In The Beginning
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:
- to stage a good event
- to raise some money
- 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 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
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.