former TWMC President
Although we have always been TWMC originally the initials stood for the Tunbridge Wells Motorcycle Club. It was an era when helmets were only worn by the army and police. Flat cap and goggles were all the early competitor needed. Local Tunbridge Wells lads would tuck their trousers into their socks and were ready for action. The events organised then were Mud Reliability Trials, Night Trials and one Treasure Hunt per year for motorcycle solos and combinations.
Roy Edwards current TWMC President competing in Autocross in 1968
Among the stars of the early days were Bill Jury, Freddie Philpott and ‘Tunny’ Tunbridge, who all owned local motorcycle businesses. BSA, Norton, Panther, Royal Enfield and Rudge were the makes of the day. Testing courses were found at Holmwood, Langton and Home Farm, Groombridge. The pattern of events varied little at this time and membership fell steadily in the years up to the Second World War. Money was scarce and most members who rode their motor cycles in competition on Sundays had, in most cases, to clean them up and use them to go to work on the Monday. The clubs activities were suspended for the second time when hostilities broke out.
After the Second World War Freddie Philpott cornered the market in khaki-painted Royal Enfields, many were unused and were ideal trialing machines. But peace was to bring a wave of change to TWMC.
A special meeting was convened in 1947 and the club was restarted. Rt. Hon. The Earl Howe CBE, The Earl of Lewes OBE and Lt-Col A.T. Goldie Gardner OBE were three of the Vice Presidents elected and TWMC now became the Tunbridge Wells Motor Club when cars were also represented by their own committee. Eventually the bike boys faded from the scene.
Doug Jennings was a successful PCT competitor in the 1960’s
The first events for cars started in 1947 with
what would become the annual Rally consisting of Concours d’Elegance
and driving tests. Cars were divided into five classes:
1. Veteran Cars - prior to 1905
2. Edwardian Cars - 1905-1916
3. Vintage Cars - 1917-1930
4. Cars manufactured between 1931-1940
5. Cars manufactured after 1941
The event was run in two parts, The Concours d’Elegance, the entrants assembled in St. John’s Road and travelled to the Civic Centre where they lined up for judging. After this the cars drove to Forest Road in Hawkenbury for Driving Tests. Extra points were given to cars in class 1 who had driven to the event after midnight the night before without mechanical assistance. Starting in the 1950s TWMC organised the ‘Glow Worm’ and ‘Wells’ Rallies which became two of the South Easts premier events and ran until the mid 1960s.
In 1951 TWMC was the first club to use the newly constructed 1.24-mile Club Circuit at Brands Hatch. They organised a New Year sprint that was to become an annual event, attracting an impressive and varied entry.
The club grew throughout the 50s and in 1958 five members took part in the Monte Carlo Rally. They were Alan Fraser, George Faulkner, Bert Harper, David Rawson and Sid Welfare. The 1960s were probably the clubs most prolific period. The three main events for each season were the ‘Glow Worm’ and ‘Wells’ Rallies and the still annual Sprint at Brands Hatch. The big names of this era had to be Roy Edwards and Rod Chapman. They competed in Autocross Rallycross and National and International Rallying. Both became well known sports personalities in the process with the press and TV coverage these aspects of the sport had then. Rod became the first TWMC member to become a National Champion when he won the Players No.6 Autocross Championship. Rod later became a European Truck Racing Champion, while Roy won both Autocross and Rallycross National Championships.