Rickman Enthusiasts Day 2019

Or, as Wallace and Gromit would call it ‘A Grand Day Out’.

The event was held at the Sammy Miller Motorcycle Museum near New Milton in Hampshire on Sunday 23rd June 2019 between 10.00 and 16.00.

I had seen a post advertising the event on farcebook. Had a check of the work calendar as I do shift work, and was lucky enough to have the whole weekend off, which in itself is rare. Even rarer was the fact the we, when I say we, I mean Tracy my long suffering wife, and Battlecat our Rancher, had a free weekend with nothing major on that couldn’t be moved or delayed, so off to New Milton we were heading.

After discussion we decided to drive over late in the afternoon on the Saturday and spend the evening in the area and be there ready for the event on the Sunday. Our theory being that it was a little hot to be in a car for some 3 to 4 hours and the traffic should hopefully be a bit quieter. We completed the normal domestic arrangements that one does i.e. someone to feed the cat and to check the house and headed off.

Now I don’t know if it’s me or just a kit car owner thing? I always have to check the car over ‘just in case’. I mean we have breakdown cover obviously, however it’s an in built reaction to older cars. If I was going the 130 miles in one of my modernish cars I wouldn’t check it over. I would jump in, make sure I’ve got supplies and head off. Is it just me? Well luckily on this occasion it paid off. Both indicators weren’t working. How can that be? They were fine yesterday! I jiggled and wiggled at the stalk for a bit and swore at it. Swore at it again, Swore at it again, and again – Still no joy! Gave the relay a swift finger flick and hey presto! Success! Kit cars who’d have em!

We had a pleasant and quite uneventful journey until we got to the New Forest area. – Note to self – “Get a SatNav”. Yes, we got a little lost. Mind you we’re not complaining. It was quite lovely to drivethrough the New Forest amongst the horses and cows in their territory. Everything just seemed to slow down, which suited us perfectly. The scenery was beautiful and we were in no hurry and just chilled and soaked it all up! Marvellous! We arrived at about 20.30 in New Milton and drove around the town a bit to see what was on offer. A nice little town centre with all the usual shops one would expect, we then made our way to the Sammy Miller museum to get our bearings. Now where to set up for the night?

The next morning was gorgeous, it really was the perfect weather.
For us anyway! No wind, no rain, mild t-shirt weather. Just right. The car park was filling up and as expected the loud motor bike, or several hundred, were revving up for attention. We had advised the organisers that we were coming and had been told to park in the main trade area. The lovely and friendly steward on the entrance gate, who was directing traffic pointed us in the direction of the car park. I told him we were a Rickman and that we had made prior arrangements for entry. At this point I wish I had my camera at hand. He was totally gob smacked and couldn’t believe such a thing existed! A Rickman Car!

After walking round our Rancher twice and me pointing out the name badge on the bonnet and my club membership t shirt, we were in. The museum itself isn’t very large, however it is well laid out with a central courtyard surrounded by shops and outlets with the museum at the rear. Very nice too. The courtyard, car park and well, everywhere was lined up with rows and rows of Rickman bikes. Now I must fess up here, I’m not into motorbikes per se, however even I was impressed with what was on show. Some owners Very Proudly showing off their pride and joy – quite right too!

Our Rancher along with two other Ranchers, which had joined us in the allotted area were starting to get attention too. It was a bit of a shame that no other Rickman Cars were there, but as we only found out at quite short notice it was nice to see any Rickman cars at all. We obviously answered all the normal questions regarding Rickmans, GRP body, galvanised frame, escort mk2 donor car parts. It was when I opened the bonnet that really got people interested. With comments like ‘I haven’t seen one of those for years’ to ‘I used to work on these back in the day’. They were of course discussing the 2 litre Pinto lump in Battlecat. To be honest I loved it, loads of people were reliving their younger days and remembering Cars that they had had and now mourned their loss. I was of course promoting the Cars and the Club, as one would expect, and I didn’t mind it a bit. I could quite happily still be there now talking old Cars.

We had been talking so much we never realised the time had gotten on and it was lunchtime at 2 o’clock! On our hunt for something to eat we couldn’t help but notice a small crowd gathering in the courtyard, it was Derek and Don Rickman surrounded by admirers having their pictures taken and getting their bikes personally signed, what a delight. I decided to head back to Battlecat to see if I had something that they might be kind enough to sign for me. After a rummage around I found a Rancher pamphlet in with my Haynes manuals. That will do nicely. We were just standing there waiting patiently for an opportunity and Don noticed my t shirt. I was delighted and flabbergasted when he walked over to me, shook my hand, and pulled me forward to show Derek that someone from the car club was there. I’m not going to exaggerate I was more than a little emotional inside. Derek shook my hand and I was over the moon. This was not what I expected at all! Don then invited me to join them both over at the far side of the Courtyard where he said the press were waiting for them to take pictures. Unbelievable there I am with Derek and Don in the photo call. They happily signed my pamphlet for me and I left them to it, as I didn’t want to outstay my welcome. What an experience and what true gents they both were. And may I add they were both extremely thankful for the support in keeping the Club going and I was to pass on their sincere

Thanks to the Committee and the Membership. Top, Top Blokes!

I put the pamphlet back in Battlecat and a small nosey crowd was looking around, so I was back to show off duty. Marvellous!

What was good about this event was that some ex-employees were there and wearing badges identifying them as such. This was extremely helpful as I was able to ask them about the car building process and their role(s), involvement with Rickmans. Discussions ranged from welding the frames to how the GRP was applied, to the marketing and administration work, all fascinating stuff for me. I hadn’t realised that the original Rickman factory was literally 2 minutes drive away from where we were. Amazing and somewhere to go on the way home.

One of the most interesting people I got speaking to was ex Club member John White and his lovely wife Shirley, who were in one of the other Ranchers present. Now some members will know John and Shirley I’m sure from past events and Stoneleigh meets. We spoke several times during the day and they were kind enough to show us around their Rancher. I love doing this as you can see what changes people have done and if there are ideas of making life on the road a little easier. I’ve learnt there nearly always is.

What I didn’t realise was that John was instrumental in bringing the Rancher to life. Now me being a Rancher Nut was soaking it all in. However, I’m not going to mention too much here as I’m hoping that John might write a piece for us for a future edition of Re-Cycle, as he said he would. The birth of the Rancher, I can’t wait!

It was getting to that time when people were starting to drift away and we packed up to go too. We didn’t go far though as we had to visit Battlecat’s birthplace. We were quite surprised how big the ex- factory and area was, and obviously stopped for the obligatory photos.

We were heading for home after enjoying a very lovely day out. The best way to sum up the day was to describe it as like when you attend a party, or family gathering. Initially you are not sure what to expect, but the time just flies by and it all ends too quickly. You all promise to keep in touch and see each other again and I sure do hope to fulfil my promise.

Just to conclude. I have been back in touch with Russ Gannicott at the Sammy Miller motorbike museum to give feedback on the day. He has informed me that the event raised £1000.00 for the Hampshire Air Ambulance and Oakhave hospice charities, which is marvellous. The Rickman Enthusiasts’ Day will take place again next year on Sunday 21st June, and all being well the museum is going to try and secure some form of camping area for the Saturday night before the event, to try and encourage more long distance attendees. More of this no doubt nearer the time.

It’s in our diary already. See you there!

— Gerry