To celebrate Tamworth's history, for the last few years the second weekend in September has been a Heritage Weekend where folks can walk around Tamworth and visit places (ie: Tamworth Castle and Middleton Hall etc) for free. As Reliant were once one of Tamworth’s largest companies and following last year’s Reliant display, I was asked if I could organise another Reliant display for this year. Having 54 vehicles last year, I said, “Next year its 75 vehicles” ... but then wondered could we actually achieve that.
As in 2008, the event as advertised on the r3w forum and nearer the time we again compiled a list of cars that were coming and had a list of around 64 in total. Following feedback from last year, this year we created a Welcome pack that included amongst other things a welcome 3-wheelers.com brochure with a map of the area along with a guide to the days events from Tamworth council and a commemorative rally plaque (this year sponsored by CHG Performance). Our plan for 2009 was to not only reach 75 vehicles but to get a vehicle from every decade of Reliant production from 1935 - 2002. Thanks to my brother Geoff bringing “35”, (a 1936 Reliant 7 cwt van that he restoring), the Black Country Living Museum in Dudley letting us borrow Ole Red again (a 1949 Reliant 8 cwt van) and to James Holland bringing his 1954 Reliant Regal Mk II that he is currently restoring, we had one vehicle from the 1930s, 1940s and 1950s. The 1960s, 1970s, 1980s and 1990s were well catered for and we had two vehicles from the 2000s. We chose a vehicle from each decade and then presented them in one long line up with signs signifying each decade. As far as we know, this was the first Reliant gathering to include a vehicle from every decade.
Last year I owned three Reliants and took them all along though this year was much easier as I now just have the one (Lucie, my 1961 Reliant Regal Mk VI van). Prior to the event I took my Reliant sign (The original sign off the old Reliant building) over to Pete and Dees where by Geoff set about making a stand for it so that we could display it about 10 feet in the air using Pete’s van. Arriving early we started to set up the area and this year not only did I have help from Geoff but also Dave Poole, Pete and Dee Gnosill and my girlfriend Caroline. Big Daddy (aka Steve White) and Micromamma (Janet) were also exceedingly busy as they arranged camping for those who came for the weekend at Kingsbury. In addition they also arranged a visit to the Black Country Living Museum on the Saturday.
Come Sunday morning there was a slow trickle of cars into the church square and then about 10:30 am a convoy arrived, led by Big Daddy from the camp site. After that Reliants kept appearing one after another and the church square was beginning to get rather full. When we hit the 55 vehicles mark I was delighted as we had beaten last years record but still Reliants came and then we had 65, then 75 eventually settling off at a figure of 81 Reliants. The church square was filled to the brim with Reliants oozing out at every corner and as nice as it would have been to have even more, we quite simply ran out of room.
Thankfully this year to accommodate so many Reliants we had used an aerial view of the church square from Google maps and stuck on miniature Reliants to work out the best way to stack them and allow enough space for any vehicle to leave if they wished as well as thinking about Health and Safety. We found the best way to park the vehicles was a herringbone type structure and by parking all the large Scimitars into their own row so that the rows were even widths. Dave Poole took charge of parking up all the Scimitars and Sabres whilst Geoff and I parked the 3-wheelers and smaller 4-wheelers.
To open the event, Geoff (as he is much louder and clearer than me) jumped on a bench and addressed the crowds. There was two surprises in stall, one that Pete and Dee and made a cake to celebrate Old Red’s 60th birthday and the other was to announce to Terry O’Keeffe that Snoopy, his old 1970 Reliant Regal Supervan 21E, was now fully road legal after passing her MOT. Terry used to own Snoopy and gave her to me. I then passed her onto Pete and Dee who have been getting her back on the road. Snoopy was last on the road in 1988 and at the gathering last year we tried to start her having towed her there but she would not play. This year Snoopy was taxed and MOT’d a few weeks before the rally though it was kept a secret. The delighted look on Terry’s face when it was announced was a great picture and well worth it.
This year we also had a Car of the Day competition and at great expense (My beer money) we bought a trophy whilst CHG Perfromance made up rosettes for first, second and third place. Every Welcome pack had an information car that owners could put into their car window and each one was individually numbered. The pack also contained a voting slip for owners to vote for their favourite Reliant. In addition, the general public could also vote for their favourite as well.
The event had been quite well advertised in the local newspaper, the Tamworth Herald this year and as a result, ex-Reliant employees were bountiful and many had interesting stories to tell. One lady, Winifred Mortimer, even brought along a photo to show us from 1958. She was 19 at the time and was asked to pose with a Reliant Regal Mk III for some publicity shots.
