Taunton Motoring Club

Taunton Motoring Club – From early pictorial records it would appear that the club was formed around 1902. Like most Motor clubs it was allied to both the cycling and motorcycling fraternity. It’s official title being the Taunton Motorcycle and Light Car Club. During the early days even cycling was frowned upon on the Sabbath, and the driving of motor vehicles was a heinous crime. Not daunted the members of the club visited local vicars and obtained permission to cycle to church on Sundays. Gradually they widened their scope to more distant places, and many a rally was organised under the unsuspecting patronage of the local clergy. In 1912 the car and motorcycle members broke away from the more traditional cyclists. It was around this time that the club members started to organise Gymkhanas which included driving skill tests. These events were mainly supported by the motorcyclists due to the lack of availability and affordable cars.

Eddie Beach (Founder member) was quoted as saying at the time “Everyone with a bike would turn up and have a ‘BLIND’ on Buncombe Hill. After the First World War the club reformed with its headquarters at the County Hotel in the Town centre. Sadly the hotel is no longer in existence and the façade forms the front of a national chain store. By the early twenties the club membership had risen to over 100, Hill climbs and social runs were very popular, and from the motorcycling point of view had earned a reputation which was respected by Britain’s’ leading clubs. Between the wars the motorcycle side of the club went from strength to strength with the Jarman family being the most notable members Frank (Dad) rode regularly until the outbreak of war and then again afterwards until 1947 when his sons (Paul and Neil) took over. Taunton Motor Club did not concentrate on car events to any great extent until after the Second World War. Although Mr C.M. Bagehot Kite, a well known solicitor in the town, a racing and trials driver had been competing and winning since 1934. Another prolific winner post war was Dr. John Spare winning trials and Rallies in the late forties and early fifties.

It was about this time that there was a power struggle within the club between the cars and bikes as the income from the highly successful “Scrambles” was being spent on “Rallies”. Also around this time Bill Cawsey a prominent Rally driver in the club came up with the idea of Autocross. This new event radically changed the club, the first ever event being held at Walford Cross in 1955. The following year the event attracted approximately 8000 spectators and so it went on for a few years. During which time the tension increased and in 1960 the club split and Taunton Motoring Club was formed. Since then the club has continued to organise many Autocrosses, Rallies and Hill climbs and until recently had a long association with the Cricket st Thomas Wildlife park where the club, in conjunction with Burnham On Sea Motor club, ran the very successful Wildlife Events consisting of two rallies and two hill climbs every year. Our current President Richard King was heavily committed to promoting our club through these events during this time and he is still involved in the organisation of events today.

Taunton is not just a motoring club, throughout its existence it has had a strong social calendar, meeting every Thursday evening during the summer months for Gymhanas, and Winter months for Treasure Hunts, Quiz’s and of course the old Noggin and Natter, where some of our more senior members are able to reminisce about the GOOD OLD DAYS. Like all clubs Taunton Motoring Club is always on the look out for new venues to expand and improve its motor sport contribution in the South West.