In the book about The First 70 Years a brief history of the Tyne-Tees Centre was written under the names of Gordon Douglas and Brian Ireland. The following is an update to bring us to 2010, with further thanks to Brian for additional information, but starting with a précis of that initial story,
From 1963 to 1999
In May 1963 a group of members met in a Durham pub to create the Tyne-Tees Sub-Centre of the North East Centre, which was based in Leeds. The Sub-Centre had a leaning towards competitive events, with entries for races at Silverstone and rallying over adventurous courses. Unfortunately rallying ended in that form because roads were too rough for the modern MGBs to navigate without the owner having to fit a new exhaust system at the end of every event!
Sprints were frequently held at Topcliffe airfield until someone tried to blow up the barracks in nearby Ripon resulting in the airfield being closed to the general public. As a result the Sub-Centre became specialists in running 12-car mini-rallies, holding about seven each season. When the RAC tightened the rules for timed events the rallies also ended.
In 1971 the Sub-Centre achieved full Centre status and by 1980 there were 350 members. Meetings regularly achieved attendances of 70 to 80 and in 1983 the Centre won the Nuffield Gold Cup for achieving the highest percentage increase in membership.
In the '90s, with increasing work and family demands on members the Committee felt it was fighting a losing battle with falling attendances at Natters and the various events.
To give the Centre a boost a major event was run in 1999.at the Beamish Open Air Museum, which was a great success.
From 2000 to 2010
As we moved in to 2000 bureaucracy had effectively stopped our popular mini-rallies; Autotest events had been severely cut back due to lack of support and venues and the Committee realised that newer members were less interested in thrashing their cars round Autotest circuits or other similar events.
Although overall membership changed only slightly, numbers attending monthly meetings and events were in decline and even our annual Prince Bishops Run was struggling. In Motorsport, Tom Stewart and Joe Parrington still raced in the BCV8 Championship. Brian Ireland and Maurice Standish joined them initially with their MGBs but later with MGAs and Paul and Margaret Rigg took up the sport in an MGF.
Maurice Standish took over as Chairman in 2001 and the main meetings were held at Walworth Castle. Tyne-Tees Television visited us to make a programme about MG and good fun was had driving round the grounds with camera cars following.
Despite the Committee's best efforts, and a new venue at The Manor House in West Auckland it was obvious by 2007 that the Centre, like several others, was in trouble and discussions took place with main Club as to the future, one possibility being to merge with Yorkshire Centre. However at an EGM held in November 2007, two people, Peter Ebdon and Barrie Hope, both long time MG Car Club members but who for location and work reasons had been unable to get involved in Tyne-Tees Centre offered their services; Peter as future Chairman and Barrie as Secretary. Maurice Standish stayed on to assist in an orderly hand over to Peter, although several existing Committee members stood down. Dennis Hope, Ian Lambley, Paul Rigg, and Peter Sewell joined Maurice, Peter and Barrie on the Committee with Lyn Ebdon taking on the role of Treasurer. This team was determined to rescue the Centre, and thank goodness it worked. Peter Ebdon took over as Chairman in July 2008 and by the start of 2010 it was great to report that things were definitely on the up, with increasing membership, better attendances, and a new monthly natter North of the Tyne.
A major highlight was the award in 2009 of the Nuffield Gold Cup for the rescue operation performed by the Committee and this was celebrated at a Dinner Dance at The Marriott Hotel, MetroCentre, where Club Chairman John Day presented the cup jointly to the Committee. As well as the Prince Bishops Run having a new lease of life we also have the early season Cobweb Run organised by Peter and Lyn, a late summer Old Speckled Hen Run by Barrie and Sheila Hope, and the Chairmanâ€™s Autumn Leaves Run in October. Whilst Maurice decided to stop racing, Brian continues with his MGA; Dennis Hope and Peter Sewell took up sprinting and Margaret Farquhar-Rigg is doing well in the TF series, so all in all it looks like Tyne-Tees Centre once again has a bright future: here's to the next 10 years!