Every year at the Reliant Gathering we have something slightly different and this year was no different, in addition to the superb range of sports and economy vehicles there was also a 1973 Anadol owned by John Blood (The Anadol being made for the Turkish market) and a Tempest Vantique owned by Mark Taylor that was based on a Reliant chassis and running gear. In addition Mark entertained the crowds with music from a pipe organ. Reliant based trailers were also of great interest with Shiela and Kevin Thompson’s “Sleeping Reliant” and Matt Greenly’s GTT (Grand Touring Trailer).
Also on show was a 1998 Reliant Robin SLX that James Holland, the current custodian, brought along. The vehicle was number 1 of the last 50 vehicles built in Tamworth and was the only one out of the 50 to be fitted with a full leather interior.
As mentioned Geoff had created a large stand for my Reliant sign and underneath that created boards that showed Reliant’s history along with a few photographs. In addition there was a display of old Reliant photographs presented by Duncan Bradford and Andrew Collins. With several washing lines from his 1985 Reliant Fox Tandy Campervan, Duncan had pinned up numerous old photos from the Reliant factory. It seemed quite a few folks recognised themselves in the photos and seeing two elderly ladies pointing to one of the photos and giggling away just made me smile no end. There was also other displays as on Kerry Croxton’s 1985 Reliant Fox Tandy Campervan were a few models including a large scale model of the Scimitar GTS designed by Ogle with a triplex roof.
It seemed as though the day had aged quite a bit before I had the chance to grab my camera and take a shot of every vehicle that was there. I managed to get 80 out of the 81 though sadly missed a Reliant Scimitar somewhere. Trying to ensure I got pictures before anyone else left it was a mad dash around pointing the camera at every car and just clicking like mad.
By about 4:15pm we counted up the votes for the Car of the Day and we were pleased with how many people had taken part, not just Reliant owners but members of the public as well. I know one lady voted for Lucie saying, “I used to make the panels for that”. Geoff tried all his charm to try and make her vote for his, but she stuck to Lucie.
When the votes were counted, the 1964 Reliant Sabre Six owned by Richard Prosser was a clear winner though around five vehicles equaled second place. So placing the names into a box (we never had a hat) second and third place were drawn by Mark Barker’s daughter. Second was Andrew Collins with his 1967 Reliant Scimitar GT and in third place was Melvin Turpin with his 1972 Reliant Regal 3/30 saloon.
The 81 Reliants that took part in the display were:
1936 7cwt van. - Owned by Geoff Payne.
1949 8cwt van - Driven by Geoff Payne.
