The LCGB History
The club has had a colourful history, from its very humble beginning, to massive heights of membership, then to total oblivion and its comeback to a stable and nationally recognised organisation.
I had been driving my L.C. Lambretta around the Surrey are for some months, when I heard during the Summer of 1953, some rumors that a National Club was to be formed for Lambretta enthusiasts, and that a Mr. John Cubon of London Scooters, Greenford and Mr. Francis Gwynn of New Malden, Surrey were actively engaged with Lambretta Concessionaires in setting up such an organisation.
The club was founded later that year, to be known as "The Club Lambretta of Great Britain" with Francis Gwynn as its first ever secretary. The club held its meetings at the 'Albert Hotel' at the bottom of Kingston Hill, in Kingston, Surrey, on the first Friday of every month. We held events, had runs into the country for picnics and attended road safety events and we were in full force for Kingston's 'Italian Week'. All our Lambretta's sported a very super metal badge on their leg shields.
However it became too successful and Lambretta Concessionaires started to think about organisation to be run directly from them, possibly by their publicity agents, and what good publicity it was too, with massed rallies and sponsorship form Lambretta. So it was then, that Marsh and Associated of Putney who handled some of the advertising for Concessionaires were asked to form a National Club to be known as 'The British Lambretta Owners Association, under the secretaryship of Tony Anthony. It soon happened that I was involved with the Marsh Company on model making projects with my own business and was asked to design the first BLOA blue shield badge. Everyone buying a Lambretta automatically became a member of BLOA and was issued with membership cards and a blue shield club badge. I became more entrenched with Tony and helped organize some early Rallies on the South Coast and at Belle Vue in Manchester. The Marsh connection was not to long to last, as both Mr. A.J. Agg, and his son Peter, were very enthusiastic about the club from its beginning, now decided that the Club should be moved 'In-house' to be run and organized from concessionaires HQ. This move was to give more flexibility, to solve problems when thy occurred amid maintain policy. At the same time, though, to form a committee from members of the National clubs to enable the clubs to 'have their say' and moreover to give the clubs and members what they wanted.
B.L.O.A was now under the secretaryship of Derek Guy, with his National Management Committee, and by 1956/57 Season 'Blower' was in full swing with regional committees in the North East and West of the Country and Ireland, together with Scotland. Rallies were organized on a massive scale throughout the British Isles, International rallies were attended on the Continent, and events not connected with Lambretta were supported, such as 'Scoot to Scotland' organized by Esso, whilst BLOA had its own insurance schemes and gave advice to members going abroad on their Lambretta's, via other organisations like 'Scooter Tours' with many, many more attractions, for members of this elite Lambretta Club.
The Isle of Man rally was now well established, as was the Annual Southend Rally and BLOA gave these their full support, but more was wanted and Derek set up Hill Climbs and fuel economy runs. There seemed to be no end to it, from Carnivals to Annual Dinners, but there were no racing events, as we know them today. However, Derek and I were able to organize the grueling Snetterton Regularity Trials, which were all but a 12-hour endurance race. Derek Guy and his two assistant secretaries, Sally and Sylvia, were to be seen everywhere and it really did look as though British Lambretta Owners Association would last forever.
In the early sixties, things changed dramatically, Derek Guy left Lambretta Concessionaires and a new secretary had been appointed by the name of Bob Wilkinson - I had heard that name before and it turned out to be the young man I had met years earlier at Smees Advertising, who had handled the publicity for Lambretta - it was great to meet up with him again, but I was a little worried to learn that Bob was to drop the name B.L.O.A. and all its insignia, in favor of a name similar to the original Club title. From now on the club would be known as Lambretta Club of Great Britain, or Lambretta Club (GB) or just L.C.G.B.
It was a question of a 'new broom sweeping clean' and of course Bob was right, the new image did wonders and was totally compatible with the new generation of Lambretta models. Although the old formula was applied to rallies, the new logo for L.C.GB made a great impact, in red, white and blue too - very patriotic. But these were the days of Nev Frost, the Ronald brothers, Arthur Francis and many others who with Bob and L.C.G.B behind them were winning the classic events abroad. Italian events such as the Milano - Tarranto, considered to be certainty for the Italian teams were dominated by the British and it was due to the supreme efforts of Bob Wilkinson that these were so successful. At home too, events at the famous Brands Hatch course and the Isle of Man Rally, along with many others were popularized by Bob's enthusiasm. At the height of all this, other publicity work was being demanded from Bob and so gradually he disappeared and a new secretary was appointed, by the name of Pete Davies. Peter didn't change anything, as the organisation was successful and the formula right, but it was difficult to work under the shadow of Bob Wilkinson's secretaryship and although he did some good work, especially with the Isle of Man and Snetterton, Peter somehow disappeared into obscurity.
