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Vice Presidents Pt. 1
Telling the history of the Club’s Vice Presidents is a little difficult. The VOC has had a surprising
number, but some of the history is a long time ago, before even this writer’s time. The
Club has also prevaricated, on more than one occasion, over the term of office of VP, and this
has had its own effects, which the writer may, or may not, have unravelled correctly. For those
interested in more historical detail of those times, see MPHs Sept.’67, Nov.’67, Nov.’68, and
MPHs from late 1981 to 1984. It is not the purpose of this listing to go into such issues, but to
illuminate our Vice Presidents, and the merits for which they were elected. Using mainly MPH
archives, it can be difficult to quantify and illuminate their contributions, but if their compatriots
judged them as worthy this should mean more than the few, dry, facts that the writer may
be able to offer. There have been more VPs than you might imagine, my count, at any rate, is
11 – I hope that I haven’t missed any out! The earlier VPs elected are described here, in part
1, with later VPs left for a future part 2.
Phil Irving was the Club’s first Vice President, appointed right at the beginning, and retaining
the position until becoming the President, after the death of Phil Vincent. This has already
been related in the previous article on Club Presidents and does not need repeating.
E.C. Baillie C.A.
E.C. Baillie C.A. was elected Vice President at the fourth AGM, and listed in MPH from June
1952 (no. 42). This gentleman’s contribution to Vincents was long forgotten, possibly then
remembered and forgotten again? We all owe E.C. Baillie a great debt, for without him most of
our Vincents would not exist. He was not an employee, rider, or even an enthusiast – he was a
Receiver, appointed in August 1949, by the Vincent-HRD company’s bankers, who were worried
about the financial situation. It could have been the end of the story there and then, and a
knock-down sale of the machines in store. Instead, Mr Baillie, impressed by the staff, the business,
and the Vincent, decided that they should carry on. Most of the Vincents that were ever
made, were made after E.C. Baillie was appointed, and thus in control.
P.C.V. recounts, in his autobiography, that Mr Baillie was persuaded to return to lower prices,
which cleared the stockpile and turned around the sales situation. For 1950 he sanctioned the
Vincent factory TT entries, with special Grey Flash machines. This was never a real attempt to
win, but an exercise in convincing the market that the company was viable and staying in business.
Nevertheless it added a little extra lustre to the marque, whose TT history is generally little
appreciated in the motorcycle world, overshadowed by the 1000cc machines and record
breaking. The following couple of years were the most productive years for motorcycles, and
the company was eventually reconstructed as Vincent Engineers, Stevenage Ltd., with E.C.
Baillie as one of the directors.
In the citation for Vice President it was also stated that E.C. Baillie rendered the VOC ‘financial
assistance’ so he was a friend to the Club, as well as to the company.
In 1967 there was a proposal that VPs should be elected for a 3-year term, from the Honorary
Members, for which purpose the current VPs, including E.C. Baillie, were elected Honorary
Members. Whilst the other existing VPs were re-elected to their positions, E.C. Baillie ceased
to be listed as A Vice President from November 1968. Although continuing to be listed as an
Honorary Member the Club lost contact with E.C. Baillie for many years. He was last listed as
an HM in March 1994, after which I presume the Club became aware of his passing (as yet I
have not located an obituary).
W. Alan Jackson
Alan Jackson, the founder of the Club, was elected Vice President at the fourth AGM, and
listed in MPH from June 1952 (no. 42). He continued as VP until 1984. From December 1984,
Alan was listed as ‘Founder’ (see previous article under this heading for more detail). Alan’s
obituary is in August ’92 MPH (no. 523)
R.A.B Cook was elected Vice President at the 6th AGM in 1954, listed in MPH as VP from May
’54. ‘Rab’ was a powerhouse in the early days of the Club, becoming Editor in February 1951
(MPH no.26), to May ’54 (MPH no. 65). By today’s standards, this may not sound exceptional,
but it was recognised as such by the men of the day – at a time when one-make Clubs were rare,
and the VOC just establishing itself. ‘Rab’ wrote extensively in the magazine, as well as editing
it, and encouraged the famous Tony Rose 100,000 mile road test, helped by his press connections
no doubt. He did a great deal to establish the VOC as a Club, and a premier Club at that.
