EKMMOC Branch History by Keith Arnold
It all happened “a long time ago in a galaxy far far away ”
The Bishops Finger
Two teachers (who it now appears were NOT teachers) named Penny Graham & Marjorie Wheaten, both Morris Minor owners, got together in November 1978 with a prison officer named John Tooth and some other like minded MM owners following an ad in the National club magazine to meet on the second Tuesday of the month in the back room of the Bishops Finger pub in Canterbury.
I joined this motley crew in Jan/Feb 1979 closely followed by John Cross, George Everest and Tony Larkins. We carried on in an informal manner for some six months or so, discussing spares, cars for sale, problems, and all things Minor. We then decided to form a committee and vote in a Chairman, Treasurer, and Secretary.
Tony Larkins was the first Chairman, with yours truly as Treasurer and Clare Jones as Secretary. It was about this time (Summer 1979) that we undertook the national London to Brighton run, and in those days had no trouble fielding 10-15 cars to other shows in the local area; Waldershare being one, the Cobweb another.
The White Horse
In 1984 we moved from the Bishops Finger to the White Horse at Bridge because our meeting room became a restaurant following a change of management. During our stay at the White Horse, long time member Dave Biddle organised some talks and slide shows given by some “friends” of his in the force!! The talk on illegal drugs, I can clearly remember to this day due to the horrific photographs of the consequences of drug abuse! We had a couple of happy years the White Horse with numbers growing all the time- and the MM owners getting younger!
The Queens Head, Boughton.
We then moved to the back room of the Queens Head, where we stayed for thirteen years. During this time various building works took place around us! We changed our meeting to the first Monday of the Month, so as not to clash with the Bat and Trap nights. We continued to organise talks, lectures and slide shows, real live owls, customs officers, Police, A.A., I.A.M., Guide dogs, etc etc. Tony Larkins retired as Chairman after 10 years, and I was elevated to this lofty position with John Cross as Treasurer and Roni Lithgow as Secretary.
Roni was followed by Phil Edwards, then Roy Dowley, Andrew Paramour stepped in and organised our first newsletter as well as taking on the role of Secretary. The lovely “Liz-the-Landlady” retired in October 1997 and we stayed at the Queens head until the new Landlord installed a large screen TV and associated followers of football !
The Westbere Butts Hotel
We could not compete & and quickly had to find another venue. In March- April 1998 we moved to the Westbere Butts Hotel. Our Numbers now hover around the 50 mark which compares favourably with our sister clubs in Kent. Mid Kent has around 60 and west Kent only 20 members. We now have regular contact with our sister clubs through the organisation of the Kent Hop which brings us all together in September of each year.
Unfortunately for us, the Westbere Butts Hotel closed in the early 2000’s precipitating a move to the Grove Ferry pub, Grove Ferry, where we happily met for several years.
The Dog and Duck, Plucks Gutter
Due to increasing club membership we moved to the Dog and Duck in Plucks Gutter where the club meets on the second Monday of each month from around 7pm.
The Dog and Duck is our best venue so far with Bat and Trap facilities that our club makes good use of, a public address system, a projection screen and plenty of space in the large room where we hold our meetings. The landlord and landlady are most welcoming, the food is excellent and there is a good selection of real ales, lagers and wines at the bar. Our club even has a noticeboard on the wall for use by our members and Sylvia’s tapestry hanging up showing some of our member’s cars.
The number of classic car enthusiasts is on the increase and the enthusiasm of members and friendliness of meetings remains excellent. The popularity of the club and it’s website is a tribute to all those who make the East Kent Morris Minor Owners Club one of the oldest affiliated clubs in the UK.