The Association of Riley Clubs
Association of Riley Clubs, Chairman’s report 2015
The Association exists to coordinate activities of mutual benefit to the three founding UK clubs and Riley clubs around the world. Officers of the three clubs meet twice a year as ARC but as its activities are a bit of a mystery to club members, this article is a summary of my report to the recent AGM.
In the 1990s the need for three separate Riley clubs was being questioned by the rank and file. The new owners of the Riley name, BMW, with whom Victor Riley had maintained professional contacts, was then sympathetic to re-introduction of the name and socially, owners from all clubs appeared to get along well together.
The clubs came together to organise the joint centenary rally at Coventry – the biggest Riley gathering ever, followed two years later at the Gaydon Museum and the touring visit to BMW Munich. However, the financial climate caused BMW to stop work on the Riley prototype and the concept of a new car for at least a decade.
ARC had emerged not to replace but to coordinate activities of the clubs and the unfinished business then included
Re-creation of the 1898 Percy Riley car for display
Preservation of cine film of the RMC activities etc. in 1930s and 40s that were deteriorating
Sale of the ‘Beyond the Blue Diamond’ books by D Styles that had been sponsored with ARC funds
Joint social events / rallies
New drawings for the re-creation have been prepared from surviving photographs by Alan Dixon and Rod Sterland has helped with project specification. Victor and I investigated several potential educational establishments who might have taken on the project as a training exercise. This had to be put on hold when the economic crisis struck in 2008. This remains an objective to inspire budding engineers to follow in the footsteps of Percy Riley, the 18 year old creator, should the opportunity arise.
It was discovered that the cine film had been copied to DVD so the material is preserved and ARC has been encouraging publication by Register members.
Copies of the book ‘Beyond the Blue Diamond’ were eventually sold and procedures tightened for the use of ARC funds.
Foreign events have proved popular with members of all three clubs and joint parties from the UK seemed appropriate, pooling the work of arranging travel and accommodation. UK Riley owners have been made very welcome abroad where little distinction is made between cars from the various periods of production and thanks have been expressed to organisers through ARC.
Other joint events such as a possible joint international rally at home are not being pursued as The Riley Register decided that come what may, they would still like to hold their own annual rally.
In 2008, ARC responded to Riley being made the featured marque at the Brooklands Society Annual Re-union and Brooklands Museum Double Twelve. There were 43 Rileys and a Riley display area, with Victor Riley represented and Tim Booth and John Wood present at the Chairman's Lunch. A successful ARC joint social weekend at Llandrindod Wells was enjoyed by members of all the UK clubs. Events planned by individual clubs such as the Riley Motor Club’s London- Edinburgh run, the Riley RM Club’s touring events, the Riley Register organised visit to Le mans and club rallies including those of the Ulster and Scottish Clubs are generally open to enthusiasts from all clubs. Members of all three clubs meet together at many of the regular meetings around the country.
Although a degree of competition exists between the three main UK clubs as there is some overlapping of potential membership, the ARC banner often marks a rallying point for all enthusiasts to come together at smaller events.
Exchange of information to the mutual advantage of the clubs has been the most successful role of ARC. Each club was encouraged to catalogue archive material and share technical information. Large numbers of production drawings are now held by the appropriate clubs and are being scanned to ensure that information is not lost.
Investigation of records and drawings held by British Motor Heritage Limited has been slow and difficult and ARC is still anxious to gain access to un-catalogued Works drawings transferred by Gaydon to BMH, a commercial company.
Conscious of the possible destruction of collections on the demise of members, work is on-going to find secure archival storage at which material can be preserved with confidence. The first such major donation, from Mr Tony Day’s widow, is of material saved from the Abingdon Works. This has been catalogued by Paul Mason of the RM Club and is accessible by arrangement through the clubs.
Dimensioned drawings have been commissioned of the most useful items of RM Series special workshop tools from a single surviving set in the possession of the RMC, anticipating remanufacture as necessary in future.
As ARC is a vehicle for coordination of the interests of 15 or so clubs worldwide a website www.assocrileyclubs.org.uk has been created to simplify communication by giving email addresses and websites of all known Riley clubs, and an annual Calendar of Riley Events. It is hoped that this will be a useful point of contact for new owners, club members and administrators.
ARC has also been active in the reconstitution of the Riley Cars Heritage Trust (formerly Haviland and Morris Riley Museum Trust) which, as a charity, may prove to be a secure custodian of archive material, and be able to sponsor training and educational activities.
Through ARC, clubs have been able to share much useful information on issues such as product liability at home and abroad, insurance, motor sporting activities and information about suppliers.
James Fletcher, Chairman
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