I was recently asked to write about the formative years of the club. Warren Hicks has previously written on this subject about 5 years ago, so I hope my memory is not too bad. With the aid of old newsletters and personal contact with founding members this should be a fairly accurate account of the first couple of years of the club’s history.
Prior to the foundation of the club there was no organization to cater solely to Veteran and Vintage motorcylecles in this state. Those who rode machines of this era had only the well - established Veteran Car Club of Aust. and the Vintage Drivers Club to cater for their needs. The riders in the 1960's could be seen with the early Car Rallies run with sponsorship from Golden Fleece. I have been led to believe the motorcycles were only just tolerated, so it was only natural that the riders met amongst themselves to discuss the formation of a suitable organization.
The South Australian Vintage and Veteran scene had made an earlier start. They were holding rallies which were well organized and attended prior to 1960. Warren Hicks was a member and also a regular visitor to this state before he became a resident. He was to play an active role in all facets of club activities from then on.
I attended a couple of rallies in S.A. in company with Warren, Ted McGan, Darryl White and Lindsay Read in the early 1960’s. Now another important player enters the scene (accidentally, so I’m told). A keen motorcyclist with a bad case of wander-lust, he came from U.K. and rode across Europe and Asia to Singapore on a 500cc Matchless outfit and landed in Western Australia. He remained there for a while, acquired a 1200cc ex-army Indian outfit and headed for Victoria. Eventually David B. Dumble met Warren Hicks at a Mr. Sharp's place where some old motorcycles and parts were offered for sale. They discussed the lack of a club in this state. I am told that some one suggested to Dave that he do something about it as he had time on his hands.
The City of Northcote was home to a strong group of Vintage and Veteran enthusiasts who met fairly often at Jack Nelson's and talked old cars and bikes and of need for a club. However, as a result of his talk with Warren Dave beat everyone to the draw by placing an ad in the "Age" inviting all who were interested in forming a club to meet at Mr. Gerry Trethewey's home in Footscray. Gerry was a Veteran car member and also owned motorcycles. The date of that preliminary meeting was Feb. 7th. 1964. 23 people signed on in that evening, though Newsletter No 1 in June 1964 states 25 attended.
The next meeting was March 6th. again at Gerry Tretheway's. 22 people signed the register with their ad-dresses and phone numbers.
Some of the "firsts" may be of interest for today's members. I could be corrected on some points as our Editor of the early newsletters could be a bit vague at times. Dates, names of events and committees were not always recorded, so we have to fall back on various peoples rusty memories. First Committee: President - N.J. McCubbin, Vice Presidents - G. Trethewaey and Lindsay Read, Secretary - D. Dumble, Treasurer - Vincent Moar. Committee probably Neil Kirk and Jim Goble. I was asked some time prior to June 1964 to be Club Captain, but am not sure of the date of acceptance as existence of a Club Captain is not recorded till later in the year. First paid-up member is Norm McCubbin who holds No. 1 receipt. The first published objectives in June 1964 with the first newsletter were as follows: "To provide a meeting ground for those whose hobby is col-
lecting and restoring motorcycles which would otherwise rust away or be consigned to the scrap heap, the collection and distribution of information which will be of interest and help them, the organization of rallies, trials and social events at which they may use the machines and show them to each other and the public.
The Vintage Drivers Club and the Veteran Car Club cater for motor cyclists but we feel there should be an organization exclusively for motorcyclists. Since our number is small compared to car owners a club covering all periods seems the best way out. The club is not in opposition with any club: rather, we hope it will become complementary to car clubs since our basis aim of preserving and using historical vehicles is the same.
After much discussion re a name for the club it was resolved it be "Motor Cycle 'Collectors Club of Victoria.” Many would have preferred "Vintage Motorcycle Club". That occurred much later.
Four separate classed were decided on for the club competitions as follows:
-Veteran: Motorcycles manufactured prior to December 31st. 1918.
-Vintage: Motorcycles manufactured prior to December 31st. 1930.
-Post Vintage: manufactured prior to December 31st. 1939.
Of Special Interest: Motorcycles manufactured after the above date and admitted at the discretion of the Dating and Judging Committee.
