Antelope Motorcycle Club (Coventry) Limited.
History of the Antelope Motor Cycle Club
17th January 2012 marks 60 years of the Antelope Motor Cycle Club (Coventry) as a limited company.
The Antelope Motor Cycle Club was formed in 1944 by members of the Signals Platoon of the local Home Guard who wanted to continue riding motor cycles after the Home Guard was dis-banded. The platoon was part of the Royal Warwickshire Regiment so the new club adopted the Regiment's badge and mascot as its own. In 2009 the Club celebrated its 65th Anniversary.
During their early years, the Club organised a complete programme of sporting activities including Motor Cycle Football, Scrambles, Grass Track races, Trials and Road Rallies. Road Racing was organised at Ansty, the site of the Rolls Royce factory. In those early post-war years large crowds turned out to see riders who were later to become world famous such as Geoff Duke and John Surtees.
The original Clubhouse was in Barkers Butts Lane, Coventry. In 1952 the Club moved to Whitefriars Lane, Coventry and became a Limited Company, owned by its members and run by an elected board of directors. The Club remained there until 1967 when the land was required for the City's Inner Ring Road. As well as a seven-days-a week social programme the Club ran all the usual sporting events. There were a number of Road Racers in the Club competing in a variety of events such as the Isle of Man TT and Manx Grand Prix. Several riders specialised in long distance events including the BEMSEE 1000 Km and the Thruxton 500 as well as events abroad. The Boxing Day Scramble was an annual event in aid of the Paybody Children's Hospital attracting riders from all over the Midlands and further afield.
The Club became strong in Grass Track, organising the Warwickshire Championships and once had the honour of running a round of the British Championships. There was a large contingent of Trials riders who competed in the Club, ACU Centre and National events including the Scottish Six Days Trial and the Scott Trial. The Club National Rally Team won the Midland Centre Trophy (The Lycett Shield) so many times that it was given to the Club and a replacement presented to the Centre. The Club became well known for their Antelope Camping Rally attracting riders from all over the UK and several European Countries. The Rally is still held every year.
By 1969 the Club had progressed from wood and concrete huts to purpose designed premises in Hertford Place near the City Centre. The HQ featured a Lounge, two bars and a Dance/Concert Room as well as committee rooms. The late Dennis Howell (later Lord Howell), Minister of Sport, officially opened the building on the 24th October 1969, the Club's 25th Anniversary.
For the next fifteen years the Club continued with its Sporting programme and expanded the Social activities. "The Rocking Goose Disco", held up to four times a week became a magnet for the young people of the City. Live music was also a feature and "Jazz at the Antelope" was a strong favourite. Other entertainment included Film Shows, Dances and Folk Nights. Jasper Carrott appeared at the Club - it cost three shillings (15p) to get in. Those were the days!
As more and more places of entertainment opened nearby during the 80's, membership declined and the Club was unable to maintain the premises as a going business. In 1985 the Clubhouse was sold.
The Club is still alive and well with the highest percentage of road riders for many years. As with most bike clubs in the country, it now runs from a local pub, The Old Dyers Arms in Coventry. The Club still has a committee which meets once a month to organise Club events. During the summer months, the Club has weekly Sunday run outs, the furthest being to Ross on Wye. They also organise more local run outs on Wednesday evenings and meet once a week for a drink and a chat during the winter months.
The Club have many regular holidays throughout the year including trips to the BMAD Bike Festival in Paignton and camping weekends in Jersey. On the last Jersey trip, they were met by the Jersey Bikers and escorted through St Helier, blocking all the traffic on the way to the campsite. The Jersey run has become an annual event. Also, for the second year running, a few members of the Antelope have travelled to Germany to enjoy laps round the Nurburgring circuit at top speeds of 180.
The Club has held a number of successful annual Club Rallies attended by clubs from around the country returning year after year. Trophies are awarded for best bike etc. The rallies have attracted riders from as faraway as Glasgow. Likewise, the Antelope Club attend many rallies themselves and have won the “Club turnout” award at the Ogri Rally for several years, usually appearing in fancy dress.
In 2008, the Antelope trophies were formally presented to the Coventry Transport Museum to be displayed in a trophy cabinet. Ninety-One year old Jack Fulbeck, one of the original members of the Antelope from the despatch rider days, officially unveiled the trophy cabinet. Over 50 people attended the occasion, including life members, present members and their family and friends.
The Antelope have many social events including Senior and Former members’ summer barbeques. Parties are held regularly throughout the year. The Club has just celebrated its 65th Anniversary with a party with a rock band and disco. To mark the occasion, Arthur Davis, who has been the longest serving Secretary of the Club since 1962, produced a 40 page souvenir book, packed full of photos and memorabilia from yesteryear.
The Antelope Club is still alive and kicking and there is always a welcome for members old and new, young and not so young.
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