The Story of the 69 Motorcycle Club
1969 and all that
It was the first week in June in 1969 and Dick Pascoe and his new wife Daphne had just returned from honeymoon. They were sitting with their best man, Mick Ray, and his girlfriend, Rosemary Mills, in the coffee bar in the Market Square discussing the future over a cup of coffee.
News arrived that day that would change their lives in a way none would appreciate for years to come, A stranger had arrived in town. This stranger was the Rev. Bill Shergold, the famous motorcycling vicar who had founded the 59 Club in London that was frequented by people such as Cliff Richard and the Shadows.
The news that rev. Bill had arrived caused a stir – he was after all a biker that wore a ‘dog collar’ and someone we should meet. It didn’t take long for Dick and Mick to arrive at the vicarage in Templar Street, Dover to meet with this new Triumph owner and ask if he would start a new club in Dover called the 69 Club. At that time Dick was riding a 3TA and Mick was on a 5TA, both Bathtub versions. Dick has a photo of ‘Farv’ on his triumph with himself and Mick on Astor Avenue in 1970 – fond memories.
After several days of touring the local area pushing leaflets into the handlebars of bikes we had the very first meeting of the 69 club, This took place at the home of newly-wed Dick and Daphne at Buelah House, Crabble Hill, Dover. present were the founder members: Dick and Daphne Pascoe, Mick Ray, Rose Mills, Harold Brown, Eddy Edwards and Roy Sewell. At this meeting it was agreed that Father Bill Shergold (‘Farv`) would hold membership number one, Dick was number 2, Mick no.3 etc.
The members tried hard to spread the word and a meeting place was agreed at the cafe next to the Royal Oak pub at Capel le Ferne, near Dover. (It was here that the club members first met Jean Blankeart, the founder of the Steel Horse Rally when he spotted a bunch of bikes on his way back to the docks).
Dick had been involved with the local 365 Youth Club and its Social Services organiser Ken Miles. It was through him that we found a home. The stables (now demolished) at the Western Heights were empty and needed some care. Negotiations with Dover Council took place and were soon completed. We arrived en masse and quickly saw that they were perfect for our needs. A peppercorn rent was agreed (Dick seems to remember £1 per week) provided that the buildings were maintained.
The fifty or so members soon got into the redecoration of our new HQ and when the water company wanted a hundred pounds or so to dig a trench to the building to connect a water supply we said no – we dig the trench – you connect the water. The same for the electricity supply – we did the work and they made the connections.
The grand opening saw the parking lot in front of the building packed with bikes with just a small slot remaining for the Mayor’s car. The man from the Social Services arrived and with the Mayor made their way to the front door. There they were stopped by a member in heavy leathers who said, “This is my club, would you like to look around?” Apparently he’d been on their list as a ‘problem’ for years and had, at last, found his true home.
The club progressed, installing a coffee bar, dance facilities, meeting place, bike storage, and a workshop with lots of tools. BUT unfortunately there was one thing missing from this wonderful clubhouse and that was beer. We couldn’t nor did not want a licence and all the problems that go with it.
It took another year or so, but the stables closed as the club moved away and met for many years in the Old Endeavour pub on London Road, Dover. A pub that served beer (but in Dick’s view had no club spirit).
Not long after the club started Dick walked into Hichcocks Motorcycles in Folkestone and told the owner Jock that we had started a club. His comment was that “it won’t last two years”. Just a few week before Jock died many years later Dick reminded him of his comment – his reply “well you got it right didn’t you”.
Dick is delighted that something he was heavily involved in initiating some 36 or more years ago is still going strong. He still owns a bike that he loves to bits – he says, “no more BMWs, back to Triumphs for me. My new Sprint ST955i is a magic beast that I love… (Mind you it’s the most expensive bike I have ever owned – my original 3TA was only £65!)
