BMW Club Southern Section
Bruce Preston takes a look back...
It was late in 1951 that a small group of BMW enthusiasts gathered at Wood Court, near Esher in Surrey, to consider forming an appreciation society for the BMW marque. World War Two had only been over for six years and considerable numbers of people were anti all things German. It took great enthusiasm and dedication to be seen riding a BMW. The problem generally wasn't with motorcyclists, for most recognised what a fine piece of engineering the BMW of that time was; it was the general public who were, understandably, still nursing the wounds of that terrible war.
Club group picture, possibly from the inaugural AGM, published November 1951
The original 'HQ', The Wood Court Hotel, is now the site of a Starbucks Drive-Thru coffee stop, that can be accessed northbound on the A3, just north of the M25. The original Hotel buildings can still be seen on the site.
(Photograph: Google Street View - I wasn't standing in the middle of the A3 just to get a picture.)
Some terrific people were involved from day one; Charles Lock was the L of MLG, just about the only dedicated BMW motorcycle dealer in the country. Charles Radford, soon to become president, had owned a BMW pre-war, as had Wally Freeman. Doug Dudley, remained a keen Southern section member until he died and members came from far and wide.
Surprisingly, the majority didn't live in the London area but it was ten years before sections in other parts of the country were formed. Dr Roberts, owner of Wood Court, became it's first President and Patron but things went sadly wrong when his wife ran off with the club secretary; we lost two officials and were homeless! New premises were found in Shephard's Bush and this time the club, with Charles Lock shouldering much of the burden, slowly grew.
After the Club's 'HQ' moved to London regional sections began to be formed with what had originated in Surrey becoming the London Section. By 1983, with the continuing membership growth, the Club now had 14 regional groups until members from the Guildford area voted to break away from the London Section forming the 15th, and final, section of the Club. The Guildford Section became a very active group in its own right but, with membership spreading further afield, after 5 short years the group became the Southern Section as we are today.
For further reading about the Club's history, visit the BMW Club National Website
Our thanks go to Bruce Preston and Robert Freeman, The BMW Club's Archivist, for the early images used on this page.
In the region of 30 BMWs gathered at Wood Court and encouraged by Dr Reginald Roberts and Charles Lock the club was soon up and running. Originally it was called the BMW Society but that was rejected the following year as being too high falutin' and The BMW Club purred into life. The original subscription was one guinea.
Link to digital copy of Newsltter No. 1 September 1951