Nearly ten years later, during the early seventies the club was to see several changes, with rex White, the technical Manager of Lambretta Concessionaires, a good friend of mine for over thirty years, now Secretary of the Club, to be followed by yet another long-established friend, John Ronald, who years previously had been Lambretta Champion, the half of the duo, the Ronald brothers, and during this time the Club was stabilized with the normal events and Cummings and goings of members, and just an ongoing organisation. However, although all these people worked hard for L.C.GB one thing was lacking and that was money. We had been hit by the announcement that British Leyland had taken over the running of Innocenti and although Peter Agg did his best, finances dwindled, until a time when we were on our own.
L.C.G.B now and to rely on membership subscriptions coming in and any profits made at events. Several Clubs were approached to try and continue with L.C.GB but to no avail - virtually no money, no membership, no interest and no more Lambretta's It was a sad A.G.M., when it was decided to put the club into 'mothballs'. Trustees were elected to look after what was left, together with Club trophies and so on. There was talk of a revival if the new Indian made Lambretta's ever arrived, but by the end of 1974 the Club had ceased to exist. To me, after all these years, since 1952 when I brought my first Lambretta, it seemed quite impossible and desperately I tried to hold it together, but only fifteen people that I could find interested throughout the whole of the Country, it looked hopeless. Undaunted, I decided to form the Lambretta Preservation Society. Mostly nostalgic, but to keep these dozen or so friends together, to try to find others who still might have an interest in the dear old Lambretta, for us all to keep in contact with each other, but above all to still organize some of the familiar events such as the Southend Rally. It so happened that L.P.S., became the mainstay for the Club on its resurrection, four years later, when the Widnes Saints Scooter Club, who had strong Lambretta bias, decided to resurrect it.
The Club today, is still run by some of the original team members from the Widnes Club, under the secretaryship of Kevin Walsh and this year of the thirty-five years of Lambretta Club, they too celebrate with their own ten years of running the Club and organizing the popular events that is expected of it. Kevin Walsh and his committee have seen the Club over the past ten years through thick and thin, good and bad, from the riots of the late seventies and early eighties, to the almost take-over situation of commercial promoters, but they have held on, for the sake of their members to give a Club, Internationally recognised and respected by scooter organisations within the British Isles for their involvement in the racing and rallying calendar, as The Lambretta Club of Great Britain.
1978 - To the present day. By Kev Walsh
To fully understand the "Modern" history L.C.G.B I will first have to take you back to Widness Saints S.C. The club had already been in existence for three years when I joined in 1969 as an ex mod. It was typical of the clubs from that era i.e. It was full of scooter enthusiasts who rode a variety of machines with the Lambretta being dominant. They had riders who entered every type of discipline in a very full Federation of British Scooter Clubs calendar, as well as members who simply rode scooters for commuting or (like me) pleasure as well. In later years we also ran a grass track and took over running the Baitings Dam Hill Climb from Rochdale SC & Oldham SC.
This idyllic situation continued on through the 70's with people becoming firm friends as well as a club. In 1977 John Illing, Gordon Eves, Nigel Ashbrook and myself approached the trustees of the L.C.GB to see if the club could be taken out of the mothballs where it had been put in 1974. This was done because a committee couldn't be formed to run the club. The club was kept ticking over though by Mike Karslake under the banner the Lambretta Preservation Society and John Coxton. John kept a racing championship going and Mike with the help on the day of the London Area Scooter Association (LASCA) ran the Southend rally at his own expenses and it emerged in later years he had lost money each time. The rumored introduction of the GP Lambretta's from India through a company called Two Four accessories, which strangely enough was part of the Heron/Suzuki group of companies sparked this idea.
After various letters and meetings between the trustees, we meet John Reynolds at Cadwell Park '77 to discuss the idea. Following the meeting, John gave us the good news, we would be allowed to run the club for a probationary period. We were given a typewriter with no carriage return spring so when John Illing typed on it he had to hang two beer mugs on it over the edge of a cupboard to pull it back. We also got an addressograph machine that we never used and later sold. A gestener duplicator that was still usable up to 1990, but held together with bits of wire; mind you it was 35 years old! We also got £100 of the £500 in trust, to start us off financially. This was October 1977 and we planned to run things from January 1978, with membership lasting 12 months from January to January. A bimonthly newsletter was planned, which saw John and Keith Sharps began to explore the mysteries of the typewriter and printer. Neither had done anything like this before, so it wasn't surprising they thought it was very messy until they found out there were easier methods (like the right way!)
