A short history of the Kent Section.
The current iteration of a Kent Section of the AJS & Matchless Owners Club is not the first. This occurred back in 1952 soon after a “Club” was formed and in those days they were known as “Branches”. The first “Branch” met in Rochester and ran successfully for a number of years before folding in the early 1960’s.
The current “Section” was formed by Paul Clark and Roger Norman, who had both been members of the dying London Section, as they wanted to be part of a section that did something rather than just meet for a “pint and a chat”, but also one that wasn’t dying on it’s feet.
The first meeting took place on 20th February 1978 in the Pied Bull in Farningham High Street in the then Landlord’s living room above the Pub for about the next 3 years. Oddly enough, even now, the Section meets on the 1st and 3rd Mondays of every month. This first meeting was attended by twelve members. After a few years the meetings moved downstairs to the Pub Dining Room, not only because numbers increased, about 20 per Club night, but this also enabled the showing of films and for Roger Norman and John Pilbeam, amongst others, to give demonstrations of strip downs, rebuilds and parts. Our first Christmas Social was held in the barn at the back of The Pied Bull which unfortunately wasn’t very well attended so a fair bit of money was lost. However the custom was rejuvenated a couple of years later and still continues today. March 6th 2000 was the last meeting at The Pied Bull, due to changes in Landlord and the new owners wish to refurbish, so the Section moved to the Fighting Cocks in Horton Kirby. By this time the turn out on Mondays was regularly around 20, partly due to the change of location and a change of leadership with Alan Earl taking over as Secretary. The change also allowed the Section to introduce Boules, using the court in the pub grounds, with both Section and Inter-Section matches being played. March 2010 saw the Section move to the Castle Hotel in Eynsford following a change of Landlord and refurbishment at the Fighting Cocks where it was made clear the Section was not welcome to the new intended clientele! We did temporarily move to the Portobello Arms due to a change of Landlord, again, and a problem with the quality of ale. But this was short lived and we have now returned to The Castle Hotel.
In the early days Road Trials were a fairly big thing with the Club running a couple events a year along with supporting the West Surrey and East Berks Section with their events. Members would regularly ride 300 - 400 mile round trip plus the event. The Section also provided the administration and manned the stand at the launch of The Classic Motorcycle magazine at The Royal Horticultural Halls in May 1980 when among the bikes on display was a Tom Arter G50.
In the early days the Section took part in many activities, watching the Banbury Run, trips to the Shuttleworth Collection Duxford and the Chalkpit Museum at Amberly . The Section also supported and ran a stand at The Festival of 1000 Bikes at Brands Hatch. In the 80’s and early 90’s we ran a Gymkhana in the form of an easy trials section. Initially with the help of member Colin Dunn who owned a fair bit of land in Oxted. When Colin moved away we moved elsewhere.
The Section continues to organise runs on Wednesdays and Sundays but now only from March to November along with trips to other Sections and Rally's.
My thanks to Roger Norman for providing the material for this “brief” history of the Kent Section. If you would like to read a more in depth version please contact us via the “contact us” page.
Here are some links you may find useful or interesting;
Sit or fly in a Spitfire at Biggin Hill Heritage Hanger
AJS & Matchless Owners Club HQ
Matchless Clueless UsefulGuides
Russell Motors Good for spares
Kettering Classic Motorcycles Pre owned classics from Jampot HQ
Motorcycle batteries from Hardwareexpress
CTL Wire Erosion Specialists - Stud removal can be found here