I first had the idea to start a branch of the MMOC in Manchester not long after I joined the club and received the first newsletter. I wanted to share the experience of Minor ownership with like minded people at a time when Morris Minor ownership was just starting to be gaining momentum and there was a high level of interest and affection for a car that was eight years out of production. A phone call to the then secretary of the national club gave me the encouragement to try and get things started - the club would pay for the first venue and so planning a few months in advance I booked a room in a large pub (The Royal Thorn in Wythenshawe - now an office block!) and placed an article in Minor Matters and waited to see if any one turned up.
I was surprised how many people arrived and there was certainly enough enthusiasm and numbers to justify further meetings. At that stage most people used the cars every day and the interest was as much around where to get parts and which scrap yards were breaking Minors. How things have changed - The second meeting was almost the last. We held it in the same venue but couldn't afford a room and were almost thrown out for trying to hold a meeting in the public bar with twenty or so people. Not the first time I have been thrown out of a pub but perhaps a first (still) for Morris Minor owners. It was quite obvious that we couldn't hold a third meeting there and it was suggested that that the Bulls Head in Hale Barns had a small room that they didn't charge for and that other motor clubs used. A quick visit and chat to the landlord secured the fourth Tuesday of each month as the meeting date, a time which has lasted for 30 years.
I forget exactly how long we stayed at this venue for, several years at least. The numbers grew steadily and hit a maximum of 60 for a talk on drink driving by the Cheshire Police, When the landlord changed, the pub was decorated and he wanted to charge for the use of the room so that forced the move to the the Ship Inn in Styal, before relocating to the Coach and Four in Wilmslow.
In the early days we had a small committee - chairman, treasurer and secretary and whilst there were plenty of ideas for talks and events most of the organising came down to the gang of three. The first rally was in March 1980 in Lyme Park a great venue but bitterly cold, we even had the press in attendance and an article with colour picture in the Stockport Advertiser. The most memorable of the early rallies was at Poynton Pool as part of the Poynton show. The mud made Glastonbury look like a picnic. The big four wheel drive tractor pulling the ordinary tractor pulling the Jeep all axle deep out of the mud still sticks in the mind. This was the first outing for the club banner, still in use today, and I am sure some of the mud is still on it.
The club funds in those days were used to purchase some tools that were loaned out to members. The branch membership split itself between those with concourse cars used for show and those that used their Minors as every day transport .