In November 1977 we held the first formal meeting of the L.C.GB Saints Club room at the Church View, Lunts Heath Road, Widnes. Here people chose the job they wanted , whilst some got jobs they didn't want, but needed doing. John Illing was General Secretary, Keith Sharpes the club shop, Gordon Eves was treasurer, Keith Cutler and his girlfriend Mary would do the administration job wit myself being public relations officer as I had the gift of the gab. Mike Karslake at a later date was asked, and accepted, the role of chairman which was really only seen as an honorary role, and last but not least John Coxton would continue as racing championship controller.
All the above gave us a good start and when we officially launched the club in January 1978 we were inundated with enquires and membership flooded in. In those days we only had one national magazine, which was Scooter & Scooterist and this helped a lot in advertising the new club. It was edited by Norrie Kerr who still today under the Malossi business puts a lot into the club each year. Many of the new members were the sporting types who had been in the L.C.GB before, but slowly started to pick up a new type of member. These were the Mods who had started a revival of the mid sixties image, although its fair to say especially in the North the Mod/Scooterist had never really gone away. I for one fell into the category when joining Widness Saints. By mid 78 we had over 500 members and things were running fine.
We now had a bimonthly newsletter going and even had a club stand at the Belle Vue Rod & Custom show at which a young Brendon Mcnally displayed "Superfly", a superb sprayed Lambretta which got second best mural at the show. Paul Karslake had sprayed an Indian GP with the Taj Mahal theme depicting its heritage and Dave Barnett from Leeds Central SC represented the racers with his "Kermit" from the Muppet show spray job. Other scooters on show included a sidecar done as a rocket ship.
Our big test was to come with the Southend rally as none of us had done anything like this before. What bit of organising Mike Karslake had left us to do was easily sorted out with regular meetings of the committee. On the weekend of the rally we all arrived with cars bulging with equipment to run the planned events. Those arriving Friday manned the FREE hot drinks stall as each person was welcomed individually to the event, only closing at 2am.
Next day was grass track day which went down well, plus all the other events we put on like wheel changing, three legged race and the immortal sledge hammer race which saw someone lying on a sledge towed by a scooter around the field with the first across the line the winner! The next morning as the Lord Mayor of Southend was presenting trophies the police were busy arresting a lad who'd been busy pinching everybody's parka's the night before. Despite this it had been a good rally. Interesting to note that as people packed up to go home, an agent arrived looking for extras for a new film to be called Quadrophenia. All extra's got a weeks bed and board plus expenses.
1979 saw membership rising with an all time high of 700 being reached mid year. I think it was myself and Charles Caswell that had the idea of a joint L.C.GB/VCB rally, with Brian Morgan the north west rep for VCB getting the job of looking after VCB's interests in the matter. This was planned for New Brighton across the Mersey from Liverpool. Later in the year VCB pulled out as L.C.GB had become THE club for the road going scooterist and they didn't want their image tarnished.
Around this time Keith Cutler resigned as Administration Secretary for personal reasons. Geoff Robinson took over here as Admin Sec. Baitings Dam ran into problems when indiscriminate riding on Saturday afternoon by (it has to said) people on Vespa's, lost us the venue for Saturday night camping.
People complained about the newsletter not arriving on time: Johns reply was simple "Its your newsletter so send me something to fill it. I am not writing it for you" Strong words but that was how it was. A few people fell out with us through its pages as we learned to adjust to peoples needs. Geoff Lowen from London, a well known racer at the time was to write what was itself a prophecy when we highlighted the North V South controversy that was brewing between road going scooterists. Read on.
Jet Set was planned after the hysterical outburst by Mark Haines, over the quality of the newsletter, at our first AGM in November 78. To be fair to Mark, he more than made up for in later years. Baitings Dam had suffered the fate of L.C.GB events and had become too popular which in turn brought the bad element who finished up stoning passing motorcyclists, resulting in police arriving. Only some fast talking saved the day! Later in the year a pilot copy of Jet Set appeared but we hadn't the funds to continue at the time. Somewhere Brian Morgan also pulled out of the New Brighton Rally. By far the main event of 79 and later to prove the most outstanding thing to happen to the L.C.GB to date was the Southend rally over August bank holiday. We got top Southend and the police a part of the now disbanded Special Patrol Group (SPG) in Southend town. We set up the free drinks control as the year before and kept the bobbies outside well supplied. They in turn let us in on a few secrets, one of which was a national link up and every scooter heading to the rally was being monitored. By 1am we knew we were heading for the biggest gathering of scooters seen in many years.
First thing Saturday morning after very little sleep we got the events site under way but the rally had been boycotted by most of the regulars so the entry was dismal. Most people had gone to the pub or sat about drinking from cans. Later in the day undeterred we ran the grass track but this as well was badly supported.
