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NSW Branch Club History
Paul Samuels formed the Club in New South Wales, assisted by Des Collings-Power, who made his office in the heart of the Sydney business district available for the first meeting. It was there in O’Connell Street at 8:30pm on 20 June 1956 that Sep Hall brought the first meeting to order. When the constitution of the Rolls-Royce Owners’ Club of Australia was adopted in August 1956 Sep Hall became the first President.
Those at the inaugural meeting were members or the friends of members of existing car clubs: the Vintage Sports Car Club, established in 1944 and the Veteran Car Club and the Vintage Motor Club, both established in 1954.
The Club honours its Foundation Members: Paul Samuels, Des Collings-Power, Sep Hall, Tony Purchase, Alan Wilson, Barrie Gillings, Margaret Gillings, Kevon Kemp, Sue Kemp, Ron Grant, Geoffrey Chandler, George Sevenoaks, John Mcnamara, Bill Nevell, John Nevell, Stan Nash, Ron Ferguson, Terry Hunt and George Green.
Although Rolls-Royce had been manufacturing Bentley cars for more than twenty years by this time, initially the Club was for owners of Rolls-Royces and Bentleys were excluded. In time Bentley owners could be associate members but it was not until twenty years later, in 1976, that this blight on the Club was removed and Bentley owners were accepted as full members. This type of division was fortunately not repeated when in recent times Rolls-Royce became part of the BMW group, and Bentley part of VW and the latest cars are welcomed into the Club.
The first outing for NSW members took place in July 1956 with a picnic lunch at Panorama Point at Kurrajong. Thought was given to an annual run in memory of Henry Royce and on 27 March 1960 the first Commemoration Run was held – a tradition that continues today.
A group of enthusiasts in Victoria led by Wally Vears got together in 1957 and when a Federal Constitution was adopted in October 1957 the NSW Branch and the Victoria Branch formally came into existence. Gavin Sandford-Morgan and Lionel Renfrey formed the South Australia Branch in 1958. Branches followed in Western Australia (1965), Queensland (1969), ACT (1982), Northern Territory as a Sub-Branch of WA (1994) and Tasmania as a section of Victoria (1995).
Interstate meetings with NSW and Victoria were held in 1959 and 1960 and in 1961 the SA Branch members joined for the first time. The tradition of an annual Federal Rally was established and has become the motoring and social highlight in the Club’s calendar. The Branches take turns to host the Federal Rally. Organised tours to and from the Federal Rallies, called ‘Overlanders’, began in 1990 and remain popular.
A full account of the history of the Rolls-Royce Owners’ Club of Australia can be found in ‘Rolls-Royce and Bentley in the Rear-View Mirror’ by David Neely and published by The Sir Henry Royce Foundation, Australia.