(Courtesy of Dick Pascoe)
For many years the club met at the Old Endeavour pub in London Road, Dover. During most of this time Dave Hawes, affectionately known as Flash, was the club’s Chairman. Though there were plenty of local social activities the main thrust of club activity during the 70s and 80s was rallying. Club members were away most weekends of the warmer months at motorcycle rallies all over the UK and often attended en masse, winning many awards for club turnout. Those who could afford it also went to a number of continental rallies each year, with a core group attending the FIM rally, which visits a different nation each year. There was a deliberate drive to attract young riders into the club and put on runs which learners could join in with, cheap social events such as beach parties, and for experienced riders to take newcomers under their wing, often offering a pillion seat to further away destinations. Rounders matches and Treasure Hunts were held, some with a scooter club in Margate (as at the time the press sought to renew 60s antagonisms), and great fun was had with our join act of unity on two wheels. Fireworks were let off each year from beer crates set in the river behind the pub (someone had to don the waders each year to let them off). In latter years (then) member John Faiers gave the use of his paddock. Following Flash, Barry Miller, then Clive Luckett became chairmen of the club. Through all these years club members have regularly made an annual trip to Belgium for the Steel Horse rally. Founded by Jean Blankeart, who sadly died, the “Fellowship of the Steel Horse” celebrates international friendship in motorcycling with an annual ceremony and meal which is carried on in his memory by his wife and children.
The Old Endeavour pub changed considerably over the years, with many different landlords and nearly as many refits by the brewery. Our Landlords at The Royal Oak were temporary landlords at ‘The E’, so when lack of parking and a very smoky meeting room finally became too annoying, the club moved to join them at their new venture in River.
The Royal Oak
John and Chris, our most excellent hosts, made the club very welcome at their pub in River. There’s now somewhere to park (rather a problem at the E in later years), great food and good beer!
Unfortunately the Royal Oak closed down in the middle of January 2017 and was briefly re-opened for a few months by the brewery but as no new tenants applied the pub was put up for auction in October 2017. Current plans for the pub are unknown.
Membership of the club was at its highest in the 1970s when it was a very busy social club. In the 1980s and 90s though membership was lower in numbers it was made up for in miles traveled, as the club was very busy touring with many members attending the international D.I.Y. rallies all over Europe as well as rallies throughout the UK, often gaining attendance awards for numbers of club members visiting a rally. Members have moved away and returned, married each other, and we now have second generation 69 members rallying with their parents!
Early White Cliffs Rallies were held near the Western Heights Clubhouse. Rallies were later held at The Danes Recreation Ground, then for many years at the Rose and Crown in Stelling Minnis where excellent food was served, and we were made most welcome. Young and new members earned the respect of older club members by working hard at the rally – everyone was expected to do their bit as the hosts. The fun was to be had when you went to other clubs’ events – though usually it ended up being great fun, if hard work. The club’s last pub based rallies were near Bridge, and up to then had always been ‘Trad’ rally without a band or disco, but lots of raucous singing and silly games, usually with an organised run out on the Saturday.
In more recent years the rally has been held at a hall near Dover which has a field for camping, and the club as been fortunate enough to have had Dave Bartholemew as our rally chef – aided by his family. Live music and a Disco have become part of the event with changing tastes in rally activities. The silly games remain!
The Charity Fund
During the 1980s there was a well publicised appeal for monies to be raised for children’s wheelchairs. The club decided to help and began fund-raising, however, once we had a sum of money, we found it impossible to find a reputable body to receive it for the purpose for which it was raised. A youngster with mobility problems, however, needed a hand powered trike, so we bought that instead – but no-one wanted to stop fund raising – we’d had such fun. The annual charity give-away was born. The committee soon set up a separate charity fund with its own rules and trustees. Since then we have marshalled public events, had heads shaved, sold excess bike gear and held many more events. There is a donations helmet in the pub, and each year a good sum of money is donated to predominantly local good causes.
Our President passes away
At 2am on 17th May 2009 Father Bill Shergold passed peacefully away after a long illness at the nursing home in which he was a resident in Wells. “Farv” had remained interested in the club’s affairs up until his last days, having just sent us a card with good wishes for the forthcoming 40th Anniversary church service and celebration. Those who knew him well will miss his wry humour and deep understanding of and empathy for people from all walks of life. In addition to his achievements in the motorcycling world, Farv was involved with helping the Terrance Higgins Trust whilst in London on his first attempt to “retire”. He famously donated the jeans he modelled for a famous manufacturer during this time to the homeless, as he thought they had more need than him of them. He will be much missed.