The early history of the Royal Enfield Owners Club
The first Royal Enfield Owners Club was centred around two main branches in Sheffield and London. It was well supported by the Factory but folded in 1965 due to a falling membership. See (link or ref ?) for details.
In the mid 1970s, a number of Royal Enfield enthusiasts around the country (John Cliffe, Dave Bogg, David Davies to mention a few) were quite independently having thoughts about forming an owner’s club.
David Davies and Greg Dereham got the ball rolling in Bristol, holding the first rally and forming a committee in August 1977, which soon attracted interest in other areas, particularly Telford. Read the (link or ref ?) documents from those early days for more details.
Here are Don McKeand’s memories:
My Recollections of the Beginning of the Royal Enfield Owners Club
In the mid-1970s I had several friends in the Dunstable and District Motor Cycle Club who also had Royal Enfields and we sometimes discussed the possibility of an owners club.
I was in contact with a Dutch student who was planning to start a club, and he advertised a rally in the Netherlands. I believe Jack Gray actually went and found he was about the only participant.
In 1977, Dave Beach, Bill Pearce and I went to the BMF Rally at Peterborough on our Enfields, and Dave suggested that we could “test the water” by putting out an announcement on the PA for anyone interested in the idea to meet by Ivor Mutton’s autojumble stall.
A tiny handful was all that came, and the only one I can remember is Dave Bogg.
Things looked bright for 1978 with the first issue of The Gun appearing and the first AGM was held at Arrow Mill near Alcester, which resulted in me becoming General Secretary in place of Greg Derham, who continued as Editor for a while.
The first national event of the new club was a meeting for a run at Chipping Camden. This was organised by Steve Bucknall (who now works for Watsonian – the Enfield importers[at the time this memoir was written]).
My Bullet was off the road at the time and I went pillion on Dave Beach’s Constellation.
In the excitement of seeing more than 2 or 3 Enfields in the same place, I can only recall Steve Bucknall on an Ariel Arrow and the Telford contingent with 4 Airflows – the first time I had seen one other than my own!
The run around the Cotswolds seemed to involve lots of single track gated roads with people stopping to let clutches cool down and the fine tradition of navigational excellence was established with participants passing each other in opposite directions.
On the return from the run, Dave’s Connie started to run roughly as we were leaving Oxford and shortly afterwards there was a loud bang and clouds of smoke as the left hand con-rod made a bid for freedom through the front of the crankcases.
We pushed the bike to a nearby house and the owner let us leave it in his garden.
We then walked to the next village and phoned my wife to collect me while we recuperated in the pub!
The Home Counties branch was formed in the same year, and Dave Beach was the first branch secretary. We had a local run around the Bedfordshire area later in the year, ending up at the Shuttleworth Collection of vehicles and aircraft, and went to a vintage vehicle rally at Chasewater Park.
In 1979 we were planning another run locally. Dave Beach went to the Red Lion at Hockliffe, where we met, to discuss arrangements with the landlord. While he was there he became unsteady on his feet and fell off a chair. Realising that something was the matter, the landlord called an ambulance and Dave was admitted to hospital with a brain haemorrhage, from which he never recovered.
When the second issue of The Gun appeared there were about 270 members listed (including other family members who had separate membership numbers in those days), so with numbers like that, it really was the end of the beginning.