Can you imagine the outcry these days if a 16-year-old kid was bundled into the back of a Ford Escort van at night by some long-haired yobbo with a taste for heavy metal? Then was last seen heading off to some faraway place with a bunch of weird-looking people he hardly knew who were on even weirder motor scooters?
To make matters worse he’d be spending the first night wrapped up in an old polythene sheet next to a raging campfire because his tent and sleeping bag were locked in the van. When he woke up the following morning the fire was still smouldering away on what appeared to be a rubbish tip on the outskirts of Weston Super Mare and the polythene had shrunken like a crisp packet left in a hot oven. Not that he’d had any real sleep with all the noise, the excitement, the scooters riding around endlessly. It was an amazing experience and helped set the scene for the rest of his life! Captured by this weird tribe, brainwashed into the scooter cult, with no escape planned any time soon. That young lad was me, Ig of the dump.
I learnt four things that weekend:
- Never trust a greebo in a van on a scooter rally
- I’d only be travelling to rallies by scooter from now on (I’d be 17 in 3 months)
- Sleeping in polythene next to an open fire is very dangerous!
- Always try to keep your own camping stuff strapped on your scooter
Col was also there that weekend in 1987, he was also making his first visit to Weston. Here’s his memories, facts and thoughts as we embark on yet another ‘ordinary’ Bank Holiday weekend at home.
Another Bank Holiday passes, and yet another scooter rally is cancelled – hopefully, the light at the end of the tunnel is getting brighter though. I never thought I would miss sleeping in a tent so much!
This weekend should have seen scooterists heading to the Somerset resort of Weston Super Mare, but Covid 19 restrictions have stopped us in our tracks again. So, in a “Rubbing salt in the wounds” sort of way here are some photos from my archives to remind us what we are missing and some ramblings on my thoughts on the Weston Rallies.
For 38 years, scooter riders have had sporadic National Rally visits to Weston; the town hosted five rallies in the 80s decade, and then it dropped off the rally calendar until 2009. Since then, we’ve had six more visits. This weekend’s rally would have been the 13th National in the town. If all goes to plan, this rally is rescheduled for what would normally be the Woolacombe rally weekend later this year in September.
It’s rubbish here!
Just like Iggy, my first Weston rally was in 1987, and it was quite an eye-opener. I don’t remember the campsite being overly busy, but then it was on a landfill site (another sign of how unwelcome we were often made to feel back in those days). The three Weston Nationals before that in 1983, 1984 and 1985 all had trouble and varying amounts of arrests, with camping at an area called Hutton Moor, which I think was very near to the 1987 landfill campsite. I think this was about a mile or so more inland than the rugby club sports field whose facilities we have been using as the official rally campsite since 2009.
Maybe some of you that did attend the early Weston rallies can clarify, or correct my facts on the above?
Into the 21st Century
The rallies in 2009, 2010, 2012 and 2014 were all hosted at the end of July. The use of many varied venues for evening entertainment around the town catered for all musical tastes at the four great and well-attended rallies.
In 2015, the rally moved to the May Day bank holiday, that date was used for the 2017 and 2019 rallies also and would have been this year as well.
The Winter Gardens venue on the seafront proved very popular in recent years, and the Grand Pier venue must go down as one of the best night venues on the whole National Rally calendar. Yet again, more proof of how society now sees scooterists very differently. The 1987 National had camping on a rubbish tip, with most pubs, off licences and even supermarkets reluctant to serve us; then at the 2017 National, we were welcomed into the Pier venue that had just undergone a 39 million pound refurbishment, with camping on offer at the Rugby club with its very good facilities.
Some of the bands that have played the rally over the years are…
The All Nighters
The Rocker Covers
The Super Skas
Weston rally factoids
32 years after the first National in 1983, the Weston rally gained Bank Holiday weekend status at the 2015 event. I can’t think of another iconic 80s rally town that took that long to gain it.
The 21-year gap between the 1988 and 2009 rallies to Weston, is the longest-running gap between National Rally visits to any town we visit. Aberystwyth and Weymouth will take that title if and when we visit them next.
May Day factoids
In recent times, I think of May Day weekend as the Welsh National Rally weekend, because over the last 20 years 60% of May Day rallies have been based in Wales, (Tenby, Builth Wells and Llandudno). Unlike the 80s and 90s when the only May Day visit to Wales was Llandudno 1992.
Previous May Day Rallies
1982 Loch Lomond
1987 Great Yarmouth
1988 Great Yarmouth
1989 Great Yarmouth
1990 Great Yarmouth
1991 Great Yarmouth
2002 Great Yarmouth
2003 Isle of Man
2011 Builth Wells
2012 Builth Wells
2015 Weston Super Mare
2017 Weston Super Mare
2019 Weston Super Mare
Roll on the rescheduled September rally to Weston Super Mare!
Stay safe SLUKers
Visit pages 2 and 3 for Col’s Weston ralleries…