In The Beginning

The first Woodcote Veteran Transport Rally was staged as a one-day event in 1964, donating the sum of £150 from the proceeds to the Village Hall Management Committee. As it was the intention to repeat the event in the future, a sub-committee of the Village Hall Management Committee was formed for this purpose, thereby avoiding any tax implications on the profit.

In 1971 the Woodcote Charitable Association was formed segregating the Rally from the Village Hall Management Committee. The Association was registered as a charitable organisation with the Charity Commission. The Charitable Association’s committee then appointed a committee to organise the Rally. As the years went by the size of the event grew with more exhibits and entertainments and from 1974 it became a two-day event.

As to how the Rally originally came about, the words of Ran Hawthorne, a founder member who is sadly no longer with us, says it all in the 25th Rally programme of 1988:

It all started in our lounge. Graham Rogers, a railway enthusiast, ‘Busy Bee’ crewman and friend of long standing and I were idly chatting about the problems of the Village Hall (financial needless to say) when the thought materialised “why not run a rally”?

Various leaders of the local community were approached, a meeting held, a committee formed. This committee was, in fact, a sub-committee of the Village Hall Management Committee. Local businessmen agreed to guarantee a sum against any possible loss on the first event. Fortunately, these guarantees were not needed.

The first rally, and for many years after, was a Saturday only occasion. From the outset the aims were threefold:

  1. to stage a good event
  2. to raise some money
  3. to foster the preservation of veteran transport

with equal emphasis on each objective.

I like to think that over the years we have fulfilled these objectives. If all three are kept in mind the rally can continue to be a success for many years to come.

Perhaps the biggest changes have been in the participants. In the early 60s the engine owners and drivers were almost all from the ranks of the commercial users of steam or men who had been closely connected with steam. Many of those have now left the scene, today’s owners and drivers, in many cases, have had no experience of the commercial use of these machines, they just were not around, but they have taken over these engines, learned to maintain them and drive them in the hurly-burly of 1980s traffic.

When our first rally was held, steam was still the normal power on the railways. Steam rollers worked regularly round about the area, a Foden steam wagon was still doing duty as a tar sprayer and those who knew where to look could still find ploughing engines and traction engines at work. Since then steam has passed almost, if not entirely, into the preservation area. The machines that put the great in Great Britain survive, long may they continue.

During the passage of time, the Rally has opened on Friday evening with entertainment for the village residents to join us and Saturday evening entertainment was introduced to enhance the event. The Rally has always been held in or around the village and has become part of the Village calendar. The name of the Rally changed to ‘Woodcote Rally’ in 1992 to reflect the wider coverage of the event.

The Big Change

The organisation was reformed in 2000 as a charity trading as a company limited by guarantee. This gave commercial protection to both Members of the Association and Trustees. The Trustees, who are the equivalent of Directors of non-charitable companies, are still held responsible for protecting the trading assets of the business and not breaking any of the numerous pieces of both Company House and Charity Commission law. The members of the old charity became members of the new company. The objectives of the Limited Company are recorded in the Memorandum of Association of the Woodcote Charitable Association as:

The objects of the Charity are to promote any charitable purpose for the benefit of the community in the Parish of Woodcote and the immediate surrounds thereof and in particular the advancement of education the furtherance of health and the relief of poverty distress and sickness and to provide facilities in the interests of social welfare for recreation or other leisure time occupation with the object of improving the conditions of life for the said inhabitants.

The liability of the members of the Association is limited by guarantee specified in the Memorandum of Association as:

Every member promises if the Charity is dissolved while he, she or it remains a member or within twelve months afterwards to pay up to £5.00 towards the costs of dissolution and the liabilities incurred by the Charity while the contributor was a member.

Into the Future

Over the years a considerable amount of money has been donated to local organisations and charities, one of the main reasons why you should go to the Woodcote Rally. This would not have been possible without the help of Woodcote residents and organisations over the Rally weekend. The ‘Rally Room’ in the Woodcote Community Centre is named after the Rally, acknowledging the financial support it gave towards the refurbishment of the building to create the Centre. Other village facilities available to all residents that have received regular donations from the Rally include the Village Hall, Schools and the Health Centre to name but a few.

A Presentation evening was first held to present the recipients of the donations for the 1976 rally and since then has continued, as it was considered good publicity and an opportunity to invite helpers and the supporters of the Rally to see what has been accomplished. The presentation of the Rally awards made each year to the various classes of exhibits was incorporated into the Presentation evening in 2002, which enables the award winning exhibitors to see what they have helped achieve.