Potted history of the Bognor Regis and District Motorcycle Club (BRDMCC).
The club was formed in 1949 and first met in a bar in Bognor (not sure which one!). After a short time, it moved to the Royal Oak at Lagness. The club had a good social following, and it was therefore decided to move to the Walnut Tree at Runcton, where there was a hall available on Monday nights, which was when the club used to meet.
With a very strong social side to the club, various events were organised on the Monday nights. One competition that was organised was called the Recrem Trophy (donated by Ron Mercer) – every month one member would organise an activity ranging from a quiz to a beetle drive to a ride around West Sussex, answering various questions on route. This ride began with a Le Mans type start, with entrants running across the road to their bikes; we would not get away with this in today’s environment! Points were awarded for each activity and at the end of the year the Recrem Trophy was presented to the overall winner.
One other organised event was a gymkhana held during carnival week in Bognor. This included bike racing around an oval circuit pulling sledges and prams (but not in the same race!), riding over vans, fire jumps and riding through a sheet of glass (proper glass, not sugar glass!) Invariably someone ended up in hospital!
In the sixties the club organised the Polecat Scramble held at Midhurst, which used to attract all the top British riders of the day.
Another event in the sixties was a two-day international trial organised by Ginger Budd with Tony Martin as Secretary of the meeting. The base for the trial was Goodwood House where some of the riders stayed in an attached dormitory. Club runs were planned to various events around the country, from road racing to scrambles, and some members also rode in organised road trials.
Some club members were very good at their sport, one being Nicky Thompson, who became European sidecar scrambles champion. On the scrambles sidecar front we also had the Brooks brothers, who rode regularly. They were supported by club members who organised a club run to wherever they were competing. One venue was at East Meon, where there was a very steep hill that the competitors had to climb. Bognor members invariably marshalled on this hill and when the competitors got stuck the first outfit assisted was usually that of the Brooks brothers!
During the Seventies the Brooks brothers were not only on the committee but also owned land which the club used for several years for putting on trials. To this day the club has the use of the Benges at Eartham, with many thanks to Chris Brooks.
Ginger Budd, who (with Janet Price) was British trials sidecar champion, also competed in enduros, one of which was the Welsh two-day enduro. I accompanied him on this occasion and the whole time we were there it did not stop raining!
We have also had several members who competed nationally in road racing, and one member who competed in the Manx grand prix in the Isle of Mann.
Another notable event from this era was the Campbell Cup night trial. This ran over a Saturday night/Sunday morning around the bye ways of West Sussex. The event started at 11.00 pm from the Walnut Tree, culminating in a big fry-up somewhere in the South Downs. Unfortunately, this had to stop with the changes in regulations regarding road trials – like for most things these days, you must have a permit!
The club became a member of the South Coast Trials group, and remains so, organising and attending regular group trials during the year.
Over the years we have had several meeting places; our welcome at the Walnut Tree eventually wore a bit thin, so we moved to the Spitfire Club in the old officer’s mess at Tangmere aerodrome. When that closed, we switched to the Bader Arms in Tangmere, where we stayed for a while, and then we then went full circle and returned to the Walnut Tree!
Over the years the social side of the club gradually dwindled so that only a few members were turning up. Since then, the club has become more of a Competition club, and focused on solo trials.
BRDMCC has, for many years, organised an annual dinner and dance with a presentation of trophies. This has been held in several places in and around Bognor, finally settling at the Beachcroft Hotel in Felpham. Originally, we used to get over 100 people present, but lately, numbers had dropped to about 65. There would possibly have been a lot less if Tony hadn’t phoned members and badgered them into attending!
It was becoming more difficult to get members to join the committee, when our stalwart Tony Martin took the reins, becoming being secretary in 1985. Several members came and went on the committee, but Tony stayed, and his enthusiasm and dedication kept the club going. The only other long-term member was me, who became Treasurer in 1975 and I am still in that role today.
In 2021, Tony sadly passed away. One of the reasons we struggled afterwards was that he did virtually everything for the club apart from banking the money, paying the bills, and dealing with the accountant. I can report that the club is in a very strong financial position thanks to Tony keeping an eye on expenditure and making sure that the everything was always well run and successful.
The number of trials organised by the Club has increased quite considerably over the years. Events currently include Monthly Club Trials, the ever-popular 2-day Bluebeards and Greybeards trial for the over 40’s, Novice Trials and South Coast Group Trials.
Since Tony’s passing a lot of the members of the club have been very good in putting their hand up and volunteering to take on the jobs he did so well. We now have over 120 members, and a strong and growing committee, who are hoping to take the club forward in the way Tony did.
John Tubb, Club Treasurer.