1954 Reliant Regal Mk II van - Owned by James Holland.
1961 Reliant Regal Mk VI van - Driven by Elvis Payne.
1962 Reliant Sabre 4 - Driven by Geoff Cooper.
1964 Reliant Sabre Six - Driven by Richard Prosser.
1965 Reliant Scimitar GT - Driven by Martin North.
1967 Reliant Scimitar 6T - Driven by Andrew Collins.
1968 Reliant Scimitar GT4A - Driven by Steve Smart.
1969 Reliant Scimitar GTE SE5 - Driven by Dave Poole.
1970 Reliant Regal Supervan III - Driven by Peter Gnosill.
1970 Bond Bug - Driven by Abs Gregory.
1970 Bond Bug - Driven by Dave Pickering.
1970 Bond Bug - Driven by Derek Wood.
1970 Reliant Scimitar SE5 - Driven by Bob Coles.
1971 Bond Bug - Driven by Robin Howells.
1972 Bond Bug 700ES - Driven by Dave Hemsley
1972 Reliant Scimitar GTE - Driven by Dave Bowlas.
1972 Reliant Scimitar GTE SE5A - Driven by Dave Tillotton
1972 Reliant Regal 3/30 Saloon - Driven by Melvin Turpin.
1972 Reliant Rebel Saloon - Driven by Chris Crawley.
1972 Reliant Scimitar GTE - Drien by Steve Sims.
1973 Bond Bug - Driven by Kieran Gregory.
1973 Bond Bug - Driven by Rory Lynas.
1973 Bond Bug - Driven by Mark Harper.
1973 Reliant Anadol - Owned by John Blood.
1973 Reliant TW9 - Driven by R.Simpkins.
1973 Reliant Rebel 700 Estate - Driven by Oliver Smith.
1975 Reliant Scimitar GTE SE5A - Driven by Matt Greenly.
1976 Reliant Kitten - Driven by John Pearce.
1976 Reliant Scimitar GTE - Driven by Terry Rickard.
1976 Reliant Scimitar GTE - Driven by Michael Rowley.
1976 Reliant Scimitar GT - Driven by E.Leils??
1976 Reliant Scimitar 6A - Driven by George Sampford.
1977 Reliant Scimitar - Driven by Philip Ball.
1977 Reliant Robin Mk I - Driven by Linda Bartram.
1977 Reliant Scimitar 6A - Driven by John Addellah.
1977 Reliant Scimitar SE6A - Driven by Jenni Spencer.
1980 Reliant Robin 850 Mk I - Driven by Terry Waghorn.
1980 Reliant Robin 850 Mk I - Driven by Graham Unwin
1980 Reliant Scimitar GTE - Driven by David Lunn.
1980 Reliant Kitten DL - Driven by Michael
1981 Reliant Scimitar SEB GTE - Driven by Simon Skinner
1981 Reliant Scimitar 6B - Driven by John Feay.
1982 Reliant Rialto SE - Driven by Dee Gnosill.
1982 Reliant Scimitar GTE - Driven by John Unwin.
1982 Reliant Rialto GLS - Driven by Steve White.
1984 Reliant Scimitar GTE 6B - Driven by Sally Hill.
1984 Reliant Scimitar SS1 1300 - Driven by Phil Howard.
1984 Reliant Fox Pickup - Driven by Keith Gitths.
1984 Reliant Fox - Driven by Dan Rodd.
1984 Reliant Rialto - Driven by Steve Hill.
1984 Reliant Rialto HTE Estate - Driven by Simon Hodges.
1985 Reliant Fox Tandy Camper - Driven by Duncan Bradford.
1985 Reliant Fox Tandy Camper - Driven by Kerry Croxton.
1985 Reliant Rialto 2 Estate - Driven by Kevin & Sheila Thompson
1986 Reliant Rialto GLS Estate - Driven by Adrian Guite.
1987 Reliant Rialto GLS Estate - Driven by Roger James.
1987 Reliant Scimitar SS1 - Driven by Yvonne Unwin.
1987 Reliant Scimitar SS1 1800 Ti - Driven by Mick O’Hare,
1987 Reliant Scimitar SS1 1300 - Driven by Philip Andrew.
1988 Reliant Rialto SE - Driven by Araron Hemsley.
1988 Reliant Rialto 2 SE Estate - Driven by John Jackson.
1988 Reliant Rialto - Driven by Ant Shaw.
1989 Reliant Rialto - Driven by John Copestake.
1989 Reliant Scimitar SS1 - Driven by J.Morph.
1989 Reliant Rialto - Driven by Nathan Colley.
1990 Reliant Robin LX - Driven by Geoff Payne.
1990 Reliant Robin Mk II - Driven by Robin Cooke.
1992 Reliant Robin Mk II - Driven by Dawn-Marie Stewart.
1992 Reliant Robin LX - Driven by John White.
1992 Reliant Robin LX - Driven by Kevin Hallett.
1992 Reliant Robin Mk II - Driven by Mags & Dave Schollar.
1993 Reliant Sabre 1800 Ti Mk I - Driven by Doug Black.
1994 Reliant Sabre - Driven by Mark Cropper.
1994 Tempest Vantique - Driven by Mark Taylor.
1998 Reliant Robin SLX - Driven by James Holland.
1998 Reliant Robin SLX - Driven by Jimmy Lardner.
1998 Reliant Robin SLX - Driven by Barrie Flint.
2000 Reliant Robin SLX driven by Terry O’Keeffe.
2002 Reliant Robin BN1 driven by Sue Cropper.
My sincere thanks goes to everyone for coming along and making this such an amazing turnout. Thank you. We hope to see you again in 2010. Next year is the 5th Reliant Gathering and the 75th anniversary of Reliant and so we plan to make it a big one with 100 vehicles being our target. We have now outgrown St Editha’s square and so to accommodate the extra vehicles we are hoping that in 2010 we will be displaying vehicles in the Castle grounds.
Thanks also go to:
Geoff: My brother who worked like a mad mad building a stand for the Reliant sign and making up information boards etc showing Reliant’s history.
Pete & Dee Gnosill: For all their work on the day as well as helping Geoff with the signs and the logistics of trying to get four vehicles to the show.
Caroline Stokes: My girlfriend who raced around fetching things, helped create all the Welcome packs, and then manned the desk to ensure everyone got one on the day.
Big Daddy & Micromma (Steve & Janet): For organising camping for all those who came over on Friday and Saturday, taking folks on road run on Saturday and leading them to the gathering on Sunday.
Dave Poole: For being in charge of Reliant Scimitars and parking then all up as they arrived.
James Holland and his Dad (CHG Performance) for sponsoring the rally plaques and making the rosettes.
Doc (aka Graham Penlington) for letting us advertise the gathering via the R3W forum and reaching as many Reliant owners as possible.
Black Country Living Museum in Dudley for again lending us the 1949 Reliant 8 cwt van for the day.
Tamworth Borough Council and the Tamworth Information Centre for giving us the opportuinity to put on this display.
My apologies if I have forgotten anyone.
Elvis Payne. September 2009