The Mysterious Case of the Top 10 “Disappearing” Great British Weekend Bike Show & Rally Scene.
As the last few Bikes pulled away from Butlins Skegness on the Monday Morning of April 18th this year, the door was closed on yet another stalwart of the UK’s Biking “Big Weekend” Shows & Rallies.
This particular MCN show has ended, not because it was failing or numbers diminishing, but by a change of policy by the venues owners. This can’t be said of the following events, many of which have passed into memories, and unless we’re careful, many more will surely follow.
Here’s a list of “Big” casualties that Fat Skeleton can remember that have disappeared from the Scene over the last few years.
The Welsh International Motorcycle Show, Builth Wells.
A great late may Bank Holiday Show killed off initially by the local “anti biker” constabulary who anticipated unspecified “trouble” at the 2000 event. This family friendly event attracted 1000’s and often featured big name or break through bands, as well as being set amongst some amazing scenery & great riding roads. An attempt was made to resurrect it was made a few years ago, but local pub and rival rally politics, poor publicity and/or biker disinterest killed this one off for good.
South West Classic & Custom Show
The early season (May Bank Holiday) opener for many bike builders held at the Bath & West Showground. Change of show ownership seems to have led to the demise of this particular show, although it has by & large been replaced by the charity BMAD festival held in Paignton at the same time of year.
A mid March rally killed off by the cold & years of quagmire conditions among other things.
BMF Shows- May Show, Kent Show, Kelso & Tail End.
There was a time that if you hadn’t got your ticket for the BMF Memba rally held at the May show by early January, then you wouldn’t get a place on it!
Changes to the showground ownership & Health & Safety issues virtually killed the the Memba Rally, whilst successive company’s who tendered to run this show circuit for the last few years of its life failed to breath new life into the events which finally ended when Mulberrry Events went bust the day after the Kelso Rally in 2014.
Having said that, Mulberry really tried their hardest, but when the 2013 Kelso event was flooded, the writing could be seen to be on the wall. The Great British weather has a lot to answer for. Kelso was usually held in July, but it was hit by bad weather for successive years which dampened campers & day visitors enthusiasm alike.
The May Peterborough show, at its height, was advertised as Europes Largest out door motorcycle show and had over 80,000 paying visitors through the gate, with over 800 trade stands vying for their business.
It was a damn good show for entertainment which was held in the purpose built speedway arena & at night with the bands in the Memba Rally area.
If there was a marque of bike, you’d be hard pressed NOT to find an owners club that catered for its needs The Tail End show at the same venue in September was on a smaller scale, but did have a unique end of season party feel about it. The two years it moved to Lincoln showground, in an attempt to breathe new life into it simply didn’t work, it eventually came back to Peterborough but numbers were now in a steep decline, despite the introduction of the Fat Skeleton sponsored Blues Bar (which was more popular than the Main Arena for musical entertainment).
The Kent version of the show was killed off by the initial venue at Hop Farm changing it’s show ground lay off, whilst the move to Detling never really worked as it was a problematic show ground lay out. The infamous combining of the BMF Bike show with the Kent Truckfest a few years was disasterous, and the less said about that the better!
The Anglesey Bike Show
Held over the August Bank holiday, this more rally oriented show attracted visitors from Ireland due its close proximity to the local port. This event was owned by the same crew that put on the Welsh international, and as they went bust, so this one disappeared too.
Kent Custom Bike Show
Held for over 15 years at the HA’s Angel Farm in Dymchurch, Kent. This was one of the most influential custom bike shows ever, attracting bikes from through UK & Europe. It was scaled down and eventually ended as their other event in the Midlands, The Bulldog Bash, grew into a major “festival” event based around big name bands, run wot you brung drag racing & eventually world class custom bike show.
Rock & Blues
Not gone, but massively scaled down from their hey days of the 1990’s & early 2000’s. The infamous shooting & murder of HA member by the Outlaws led to a number of years without either event, but both are now back on the scene as scaled down “Old School” events.