It was in August, 1995, when Viv Orchard moved over to the Island with his A7 Tourer and A7 Nippy. He was well known in Austin circles and helped to organise the very first National Austin Seven Rally, at Beaulieu, in 1962.
Shortly after arriving on the Island, he recalls that ‘one Sunday I was out for a drive when I passed an A7 Ruby. The following Sunday I saw the same car again and we stopped and talked. They agreed to meet up on Sunday mornings at the Yaverland car park. ‘
Apparently, these Sunday morning meetings at Yaverland started to attract other cars and, in February, 1996, Viv noted in his Diary that ’a group of Austin 7s went for a Sunday morning run’. Was this the beginning of Isle of Wight Austins?
In April, when parking charges were introduced at Yaverland, the group decided to meet up at Sandown Airport instead.
It was about this time that Viv, when out in his A7 Nippy, met the owner of another A7 Nippy that needed to be restored. He also became aware of the fact that the only club on the Island for Austin owners to join was the Vectis Historic Vehicle Club (VHVC). Amongst their membership were several Austin owners.
There was clearly a need for something different for Austin owners and this seemed to be met by Viv’s happy band of Austineers, who were now meeting on a regular basis, and other Austin owners identified on the Island.
Viv’s records show that things were becoming a little more formalised when he convened an inaugural monthly meeting which was held at ‘The Waverley’, Carisbrooke. This was held on October 28th, 1996, the 4th Monday of the month.
It was at this meeting that Isle of Wight. Austin Club was formed. The meeting took the form of a ‘Noggin and Natter’ so that Viv could get a feel for what people wanted from our new club, that was soon to become a Centre of the Austin Seven Owners Club.
At the meeting, it was then agreed to hold future meetings on the 4th Monday of the month in addition to the weekly Sunday morning meetings. Viv produced the first Newsletter at the beginning of November – a single sheet affair reporting what we had done and what was planned for the future.
The first ‘official’ Sunday meet was on November 3rd at Sandown Airport. It was attended by 3 A7s, 2 A10s and an A30. They had a run to the Watergate Nursery for refreshments. So already the pattern had been set for the way we operate today.
Viv really was the ‘general factotum’ taking on board almost everything to ensure that we all enjoyed ourselves.
At the November monthly meeting, founder member Mike Howell, presented ‘A slide show concerning various Austin matters’. At the Waverley we had the use of a small room which was packed to the gunnels at this and future meetings. Mike was also a member of the Austin 10 Drivers Club and, every other year, arranged a Rally for them on the Island.
Come 1997 we were attending events on the Island and taking our cars to the ‘North Island’ to attend the 75th Anniversary Rally at Gaydon and the National Austin Seven Rally at Beaulieu.
At this time there was an Aircraft Museum at Sandown Airport, and we were able to park alongside some the historic aircraft.
1998 was soon upon us. Up to now we have had no ‘Club’ subscription and Viv had borne the cost of producing the monthly Newsletter. A decision was made that each member should now contribute £5 to cover the costs In May of that year; Mike Howell organised a long weekend on the Island for the Austin 10 Drivers Club (ATDC). We finished the year with our first Christmas Dinner which was held at the ‘White Horse’ at Whitwell. This was to become an annual event.
By 1999, Viv had identified 60 Austins on the Island and, with the aid of his new computer, altered the style of the Newsletter. He also produced his own ‘Island Austin Register’.
The Club became ambitious and, on July 18th, organised a ‘Century End Austin Rally’ at Havenstreet, It was a glorious day and there was a fine selection of Austins and other makes present, many from the Mainland. This was the to be the first of many ‘Austin Weekends’ that we have organised, based at Havenstreet.
2000 was an important year in more ways than one! We were to have our own Club Regalia. There were Millennium events to attend and these included the A7OC ‘London to Brighton’ run, the VHVC ‘Vectis Motorlennia’, held at Osborne House and our own Rally at Havenstreet.
In December, the first colour photograph appeared in the Newsletter. Membership was such that Viv was sending out 35 Newsletters each month. I also produced the first video record of some of the year’s events.
It was in March 2001 that we moved from Sandown Airport to Godshill for our Sunday morning meetings. This was due to the onset of food and mouth disease there. A first for us in September was a trip to France, where we stayed at Pont L’Eveque.
In 2002, we moved from the Waverley to the Arreton Community Centre for our Monthly Meetings.
2005 was the year when we celebrated the 100th Anniversary of the Austin Motor Company. It was also the year when the Club was featured in the BBC ‘Antiques Road Show’.
From now on we had established a real pattern for future Club activities.
Since then, members have participated in:
- At least four ‘London to Brighton’ runs, organised by the Austin Seven Owners Club, to celebrate a notable evens. In 1922, it was the 90th Birthday of the Austin Seven.
- Our own ‘Austin Weekends’ that were supported by many Austineers from the Mainland. In 2006, it was themed as a ‘Fun and Friendship’ weekend. It lived up to its billing!
- Five trips to France. The last one in 2014 when we went to Normandy. The other regions visited were Brittany and the Cherbourg peninsula. What enjoyable trips they were!
- Several trips to the Mainland. In 2005, to Longbridge, to celebrate the ‘100th Anniversary of the Austin Motor Company’. Since then, we have had short breaks, to Somerset, Berkshire, Hampshire and Hayling Island. From 2008, these were arranged on an almost annual basis. However, with the onset of Covid we had to cancel the trip planned for 2019.
- One event that has always been well supported by Club members, before and after the Club was formed, is the ‘National Austin Seven Rally’ at Beaulieu.
Now, after many years we have moved to a new base is at Arreton Barns, where we meet every Sunday morning, from 10.00 a.m.
We always welcome visiting Austin Clubs, or Austineers, to our meetings and look forward to this continuing in the future.