With a certain amount of input from the police the site had been laid out with security in mind and, in the event of trouble, easy access. From early on it became clear things were going to turn ugly as people spilt into North and South groups. Nigel Ashbrook and myself changed into our old clothes and placed wooden slaves in easy to reach places. Soon the climbing of the marquee pole naked was underway when contestants found we had greased it further up they decided to use the roof of the marquee as a giant slide going from one side to the other. Next came someone with a knife slashing the tent. We waited for him to strike again then while I clubbed and stabbed through the freshly made slit with a stave, Nigel Ashbrook dived through a previously made split. I then followed but the lad was rescued by the group who he happened to be a roadie for, while Nigel and myself got the worst of it as they were up on stage, kicking down at us. We sensibly retreated through the split bumping into Mike Karslake and a young police man on the way out. At the mention of knives flying around he flipped and gave out over his radio a special call for officers under attack! While all this was going on a group of so called "cockney mods" were set on by a Yorkshire club which saw them retreat, being outnumbered. With nobody to attack our trouble makers headed out of the marquee ripping out the lights and tent supports as the went. Remember the officer in distress call? Yes, help arrived as everyone emerged from the tent which saw a police car turned on its roof, the straw bales set ablaze and firemen pelted with beer cans as they fought to put them out. The SPG had arrived and proceeded to arrest or rough up anyone in arms reach with one of the committee being temporarily arrested and yours truly nearly being choked to death by one of the arresting officers colleagues. As a result we called off the rally, not the police as a lot of people thought.
It was a very sad, disillusioned committee who meet a week later to assess the future of the club. I must point out here why I've bothered to detail what happened at Southend 79, I think more than any other event it shows the dedication and refusal to succumb to the minority of trouble makers that dogged the early years of the L.C.GB, and the bravery of people who never backed away from trouble even if it held a knife. For me its shows above all else that people did things for scootering, not for self gratification.
1980 started with a very subdued committee and in some cases very disillusioned. The newsletter only came out in February with John Illing bluffing that he only intended doing it then anyway. We had decided to leave the rally scene alone and run sporting events. This again ran into trouble as we tried to hire a local track (Three sisters) but found the EMSA had also been after it which resulted in us both presenting our case to the FBSC management committee only to see the EMSA get exclusive rights to the venue. We were advised from all sides to mothball or at least low profile L.C.GB but for the reasons stated above, continued. Around February I accepted the job of general secretary to the Federation of British Scooter Clubs which at the time I viewed as promotion to the highest ranks of scooter sport. Unfortunately I had to resign my position as L.C.GB PRO although still keeping a active interest as a committee member. Things were changing in the L.C.GB as Gordon Eves left the committee with wife Maureen (the rot had set in).
John Illing's concentration on setting up a new flat found less and less time for the newsletter. Geoff Robinson took on the treasurers job as a stop gap to Gordon leaving while Pete Barber better known as "Joe Koole" moved into Administration. Baitings Dam was in trouble again as the water authority insisted we hire two police men for the day, although these were for inside the site and the trouble had been outside the year before?! On the day a Superintendent showed up and told us he had a full task force on stand by just down the road and when crowds began to appear these were called in making it look more like a police mans day trip than a scooter hill climb. This didn't deter the local trouble makers who attacked scooterists camping during the night, then came back in cars during the day trying to knock lone scooterists off their machines. This saw me have an unholy row with the superintendent which resulted in us being asked for £200 to hire the site for the August hill climb but they also wanted us to hire six policemen. We obviously had to cancel the event. On the brighter side we once again had a stand at Belle Vue rod and custom show with a huge backdrop papered in brick effect to give the impression of a wall, as used in the advertising for the film Quadrophenia. Strangely enough we couldn't find enough custom Lambretta's of the right standard so had to use mainly Vespa's.
Around September John Illing resigned, totally disillusioned. Peter Sherwen who up to then hadn't a specific job to do took on the newsletter as well as doing Jet Set, which was finally brought into a bimonthly magazine with Mark Haines handling the publishing. I took over the job as General Secretary, which to me was a de-motion as I had to resign my FBSC job. Peter continued the newsletter the way John had done it with some lovely bits of humor. 1981 saw us looking to lay the ghost of Southend and rebuild the image of the club which had been tarnished badly and also build up membership which was dropping fast. Two Four Accessories offered us space on the Heron Suzuki stand at the NEC show with Arthur Francis straight as usual asking us to come smart, not in jeans and T-shirts.
