The Black Country’s premier vehicle rally, featuring Black Country made vehicles, took place at the Black Country Living Museum, Tipton Road, Dudley on Sunday 27th July. The rally, previously called the Black Country Vehicle Rally is now known as the Festival of Black Country Vehicles. The event attracts many enthusiasts from a large area, and has a strong following. The rally was held on a beautiful summer’s day on part of the museum’s 26 acre site, and featured a large number of vehicles. There were cars made by A.J.S., Bean, Clyno, Frisky, Jensen, Lomax, Quantum, Rickman, Star, Sunbeam, Swallow, Turner, and Westfield. Meadows engined cars included models by Lea Francis, Invicta, and Lagonda. The many motorcycles included machines made by A.J.S., D.M.W., and Sunbeam; there were Guy lorries and buses, and the unusual sight of a Jensen lorry.

Some of the many exhibits.

The highlights included several cavalcades, during which the vehicle owners were allowed to drive, or ride their vehicles around a pre-planned route on the site.

This is a unique and spectacular feature of the rally that recaptures the old, once familiar sights and sounds of a bygone era.

Another highlight was the official opening of the museum’s latest attraction, the accurate recreation of Conway Garage that stood at the Fighting Cocks in Wolverhampton. Alec Broome, one of Sunbeam’s top racing mechanics ran the garage from 1936 until the late 1980s, when he retired.

Alec Broome's garage.

The garage is the latest addition to the growing Black Country village which features many of the aspects of traditional Black Country life. The garage was opened by the museum’s Director and Chief Executive Ian Walden, and Alec Broome’s great nephew John Davies.

Read about the garage and its creation


The visiting motorcycles included Bill Barton’s A.J.S. “Big Port” from 1927, and his A.J.S. model ‘B’ from 1915.

As usual Arthur Stubbs brought along a number of his interesting D.M.W. machines, and a fascinating collection of Sunbeams were there for all to see, including Mark Homer's "Lion" combination.

Some of the motorcycles.

A few of the cars.

The many cars included Jeremy Collins’ spectacular Star Raceabout from 1907, John Warburton’s Star 12/25 from 1924, Malcolm Luscot Evans’ Bean Tourer from 1926, Nick Lacy Hulbert’s Clyno Tourer from 1926, and Michael Dancer’s Sunbeam 14/40 Tourer from 1923.
The commercial vehicles included Tim and Glen Bubb’s Guy Vixen bus from 1953, Chris Huffer’s Guy Otter Lorry from 1950, W. G. Lucas’s Guy Otter Lorry from 1950, and Keith Ball’s Guy Wolf van from 1949. As usual a good variety of Sunbeam and Guy buses were on hand courtesy of the Black Country Transport Group.
Background music was provided by the Dennis Mowatt Dixie Syncopaters who greatly added to the warm and friendly atmosphere, which is always a feature of the event.
Indoor displays about locally made vehicles were provided by David Evans who runs the Star, Starling, Stuart, and Briton Register; and myself, on behalf of the Marston Wolverhampton Heritage Trust who are based at the museum.

The Dennis Mowatt Dixie Syncopaters.

Some of the indoor displays.

Visitors included Geoff and Jim Stevens of the A.J.S. family, June Hussey, the daughter of the famous motorcycle rider Tommy Deadman, and Keith Peckmore who worked both for Keift and Frisky in Wolverhampton.
After lunch many of the visitors lined the route to watch the vehicles in action during several cavalcades, each catering for a different type of vehicle.

Trevor Davies was on hand to keep a watchful eye on the proceedings, and a number of marshals positioned around the route ensured that everything ran smoothly.

Some of the Star, Bean, and Sunbeam cars.

A surprise visitor was Geoff Stevens (A.J.S.), extreme left.

As usual it was an extremely enjoyable day, greatly appreciated by the visitors. There were old friends to meet and much to see on the museum’s extensive site, including the Black Country village, the coal mine, the Newcomen steam engine, the fairground, and the exhibition halls.

Many people took advantage of the excellent canalside café, the traditional fish and chip shop, and the Bottle and Glass pub.

Everything went well on the day and the rally was a great success, thanks to the organising team and their many helpers. The rally was well organised by Hamish Wood (the museum’s Operations Manager), Brian Rollings, Ray Jones, Trevor Davies, and Brian Watton. Special thanks must go to Jane Allcock, Hamish Wood’s assistant who worked extremely hard behind the scenes to ensure that everything ran smoothly on the day. It was also made possible by the team from the Marston Wolverhampton Heritage Trust including Angela Davies, Stan Davis, Beryl Jones, Val and Stuart Lloyd, Ken and Margaret Norton, Audrey and Derek Spencer, and Joy Watton. Thanks must also go the marshals who kept an eye on the proceedings throughout the day. They were Reg Aston, Derek Beddows, Bramwell, Jerry Clark, Bob Dale, and Derek Kirk.

Trevor Davies in the museum's A.J.S. "Nine" car.

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