Last week, Col took us on a trip down memory lane to show the differences between 1989 and 30 years into the future of National Rallies. Here’s part two, as he takes us through the second half of that last year of the 1980s. With loads of great photos of what was the time of our lives, make sure you share and tag any photos of you and your mates.
Up fifth in ‘89 was a July visit to the legendary Exmouth, a long journey from here in the North East of England, but always worth every mile travelled. A favourite of mine in the ’80s and ’90s, I was delighted to revisit again in more recent years. 2019’s fifth rally was to the Welsh town of Llandudno, another great rally this season, but it turned out to be the wettest ride to a rally I had in 2019. The night do venue, actually called ‘The Venue’ is the biggest and best venue in the town. (there is a pattern forming here). Towns that once didn’t want us anywhere near, now seem to want us in their biggest and best venues to spend our cash.
Talking of Wales, 1989’s sixth rally was a July visit to Aberystwyth; possibly my least favourite venue of the 80s. We just seemed even more unwelcome than usual at this rally. I remember meeting the town’s Mayor on the campsite and being photographed with him for the local newspaper. I jokingly told him he might have his ceremonial gold chain nicked off his neck if he stayed on site for too long. He called us a bunch of savages and left the site straight after the photo…
The Isle of Wight
The sixth rally of 2019 was the world-famous Isle of Wight rally – the most debated rally of all of them. It’s the largest one of the year every year, and I enjoy it more than ever. If you spend your weekend at the Smallbrook Stadium you have everything a rally needs (in my opinion). It’s a campsite first used nearly 40 years ago. The I.O.W is the only National Rally that was visited in both the 1989 and 2019 seasons, albeit different weekends and venues.
The August Bank Holiday in ‘89 was to Morecambe, another extremely popular rally but surely the most grassless campsite of any anywhere, basically a carpark (try getting your tent pegs into tarmac…).
Plentiful cheap B&Bs but a real basic rally with night-time venues that couldn’t accommodate even half of the riders attending the rally. I feel Morecambe welcomed us more than any other town at the time. The seventh rally of the year, Morecambe always fell on one of the Bank Holiday weekends throughout the 1980s. Seventh in 2019 was the South West’s flagship rally – Woolacombe.
What Morecambe lacked in creature comforts, Woolie has in abundance. Described as Britain’s best holiday park, the place has flung its doors open to us for two decades now. A far cry from the “NO SCOOTERS” signs that most holiday camps displayed in the 1980s (as I’ve mentioned already), the most picturesque rally on this year’s fixture list, it sells out in advance every year and is one of the longest-running rallies on the calendar.
The final rally of 1989 was to Margate. Yet another rally with confusion on dates. The date set for it at the start of the year was delayed by two weeks – approximately nine weeks before the rally was due to happen, only to be put back to its original date a week or so later. From the mid-80s on, Margate had a solid run of Nationals. Most of them had sporadic violence and damage over the weekend. It’s well over 20 years since the town was a regular on the calendar. A one-off visit in 2007 just seemed to lack atmosphere.
The final National of this year was to Southport, a different end to the normal rally list, and very well documented as to why it swapped with Bridlington. I was very chuffed to see a strong show of support even from some people I know that wouldn’t normally follow the larger rallies. I guess it was an example of genuine Scooterists simply showing loyalty to a scene that has served them well for years and years. Back in 1989, I would guess the biggest percentage of Scooterists had never visited Bridlington, but by the end of 2018, it was one of the UK’s most visited rally towns.
Thinking back, the 1989 season started with nothing more than nine dates to view, eight rallies and one custom show. When you consider four of those dates were Bank Holidays and don’t change, three of the other dates swapped and then swapped back at some point through the season and one was cancelled. This was all out of the control of the NSRA. They fought long and very hard on behalf of Scooterists, trying to persuade towns and police to let us have rallies in their towns. Can you imagine the grief rally organisers today would get on the internet if nearly half the given info was confused and changed as the season progressed?
Same old same old?
A lot is said about the repetitiveness of the rally calendar nowadays, but some facts are 75% of 1988’s National Rallies were repeated in 1989 and 75% of 1989’s National Rallies were repeated in 1990. Added to that, in the 1980s Great Yarmouth hosted 10 Nationals, Morecambe and the I.O.W had nine Nationals each and Scarborough hosted seven Nationals all in the same decade – to name just four. At the end of ‘89, Yarmouth was voted the best rally of the year, and yet all of those venues appeared again as rallies at some point in the 1990s. I don’t recall anyone saying ‘Same old, same old’ back then? I think it felt less repetitive because we didn’t go to the same venue on the same weekend year after year as we do nowadays.
Some other notable events in 1989 were
- The Convicts S.C pre-season rally to Larne (Northern Ireland)
- Euro Lambretta to Strasbourg in France (first ever Euro Lambretta) as well as a fairly busy calendar of LCGB members events
- Euro Vespa to Kaiserslauten in Germany
- An end of season run to Llandudno
I think the above goes to show that the rallies have always been a fair bit repetitive, and the calendars were maybe slightly busier than I remember them.
Enjoy the photos SLUKers
Rallery – Col’s 1989 memories
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