Northern Centre 50th Birthday Celebration for the Austin Healey 3000

18th & 19th July 2009

At The Cholmondeley Pageant of Power




 A Report by John Ridyard

After months of planning with the organisers at the pageant of power the day arrived when a group of hardy volunteers arrived on site on Friday 17th July to set up the site and also cut the grass ready for our members to attend over the weekend. As usual the weather was inclement as with most organised events these days. Not deterred in any way we braved the progressively ploughed and mudded ground to receive the display from Northern Healey and the Hudson motor company which consisted of a 100/4 chassis and  bare body on a new chassis and inner panels perched on a what can be described a heavy duty trolley on casters which bogged itself down in the mud and required some strenuous pulling and lifting to extradite it from the progressively soggy ground. However by 6.30pm nearly all was in place including a Barrel of Beartown Brewery's best libation. Also in the large Marquee we had Steve King's immaculate 1959 Earls Court AH3000 show car which was to be part of the display of significant Healeys including the AH4000 of Joe Cox, ARX91B and Brian Wheelers exciting SR.                                                                                                       


AH4000 and ARX91B



                  Brian Wheelers SR


Hoping that the Saturday would bring better weather our members started to arrive on site greeted by what can be described as a very mudded ploughed field now being hurriedly covered with straw by the organisers. Undaunted it can be said that not one Healey got bogged down and arrived safely to register at the large Marquee to enjoy not only the Northern Centre hospitality but the prospect of some major petrol head experience of the Pageant.

Armed with some mementoes of this event kindly provided by Dave Latham plus Dave Haslam's supply of distinctive and rare Northern Centre Mugs and a paddock pass each, the members disappeared towards the action. This included the cars and bikes competing on the track to win the best time on the 1.2mile circuit and win the Breitling gold watch. Other activities included the power boat racing on the adjacent mere, Helicopter static and flying displays,  the ladies favorite JCB dancing display plus shopping, funfair and classic car clubs in abundance.

To add that extra Healey feel the Pageant allowed four significant Healeys to compete on the track including PMO 200 driven by Sharon Woolmar, ARX 92B driven by Paul Woolmar, RWD 323 driven by Robert Waterhouse and YKY 30 driven by Chris Cox.



 PMO 200 driven by Sharon Woolmar

                     ARX 92B driven by Paul Woolmar

          RWD 323 driven by Robert Waterhouse





                                                                                                           YKY 30 driven by Chris Cox

At the lunch break our celebrity chefs prepared a very appertising BBQ for all and thanks go to Ken Broster, Tony and Matthew Curran, ably supported by a bevy of beauties providing the glamour to the occasion and making sure all quests had sufficient buns, salad / sundries etc this meal was completed with some scrumptious deserts provided in part by Margaret Austin.

Entertainment was provided by a display of extreme flying skills by the Breitling stunt plane which performed some unbelievable maneuvers overhead.


Then it was back to the action once more with the helicopters, boats, bikes and cars.

However at 3pm it was time to be enthralled by the memoirs of Don Barrow our special guest for the weekend event  who held us spellbound by his memories of being a co-driver with the BMC works team and his exploits with Timo Makinen on the Spa - Sofia - Liege Rally of ARX 92B

Being in a marquee however provided its own problems and his talk was frequently interrupted by the sounds on the track and mere, but being a true professional he managed to entertain us throughout the ongoing competition. And to add to the effect ARX 92B the very car he co drove in passed on the track with horn blasting and lights ablaze.


Don Barrow


                 Handel's Water Music?



Too soon the action came to an end for the Saturday but not before the classic boats took to the mere including Joe Beaumont's beautiful Healey Sprite 55 sports-boat taking some of the ladies for an evening cruise, whilst some of us hardy lot weighted down with supplies bagged a place for the evening concert and fireworks in front of Cholmondeley castle. Needless to say no sooner had we settled and started to have our posh picnic when the heavens opened up and all through the first part of the concert kept us all under umbrellas. However it cleared up for the Manchester Camerata who gave the audience a classical pot puree of well know tunes culminating in the 1812 overture accompanied by 4 heavy artillery guns provided by the Army and a magnificent fireworks display ending a very emotional and some times a very patriotic evening of music.

