Anglia Centre History
The MGCC Anglia Centre
By Roger Latham
The idea to form an Anglia Centre came from the South East Centre who proposed a meeting of Natter Leaders from the ‘Anglia’ area of the South East Centre. The first meeting was held in 1982 at the Kings Arms, Frating near Clacton-On-Sea in Essex. From that meeting Anglia gradually grew, first as a Region, then as things began to gell as a Sub-Centre and finally as a full Centre. Centre status was achieved in 1987 just five years from inception. Anglia then the third largest is now the fourth largest Centre in the MGCC with around 1300 members. The Anglia Centre area comprises all of Essex, Suffolk, Norfolk, Cambridgeshire and most of Bedfordshire with parts of Hertfordshire for good luck. It is interesting to reflect that of those at the historic first meeting Peter Best has been Chairman of the MG Car Club and is now a Vice President. David Saunders (founding and first Chairman of Anglia) was for many years involved with the T Type Register.
Of the other early members Phil Thompson went on to start the very successful Anglia Phoenix Championship, Another of those early members Alan Yeo remains as an Anglia Natter leader to this day. Roger Latham was for many years Secretary then later Chairman and is still a Committee member today and has now been elected as Anglia Centre President. We believe one of the reasons for Anglia Centre’s success is that the Committee was initially composed of Natter Leaders and today some still are. In addition ordinary Anglia members are always welcome to attend Committee meetings. This helps to ensure the views of all active members are reflected in the Committee meetings. There are presently fourteen Natters, now referred to as Club Meets, some of which meet at lunchtime.
Anglia Centre has always endeavoured to support Main Club in all ways from representation and a strong voice at Council and AGM, assisting at shows, to organising the Concours and Pride of Ownership competitions at the annual MGCC Silverstone International Weekend now MG Live. Anglia’s efforts were recognised in 1999 with the award of the Club’s most prestigious trophy, The Nuffield Gold Cup. The award was made at the Silverstone Dinner where the cup was proudly received by Gerry Revens, the then Anglia Centre Chairman.
In addition to supporting Main Club events the Centre has provided a great many regional attractions from local Natter competitions to Driving Test and Concours events. A Calendar of Events is sent every year to all Anglia members. This contains details of our events together with the major Main Club ones. It also has a full Natter listing and other contact details.
For many years a full blown MGCC Racing Championship was organised and run as The MGCC Anglia Phoenix Championship. It was unique in providing racing for all models of MG within its classes. Founded by Phil Thompson in 1988 the aim of the Championship was to provide close and exciting racing featuring all models of MG at the lowest possible cost with the greatest enjoyment. Later the Championship went from strength to strength under the guidance of Max Collier as Co-ordinator and Eric Metcalfe as Registrar together with the full backing and support of the Anglia Centre Committee. Gerry Revens succeeded Max and continued the success of the Championship. Today the Championship is run by Main Club as The Peter Best Insurance Challenge and supports all the MGCC race meetings
In past years Anglia has run Concours and Autotest Championships but these are no longer held due to dwindling interest in this type of competition. However, The Queen Victoria Concours is very much alive and well. It grew from small beginnings as a gathering of MGs in the car park of that pub to become a major attraction of the Metropolitan Police Fayre which was held at their Sports Ground at Chigwell annually. So popular is this event it has attracted in excess of three hundred cars and must be regarded as one of the major Concours in the MG Car Club. The founder and organiser of this event was David Stonehouse followed by David Tynan. Today Tony Batson organises the equally successful Queen Victoria Classic and Sports Car Show held at Billericay each year as part of the Billericay Summer Festival.
In the past Anglia ran a Autotest Championship each year, which was also under the guidance of David Stonehouse, comprising a number of rounds held all over the region. Events were mainly on tarmac with just a few on grass. Drivers competed for Overall Winner and Best Lady titles over the season. Bruce Cox organised these for several years with events later held in Norfolk on tarmac.
In past times continental trips have figured in the calendar and have ranged from a long weekend run in France designed to help drivers who have never driven their MGs abroad before to a much longer trip to the Schlumpf museum. Weekend social runs in the UK have been made to Yorkshire, Lincolnshire, and Wiltshire and so on.
A well liked event on the calendar was the Varsity Run, instigated and organised by David Saunders, between Cambridge and Oxford and onto Abingdon. This was succeeded by another touring assembly (social run) the Valiant Run, organised by Nigel Woor and Mark Williams, unique in being over one or two days to choice and taking in various RAF airbases in the Anglia area. Apart from the road run a highlight of this event was the dinner held in an RAF mess with an overnight stay followed by a blast down the main runway the next morning to blow away the cobwebs. For some fourteen years the Anglia Weekend was held at various venues in Essex. The event included camping, barbecues, Concours and driving tests. A winter favourite was a video show with fish and chips evening in Danbury.
A past feature of the Centre’s activities was the annual Dinner held at the end of the year. Attendance was well into three figures and majored on the prize giving ceremony. A vast array of trophies awaited the winners from the Anglia Phoenix Championship and the Driving Test Championship. Trophies were handed out to the accompaniment of a unique slide show prepared by Eric Metcalfe which showed the recipient in action and sometimes in difficulty too. All of the Anglia Phoenix sponsors were invited to attend and award the trophies. The party went on into the small hours. Today this event has been replaced by a number of local area dinners. Recent initiatives have been The Thames Bridges and Tunnels runs organised in conjunction with the MGF Register.
Today the Anglia Centre continues strongly with a full calendar of events both social and sporting and a number of the popular road runs such as the Rabbie Burns Run early in the year, the Mid Summer Run and the Rivera Run held at Christmas holiday week, plus of course the Anglia Picnic held in July at a different stately home venue each year. Currently there are fourteen Club Meets some of which reflect a modern move to lunchtime gatherings. Membership today is still around 1300. The Centre continues to support Main Club in all ways possible. These still include having a strong voice at Council and AGM, a number of director members to the Executive Committee are from the Anglia area and Anglia are still organising the Concours and Pride of Ownership competitions at MG Live at Silverstone.
A printed calendar of events was sent to all members as an insert in Safety Fast! annually but today it is sent out electronically. To keep our members fully informed the Centre also embraces modern media with a website and Facebook pages.