50 Healeys and 50 years since the forming of New Forest Centre. Saturday 15th July saw 50 Healeys meet on Bucklers Hard, a historic site on the Beaulieu River just below the National Car Museum.
This was the site 200 years ago where Nelson’s war ships were being constructed each one taking some two and a half years to build using timber from the forest close by. Both the Museum and the Georgian cottages serve as a reminder to the men who built these iconic ships.
Our own iconic display consisted of Austin Healeys of which some are also 50 years old even for the latest MkIIIs! and Sprites of a younger vintage. One of the lower buildings on the site is now a restaurant and pub (The Master Builders) with good local ale to which we retired for an excellent lunch before taking a short boat trip down the river past some of the original moorings and the construction site of the Mulberry harbours which were towed over to France for D-Day.
As one of the seven Centres representing the Austin Healey club as a whole, New Forest had its first meeting in 1967. This first meeting was held at the Swan Inn near Lyndhurst so it seemed apt to start from here for this Anniversary run. There was also an entry at the time logging the formation of this group in the Southern Evening Echo.
The national club was organised in 1961 with offices at Abingdon and publicity used the pages of Safety Fast alternating with the MG brand. Membership joining leaflets were placed in each car sold whilst the club badge developed into the symbols of the “long suspension bridge” and the wings from the Healey wings design with Warwick castle as the background.
Later on with Lord Stokes at this time,1968/1969, heading up the formation of the conglomerate British Leyland it was decided to cut all ties with the Healey company and close the club office at Abingdon, so leaving us to develop the club through the seven Centres [plus the specialist Healeysport Centre] that we continue to enjoy today.