His writing style earned him a professional job with the motorcycle press, where he became the
respected columnist ‘Carbon’ in Motor Cycling (known as the Green ‘Un). He remained active
in the Club into the 60s.
In later years Rab suffered with emphysema, and emigrated to warmer climes, eventually
retiring to Sri Lanka (where he had a late family with a locally born wife). As a result, Rab was
just a name in the front cover to many, later Members. In 1968 he was elected to Honorary
membership in line with the preceding AGM decision that VPS should be drawn from the HM
list – but immediately re-elected Vice President, and continued to appear as such in MPH. At
the 1981 AGM, somewhat similar circumstances were regenerated, with Vice Presidents subject
to re-election. Considerable debate resulted, and for a while Rab wrote some articles for
MPH again, but the outcome was less happy. This eventually resulted in Rab resigning, and
from August 1984 the name of R.A.B. Cook no longer appeared in the front cover of MPH. I
believe that Rab died in the early 1990s.
B.W.J. Hindes A.M.I.Mech.E
Bill Hindes was a much respected Club Member and official, who is still commemorated in
the Club’s ‘Bill Hindes trophy’. He served as the Club’s Chairman from 1953 to 1959, putting in
a great deal of effort into Club events and ventures, and was then elected Vice President at an
EGM in September of 1959 (the EGM being called for a different main purpose). Bill continued
to work for the Club, assisting, for example, with the VOC stands at the Earls Court motorcycle
shows of 1960, 1962, and 1964. His interests extended beyond Vincents, e.g. Jaguars and Aston
Martins, but Bill considered the Vincent-HRD Owners Club to be the best, and ‘composed of a
collection of darn nice folks’. He remained a Vice President until his death in July 1965, with
his obituary appearing in the August ’65 MPH (no. 199).
J.E. Hampshire, ‘Ted’ as he was always known, was very well known to Vincent owners and
VOC Members throughout the 1950s. He had been with the company from the early days, when
machines used proprietary engines, and was very proud to be a part of Vincents. PCV, in his
autobiography, remembered ‘Dear old Ted Hampshire’ preparing the 1931 show stands after
just ‘2 hours kip in the cab of the lorry’. For the Vincent owner with a problem in the post-war
era, Ted was your man, and he was always ready for a general chat on motorcycling. Not only a
works employee, Ted Hampshire was also a dedicated motorcyclist, and rarely missed VOC
events, even scrutineering for the popular Stan Powell road trial. Ted Hampshire was also
responsible for the survival of the first Black Shadow, which reputedly caught fire when an
employee over-flooded it prior to an attempt to start it. The burnt-out remains were not
irreparably damaged, and Ted Hampshire bought the damaged machine and rebuilt it, using it
for his personal transport before eventually selling it on.
Ted Hampshire’s contribution to the Vincent, and the VOC, was recognised by the April 1961
AGM with his election to Vice President, although his name did not appear in the front cover
of MPH until July. Ted remained a Vice President until his death in April 1964, an obituary
appearing in the May MPH (no. 184).
Next installment: J.P. Vereker, B. Main-Smith, B.A.Phillips, Sir Mark Goodson, G.B. Spence. s
Vice Presidents Pt. 2
A further instalment brings us up to the present with the Club’s various Vice Presidents.
