The Rochdale Owners Club was formed in June 1981 by a group of owners keen to establish a club exclusively for the Rochdale marque.
Review of past Events
2012 Olympic Torch Procession.
Olympics by Torchlight
"You'd think, with the big event in London, it would be a good time for the Rochdale people to make a bit of a display of the cars this year". When you are trying to get some facts together on the Rochdale marque, it is inevitable that you end up, sooner or later, at the door of Keith Hamer. Keith must have the distinction of having worked on more of the surviving Olympics than any other person: but I really wasn,t ready for this - in fact, I hadn't given the coming Olympic 2012 a thought, apart from joking about the odd logo. But a couple of months down the line, towards the end of a committee meeting, Tony Stanton did his bit to reinforce the message- "Did you know that the Olympic torch will be coming through Rochdale on June 24th?" Well, no, Tony, I didn't, but I do now... The opportunity was just too good to miss, and, without too much optimism, I decided to approach the "Rochdale people" and see what they thought of the idea at this relatively late stage in the day. But then, I don't tend to do forward planning myself - see what comes up, and make it up as you go along tends to be my approach. But this time I struck gold straight away: I ended up with the Link4Life organisation, speaking to Barbara Lloyd with a few ideas on what might be possible. While Barbara had indeed heard of the cars (amazing how many people in Rochdale haven't) possible connection with the coming event had not been made, but she certainly became very enthusiastic as I described the car and its original connections with the 1960 Olympics: as we talked, ideas sparked between us, and it was clear that there was the potential of something really good happening on the day.
Barbara and Link4Life were very keen to see as many cars as possible on the day, and there were plenty of club members keen to attend, but being Rochdale owners, of course, doesn't necessarily imply that the cars would be in attendance as well. Owning an Olympic is categorically NOT the same thing as having one on the road! But the signs were all good, and we were hoping that the day would bring perhaps the biggest-ever gathering of Rochdale cars - there had been fourteen present for the 2002 sculpture opening, and it really did look at one stage that this figure could well be beaten. In view of the distances some owners would have to travel, Link4Life very generously agreed to pay for B&B accomodation for all Olympic drivers (and passengers!) present, as well as hosting a meal at Madison's restaurant for Rochdale (car) folks on the Friday night.
That was the plan. Unfortunately, as the big day approached, it became clear that the North of England was due for some of the worst weather it had seen for years in the days leading up to the event, and several who had intended to come along were struck with mechanical problems as well. So, in the event, we ended up with eight cars on the day: in addition to the three earlier members, we were now joined by Keith Hamer (orange Olympic) Dave Mayers (red Olympic) Howard Evans (blue Olympic) Andrew Roan (red GT) and, on the Saturday, Calvin Rae (silver Olympic). Others members attending were Keith Pratt, Ron Scarfe and newly-joined Simon Hamer - top marks to all those who made it, "torrential rain" is an over-used expression, but definitely applied in this case. My daughter's home in nearby Hebden Bridge was flooded for the first time in living memory, and the area was so badly affected that Prince Charles paid a visit to see how they were getting on, only for it to receive a second dose of floods as he left. I did, therefore, have cause to regret my earlier offer of a guided tour of the (car-related) sights of Rochdale: my GT is one of those having a large scoop cut in the bonnet to provide cooling air around the hard-pressed engine - unfortunately, it also allowed rather more than its fair share of the flooding, as well. Having visited the sculptures, Littledale Street, and Falinge Park, I led the way towards Syke Common, where "Motor" testers had thrashed the GT-engined Phase II around, only to find our way blocked by yet more floods. After pulling in and taking a vote on whether to brave the flooded road or not, the concensus was to press on: the bow-wave kicked up by my wheels found its way into the engine compartment, and that poor, long-suffering Midget engine gave up the ghost - at precisely the spot where Richard Parker had been filmed driving VDK 147 at speed fifty years earlier. (http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ddOu4uUVYrQ) Lots of ribald comments ensued, but it turned out that the lead from the coil was sparking across the outside of the distributor, and after several doses of WD-40, we were all on our way again, the care taken in avoiding the floods taking us past All Saint's church, where the "Racing Vicar", Rupert Jones, had married myself and my wife some 44 years before.
Rupert was one of those who was to have been involved in Harry Radcliffe's Olympic attack on the 1961 British Championships, but don't get me going again... Things looked up as we made our way back to the Broadfield Hotel. This was an old nursing-home which had been tastefully modernised, with very pleasing facilities. My wife immediately swooped on the plethora of very large leather armchairs in the foyet, and demonstrated to club members the forgotten art of finding lost coins down the "nick" of the chair arm. These are particularly prevalent in low-slung armchairs of this type, when a gentleman sits down with loose-fitting yet bulging pockets, prefearably after he has had a few. Before long, most of the hotel were at it, but Roger's second place £1.50 paled into insignificance alongside Pat's £4.35 retrieved from down there!
Come the next day, and we made an early start for our position at the front of the Town Hall. The entire event generated such a feeling of local affection from people who had known the cars, the factory and its people at the time, and even those who were finding out about them for the first time. My favourite story came from Rene Broxup, who Pat had not seen since she left school in 1961. Apparently her father was a woolen merchant, operating at the back of the Hudson Street premises in the days prior to the fire: after the fire, as the GT, Riviera, Mk VI, and (in theory) F-Type and C-Type models were dropped the factory was left with a large quantity of window-glasses from those models: her husband is still using 50-odd of them as garden cloches! I hope to follow up the exact nature of these cloches in the near future.... As the time drew nearer, I was getting increasingly hoarse from about five hours continuous talk about Rochdales. Pat had taken the bit between her teeth and set about selling fourteen of the Olympic/GT club mugs we had made earlier that year - she has a reputation of being able to sell anything to anyone, so best keep your hands firmly in your pockets at any future events. I had my grandson lined up for a ride in the Torch procession, but it was just impossible not to get sucked in by the building euphoria as the torch approached the centre and my 40 year-old son (who had feigned indifference for weeks) couldn't resist climbing in alongside when the time came. Also present was Frank Butterworth's grandson - when I realised how much he wanted to be there, he just had to be squeezed into the back as well - ordinarily, no problem at all, apart from the huge box of mugs and club stuff there already. It is surprising just how significant some of these things can be in people's lives: I once gave a ride round the block on the back of my Francis Barnett to my girl friend's young cousin. He rose to the very, very top of Tesco's UK organisation, and, when we met again some thirty years on, he described this to me as one of the most memorable moments of his early life!
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