the tiny ridge tent I have borrowed from my nephew on previous occasions. On arrival and after all the helloes, etc. it was time to erect our new purchase for the first time and it was now that our fellow members decide to help by attempting to run off with the instructions! With that chore finally and successfully out of the way, it was time for the barbecue. This was going well in the 20 gallon drum that had been cut in half. Having been fed and watered we retired to the disco and the bar where we had an area set aside for our use. During the evening we held a raffle, cut the huge octagonal birthday cake which Helen had made in “Cream Crackers” colours and congratulate Cindy and Paul who announced during the celebrations, that they are going to tie the matrimonial knot.
The cold night was soon forgotten in the brilliant sunshine of the following morning and after the first mug of coffee. Our fellow campers gradually roused themselves and it was obvious that some made a more thorough job than others of enjoying themselves the previous evening! The “Full English Breakfast” turned out to be passable and after this repast it was off to the cars for the first run of the day following a Tulip diagram prepared by Dave Brooke. This would take us to our lunch time stop for a pint and a ploughman’s at the Verulamium Rugby Club.
With lunch in the rear view mirror, we headed for the centre of St Albans and a walking treasure hunt of some thirty clues put together by Shirley Ferrie. Once our powers of observation had been stretched to an acceptable limit we followed a second tulip diagram, this time prepared by Nigel Pink that will take us via the highways and byways back to Roydon for some light refreshments before breaking camp for home.
Altogether it had been a successful weekend and the weather had been kind to us. Our thanks go to Swindon MGOC, Wycombe MGOC, North London (Enfield) MGOC, Gloucester MGOC and Chris and Jan from Sweden, who were now honoree members of the club, for supporting our event. Commiseration’s went to local MG enthusiast, Jo Evens who had spent the weekend trying to discover why there had been so many MGs in the area only to turn up at the park as the last two cars were leaving! Fingers crossed, there would always be next year!
Jo Evens and her mother did join us during one of our evenings at the White Heart.
Sadly we did not repeat the event the following year or any subsequent years for that matter. The membership has mellowed, and the club has become ‘comfortable’ - maybe too ‘comfortable?