Victorian Branch History
by long-term member Sandy Cameron
The inaugural meeting of the Victorian Branch of the Armstrong Siddeley Car Club was held at the home of Vic and Joyce Cheyney at Pascoe Vale on Sunday May 1st, 1966. This energetic and hospitable duo made all the arrangements for this first meeting and invited a combination of pre-existing members of the Armstrong Siddeley Car Club which was then based in Sydney and people known to Vic and Joyce who were either enthusiasts or Armstrong Siddeley owners. Thirty one people and fourteen Armstrong Siddeleys arrived and in his unique and gregarious style, Vic soon had everyone relaxed and introduced and soon had the meeting underway. The attendees and elected office bearers were:
|Peter & Pat Wyatt||Doug Gorham (1)|
|Chick & Nan Ellis||Tom & Mrs Anderson|
|Selwyn Allen||Ivan & Mavis Bell|
|Lou & May Corns||Peter & Yvonne Hohenhaus|
|Vern & Leah White||Vic & Joyce Cheyney|
|Colin Hallam||Ted & Mrs Crabtree|
|Ian & Mrs Garth||Andrew & Jamie Garth|
|David Cummings||Brian & Anna Lees|
|Donald Sutton||Bob Williams (2)|
|Wayne Darby & Margaret Ctercteko (3)|
|Branch Chairman:||Vick Cheyney|
|Secretary:||Joyce Cheyney (4)|
|Events Organiser:||Lou Corns|
(1) Doug was a mechanic from Specialty Car Repairs P/L - Armstrong Siddeley Specialists.
(2) Bob's wife Elsie accompanied him on many subsequent meetings and events.
(3) Margaret was later to become Mrs Darby.
(4) Reluctantly accepted this position after being nominated by her husband, the Branch Chairman.
Accompanying Colin Hallam at the second monthly meeting on June 5th 1966 at the same venue was Miss Margaret Cosgriff who later became Mrs Hallam. Amongst the new members at this meeting was Bruce Read who later became Branch Chairman and is still a member some forty three years on in 2009. Vic Cheyney declared himself ineligible to continue as Branch Chairman as his wife Joyce was the Secretary (there is perhaps a hint of deviousness here - see note 4 above). From the three nominations received, Ivan Bell won the role as Branch Chairman.
Early meetings were very formal but kept short so that the supper, talking, looking at the line of cars parked outside and partaking of liquid refreshments could begin. Nobody managed to leave before 11.30 pm. If you tried, Vic would catch you before you made it off the front verandah. A "dinner plate" sized hand would attach itself to your shoulder. The suggestion that you had another drink was made and your held shoulder was then lifted until your toes just touched the ground and you were turned around and guided back into the lounge room. Those who knew Vic will realise how easily he did this and that you would have not have had any hope of not complying. In keeping with this, it was appropriate that one of the early Branch outings was to Brown Brothers winery.
The first Branch outing was a full-day trip to country Victoria to visit Harry and Pat Lowden's home at Beeac on the fringe of the prime wool growing area of the Western District. A viewing of their collection of cars was a highlight. The outing was a great success and it set the scene for enthusiastic on-going Branch camaraderie.
One factor that has always appealed to Branch members is that people from so many different backgrounds are bought together by a common interest. The growing-up process of many young members has benefited from this as they have been able to meet with a diverse group of people and absorb their differing thoughts and opinions about many diverse topics.
Reminiscences of some Victorian Branch founding members
I bought the Whitley from Col Bennet Motors in Surry Hills in Sydney in late 1963. I have the receipt somewhere with the attached duty stamp! It cost £100 and had 53,000 miles on the clock. It was a good looking car apart from a little primer showing through the paint on the roof. It had a very straight body, good motor and interior. The carpets were like new as the floor was covered with rubber lino. I took it away on £60 deposit and then paid it off at £4 a week that I saved from money earned with a lawn mowing round I had.
I broke an axle in Sydney in 1964 and my uncle knew that there was an Armstrong Siddeley Car Club and contacted them. Penn Bradly duly turned up, inspected my car and then took me and two mates for a ride in his Sapphire, which he demonstrated would do 100 mph. We were very impressed as none of us had ever been that fast before. He located an axle which we then fitted - the removal of the old one being finally achieved with the aid of a large sledge hammer borrowed from some blokes working on a nearby gas main. Penn sent the odd letter and magazine trying to get me to join the Club but as I was too far away. I never bothered. Then a letter arrived about the first Victorian meeting. I went to Swinburne, told Brian Lees about it .....and the rest is history.
I bought my Sapphire at about the time of the first Victorian Branch meeting and the dealer I bought it from told me of Vic Cheyney and gave me his phone number. Beryl and I went to the next meeting to find that it was only the second one. The car was in the yard for £750. I went to look at it several times and eventually the dealer let me have it "for what it cost him" - £436 from memory. When I first met Vic he told me in no uncertain terms that I had paid too much for it - he could have got it for £436! He had assumed that I had paid the full price which was always displayed on the window in the car yard and he was very pleased when he learnt that I hadn't paid the advertised price.
At some of the early outings in late 1966 there was a very pregnant Beryl and a very pregnant Anna Lees. Our son Paul was born on January 31st 1967 and Andrea Lees would have been born around the same time.
Unfortunately I had a box of slides stolen from my car which included most of my ASCC photos from those days. I have made some very good friendships in the Club and they have endured now for a very long time.
When I was a small boy living in country Victoria, I was aware that a derelict Tourer was inside a shed on the farm of my mother's late uncle near Rochester in central Victoria. It was a 1925 14HP C18902 which was given to me when I was 12 or 13 and I was hooked! The 14HP came complete with My Initials cast into the brake and clutch pedals. During 1963, as a 15 year old border at Wesley College in Melbourne, I divulged to the headmaster, Dr. T. H. Coates, my interest in Armstrong Siddeleys.
Dr. Coates owned 346/1 C343585, and although he was not an Armstrong Siddeley Car Club member, he did subscribe to the "Southern Sphinx" and he kindly passed each issue onto me. Despite being on just five shillings per week pocket money, I somehow managed to pay the subscription and joined the ASCC.
In February 1966 (whilst still at school) I bought a 1925 14HP C20762, which I still own. As there were a small number of ASCC members in Victoria, in early 1966 Joyce Cheney (and certainly at the insistence of her husband) wrote to all members, owners and others with an interest in Armstrong Siddeleys and invited them to a meeting at their home in Pascoe Vale on Sunday 1st May where the meeting resolved to support the establishment of a Victorian Branch.
Later that year I went to Sydney by train (the 14 never would have made it) to stay with Penn and Miriam Bradly (before they had their own children) in Lindfield. Penn's enthusiasm was infectious - and it still is!
So, for me, this love affair with the Armstrong Siddeley marque has lasted over fifty years - giving me much fun, interesting activities, many enduring friendships and my wife (Jenny and I met in the home of Victorian Branch founding members Ivan and Mavis Bell).
My first impression of the newly formed Victorian Branch was that it and the wider Club were very good for families. In the mid sixties there were lots of children at every outing.
The Federal Rallies became a much anticipated event in the Lees household, taking us to places we would never have otherwise gone and with appeal for different reasons to all family members. The children of both Victorian and interstate members were great companions for our children - I particularly remember the Purss, Bradly and Caro children from New South Wales in this context. I'm looking forward to the 50th Anniversary Rally in Swan Hill in 2010.
The social side of the Club was very well developed and everybody was made to feel most welcome. Some 43 years on (2010), I am pleased to say that the social aspect still endures.