MGCC Lincolnshire Centre History

In the 1960s, the North East Centre of the MG Car Club stretched from Kings Lynn in the South to the Scottish Borders in the North and from the East coast to the Pennines. There was at this time in the Lincolnshire area a dedicated band of enthusiasts – including Richard Beresford, Alan Grassam, Mike Hewson, Alex Mudie, Rod Sharpe and David Taylor – and it was this team which on the 3rd May 1969 approached Jack Armstrong, the North East Centre Chairman, and Gordon Cobban, the MG Car Club General Secretary, at the Houghton Mill Concours to request and receive permission to establish a separate Lincolnshire Group within the North East Centre. Alan Dakeyne and the late Tony Silcox, respectively Secretary and Treasurer of the North East Centre, also provided a great deal of advice and support in the early days and indeed for many years to come.

The first event took place on 21st December 1969 and was best remembered for the attendees lifting David Taylor’s XK150, on its first outing, out of a ploughed field. Also that year, Hillebrand Bos entered the Portuguese TAP Rally in his MGB. The Group organised its first Mini Rally in May 1970 and its first Autotest, the start of a long tradition in Lincolnshire, two months later in July with an entry fee of just two shillings!


On the 18th of March 1973, the Group held its first AGM. Later that year member, Mike Hewson, gained a class win in the California Cup Autotests at Silverstone; the Ferry Boat Natter held its inaugural meeting under the guidance of John and June Laurence and the Fortesque Arms in Tattershall was the venue for the first Dinner & Dance.

In 1974, the Group gained three awards in the California Cup Autotests at Silverstone and the following year the first Tour of Lincolnshire multi-site Autotest took place. The Black Horse Natter began and there were 17 events in total including Autotests, Mini Rallies, Navigation Rallies, the first Sporting Car Trial, a Concours d’Elegance and a Quiz. The first Natters at the Lord Nelson at Brigg and the George at Leadenham were held in 1976 and Silverstone again showed good Group performance with a win in the Register Trophy and second in the California Cup. There were three individual class wins, a novice trophy and a second place in the Mary Harris Trophy Race.

1977 saw the Group winning the Register Trophy again and gaining second places in both the California Cup and the BMC Trophy. Racing also began to take a stronger hold with members Rob Gill and Bryan Bowles gaining second places at Cadwell Park and Bryan being awarded the Newcomer’s Award in the T-Type Championship.

The Lincolnshire Group attained Sub-Centre status in 1978 and members joined the visit to the Long Beach Centre in California. The MG Car Club Headquarters moved to Boston from Houghton and Sheila Laurence was appointed Assistant to the General Secretary, Gordon Cobban. This was followed in 1980 by the granting of Centre status to Lincolnshire, effective as from the 1st February. This was the MG Car Club’s Golden Jubilee year and Lincolnshire Centre attracted sixteen members from Long Beach to enter the Tour of Lincolnshire while they were over here. It was also in this year that, with the assistance of Sheila Laurence and Sheila Isaac, who designed the “Poacher’s logo”, the Lincolnshire Centre started the “Poacher’s Pamphlet” to help keep it’s members better informed about local matters. This was published about three times a year.

The Centre gained the prestigious Nuffield Gold Cup in 1982 “as the most enterprising home Centre”. The BMC Trophy in the Silverstone Autotests was again brought back to Lincolnshire as it was in 1983. During this period of the eighties three members, Peter Chowne, Rob Gill and Paul Campling became leading lights in the new BCV8 Championship and indeed Rob’s white MGC graced the cover of the Silverstone programme for several years.

1984 saw Mike Hewson and Rod Colebrook calling it a day after many years as Tour of Lincolnshire organisers. For 1985 a new team comprising Steve Hall, Peter Ellis, Mike Jakeman and David Kempton took over and turned a one day multi-site Autotest into a weekend event. This team in part or in whole continued until 1991. During the nineties the emphasis of the MG Car Club events in Lincolnshire changed with much more enthusiasm for social and non-competitive events. The change wasn’t complete, however, as is shown by California Cup Autotests wins in the BMC Trophy in 1992, 1993, 1995, 1996 and a second place in 1997, a win in the California Cup in 1993 and a third in 1995 and at least 5 class awards, two ladies awards and a novice award over the period.

The spread of social events was truly amazing! There were Karting evenings, 4WD driving sessions, a series of informal Pride of Ownership events [devised by Kevin Pateman in the eighties to try and improve Natter attendance], Chairman’s Days; annual Spring weekends to Settle, Autumn weekends, Gymkhanas followed by BBQs chez Mike and Maria Taylor, Safari Suppers [first devised by Mark Bellamy in 1996], an annual Quiz generally with (or against) the local Jaguar Drivers Club, a corn dolly classic tour organised by Derek Wright, visits to local garage businesses and Tim Bee’s private but fascinating garage plus a lot more. Regular displays at Messingham, Oasby, Grimsthorpe, Waddington, Banovallum, Spalding and Sandringham. Over the years the Chairman’s Day has taken the form of a Bowls match, a boat trip on the Trent at Newark, visits to Harlaxton Manor, the Great Central Steam Railway, Drayton Manor Family Theme Park and Zoo, SVW restorations and Hornsea Pottery/Freeport.