We manned the stand all week between us dressed in three piece suits, which led Arthur to write to us afterwards, thanking us and saying how we'd made the rest of them look scruffy by comparison. It was at this show that I meet a girl called Pam White, who was later to become Pam Jones of C.J. Scooters. This was the year Tom Mahor organised National Scooter Day at Malvern Showground which still must rank as one of the best organised and run events in modern day scootering, as you've probably guessed it was members of the L.C.GB committee who went to Worchester and help Tommy plan it and run it on the day, as well as Norrie Kerr who ran the gymkhana for us. Area reps came into being as it was felt at the AGM the year before it would help the club understand what its members wanted if there was local feedback. The reps were Paul Smylie, Mark Sargent, Glyn Williams, Chris Lee, Pam White, Martin Scully, Mark Haines, Tommy Cunningham, Mark Benson, Tina Savage, Brian Miller, Neil Wightman.
John Common finished as Championship Controller as well as finishing with the FBSC as Secretary to the stewards, who left scootering altogether to spend more time at home as over the twenty or so years he's been in scootering he'd been one of the most active people. We honored John with a life membership of the L.C.G.B.
We had decided to get back into sporting events and I found two circuits up north called Silloth and Ponderosa both in Cumbria. With half the original committee gone and those that were left wanting to race on the day at new circuits we needed people with experience to run I with us. The most obvious choice was London area Scooter Clubs Association (LASCA) and between us we ran two very successful meetings, although Silloth was very rough and expensive for what it was so we never used it again. I dreamt up Best Supporting Member Championship, which was a way of utilizing the area reps and also getting marshals at events. We also included the National runs in the listed events as well still had a big interest in the road going scooterists, although we still wouldn't put on any rallies yet. At the AGM at the end of the year Mike Karslake resigned as Chairman but accepted the Honorary role of President of the club, which was a new post, but our way of thanking Mike for his dedication to the club. Geoff Robinson resigned as treasurer and Nigel Ashbrook took over the job.
1982 and I personally was getting more and more involved with the National Runs that were now organised (in a fashion) with a No 1's meeting being organised through Martin Dixon's magazine Scootermania. Unfortunately Martin and myself couldn't always agree so when we applied to run a rally in Scarborough when the National Runs was there, Martin also had the same idea. After much negotiation we agreed to do a joint rally but when we realised this could resurrect the ghost of Southend, we pulled out as a club, but Nigel Ashbrook, Pete Barker, Tommy Cunningham and myself put our own money into the event with the idea of making a sizeable donation to the L.C.GB out of the profit. The event went £1200 into debt, with us all losing £150 and Dixon £600. This was purely due to vandalism so the decision to leave L.C.GB out had been right. We went after Baitings Dam again but they wanted us to pay for six policemen, which worked out at £600 plus various expenses. Then another £200 to hire the circuit, we simply could not afford it!
Once again we promote racing at Ponderosa with Norrie Kerr coming to our rescue and giving up a days racing to be clerk of the course. We sponsored Frank Osgerby in his record attempt and I think it was this year that he actually broke some records. Pete Sherwin with a fast expanding photography business finished as Jet Set editor, and I take over as a stop gap (I'm now doing Newsletter, Jet Set and Gen Sec job). Despite a long meeting between Tommy Cunningham, the Isle of Man police and myself, scooters are banned from the I.O.M after Keswick National Run riot. Peter Barber retires pending a replacement being found, totally disillusioned with scootering in general and another main committee man is gone. Area reps had been dropped at the 1981 AGM on my recommendation, as most didn't reply to anything I asked them. We took on Mark Sargent and Mark Haines to the committee. One person looked bitterly disappointed was Neil Wightman and it was mid 982 before I asked him onto the committee or possibly 93. Nigel Ashbrook took on the Admin Sec's job as well as Treasurer as we felt the money all going to one address would be beneficial.
1983 and we still weren't confident of putting on major events. We had a scoop in the newsletter that a new business was about to open in Nottingham that as yet wasn't named but turned out to be M.S.C. At a meeting called by Supt. Heyhurst in Morecambe to try and organise the forthcoming Easter National Run, I meet Chris Burton and struck up a friendship that's lasted to this day. Jeff Smith joined L.C.GB as the new Administration Secretary with Alan (Butch) Kay and Dave Mouisjuk being brought on to the committee when they also applied for the job. The position went to Jeff as he was first to apply. MSC opened in the April and immediately started sponsoring L.C.GB with fancy newsletter covers which Bedlam Scooters also did later in the year. John Coxton accepted the Honorary Chairman of L.C.GB in recognition of the work he'd put into the club over the years.