Then it was back to check on the security arrangements in the Marquee provided amiably by number one son Matthew aided by the barrel of beer


After a rainy night spent in Tony and Caroline's luxurious caravan and a wonderful breakfast it was back to Cholmondeley and guess what no rain, great! However the overnight deluge had added to the quagmire that was originally a field, but that did not dampen our members spirits and added to the fun of going broadside getting to the site.

Sunday's events calendar followed a similar pattern to Saturday's with the track competitors trying to improve on their times of the previous day and there was no time to loose as it happens.

Lunch again saw our valiant chefs feeding the two BBQs with vast quanties of meat to cook to perfection and our ladies looking pretty again serving up the extra garnishes and deserts to grateful members. It should also be noted that luckily the beer lasted to the end of lunch and no more, such good planning what?.  Lunch time entertainment was again the Brietling stunning stunt plane and as a bonus a WWII Spitfire gave a display of its fantastic speed and maneuverability appreciated by all at the event.








                        Oh Joy any Spare Wellies?



                        On site power wash for Healeys


Up to to that point the weather had been mixed with a full spectrum of seasons on tap literally. However after lunch on the Sunday the rain fall became increasing heavy to a point where only a couple of further runs on the circuit was possible and the boats came into their own with many of our members thinking the Healey boat could have been the preferred option for this event. The up side was that when Don Barrow took the Q&A session at 3pm there was little or no interruptions to his reminiscences and enthralled us again for an hour with his stories of his time in the BMC works team after which it was time to consider the Kon-course presentations, but in our chief chefs' excitement to find dryer locations he had taken all the trophies home sometime after lunch and forgotten to return. So the presentations were done by word of mouth and a  promise of silverware at Tatton in August.

At this juncture most were thinking of packing up and going and you know what the rain stops and the fun begins watching the vast number of cars getting bogged down in the mud. You have to consider now that any hard surface was some 300yds away after crossing the mud bath that was once a field, but in all fairness not one Healey got stuck with the exception of Joe Cox's AH4000 the auto box being the cause however it provided much entertainment and became a part of the experience.



So it was time to pack away the club's gazebos, the various displays from Northern Healey and Murray Scott Nelson plus place the display cars into and onto their trailers and tidy the Marquee for a revisit on Monday to do the final clear up.

All in all the weekend had been a success with everyone that attended going away with the memories of a fantastic event put on by the Pageant of Power organisers and a promise that most will attend next years event again without fail.

A big thank you to the people that let us display their cars on the AH site, the drivers of the Healeys on the event  that made all welcome and also visited the site to answer questions. Not forgetting Don Barrow who gave of his time to support the club and provide some anecdotes of his experiences in Big Healeys as part of the BMC works team

I would like to and need to thank all the volunteers from the Northern Centre and of course the ladies that made this 50th Celebration happen and who put in so much hard work before hand and during the event it self, in many cases sacrificing their own time to enjoy the Pageant itself to help in providing a memorable experience to all that attended.


Dennis Austin mud plugging


However the main success was the fact we had a large Marquee that certainly got our members together and also kept them dry through the weekend




 Pictures kindly provided by Ivor Davies and John Ridyard

                      Tim looking to swap?

                                  Healey SR


                                 The Beast


                       Enthralled by Don

                         Love side exhausts


                              JK too enthralled


                               Non Healey

                      Keeping Healeys dry

                           The motley crew

                                        Um Nice

                    KR about to sneak off with PMO

                           Give it some welly

                              Posh Car#1

                       School boys dream Car#1

                                      Posh Car#2

              Swedish SuperCar Konigs something

                 Best of British with German Engine

                        True German SuperCar


    Final proof summer had arrived at Cholmondeley