Most, although possibly not all, will be familiar to UK Members, but those further afield may
have only known them as names in MPH. Hopefully
John Vereker was one of the Club’s long standing members, although not owning a Vincent
in his later years. In the earlier years of the Club, however, he was very active and hard working,
having held the post of Sports Secretary in 1953, Secretary in 1954, and Treasurer from
1960 to 1962 — some of the most onerous positions in the Club (which was very sporting orientated
in the early days). In 1962 Johns work, and his experience, was recognised by his election
to Vice President, which appeared from May MPH onwards. At the 1968 AGM, John Vereker
was formally re-elected as one of the Vice Presidents, to conform with the rule change of the
In those days there was little in the way of ‘classic motorcycle’ activity, and VPs tended to
fade from active Club life as their riding careers waned, and this is what eventually happened
with John as well. In 1981 further rule changes were enacted, which not all VPs found acceptable.
John Vereker, however, remained fully supportive of the Club at this troubled time, and
willing to serve in whatever capacity required. As a result, from 1984 the Club had just a single
Vice President listed (from December MPH) — John Vereker.
At this time John’s personal motorcycling activity was primarily concerned with keeping
lowly Honda 50s on the road, cheaply. These were widely used by potential taxi drivers, busy
learning ‘the knowledge’ — a process of learning London streets and routes by heart which is
a pre-requisite to obtaining a licence to be one of the famous London ‘black cab’ drivers.
Nevertheless, his interest in the VOC was renewed, and John rarely missed the business meetings
of the Club thereafter (ECMs and GCMs). John did not throw his weight about, and quietly
made his views known, but could be quite persistent when he felt the future of the VOC
required it. John died on 23 November 1998, and his obituary appeared in the January ‘99 MPH.
He is survived by his wife Tessa, now Tessa French.
Bruce Main-Smith was the only ‘Technical Editor’ that MPH ever professed to have, appointed
in the early 1950s when RAB Cook was in charge. His frequent technical contributions, often
developed after trials on his twin ‘B-dum’ are still acknowledged today. I believe it was BMS
who determined that our oil takes 15 miles to warm up, and advised gentle riding for those first
miles — he was no mean rider himself and rode his own machine hard after those first miles.
His writing in MPH led to employment by Temple Press, writing for ‘MotorCycling’ — the
‘Green ‘Un’. There he rendered another service by producing the Vincent-HRD motorcycles in
their motorcycle manuals series, a small but useful manual with the best picture of what the
clutch should look like when you have finished assembling it in-situ. In later years Bruce ran
his own business (Bruce Main-Smith Ltd.) selling and publishing books, including such classics
as ‘Roadtests republished’ and the ‘Vintage Road Test Journals’.
In 1960 the Club went through one of its periodic difficult phases, resulting in changes to the
‘top table’. A strong hand was needed to bring back order, and Bruce was elected to be the
Club’s chairman, holding this position from January 1960 to December 1962. His firm hand was
just what was needed at the time, order was restored, and the Club continued to go from
strength to strength. In May 1963 his efforts were rewarded with the position of Vice President.
In the difficult time of 1984 Bruce’s firm convictions worked the other way, and he could not
accept the VOC change of rules, resulting in his resignation from the Club, his name no longer
appearing in MPH from August 1984. Bruce continued with his business, BMS until ill health
resulted in him selling up — although the business continues (in the hands of Colin Mitchell)
selling books, and also useful photocopies of spare parts lists for machines and accessories
such as carburettors and electrical equipment.
Bryan Phillips has been in most of the senior positions in the VOC, Secretary, Chairman,
Honorary Member, Vice President, and President. Bryan took on the job of Acting Secretary in
1960, at a very troubled time for the Club. His part in helping the Club through this time was
regarded with Honorary Membership in 1967. He became Chairman in 1966, a position he was
to hold for an amazing, and dedicated, 25 years. In November 1980, Bryan was elected a Vice
President. However, in 1984, Bryan voluntarily stood down from this position, to ease the enactment
of the 5-yearly re-election of Vice Presidents. Subsequently Bryan has become President
of the VOC, as related in the preceding article on Presidents.
