Hetchins Weekend Annual Event Retrospective

Beginning in 1990, a Hetchins event has taken place annually in the UK, usually on the first or second weekend of July. The first few years this was organised by Donald Hill and took place in Somerset; for many years until 2004 Tony and Judy Falconer in Tibberton (near Gloucester) made the arrangements; from 2005 to 2009, Hetchins and Granby were combined into the Curly & Tapered Weeked, organised by David and Shirley Hinds and Jenny and Malcolm Lyon in Kingsland (near Leominster). After a hiatus, Tony & Judy Falconer have again hosted the annual event. The weekend is very casual, with some people camping on a pitch while others book into local b&bs. Rides are organised for Friday afternoon, all day Saturday, and Sunday morning, with stops along the way for coffee and cakes, and, on Saturday, for a pub lunch as well. No prizes are awarded for coming back first. No prizes are awarded for having the oldest or fanciest or grottiest bike; in fact, no prizes are awarded at all. It is just good, clean fun. A Saturday afternoon jumble sale offers many people the opportunity to find that one missing bolt, spring, or saddle spanner. A Saturday evening dinner and show, film, or auction is always on the programme, and is well-attended. The first Hetchins weekends saw only a dozen or so riders take part; recent ones have hosted as many as 70. Hetchins enthusiasts have come from as far away as Australia and Canada. Not only Hetchins are ridden; many other marques are represented, including Bates, Paris, Rotrax, Mercian, Holdsworth, Condor, Carlton, Granby, Bob Jackson, Hill Special, trikes, and no names. Most of the bikes featured at this web site were photographed and documented at these events. Below is a brief history of how the event came to be, courtesy of Don Hill (co-organizer of the first event), and Len Ingram.

Don Hill and Hilary Stone started the whole thing off in 1990, Don writes: I think Hilary's idea for a Hetchins weekend came from his success with the annual Thanet event that he had started in 1987. As we had enough room at Westhay with a field for campers it was decided to hold the event here. Presumably the choice of date was in the hope of good weather. Hilary produced an excellent printed programme for each event that is a work of reference listing all Hetchins models and frame numbers as well as the usual details of the event with routes and participants. Presumably the first event was publicised in SVCC literature. Locally the Central Somerset Gazette newspaper gave us a good write-up and photo. One memorable route on the 1992 3rd weekend, which had been prospected in dry weather, involved a long footpath and footbridge over the river which, on the day, turned out to be wet and very muddy black peat. Dave immortalized this occasion with sketches of cyclists in a sea of mud and hosing down their machines. We thought no one would turn up in 1993 after this, but attendance went up from 55 to 72; they must have heard about the cider and skittles evenings. In 1994 at our 5th weekend we mutually decided with Hilary that it was an appropriate time to hand over what was by now a well-established event, to someone else. This would also ensure that new pastures could be explored, rather than the Somerset Levels, as most of the participants had been attending since day 1 and we had what amounted to a Hetchins Owners' Club (HOC!) Happily Tony and Judy Falconer took over and ensured a successful future for Hetchins Weekends.

Len Ingram, V-CC marque enthusiast and keeper of the Hetchins Register, wrote of the twentieth gathering: This weekend is the twentieth gathering of Hetchins' enthusiasts and the fifth year that the [Granby] 'Tapered Tube' frame fans have joined the event. The first Hetchins Weekend was held in 1990 near Glastonbury in Somerset, organized by Hilary Stone and hosted by Sally and Don Hill at the Manor House. About thirty owners attended, some only for part of the weekend. I believe there were less than ten on the Sunday ride in very hot conditions to The Crown near Catcott.

The event stayed at Westhay for the next four years, numbers attending increasing every year with over fifty in 1994. Westhay is on the Somerset Levels; an area used for peat cutting and is now in an area of special scientific Interest.

In 1995 Tony and Judith Falconer generously agreed to organize the weekend near Gloucester. With the Tibberton and Taynton Village Hall as the venue Tony and Judith took the opportunity to organize most of the catering with a Friday evening supper, a barbeque on the Saturday evening and lunch on the Sunday to include genuine Gloucester cheese, all at three-star Michelin standard. All those who attended will remember the Friday evening rides to the Glasshouse Pub with its rapid decent home in the dark. Over the next nine years the Saturday rides went to most of the local towns including Newent, Ross-on-Wye, Tewkesbury and Ledbury. The Saturday evening auction was the highlight of the weekend with all proceeds going to improvement of the Village Hall. The attendance was now over seventy. In 1996 it became the Curly and Tapered Weekend ably hosted by Shirley and David Hinds at Kingsland near Leominster. Again the facilities are excellent and the catering maintained at the same high standard. Saturday rides reached over to the Welsh border through the beautiful Herefordshire countryside. Over the last nineteen years, riders from England, Wales, Scotland, and Ireland have been joined by overseas visitors from Canada, Germany, United States, Switzerland, and Australia. At least 320 have booked in and many more 'just turning up' on the day. Only Elaine Bullers has been to every one and seven riders who were there on the first event attended in the year 2008.


Below are some photographic highlights from past Hetchins weekends.

































































































 

 











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