July 1964 is the first recorded meeting of machines at Eltham Common. The same month, on behalf of the club I purchased books and manuals from Mr. Fred Tracey of speedway fame. September 1964 committee meeting accepted the “re-hash” of a constitution based on the Bentley Drivers Club of G.B. George McKaige and Jack Nelson were the advisers on this. October 1964 George McKaige spoke to assembled members and advised acceptance of the constitution and the need to incorporate (cost some 200 Pounds) We had 52 Pounds in the kitty. So while the constitution was accepted in that form, the incorporation had to wail till much later.
October 11th,1964 saw the first recorded “Pleasant Sunday Morning” at Jim Goble’s residence at Box Hill. The first year ended with 48 members who collectively owned up to holding some 181 machines. 1965 was
a very busy year with some good events to attend, even though we did not do too much on our own because of scarcity of funds. However, the events organized by club members were generally well attended and a lot of fun. After a lot of messing around Norm McCubbin managed to have No.1 licence plate re-issued. Jack Read had somehow found out about the machine it was on, and told Norm. That was on March 7th. 1965. The story was featured in the press at the time.
The first Kangaroo Rally Vintage Run was held on March 7th. 1965. The first Panton Hills Rally was organized by Chas. Pobjoy, Alan Wilkinson and Alan Greenaway. The first lady member was Mrs. Joy Pobjoy at the August meeting in 1965.
First Badge: After viewing the usual wings and wheels design for a cloth badge, 32 members settled on a design from an old Flying Merkel advertisment and had it worked over by the artists at the Reserve Bank who came up with the shape and colour, cornflower, topper and emerald on a white background with a red border. I took it to Coats at Richmond at a price of 10/- we then had our badge. The lapel badge caused more problems and came later. The first event where machines were judged was held at the Panton Hills Rally on October 3rd. 1965. The trophies made by Mr. Moar, Vin’s father, were a silver-coated Matchbox die-cast model of a veteran Matchless V twin outfit mounted on a beautifully polished wooden base.
The class winners were:
Veteran - Jim Goble 1916 Indian
Vintage - Joy Pobjoy 1924 250cc B.S.A.
Post Vintage - Alan Wilkinson 1939 N.S.U.
Of special interest - Norm McCubbin’s 1927 Big Port A.J.S.
We had some great times and did all sorts of interesting things. There seemed to be little pockets of enthusiasts in most areas, north and south of the Yarra. Jack Nelson’s place attracted a lot. Gerry Trethewey’s and Alan Wilkinson’s were focal points. Others were at Guy Leopold’s, Jack Read’s, Chas. Pobjoy’s and Neil Robert’s residences. These would always find some one around of a weekend and evenings. Warren Hicks was a frequent visitor out our way.
I remember some of the early council clean-ups which used to yield all sorts of goodies. Jim Goble’s old Fargo truck was always a great source of interest at meetings as he always had interesting things on board. Jack Read and I went scrounging a couple of times dressed in dark blue overalls, we waited till dark and out we would go.
Jim also used to take train rides and look over fences into back yards. He reasoned the inner suburbs would alwaysyield something. I took his advice, and with a pair of binoculars, scanned the yards around Fitzroy from the old Note Printing Works, 5 floors up, in Victoria Pde. I acquired 3 machines that way.
To many the chase-up of clues and finding a machine was the ‘Ibe-all and end-all.” Others devoted energies to restoration. Prices in those days were realistic 30/- to 5 Pounds ($3 - $10) were considered reasonable. A study of early newsletters reveal that you could get some machines just for taking them out of someone’s yard when they had no further use for them and needed the space.
The club has gone through some stormy periods, besides the good times, during the past 25 years. But it has still prospered because of the people who make up the club. It has always been a family affair where you can bring your wives and children and have a pleasant time together. We have always had a good name in any of the areas we have operated, and I believe the next 25 years will be just as productive and enjoyable.
May good health and safe riding be yours now and in the future.
The Vintage Motorcycle Club of Victoria
Registered Number A0006534S
P.O. Box 236, Box Hill 3128
P: 0473 232 372
The Vintage Motorcycle Club of Victoria Inc. was formed in 1964 by a group of enthusiasts, under the name Motorcycle Collectors Club of Victoria. The Club now has a membership of about 270, from all parts of Victoria.