Sir Mark Goodson
Mark Goodson is well known for his riding exploits, and his conviction that the Vincent has
never been surpassed as a touring motorcycle. Living on the borders of England and Scotland,
his attendance at meetings usually entails a 700 mile round trip if he uses the Vincent — which
he often does. Attendance at foreign rallies and touring across Australia underline both his
enthusiasm and conviction that Vincents are best. Mark has also supported many initiatives to
develop or produce new items for Vincents by sponsoring developments whilst others were still
Mark served as the Club’s Treasurer from February ‘86 to January ‘92, a time when this job
was becoming increasingly onerous, because the Club holds considerable assets (including
shares in the VOCS), and has a significant turnover. The treasurer has to keep various taxmen
and officials happy (corporation tax, VAT), as well as the membership. Mark not only did this
task, but also revised the Club’s policies towards investment, and then continued to help and
advise subsequent treasurers.
Mark then took on the challenge of becoming Chairman of the VOC in 1992. This was a
daunting prospect. For 25 years, the Club had been chaired by Bryan Phillips, and many
Members knew no other. After such a stable, and effective chairmanship, establishing a new
personality, possibly new directions, etc., and most of all an environment where others would
think of standing for office, called for a man of stature. Mark Goodson was such a man, and
enabled the Club to enter a new era without a hitch.
In 1995, Mark was elected Vice President, not only in recognition of his work, but to allow
his expertise and efforts to continue on behalf of the Club, whilst not tied to a specific portfolio.
Mark has thus continued to actively help the Club, both by assisting other officials, and by
taking on tasks (such as the 1999 International Scottish stage).
Mark voluntarily stood down at the 2005 AGM, believing that he could no longer put in the
dedication he would wish to, due to a combination of age and the distance involved to meetings.
As a Vice President, he was also an Honorary member of the Club, but it is not the practice
of the Club to list VPs also in the MPH HM listing. Sir Mark Goodson is deservedly an
Honorary Member, and his name appears in MPHs HM list now that it is not in the VP listing.
George Spence was one of the notorious ‘Binley Road’ gang of Vincent enthusiasts who
shared a flat in the environs of Coventry in the 50s. Racing and sprinting was a major activity
in those days, and George participated, even on the Wolverhampton HRD he salvaged from
‘Newlands Corner’, in an era when most people considered such an old bike to be worthless.
Indeed it was George who ensured that the VOC embraced HRD as well as Vincent and Vincent
HRD machines in its compass. More recently, George has acted as the Organiser for ‘Rarities’,
uncovering such titbits the ML U120D target aeroplane (MPH 301) and continues to foster,
encourage, and research the more obscure Vincent-HRD machines. Over the years he has written
extensively for MPH, in his own name or sometimes with a pseudonym, on a variety of
aspects of Vincent ownership, and lore. In MPH 202 he presented nothing less than an outline
drawing of a 4-valve head for a Vincent!
George became the Club’s Treasurer in 1992 (Feb MPH) and continued until Jan ‘97 —
Treasurers have traditionally arranged their own changeover schedules. Having relinquished
the post in ‘97, George took on the task again from October ‘98, after the illness of the
Treasurer in post. This, of course, involved the onerous task of sorting out back transactions,
as well as the current task, all of which he sorted out before handing the job on in February
2000. He has worked tirelessly to try and modernise our processes, in particular to gather a
team, computerise and thus ease the workloads of individual officers. George has also taken a
considerable interest in the VOC Spares Company, and its relationship with the VOC. This originally
took the form of being the Club’s ‘liaison officer’, and has developed until George now
holds the position of Chairman of the Board of VOCS, in a period when VOCS have proven, by
building one, that a complete Vincent engine is now possible using new parts, and may soon
do the same for a complete motorcycle.
In recognition of George’s contribution, and in the expectation that he will continue in
these efforts, George Spence was elected Vice President at the 2004 AGM, appearing in the
MPH listing from Nov. ‘04. At the time of writing, subsequent to Mark Goodson standing down,
George is the Club’s sole Vice President. Next instalment — some ‘invisible’ Honorary