Nigel Ashbrook tried to get an L.C.GB racing team off the ground but couldn't get enough people interested. We handed over the running of the Ponderosa circuit to the Carlisle Racing SC as we didn't have enough interest or knowledge to run race meetings. Dave Mouisjuk and Alan Kay resigned as they couldn't put enough time into the club. Andy Francis who already wrote for Jet Set started a long line of competitons both in newsletters and Jet Set. Tommy Cunningham dies of a drug overdose. Although Tommy was brilliant at organising events he had a very bad habit, although only a few people knew. I organise an L.C.GB gymkhana with Southport police, saying in the newsletter how good they had been at helping, etc. Did I eat humble pie after that fiasco! It was at the 1983 Presentation Dance that we presented Mike Karslake with a silver platter to mark his 30 years in scootering and also in either 82 or 83 we got £400 from our trustees as they finally decided we had finished our probationary period. It was also this year in which I was presented the Barcelona Sword by the rest of the committee for my work for the club, this still ranks as one of the most moving moments I've had in scootering.
1984 and my disagreements with Martin Dixon had become a main focal point of scootering once again with Martin challenging L.C.GB to take on running the National Runs. this we did but not without a lot of harsh words between Martin and myself. Karen Holland joined L.C.GB as Racing Championship Controller. Paddy Keating who had done a lot at events to support the club, emigrated to Austrailia, and we gave him a life long membership for all his work. We have an early open day at A.F Rayspeeds where plans are unveiled for a new revolutionary barrel code named TS1. Setting up the runs necessitates me being away from home for days at a time as I flit around the country with Chris Burton who at the same time sets up his entertainment which in turn brings us in much needed revenue. The policy of the No1's meeting was we couldn't charge for sites so we had to charge dealers. The whole year was a disaster; sites around the country were wrecked or nearly burnt to the ground like Newark Showground.
Somehow though by pure luck and skillful negotiating for sites, we finished the year with a profit of £1700 and only charged at Newark Event.
By now though the pressure of virtually running L.C.GB single handedly was beginning to show as I look back on newsletters, editorials and committee letters where I have ripped into various people. When Newark Showground got burnt out I was ready for packing in but only close friends within scootering kept me going. At the AGM Nigel Ashbrook finally gave up and retired but promised to come out of retirement if we needed him at any big events. Mark Haines also retired with his shop Bedlam Scooters business growing all the time. Both were honored with life memberships, and we gave Nigel the Barcelona Sword, and Mark the Norman Gaze trophy. I think it was 1984 that Richard and Margaret Dawson joined the committee and Margaret took over the treasury. Jane smith had took over the Administration Secretary's position and was one of the best we ever had, although Jeff Smith took some beating. After the problems of the runs we decided to L.C.GB wasn't fulfilling its role as a members club, so out of the L.C.GB committee the National Runs committee was formed with roughly half the L.C.GB committee on both. Jeff Smith was brave enough to take on the role of Chairman of this new body which also suited all sides as Martin and Myself still agreed to differ. A major controversy broke out over Jet Set which we realized and sold nationally to boost club funds, but a lot of people wouldn't pay their bills so it started to get into financial difficulty and had to be bailed out by the main clubs funds. Ginger somewhere here had joined the committee as he helped me on every run, and was doing the club shop. A no1's meeting was held at Skegness to introduce the idea of the NRC.
1985 started with another attempt at Members Rallies, which were held at the More Arms in Shropshire. They proved to be an instant success. In April we were back running big events with John Law doing all the ground work for the custom show, film show and five-a-side at Telfords Sports Center. The event was a huge success and made us "loads-a-money". Duckhams called us with the news they are pulling out of sponsoring us, but what was to become regular generosity MSC stepped up their sponsorship to £100. We are invited to take part in the Vespa UK Ltd. event to be called DISC 85 but I have frequent rows with people involved as they wont listen to our experience of running events of this type. Consequently the event was a disaster although I'm pleased to say our part of it, the custom show was a huge success. John Law joined the committee but resigned a few months later after arguments with other committee members. Alan Kay came back for a short time but left again when he got a job that gave him little time off at weekends. John Coxton retires as chairman and we decide to operate without one for the time being. We approach the Isle government about a members rally on the island which would be the first mass return of scooters since the ban. They had no objections but costs made it a non starter. Richard Dawson takes on the PRO's job while later in the year Jeff applied for and was given the chairman's job, although at the time I doubted the wisdom of the decision as I felt being also the chairman of the NRC, the two might clash somewhere along the line. We try moving the AGM/Dance up-market with a formal diner dance but members show what they think of the idea by boycotting ticket sales so it was cancelled with two weeks to go. The last of the original committee finished when Peter Sherwin and Keith Sharpes leave in mid year, leaving me as the last of the original committee that took the L.C.GB out of the mothballs.
1986 and Jane Smith retires as Administration Secretary to have a baby and Karen Holland takes over the position. I forgot to mention that in 1985 (I think) Neil Wightman had taken over doing the newsletter from me and in 86 hands the job onto Richard Dawson as he took over the club shop.
