Can you remember the days when a Bank Holiday was a time when you’d be jumping on an overloaded scooter to head off and meet your mates in some faraway town? Sadly this weekend sees another weekend stuck at home doing DIY and mowing the grass, but at least the pubs are open now so things are slowly getting better.

Col can certainly remember the last Bank Holiday we had away, in fact, he can remember more facts and figures about rallies of old than most of us ever knew in the first place. So here’s his potted history on the traditional Spring Bank Holiday weekend.

May Spring Bank Holiday is upon us and yet again we’ve got yet another cancelled National Scooter Rally weekend. Kelso has now gained the unwanted title of being the first National to be cancelled twice due to Covid 19 restrictions. A year ago, I did a flashback on previous Kelso rallies, and so I thought this time I would jog your memories on the rallies that have taken place previously on this particular holiday weekend:

Spring Bank Holiday National Rally destinations
1981 Ayr
1982 Great Yarmouth
1983 Great Yarmouth
1984 Great Yarmouth
1985 Great Yarmouth
1986 Margate
1987 Isle of Wight
1988 Scarborough
1989 Fort William
1990 Margate
1991 Morecambe
1992 Bridlington
1993 Llandudno
1994 Southport
1995 Porthcawl
1996 Llandudno
1997 Whitby
1998 Kettering
1999 Millport
2000 Skegness
2001 Witton Castle
2002 Southport
2003 Kelso & Skegness
2004 Kelso & Skegness
2005 Kelso & Skegness
2006 Skegness
2007—2019 Kelso
2020 CANCELLED
2021 CANCELLED

The Queen puts a spanner in the works

On three occasions since 1981, the end of May rally has been delayed by one week, and instead held the first week in June. They were the 2001 rally to Witton Castle (delayed due to the countrywide foot and mouth cattle disease), the year after in 2002 the Southport rally was delayed to celebrate the Queen’s Golden 50th Jubilee and again in 2012 the Kelso rally was delayed to celebrate the Queen’s Diamond 60th jubilee.

It is also quite likely that this weekend next year in 2022 will have the same delay to celebrate the Queens Platinum 70th Jubilee on the first weekend in June.

Dual nationality

The years 2003, 2004 and 2005 all had Kelso and Skegness sharing the weekend as joint National Rally status, which is something I never understood, although I know some riders that did manage to ride to both events!

It seems hard to remember a time when we had such varied towns to visit; of the rallies listed above I particularly enjoyed Whitby 1997 (the first-ever National in the town) and Kettering 1998 (the towns first and sadly only National). Do you readers have a favourite end of May rally?

As far as the Scottish Nationals go, Kelso is by far and away the longest running and best supported rally in the country. My previous rally write ups here on SLUK show how much I enjoy and miss this superb event. But, it’s fair to say that the history of the Scottish National is “a wee bit chequered”
The gallery below shows most of the Scottish rally towns from the 1980s
The when and where of Scottish National Scooter Rallies
1981 Ayr 22-25th May
1982 Lock Lomand (Baloch) 30th Apr-3rd May
1983 Dunbar 17-19th June
1984 Dunbar 13-15th July
1985 Dunbar 21-23rd June
1986 Girvan 25-27th July
1987 Girvan 12-14th June
1988 CANCELLED
1989 Fort William 26-29th May
1990 Fort William 15-17th June
1991 Oban 11-13th Oct
1992 Oban 19-21st Sept
1993 Oban 1-3rd May
1994 Oban Apr 29-May 2nd
1995 Ayr June 30-July 2nd
1996 Ayr 21-23rd June
1997 CANCELLED
1998 Millport 2-4th May & Farmyard (Ingliston) 8-10th Aug
1999 Millport 29-31st May & Farmyard (Ingliston) 7-9th Aug
2000 Ayr Apr 28-May 1st
2001 Ayr 10-12th Aug
2002 Hawick 9-11th Aug
2003 Kelso 23-25th May
2004 Kelso 28-30th May
2005 Kelso 27-29th May
2006 NO NATIONAL
2007 Kelso 25-27th May
2008 Kelso 23-25th May
2009 Kelso 22-24th May
2010 Kelso 28-30th May
2011 Kelso 27-29th May
2012 Kelso 1-3rd June
2013 Kelso 24-26th May
2014 Kelso 23-25th May
2015 Kelso 22-24th May
2016 Kelso 27-29th May
2017 Kelso 26-28th May
2018 Kelso 25-27th May
2019 Kelso 24-26th May
2020 CANCELLED
2021 CANCELLED
The 1981 rally to Ayr and the 1982 rally to Loch Lomand attracted a couple of hundred rally goers at most. Whereas, other UK rallies in those years were attracting at least 10 times that number.

The rallies to Dunbar in 1985 and Girvan in 1986 and 1987 were voted as the worst/least popular National Rallies of the year, in their respective end of year scooter rider opinion polls.

The 1988 rally was proposed to be at Rothesay on the Isle of Bute, but was cancelled due to venue capacity issues and the lack of ferry spaces to get the expected amount of scooters on and off the island. The rally cancellation was deemed too late to sort an alternative town for the rally.

1989 Fort William was another rally technically cancelled at the last minute.

As the 1990s started, the four annual rallies to Oban and then a rally to Ayr seemed to go down well – albeit with smaller attendances than other rallies at the time. But, by 1996 the Ayr rally gained Scotland the ‘Worst National of the year’ title again. In the N.S.R.A opinion polls.

1997 was due to see a June rally return to Oban, but 12 days before the rally weekend, an emergency NSRA newsletter arrived through the post to say the event was cancelled. My newsletter was delivered on the same morning as my Scootering magazine that had a large advert for the Oban rally within its pages.

The rally didn’t happen and caused quite a backlash. Confusion occasionally reigned regarding rally dates before the internet and social media arrived.

1998 and 1999 were something of a first for Scottish scootering with two Nationals in each year. May visits to Millport and August visits to Ingliston’s Farmyard rally went a long way to put Scotland firmly back on the rally calendar.

Two good rallies followed in 2000 and 2001 at Ayr racecourse. But by 2002 more confusion – an August date was set but with no venue announced until three weeks before it took place. Hawick 2002 will surely go down as the poorest attended National Rally of the noughties – a great venue but a club rally sized turnout.

By 2003, Kelso had arrived on the calendar, and the rest as they say is history. For almost two decades it’s been a very firm favourite on the National calendar.

Reading the info above it would be easy to think I’m being very critical of previous National Rallies in Scotland. I’m not – I’m just stating facts. It’s yet more proof if any were ever needed that “The good old days” sometimes weren’t as good as we maybe thought at the time.

For the record I’ve enjoyed every rally I’ve ever attended in Scotland. Over the years The Scottish Number Ones have worked hard to put rallies on, and then partied hard at the event. And for that very reason I will always try to support their events. Roll on the 2022 National!

See how many patches you can remember from the gallery below

Scotland also has a very healthy club rally scene – maybe that would be a good option this summer to get your fix of bonnie Scotland and its scooterists. If you don’t already live there that is.

Stay safe SLUKers: Col

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