THE FORMATION OF THE BRISTOL OWNERS CLUB OF VICTORIA, subsequently the BRISTOL OWNERS CLUB OF AUSTRALIA
The Club can trace its beginnings back to the 15th February 1966 when an informal meeting was held at Iain Ross’s house in Mont Albert, Victoria to discuss the formation of a club. The first official meeting was held at Pat Black’s house in Ivanhoe on 23rd March 1966.
May 1966 was a momentous month for Bristol cars in Australia. It saw the first organised events and the early beginnings of the formation of what is now the Bristol Owners Club of Australia. The recent receipt of some fabulous early photos of those events has allowed us to write a little more about the history of the Club.
Remember, Bristol only started manufacturing cars after World War 2, in 1948.
In Victoria, Iain Ross, already a member of the Bristol Owners Club UK1, placed an advertisement in the Age newspaper on the 16th April 1966 advertising the first organised Bristol event in Victoria, for the 15th May 1966, at the Maroondah Reservoir near Healesville, approx. 44 miles east of Melbourne.
There was a good response, and the first Bristol Car Club of Victoria Newsletter, The Bristol Bulletin, dated June 1966, reported 17 cars in attendance including, five Type 400s, six Type 401s including one from NSW, one Type 403, one Type 405, and one Type 408. (We hope to eventually identify all of the attendees).
Meanwhile In NSW, father and son Keith and Doug Robbins were Bristol enthusiasts and were also members of the Bristol Owners Club of the UK. Doug placed an advertisement in the Sydney Morning Herald on the 23rd April 1966 inviting all Bristol owners to a car rally and barbeque on the 1st May 1966 at Thirlmere Lakes (approx. 55 miles south west of Sydney).
There was again a good response to the invitation with 13 cars in attendance on the day, including two Type 400s, three Type 401s, one Type 402, four Type 403s, one Type 405 and one Type 406. (Again, we eventually hope to identify the attendees).
There were some cars in other states but these two events were the first widely advertised. From these beginnings the Club was eventually formed, and while it has had its vicissitudes over the years it has become one of the most successful small one-make car clubs in Australia, with an enviable supply of spare parts and an active and interesting calendar of events in most states.
At the early events there was discussion about membership of the British Owners’ Club, (by 1967 there were 20 NSW members and 2 Victorian members of the BOC (UK)), which lead to the idea of the formation of an Australian owners’ club. The Victorian group started meeting together and sending out a newsletter beginning in June 1966. Owners in other states apart from NSW were fewer, and eventually all came under the wing of the one club, formed in Victoria. The BCC (Vic) became the Bristol Owners Club of Australia a few years later. There are now members from all states and territories.
1 The British Club was originally part of the BMW Owners Club of Great Britain