Stag Rally

Courtesy of Les Hobbs, from Hunts Post in 1972.

Hunts Post, Thursday, June 29th, 1972

Motor-cyclists flock to Bythorn for rally

On her "ton-up" bike Jean Halfyard, aged 18, makes her way down the field of tents and bikes at last weekend's Stag Rally. Her pillion passenger is Mrs Audrey Gray, who won the Miss Stag Rally contest.

It is not often that a village welcomes hordes of complete strangers for the weekend - especially if they are young, and ride motorbikes.

Bythorn is such a village.

Last weekend villagers went out of their way to provide food and camping space - and they even tried to muster a tg-o-war team - for over 200 motor-cycle enthusiasts wh were staging a two day rally.

This was the second year running that the Stag Rally, organised by members of the Mid-Anglia Rally Group, had been held at Bythorn.

There was a constant buzz of bikes through the village starting on Friday night when the first arrivals made it. Motor-cyclists came from all over the country and one managed to reach Bythorn from the Continent.

The weekend was mainly a social event, designed for meeting old friends and comparing new bikes. But the organisers, headed by Trevor Peach, (Buckden) and Mr and Mrs George Cousins (Hartford) arranged a few competitions such as a Miss Stag Rally contest and a prize for the longest distance travelled.



Hunts Post, Thursday, June 29th, 1972


As the stream of bikes poured into the village, tents were pitched in two fields behind the local public-house, The White Heart.

The landlord and his wife, Mr and Mrs K Walters, lent the rally one of their fields and washing facilities as well as providing a large supply of alcohol.

The second field was lent by a local farmer, Mr T J Nichols and his wife, and during the weekend a bouquet was presented to Mrs Nichols for her hospitality.

The enthusiasts covered a wide age range from 17 to 60 years and rare personalities known only to the motor-cycling world were there.

One character known as The Vicar because of the flat trilby and white polar neck sweaters he wears, has been doing the rounds of the rallies for the past 12 years.

His name is Johnny Croxson and he comes from Newton Aycliffe, Co Durham. The Vicar, who is in his mid forties, is almost a father figure to the younger enthusiasts who, when they are not referring to him as The Vicar, call him Dad.


Among the younger enthusiasts was a remarkable London family - a brother and sister and their cousin - who learned to ride motor bikes by the time they were ten years old.

Roger aged 21 and his sister, 18-year-old Jean Halfyard, have been brought up on bikes - they both ride horrifying machines capable of cruising at over 100mph.

Their cousin, 26-year-old Kelvin Clouting is also an enthusiast in his spare time and drives 12 ton lorries as his job.


The winner of the longest distance travelled to the rally had to do some speedy repairs when he arrived after his 476-mile journey.
Les Hobbs, aged 22, seen mending his bike, made a detour through Carlisle to Bythorn from his home town of Wolverhampton.


Jean told me that she became really interested in bikes when she realised that her career as an English International Swimmer was doomed because of ear trouble.

During the week she works as a secretary but after working hours Jean rides a black Honda 500. She learned to ride in the cul-de-sac outside her home in Poplar.



Hunts Post, Thursday, June 29th, 1972


These two are not only motor-cycle enthusiasts but obviously enjoy the camping and cooking side of the rally.


She said that going out in the evening presents problems because she has to change out of her cycling gear into evening dress on arrival and it is hopeless putting on makeup beforehand because it always gets smudged.

Jean has a poor opinion of the average car driver, who carves up the motor-cyclist and leaves no room.

But she has an even worse opinion of the rockers and greasers - who are out for trouble and cannot be put in the same class as the enthusiast.

Jean has been allowed time off work to attend rallies all over the Continent.



Her brother Roger, a carpenter and joiner, set off on a six-week tour of the Continent last Sunday.

Miss Stag Rally, Mrs Audrey Gray, who despite feeling extremely tired on Saturday, won her title, rode down on the back of her husband's bike from Stockton-on-Tees.

Audrey is a fair-weather rallyist - she loves the weekend gathering provided the drive down is in good weather. Her feelings were also those of 19-year-old Dee Booth (Buckden) who was runner up in the contest.

One factor worries Dee and that is the reaction of the public to girls on motorbikes. She said "If you ride a motorbike people automatically class you as a greaser - which is rather unfair."

Longest distance rider, 22 year old Les Hobbs, clocked up 476 miles by making a detour through Carlisle from his home-town of Wolverhampton.

He travelled thoughout Friday night on his bike plus sidecar and just managed to reach Bythorn before his clutch stopped functioning. He spent all day Saturday mending it.

The life of the motorcycle enthusiast certainly has appeal as two first-timers soon realised. Peter Whitwell aged 17 from Ramsey says "After this rally I will definitely be going to lots more."

Irene Cooper, also 17 from Whittlesey came in the side car of a bike and she too enjoyed the friendly atmosphere.

Shell Company loaned their caravan and public address system.