I’m not sure about you but right about now I’d usually be strapping my rally bag on to the back of my Lambretta and getting ready for the 220-mile ride down to the idyllic little town of Tenby in South Wales. Sadly that isn’t happening this particular Bank Holiday, we’re all still grounded. Don’t panic though, you can all enjoy VE Day in your garden instead (if you have one).
Our Col has taken a look back at the history of the Tenby rallies and unearthed some great facts and photos from the early ones. Read on and see what you can remember and who you can recognise. Feel free to share this post and the photos on your social media.
This weekend’s cancelled scooter rally to the beautiful Welsh town of Tenby should have been the 10th National Rally there since 2001. The cancelled Easter rally to Whitby last month would have been the 10th National Rally in that town too; now there’s a strange coincidence to start with.
The Tenby rally, as we know it, traces back to 1999. But to many of us, it still feels like a fairly new venue on the calendar. Time certainly flies as you get older! Although, how many of you knew that the first National Rally in Tenby was pencilled in for early August in 1984? For a reason I’m not sure of, that rally was switched to Colwyn Bay.
Two Stroke in Tenby
I know little of the first large scale rally to Tenby other than it was in May 1999 – a week or so after the May Day Bank Holiday. It was based at the Rumbleway Holiday Park which, I think, is just North of Tenby on the main A478 road into the town. I didn’t go to the rally but I had heard it had gone down well. The tag line was “Two Stroke in Tenby” and was hosted by the Paradise Lost SC. The following year it was back on the calendar – only this time in June. The rally was due to be a repeat of the first one, but only four weeks before the rally happened the advertising changed, giving a new campsite venue – “Kiln Park” a few miles away and in Tenby itself. Again I didn’t attend this rally, but having been to “Kiln Park” since I know it was a good move for the rallies future progress.
In my rally reviews and flashback articles, I regularly bang on about things that happened in the 80s and how tough we had it visiting towns that didn’t want us there. Sometimes setting off with no real offer of a campsite when we got there. But by the late 1990s things were very different. Events were advertised well in advance, and nearly always came good. The fact that the Paradise Lost SC, and I’m guessing the South Wales Scooter Collective, turned basically a large club rally into a National in just two years, proves what can be achieved by the right people. However, here in 2020 if the main venue of a rally changed to a different part of town just four weeks before the rally was to take place I can only imagine some of the comments on social media and the internet by those already booked up well in advance.
By June 2001, the Tenby rally had gained National status. I was well and truly on board, and looking forward to visiting a new town, or a new town for me anyway. I’d worked out it would be a long journey, and so I set off in the dark in the very early hours of the Friday morning – taking up an offer to meet and travel with the Mansfield Monsters SC. I got to the East Midlands rendezvous point in good time. But, their idea of cruising speed, is my idea of flat out. And much of the weekend drinking and carrying on with them was as blurred as the journey down there!
The Kiln Park Holiday Park was good, clean, spacious and very welcoming. A great venue and a well-run rally. The highlight for many was a blistering performance from the late Edwin Starr – his penultimate appearance on a National Rally I think. The welcome I received down there made me determined to support the rally as often as I could in the future.
2004 – DeValiance
Tenby had adopted it’s now regular May Day Bank Holiday date by 2004, and it was the first time the DeValiance Pavilion, in the centre of town, was used for the night time dos. Kiln Park was dropped in favour of a campsite, that I think may have been the one used at the 1999 rally. Correct me if I’m wrong? It was at this rally that I realised what a stunning town Tenby is – overflowing with good pubs and the clifftop view out over Camarthen Bay is breathtaking.
The entertainment for 2005’s rally was again back to the DeValiance Pavillion (It’s been there ever since). But this time with the custom show and parts fair held at the leisure centre across town. This was the first time I did the “follow the sheep” Sunday pub crawl; a superb end to a blast of a weekend.
The 2006 rally was just the same format as 2005’s. The rallies name “Two Stroke in Tenby” was changed to simply Tenby Rally. This year had a load of Scooterists dressed in fancy dress as pirates in the Saturday custom show and then on the Sunday pub crawl; odd but very funny!
2009 new campsite
After a couple of years gap, we went back in 2009, but with a newer recommended campsite to try called Whitewell Farm. A coach was laid on and brought a constant stream of Scooterists flooding into the town to do what we do best – party!
After another gap we were back in 2013 and again it was held over the May Day weekend. This was the first time the custom show and parts fair was held inside the DeValiance Pavillion. The scooters looked quite squeezed in at the pavilion show, but as a nighttime venue the atmosphere is as good as on any rally. By now the Whitewell Farm Campsite was also the official rally site.
In the 80s and 90s, we went to Great Yarmouth on a record six occasions at May Day weekend. Tenby has passed that number with 8 May Day rallies – making it the most visited venue for the May Day National. In fact, for the 15 years from 2004 to 2018 we have had 12 Welsh National May Day rallies, that’s including two at Llandudno and two at Builth Wells!
The rallies since – in 2014, 2016 and 2018 have all followed suit – same date – same venue – same campsite. The rally we are all missing this weekend was set to follow the same winning formula. One that works very well I might add. The rally has often had the use of other venues running in conjunction with the main Pavillion do, such as the rugby club, the Ex- Servicemen’s Club and the Normandie Inn, I’ve never visited these dos, but those that do seem to love them.
Some of the journeys I’ve had to the rally have been very memorable too. I’ve headed across country to Chester and then to Wrexham, Welshpool and down. I’ve headed down to Worcester and zig-zagged from Leominster to Hereford and to Monmouth. One year I travelled down and over the Brecon Beacons ending up on the notorious Black Mountain road. I rode in constant heavy rain for 11 hours from my house to the campsite. Another time I thought I would take the straight and boring route down the M5. It’s a road I know well as I use it for all the major South West rallies. I got past Bristol then saw signs for Weston Super Mare, and then thought to myself “Bollocks” I’m going to Tenby not Woolacombe! I had to double back up the motorway up to the Severn Bridge and head along the South Welsh coastline and on into Tenby. I’d clocked up 415 miles by the time I got there!
Most memorable of all was a Thursday stopover in Cardiff to stay with the scooter legend that is “Lobby” from Company C SC; A gentle giant, with a heart of gold and fists of iron (if you cross him). His offer of staying over at his house breaking up a long journey to the rally ended up with me drinking and laughing more in one night than I would on any normal rally full weekend. I woke up in his garage with me and my scooter on a hospital bed converted into a scooter repair workbench. I was served breakfast in a sort of bed and told: “Get a move on we’ve got a three-day scooter rally ahead of us”. I’ve never felt so hungover.
Of the nine National Rallies in Tenby so far, I’ve attended them all on six different scooters, riding well over 6000 miles in the process. That’s an awful lot of hours travelling, but worth every minute. I’m privileged to know some very genuine, loyal Scooterists around the world and a fair number of them are Welsh. These people go a long way to make the Tenby rally, and the scooter scene in general what it is, superb!
Stay safe, until we can ride safe SLUKers
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