The Motor Cycling Club
(Founded in 1901)
November 1901. In a dimly lit London Cafe half a dozen enthusiasts of the new-fangled motor cycle met and decided there should be an association for their fellow enthusiasts and so The Motor Cycling Club was born. Note it was called The Motor - pause - Cycling - pause - Club as at the time there was not even a commonly accepted name for a bicycle with an engine!
It was a very different world from today into which the new club emerged. For the first time in over 60 years England had a King on the throne and urban pollution was measured by the tons of horse manure shovelled daily off the streets. Enthusiasts wanted to prove that their strangely hostile machines represented a serious means of transport and were not just noisy things to frighten the horses – and the establishment. Fortunately for the MCC its founders were all responsible London businessmen apart from Selwyn Edge, the then successful racing driver, who described his occupation as "Gentleman" which immediately gave motor cycling a credibility it might otherwise have lacked.
From day one the club started to prove its seriousness with social runs, race meetings, first at Crystal Palace and then Brooklands, where the MCC was one of the first race organisers, and participation in the national 1000 miles trial. Soon though it was running its own three great long distance reliability trials, the London/Edinburgh; the London/Exeter and the London/Lands End, all of which are still held today with record entries from competitors on two, three and four wheels and which are probably the reason the club has survived when other once great clubs have fallen by the wayside.
At first these trials needed only to be run on the main roads to provide a harsh competition, but as roads and machinery improved the route took to the lanes with a number of steep, rough and loose surfaced hills ...So the Classic Trial, as we know it today, came about and some reliability trials started from Virginia Water Hotel and Staines Town Hall.
Today, with over 110 years on the clock, the MCC maintains its original aims of producing demanding but fair sporting contests for its members, whether in cars or on motorcycles, and is one of the few places where competitors can pit their skills and today's technology against the same obstacles that their fathers and grandfathers might have done.
Acknowledgements: Peter Garnier and John Aley www.themotorcyclingclub.org.uk