This years custom show was at the winter gardens, Blackpool and a £3,000 promotion. It lost £100 when it was very badly supported. With the sudden death of the owner of the More Arms, the place was shut and later sold so I had to find new venues for rallies. These were Tan hill and the Craven Helter near Chorley. After only three newsletters done by Richard it was decided to incorporate it into Jet Set by making it up to 32 pages. Jet Set 27 was the last one on general sale. M.S.C once again came to the rescue with an offer to sponsor half the colour covers. This proved a life saver to the club at the end of the year Bedlam Scooters agreed to sponsor the other half.
Mike Karslake moves to Devon as he retires through ill health and starts work on a his life's work; a Lambretta Museum. We hold an open day Scooter jumble at Bedlam Scooters and make over £500 out of what Mark Haines gives us to sell. To cut costs we book Trotters Suite in Mansfield for the AGM/Dance which breaks tradition of holding it at the Lakeside Pavilion Nottingham University. Karen Holland finished with the L.C.GB which left myself and John Illing to tidy things up for the AGM. Margaret Dawson retired as Treasurer after a reign that saw the club slip into the red at one time, as membership slipped as low as 280 at one time. Neil took over as treasurer and Margaret did club shop although some how this became Richards job as time went on. With Karen dropping the Administrations job we had a period of no Admin Sec. John Illing did the job as a stop gap. Unfortunately this became the basis of a major row between Jeff Smith and myself being partially settled when Gary Lievers who had followed all the correct procedure for the job was given it.
1987 saw us slowly picking up members again, and the funds getting better as we tightened up all round. (I have got my years wrong and the above event at Bedlams was actually in March 1987).
Controversy dogged us all year as Jeff and myself ignored each other where possible. We had to pull out officially from the 40th Anniversary Celebrations of Lambretta to be held at Mike Karslake's because it clashed with a National Run. Scooter & Scooterist was finally put to bed after Norrie threatening to do it for twelve months or more. We held a mid year open day with MSC which was very successful from everybody's point of view and later in the year did another one at Bedlams. I dreamt up an idea of the Super Custom Show, where the winners of all other custom shows, were invited to enter the Super Class while the others entered the Normal Class. this proved a huge success and money spinner for the club. Mid year I got a mystery illness that put me off work for 13 weeks and in the end was diagnosed as over work. It seemed I'd finally cracked under the pressure. To top off for me a terrible year my farther died of cancer while I was away running the Supershow, although I doubt he would have insisted I be there as he was very proud of every thing I did. Mid year at a very straight talking committee meeting, I was asked to give up doing one of my jobs, and opted to give up Jet Set. John Illing was a natural choice for this role and took over straight away. It was a very bad start for John, as we had a major wrangle on our hands over sponsorship of the colour covers which saw us having to bring Jet Set out in black and white till the rows were settled. Richard Dawson brought my cup of misery for 87 overflowing when he retired to concentrate on his business. At the AGM Jeff and myself sorted out our differences, but things were never to be the same again.
1988 saw us pick up new committee members when Paul (Alf) Allin of the Mansfield Monsters joined the committee along with Paul Moylan, Ian Jeffery and Martin Leech. Jeff Smith dropped the bombshell early in the year when he retired from the committee to concentrate on running the NRC which had become a full time "hobby".
Jet Set 37 was back in colour and the wrangle with sponsors is sorted out. We planned a September rally at Kesterfield to celebrate the 35 anniversary of the L.C.GB, and Neil Wightman and myself planned a John-O-Groats to Lands End run to commemorate it, plus raise money for various charities. Some 29 Lambretta's assembled at John-O-Groats later in the year and after they all completed the run over 4 days, we arrived at Kesterfield for the rally. The buffet was done by the villagers of Northlew and in return we made a large donation to their church. The close bond between L.C.GB and the villagers of Northlew was thereby founded. We brought out a special A4 size Jet Set to commemorate all the above feats. Later still this year Gary Lievers retired as Administration Secretary at the Super Show to work for the NSRA.
1989 saw the start of Project Bike from 3 scooters donated by lain Stewart. Stuart Lanning took over the Treasurers job in March from Neil Wightman who was under pressure from a new job. We held our Super Custom Show for the first time at the Woughton Centre, Milton Keynes after failing to get a booking at the Queensway Hall at Dunstable. This was the year we turned the now annual rally at Kesterfield into a pure fund raising rally and Mike Karslake couldn't thank us enough when we raised nearly £1000 for the LCGB.
Tony Jains, President of the Swiss Lambretta Club, presented the awards for the Concourse dElegance after coming over specially for the rally. John Illing opened a scooter shop which meant he was very busy, so I went back to editing Jet set with edition 43. Norman joined the Committee early in the year along with Dave Welford. Mid year Karen Woodward took over the Admin. Secretary's job and Kev Spittle became Championship Controller. Kevin Jackson gave up Club Shop and Neil Wightman took it over. lan "Shades" Paterson joined the committee at the AGM which was addressed by Mike Karslake. lain Jeffrey (later to change his name to Collins) resigned from the committee but stayed on as Championship Controller.
