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TODAY, THE ROLLS-ROYCE Enthusiasts’ Club (RREC) can proudly boast of almost 10,000 members in 40 geographically based sections scattered throughout the world. It was by no means always thus, as I soon discovered when I joined the Club way back in 1964 and when I formed the Club’s very first section, almost by subterfuge. It’s worth recording how I actually became


a member, since I hadn’t even heard of the RREC when I bought my first Rolls-Royce two years earlier. Knowing little more of the marque than its reputation of being the “Best Car in the World”, I found Rolls-Royce motoring decidedly different to running an “ordinary” car. So much so that I wrote an article about my experiences; this appeared in The Autocar magazine 9 January 1964. Within a very few days an unexpected


handwritten letter arrived from one Lt Col EB Barrass, OBE, TD, inviting me to join the RREC. “I have just read your excellent article on the ownership of a pre-war Rolls-Royce,” he wrote. “One point you did not mention is the great advantage of joining a club like this. We have 550 odd members, a great source of help to the chap who likes to do his own work. Through pooling the knowledge and experience of our members, there are now few problems we either cannot solve or prevent.” I could not wait to join and immediately sent off my bankers order to cover the annual membership fee, then the princely sum of £1.


DISTANCE LEARNING It felt great to be a member of a Rolls-Royce club and I avidly perused the bi-monthly Bulletin. It contained lots of helpful technical information, but the club activities listed were relatively few


and centred primarily around the Oxford area, where the club had started seven years earlier. Living in Lancashire, almost 200 miles away,


was something of a deterrent, although well worth the effort for such events as the annual rally at Blenheim and the annual dinner at Weston Manor. My suggestion to Eric Barrass (now on first-name terms) that maybe I could organise a Club event in the north met with a distinctly cool reaction. “We like to have the events fairly close by so we can ensure their proper running!” he replied. While only having the title of club secretary,


Eric actually ran the RREC – extremely effectively – almost as if it was his regiment, with himself as its benign colonel in chief. He and I, along with our families, became great friends. Feeling, in Rolls-Royce terms, something of


an outcast, I decided that there was something I could do by way of a Rolls-Royce event near home to which the club could not object. At that time I was the head of motor vehicle work at the Bolton Technical College and had access to a large motor vehicle workshop and support staff. During the summer term, as students


entered for examinations, work became very light, especially in the evenings. We regularly put on owner-driver maintenance classes during such times and they were very popular. Why not do something to which the Club could not object and put on a Rolls-Royce Owner Drivers’ Course, operated by the local authority, not the RREC? The college principal, Dr AG Peace, himself a keen motorist, agreed and the course was duly scheduled to start 26 April 1966. In spite of some reluctance, Eric Barrass


was persuaded to let me have a list (handwritten THE ENTHUSIAST 69


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