|Midland Centre History ...||Midland Centre Bill Wallis 1923 - 2010 ...|
The Midland Centre was the first geographical centre to be formed by the Club. The date of the first meeting is unknown but its inaugural event took place on 9th July 1933. For the next four years the Centre organised a variety of treasure hunts, gymkhanas and dinners. During November 1935 and again in December 1937, Cecil Kimber attended the Centre's Annual Dinner as the guest of honour. It was not until 1937 that the Centre decided to involve themselves with more competitive motorsport. The first event, a trial, was held on 13th February 1938 in the Ludlow/Church Stretton area; a further trial was then organised for the following year. Throughout the 30's the membership of the Centre grew and numbered approximately 500 before it was suspended due to the outbreak of war in 1939.
After hostilities ended, the Centre reformed itself in November 1948. John Thornley contacted the main MG distributors, asking them to re-organize the Centres in their areas. In the Midlands this task fell upon Dennis Bryant. At this meeting Mr. St. John Mitchell was elected "Competition Chairman". He organised the Centre's first post war event. In 1950, the first Welsh Rally was organised. This event started in Birmingham, at midnight on a Friday, and covered more than 270 miles through the Midlands and into the mountains of North Wales. Competitors then finishing at Criccieth on Saturday evening with a Dinner Dance, followed by timed driving tests on the sea front during Sunday morning.
Many events were organized throughout the 50's, 60's and 70's. The Welsh Rally continued into the 70's, as did such events as The Red Horse Rallyette, the spring and autumn trials and Curborough sprints. Two other Midland Centre events have now become national or even international. The MG Silverstone Meeting was run by the Midland Centre in the 50's and 60's but, due to the amount of organising such an event required, was taken over by the main Club. In 1958 the Midland Centre organised the first California Cup. Our President, Bill Wallis, who served on the Centre's Committee for many years and eventually became Chairman, acted as the Clerk of the Course for 17 years.
The annual Dinner Dance continued to be as popular as before the war. In some years over 250 people would attend. Natter and Noggin Nights, as they were then called, were also being held throughout the region. The Centre remained busy during these times, winning the Nuffield Gold Cup on numerous occasions. In 1993, due to an enthusiastic Chairman, the number of competitive and social increased, and in 1997 the Welsh Rallye was resurrected. The Centre is regularly involved with organising many events, both competitive and social, as well as holding 18 'Natter' evenings throughout the region.
At present the membership of the Centre stands at over 1250, with every model of MG represented. The Centre produces a Calendar of Events at the beginning of each year which is mailed to all Midland Centre members in 'Safety Fast!' However if anyone outside the region would like to know what we are up to, please go to the Events page on this website, or contact the current Secretary as printed in 'Safety Fast!', or refer to the Committee Members page on this website.
Bill Wallis was not just MGCC President; since joining the MG Car Club in 1948, he then served on the Committee of the Midland Centre for some 31 years, and was heavily involved with the inception of the Centre’s Welsh Rallies which started in 1950 and ran for many successful years thereafter, in those days these were of a competitive nature.
Following a few years hiatus, the event was resurrected during the mid 1990’s as a ‘Touring Run’ and these have been held each year since then. Bill usually managed to maintain his involvement by being in attendance at the allotted start location to ‘flag-off’ the cars before nipping off down to Brighton to help with ‘flagging-in’ the Regency Run which was usually on the same weekend.
As we all know, Bill Wallis sadly died in August 2010. In his memory, the MG Car Club opened the Bill Wallis wing in May 2016.
The MG Car Club Ltd - Midland Centre
Kimber House, Cemetery Road, Abingdon