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Discover the history of the AACNW from its founding on a ship in landlocked Manchester to the present day.
Contributors: Barry Clark, Harold English, John Kennedy, and John Smith. Edited by Danny Williams.
Early in May 1981, the American Auto Club is founded in Manchester. The first meets take place on board the North Westward Ho! – a “pub ship” moored at Pomona Dock at the end of the Manchester Ship Canal.
Later, the club is renamed American Auto Club North West as a gesture of goodwill toward another American Auto Club founded in late May in the Midlands.
The club – now consisting of around 30 members – holds local meets in fields hosting other events across the North West. Some members organise “drag racing” at an abandoned WWII military camp – something only possible in the days before health and safety.
In late autumn 1982, attendance at club meetings is down to single figures and secretary John Smith decides to pause operations during the winter whilst a new venue is found.
Meets move again – this time just up Broadway to the Red Barn, Chadderton. In July, the AACNW hosts a car show with over 200 vehicles in attendance. In a shocking turn of events, the landlord of the pub – later found to be a convicted bankrupt – stole the proceeds of the show. The club is later reimbursed by the brewery after they discover what happened.
Later in the year, Paul Beebe steps down and Harold English becomes Chairman and organises the first AACNW Committee. The Black Swan pub in Cadishead becomes the new club HQ.
The first committee is formed: Harold English, Chairman; John Smith, Treasurer; Alan Clark, Events Secretary; Bob Cook and Elaine Renolds, Editors; Les Jones.
The first AGM is held, setting the format for the yearly gathering which is still largely the same today.
Club membership steadily increases during the latter half of the 1980s. Careful stewardship and astute financial management ensures the continued success of the club into the 90s.
Chair Harold English arranges a publicity drive, with appearances on local radio and featured articles in the Manchester Evening News and Lancashire Life magazine.
English is made Honorary President in 1991 for services to the club.
North Wales Area Rep John Kennedy arranges the first Llanberis Weekend event.
Increasingly burdensome Health and Safety requirements imposed by the local council put an end to the Llanberis Weekends, the final event being held in 2005.
In a fitting finale, a moving convoy of American vehicles completely encircles Caenarfon Castle to the astonishment of onlookers.
The previous meeting spot having been built on (ironically with a petrol station), the AACNW finds a new home at City Airport Manchester, also known locally as Barton Aerodrome. As guests of the Veterans Garage charity, the club supports those who have served in the armed forces and emergency services by way of the admission donation.
Treasurer Hugh Lewis is appointed Chair, with Shelley Lewis stepping into the vacant role of resident bean counter.
The worst pandemic in a century shuts down the entire world, as lockdowns prevent any social gatherings. Club meets and shows are put on indefinite hiatus; even as lockdown rules are eased over the summer, gatherings are still prevented and many clubs including AACNW suffer dramatic reductions in members.
In the middle of lockdown and against all odds, the club celebrates its 40th anniversary in May 2021.
Later in the year, meets resume at Barton.
The club website is re-launched and plans are announced to re-launch the iconic club magazine Rumbles and Roars. A new social media initiative and on-line membership portal aims to attract new members and encourage existing members to continue to be a part of this unique and remarkable organisation.
Are you a club veteran or know someone who is? Help us fill in the gaps in our timeline. We’re looking to add milestone moments from the 1990s through to the 2020s. Contact firstname.lastname@example.org if you can help.