Our 2017 Annual Rally


The weekend of 10th and 11th June had been chosen for the Club’s 2017 annual rally at the beautiful Wroxall Abbey Hotel in Warwickshire and our organiser, Martin Johnson-Howe had attended to every detail. Wroxall is a simply lovely venue. The long majestic driveway from the main road brings you to the front of this magnificent Grade II listed Victorian building, which exudes traditional elegance and grandeur. Once the site of a country home of Sir Christopher Wren, the mansion which was built in 1868 displays many fine, original features, including historic crests, working fires with grand wooden and stone surrounds, Minton tiled entrance hall, high ceilings and the legend of St Leonard depicted in the beautiful stained glass window. The grounds contain the ruins of the original abbey, the lovely church and acres of landscapes. Of course, it’s absolutely steeped in history which satisfied the most ardent “culture vultures” amongst us.

Generally, our weekend started on Friday evening with those who travel longer distances and those who simply wanted to make it more of a weekend away, assembling together for a drinks party in the Chairman’s room in preparation for dinner at 7.30.

Martin had organised a real novelty for Saturday and after one of Wroxall’s terrific breakfasts, at 10.30, a splendidly restored and maintained 1966 Bristol continental touring coach, sporting the livery of the original owners – Hants and Dorset Motor Services, arrived to take us on a sight-seeing journey around Warwick, Stratford upon Avon and the local environs. Philip, the driver and owner of this treasured vehicle, recalled that Hants and Dorset was affectionately known in the trade as “Pants and Corset” and advised us that we were riding in the bottle green leather and lace antimacassar luxury of one of their continental tourers which plied routes between the south of England, Germany and the south of France.  In those heady days of holidays in England by the seaside, and before the advent of the package holiday that quickly flew you to the sun, the well heeled and adventurous watched Europe pass by their coach window! In those days cruising speed and top speed were viewed as one and the same, and, as if to prove she still could, Phil slipped through the crash  gearbox and gave us a taste of 1960s travel at 55 mph. I think most concluded that the 800 mile trip to the Cote d’Azur would have been an un-nerving experience! By 1.30 our meanderings around the Warwickshire countryside were over and we arrived at The Tipperary Inn for “refreshments” and the chance to meet up with other members who made their journeys on Saturday morning.

The management of Wroxall Abbey Hotel are a very car friendly lot and their Director, Grant, and manager Jenny had agreed that rather than using the grassed area away from the main building usually allocated to car club displays, we could assemble Coventry’s finest on the lawns to the rear of hotel. With no spares to display and the prospect of a decent forecast, only one marquee was erected, and that was achieved in record time, leaving a short period for rest and recuperation before meeting together in the bar (again!) in anticipation of our annual celebratory dinner. Some light entertainment prior to and during dinner was enjoyed as Martin had conjured up a magician (geddit??) to amaze and astonish. Damon Conlan’s brand of close-up magic and sleight of hand was very impressive and enjoyable. A good dinner was expertly served and, as has become the norm, the evening was rounded off with a celebratory glass of warming comfort, provided by David and Jane Thomas who had carried several bottles from their home in Portugal for us.

The format of this year’s rally was a major departure from those held in recent years in that the accommodation and the rally venue were the same. No journey to make on Sunday morning and a great chance to enjoy a leisurely breakfast and everything that the hotel and its surrounding grounds offered. The hotel boasts a delightful spa facility with pool, gym, sauna and steam room, together with some optional massage and beauty treatments, all of which, for some, provided a welcome distraction to the day’s normal events!

By 10.00am the hotel lawns were filling with a variety of cars representing the best of the Triumph Motor Company’s production through the late 1920s and 30s. The larger saloons and roadsters at the back, near to the house and the smaller and sporty cars towards the front and by the time we were summoned together for our AGM, we had assembled a very creditable 28 cars.

Our Chairman, David Mason opened our AGM at midday and reviewed the past year, the Club’s achievements and acknowledged the efforts made by each of the members of the Committee in their various roles; apologies for absence given by Secretary, Tony Miles were noted and Jon Quiney presented his reports as both Membership Secretary and Treasurer. The existing management structure had agreed to continue in their roles and this was voted on and accepted. It was all very much “business as normal” and it was gratifying that member Mike Goddard concluded the meeting by expressing his thanks, on behalf of the membership, for all the work of the management in keeping the Club going.

Our communal picnic lunch in the June sunshine rolled into an afternoon of pleasant conversation, technical discussions and general admiration of people’s efforts to restore, maintain and run the cars we treasure so much and, as is always the case, it was all over too quickly. Our Club trophies were awarded to their deserving recipients with Wroxall’s Grant and Jenny making the presentations; the raffle prizes passed around; the marquee and gazebo dismantled; the site checked over and left clean and tidy – and we bid our farewells and headed for home.

For our Club, for Martin particularly, and for the management and staff of Wroxall Abbey, it had been a real TRIUMPH, and to everyone involved, thank you for making it such a notable day.

Steve Jacobs.