The Lincolnshire weekend continued to go from strength to strength attracting many out of centre members and taking place at various locations from Tallington in the south to Woodthorpe in the north under the guidance of various teams and committees. On the competitive side, there were Autotests, Treasure Hunts, Scatter Rallies and several practice days at Cadwell Park.

Racing featured strongly in the Lincolnshire Centre over this period with regular entries and wins in the T-Type, BCV8 and Midget Championships. It was also during the nineties that Lincolnshire Centre members started the MG Car Club Metro Championship and indeed over its life a good proportion of the entrants have come from Lincolnshire.

With the new Millenium came a gradual metamorphosis of what MG Car Club members wanted from their club. More members were joining for the cheap insurance and award winning magazine “Safety Fast!” There was still a core of competitive members and Autotests & Scatter Rallies were still popular in the calendar. Teams from the Lincolnshire Centre continued to perform well in the California Cup Autotests winning both the BMC Trophy & California Cup. The Concours d’Elegance was reintroduced into the Calendar at the Petwood Hotel and attracted classic car owners from near and far.

Over the years new Natters sprang up as members wanted to meet more often. The centrally placed Abbey Lodge Inn, Kirkstead, near Woodhall Spa, has for over 30 years been the starting point for the popular New Year’s Day Run and runs Social Drives starting and finishing at the Abbey during the Spring and Summer months. By 2019 there were a further five ‘Natters’ scattered around the county and from time to time the venues have changed as pubs closed. The Natters are seen as an important part of the club and help members keep in touch, especially in the winter months. Thanks goes to the ‘Natter Leaders’ for continuing to host these gatherings and the latest news and location of the Natters can be found in the Natters section of the website.

The prestigious Nuffield Gold Cup was won by the Lincolnshire Centre in 2006 & 2008 and caused much celebration at the annual Silverstone event. Toasting the Centre’s success with Old Speckled Hen being the “champagne of choice” for members celebrating into the small hours!

For several years, Rover Day at the Lincolnshire Aviation Heritage Centre, East Kirkby, has been complemented by our own “MG Day” at the same venue with MGs visiting from all over the country. The Noble Trophy, a prestigious award for the MG chosen by the Panton Family and donated by the Noble Brothers, is presented on the day.

In 2007 the Newsletter was reborn and included advertisers from the MG world, both local and national, giving members a self-financing “bible” to keep by their telephone and refer to for information about the Lincolnshire Centre.

The very popular “National Drive Your Classic Day” events attract members with all types of MG and visit different venues each year. Starting from all corners of the Lincolnshire Centre, the event also includes a Treasure Hunt and Pride of Ownership.

The Lincolnshire Centre was the first to organise an AutoSolo! This event, similar to an Autotest, did not include any reversing and had arrows showing the direction of the route to assist competitors. Each run took well over a minute to complete, giving competitors an exhilarating drive.

In 2010 the Concours d’Elegance evolved into the Lincolnshire Poacher Concours Show held at a different venue each year.

In March 2012, the MG Luncheon Club held its first meeting at the Sebastopol at Minting. Visiting a different venue each month, from the Leagate Inn to the Finch Hatton, the MG Luncheon Club attracts members from all over the Lincolnshire Centre on the Third Wednesday each month.

In June 2013, MG CARR was a new event based at the Lincolnshire Aviation Heritage Centre and including drives out in the beautiful Lincolnshire countryside. Originally put forward as an idea by Robert Welch, MG CARR [Combined AutoSolo & Road Run] was organised by Ian & Sue Mackenzie, their friends Pete & Liz and Robert & Carol Welch. A change of site for the AutoSolo, owing to a very large quantity of silage being on the original site, caused some interesting routes to be taken by the competitors. The two road runs, one north and one south, included road boards in the verge which needed to be noted down in the correct order to prove the prescribed route had been followed. Ian Mackenzie was also “out in the country” with his stopwatch doing ‘a spot check on the time taken to complete the route so far’ . . . The event was voted an overwhelming success by competitors and will be repeated in 2014.

Lincolnshire Centre continues to attract new members and its Committee is ever alert to its members changing tastes in preferred events.

We are grateful to the following members for their help in putting together this "potted history" - Mike Hewson (1970s), John Laurence (1980s), Peter Ellis (1990s) & Sheila Laurence (2000s)

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