In early 1990 the first meeting for the 1992 Euro lambretta Jamboree took place in a freezing cold LCGB museum, and Jet set 45 went to 36 pages. As there was no Euro Lambretta this year the Lambretta Club d'ltalia staged a Lambretta Enthusiasts rally near Milan; 6 members rode there, Mike Karslake went by car (dubbed "The Flying Hen Hutch") and some members flew over. The rally was a huge success and Mike was given the title "Honorary Northerner" by Northern members. He was later presented with a commemorative scroll, which still hangs in the museum. The Serveta factory in Spain closed, but on a visit to the Indian Lambretta factory Glen Daft and Paul Brierley found the future of Lambretta was safe with lots of new design features in the offing.
Norrie Kerr left MSC but Dave Webster continued with the level of sponsorship we had enjoyed during the partnership. The Federation of British Scooter Clubs (FBSC) re-structured itself and L.C.GB played a major part in this.
Mike Karslake did a John-O-Groats to Lands End run in his favorite machine, his fire engine. He stopped in Liverpool overnight and I had the pleasure of his company and his marvelous stories. This was to be the last time I saw him alive as a few weeks later his already weak heat gave up and on November Ist 1990 Mike died at his daughters home. Possibly the strain of two major trips in six months had taken their toll. The Lambretta world went into mourning, but the L.C.GB still had to be run. Rachel Karslake assured us nothing would change at Kesterfield and she continued to run things through her grief. The funeral was attended by a "Who's Who" of scootering from the last 40 years and Mike was buried in the local churchyard in Northlew. Rest In Peace, Mike.
After a freak snow storm which paralysed the country the AGM was postponed until February 1991. Norman had stated he would resign at the AGM. After various pleas and emotional blackmail, Norman decided to stay although Mark Sergeant retired after 10 years with L.C.GB to concentrate on the fledgling Off Road Scooter Riders Association. Mendy Hensby & Gary White both joined the committee and membership went up to £10. lan Harrop, Chairman of the Vintage Motor Scooter Club, and myself came up with the Custom and Vintage Extravaganza which was a huge success.
The extension to the LCGB toilet block was started, which included showers.
The 2nd Euro Lambretta Jamboree was held in Holland and some 200 L.C.GB members attended. Besides all the other trophies the club and members won, the Dutch Lambretta Club put up an international trophy in memory of Mike Karslake. This was awarded to Howard Chambers. At the LCGB fundraising rally we held a memorial service for Mike and later give out an annual trophy in his memory for the Concours dElegance overall winner. This was sponsored by The Green Dragon pub in Northlew and won by an emotional Waddo for his immaculate Vega.
Kev Jackson retired from the committee at a bad-tempered AGM. Waddo took over from Kev Spittle as Championship Controller.
After various stresses I announce I'd contemplated retiring as the Club had lost some £1200 over the year and events had been badly supported. Jet set was now in 40 pages and Robert Kerr opened Scootz, immediately sponsoring the Club and a new generation of sponsors was born.
Along with the Scottish Region of the Vespa Club of Britain we continue to explore the feasibility of holding an Isle of Man scooter week. Karen Woodward finished as Admin. Secretary and Kev Spittle stepped into the role just as the Club became computerised.
1992 - Despite all the work involved in the Euro Lambretta Jamboree we had planned a full calendar of events for the year including another L.C.GB NMSC Show. The FBSC launched its new constitution and format in February, once again with L.C.GB a major part.
Rachel Karslake had a solid slate headstone placed on Mike's grave and visits to Devon became more regular to prepare for the Euro Lambretta Jamboree. My doctor decides I'm suffering from depression and puts me on tablets and off work for 8 weeks while I get better. The committee take most of the work off me with Norman doing the lion's share. How glad we were that he hadn't retired.
I featured in Scootering magazine with a 20 questions article which is basically a run down of my time in scootering. Plans are laid for a joint L.C.GB VCB members rally with the Scottish Region VCB but the landowner backed out at the last minute.
Project Bike was finished, to be raffled at the Euro Lambretta Jamboree and in the 45th Anniversary of Lambretta we start an owner's register with John Illing putting it all onto computer.
That's brings us nicely up to date, although along with the death of Mike Karslake I can't say the last few years have been marvelous of the Club. As I write this in June 1992, we have over 1000 members and a reliable, hard-working committee; a Lambretta Museum in Devon, and things are looking good for the L.C.G.B.