I remember my first MG. A bracken MGB GT of 1967 vintage and it wasn’t long before things started to go wrong. I joined the MG Owners Club in England and found there was an address in Northern Ireland and someone referred to as KP9.
KP9 turned out to be Paul Handforth who, with a couple of other enthusiasts met in a pub in Lisburn once a month. The local section was on a very low key. We met Alan and Jackie Cash, neighbours of Paul who also owned an MG and together with a couple of friends of ours, Ian & Lynn Moore, now successfully running Brooklands MG Centre, got together and decided the future of the local section.
We launched a publicity campaign, put advertisements in the Belfast Telegraph, Newtownards and Bangor Spectators, Downe Recorder and it was mentioned on Downtown Radio. Anyone interested in joining an MG Club was to meet in Comber Square on Sunday 14th June 1981. The Club had started.
A rather dapper little gentleman and his good lady wife turned up in their blue and white MG 1100 with 1,400 miles on the clock. Yes, George and Nancy Barker had arrived. Our youngest driver that day was Ken Smyth in his restored 1965 MG Midget which he had originally purchased for £50!
Every new member was given contact cards to place on the windscreen of any MGs. The telephone did not stop ringing in the Williams household and the applications poured in and the Club grew.
The temporary committee organised a Concours. Well, it was actually aptly named “The Best of a Bad Bunch” to see who had the best rust heap. The venue was the field beside the Williams’ household and sandwiches were handed out. Alan Cash filled our MGBGT with grass, but who cared, it was all good fun.
The MG Car Club sent along a spy in a black MGTF. That was the start of a good relationship between the two MG Clubs and we were invited to their Concours D’Elegance, barbecue evenings and yearly treasure hunts. A few quiz nights were also arranged, the first held at Cultra Yacht Club in January 1982.
By November 1981 our third newsletter was being completed. Membership cards had been printed and a provisional fee of £3.00 was agreed for the first year. The Club was progressing and we were meeting once a month in the Barclay Restaurant near Shaw’s Bridge in Belfast.
Our first Annual Dinner Dance was held in the Squire’s Inn in Ballygowan on the 23rd December 1981. Phil Smalley acted as compere for the evening and anyone who knew Phil, can imagine this was a fun evening. Phil and his wife now live in Canada.
An Annual General Meeting was held on Monday 5th January 1982 and the following first official committee members were: Paul Handforth, Dave and Sheila Williams, Alan Cash, George Barker, Conor Cavanagh (ex Downtown Radio Newsreader) and Patrick McCambridge. Phil Smalley was elected as Events Organiser.
The history of the MG Owners’ Club Northern Ireland was compiled by Honorary members.