To celebrate Tamworth's history, for the last few years the second weekend in September has been a Heritage Weekend displaying Tamworth’s rich history. This year there was a slight change in that the Tamworth Heritage Weekend was merged with the Tamworth Festival weekend and it was brought one week forward to the first weekend in September. Unfortunately as a result this meant that the 7th Reliant Gathering clashed with several other motoring events, one of the being a Reliant Scimitar event that mean we lost the usual turn out of Reliant Scimitars that we have enjoyed in previous years. That said we still managed a superb turnout with 47 vehicles on display.
This year we were in a new spot again, this time on the Aldergate Car Park in the town center directly opposite the Tamworth Information Center and Assembly Rooms. The location seemed much better for attracting the locals and better still the car park has a nice little cafe and public toilets on hand as well so everything you could need. In addition to the vehicle display this year we also set up a display of 72 photos, all A4 size, in the Tamworth Information Center. All the photos were from within the Reliant factory or showed various models with vehicles from the 1960s and early 1970s. On the photos all ex-employees were numbered with a challenge to anyone viewing the photos to jot down on notepads provided, anyone that they recognised.
This year we were unable to quite get a vehicle from every decade of Reliant’s history. For the 1930s we again had my brother’s (Geoff) 1935 Reliant styled on the original prototype created by Tom Williams in 1934. For the 1940s the Black Country Living museum in Dudley kindly allowed us to borrow their 1949 Reliant 8cwt van. Unfortunately there was nothing from the 1950s this year and the 1960s were supported by my 1961 Reliant Regal Mk VI van and a 1968 Reliant Rebel driven by Adam Turpin and a 1969 driven by one of my old school teachers, Bob Coles.
The 1970s were well represented with Bond Bugs, a Regal Supervan, a litter of Kittens and a Scimitar and Mk 1 Robin. The 1980s have always been well represented and this year was no different with a whole pack of Rialtos and a skulk of Foxes. The 1990s and 2000s were catered for with a worm of Robins, (Put your hands up and award yourself a gold star if you knew that the collective noun for Robins was worm.).
Talking of gold stars as the Olympic games were held in London this year we thought that rather than have the usual trophy for the Car of the Day, that this year, in the spirit of all things Olympian, we would award the winner with their very own gold medal. It was quite a chunky one as well. This year the car with the most votes was Pete and Dee Gnosill’s 1982 Reliant Rialto painted white with a large 53 on the bonnet in Herbie style. Peter was perhaps the most shocked person that the Car of the Day award has been presented to over the years so it was a pleasure to pass over the gold medal.
This year we saw a record number of ex-Reliant employees and all had great stories about various vehicles that were built during their time at Reliant. One ex-employee was Marlene Gaskin who worked at Reliant with her husband John in the 1950s and 1960s. Many people will have actually seen a photo of Marlene and not realised as she was the model and the infamous Reliant Regal Mk III publicity photo taken in 1955. One ex-Reliant employee came up to me giving me two large A3 size photos taken at Reliant in the 1970s. Imagine my surprise later a home when examining the photos in more detail I spotted my Father-in-Law (Barry Mansfield-Stokes) in them as he also worked for Reliant in the 1970s.
Each year the Reliant Gathering has a unique vehicle and this year was no exception when the Eddie Stobart Reliant Supervan arrived, For those of you who collect Corgi models, it was this vehicle that the Corgi Eddie Stobart Reliant Supervan was based on and indeed the models bears the same registration number to the original.
The complete list of vehicles was as follows:
1935 Reliant 7cwt Pickup - Geoffrey Payne
1949 Reliant 8cwt van - Geoffrey Payne /Black Country Living Museum
1961 Reliant Regal Mk VI 5cwt van - Elvis Payne
1968 Reliant Rebel - Adam Turpin
1969 Reliant Scimitar GTE - Bob Coles
1970 Bond Bug - Derek Wood
1971 Reliant Regal Supervan III - Darren Butler
1972 Reliant Rebel - Chris Crawley
1972 Reliant Rebel Estate - Mark Jones
1973 Bong Bug 700ES - Jimmy Lardner
1973 Reliant Rebel van - Dan Rodd
1973 Bond Bug - Rory Lynas
1975 Reliant Kitten DL - John Pearce
1976 Reliant Scimitar GTE - M.W.Rowley
1978 Reliant Kitten - Kirsty Payne
1978 Reliant Kitten Estate - Simon Hodges
1979 Reliant Robin - Trish & Dave Wharmby
1979 Reliant Kitten - Steve Denton
1980 Reliant Robin Super 850 - Maggie Stone
1981 Reliant Robin - John White
1981 Reliant Kitten Estate - Michael Rowley
1982 Reliant Rialto 2 - Geoffrey Payne
1982 Reliant Rialto - Pete & Dee Gnosill
1982 Reliant Rialto - Janet & Steve White
1985 Reliant Scimitar SS1 1600 - Dave Poole
1985 Reliant Fox - Ian Bruce
1985 Reliant Fox (Tandy Camper) - Kerry Croxton
1985 Reliant Fox Camper - Keith Gittus
1985 Reliant Fox (Tandy Camper) - Duncan Bradford
1986 Reliant Fox (Tandy Camper) - Tim Langdale
1986 Reliant Fox (Tandy Camper) - James Holland
1986 Reliant Rialto - Darren Woods
1987 Reliant Scimitar SS1 1.6 - Robin Cooke
1987 Reliant Rialto - Richard Morlet
1987 Reliant Rialto - Dean Smithson
1988 Reliant Rialto - Dean Woods
1988 Reliant Rialto SE - Aaron Hensley
1989 Reliant Rialto - Eric Davies
1990 Reliant Robin LX - Pete Huggins
1991 Reliant Rialto SE - Nigel Elsey
1993 Reliant Robin LX - Philip Jones
1997 Reliant Robin - Steve Carroll
1997 Reliant Robin SLX - Gill Roper
1999 Reliant Robin - Anthony Drew
2000 Reliant Robin van (Mk III) - Sue Cropper
2000 Reliant Robin SLX (Mk III)- Terry O'Keeffe
2001 Reliant Robin (Mk III) - Graham Gault