This year the National Rally was a two-day event with members touring around various local attractions on Saturday and with the rally itself being held on Sunday. Lincolnshire was home to many of Bomber Command’s air-fields during the Second World War and the area is rich in aviation heritage, which formed our theme for Saturday.
On Saturday morning, many members started the day’s tour at the Belton Woods Hotel, where Stuart Nell handed out copies of his excellent route guide to all the day’s activities. The first was the Kinema-in-the-Woods at Woodhall Spa. This historic site was one of the first cinemas in Britain, opening in 1922 when it showed silent films. It has been preserved and with its Compton cinema organ, faithfully recreates the experience of early cinema. A full programme of historic newsreels plus live music by resident organist Alan Underwood, and with former owner James Green playing occasional accompaniment on the grand piano, was enjoyed by all. James is also a member of the Register, owning several Wolseleys himself.
After the Kinema experience, members drove a short way to the delightful Petwood Hotel for coffee and lunch. The Petwood was the Officers Mess for 617 Squadron (the Dambusters) and contains much Dambusters memorabilia.
Following Stuart’s informative route directions again, members then drove to the Lincolnshire Aviation Heritage Centre, the Lincolnshire Memorial to Bomber Command, where the newly-restored Lancaster Bomber and other attractions were all on display. Members were able to take their cars onto the airfield to park next to the Control Tower.
Sunday saw the traditional static rally at Belton House, near Grantham. This is one of the National Trust’s gems, often cited as the perfect example of an English country house. Built for Sir John Brownlow in the 1680s, Belton House has all the design features of a classic English country home sitting in formal Italian and Dutch gardens and an historic 1300 acre deer park.
Our cars were dislayed in a long arc around the edge of the cricket pitch in the centre of the house grounds. Visitors to the house and gardens walked round the arc on their way to the house, admiring the display and with many stopping to discuss the cars with their owners.
Over 50 Wolseleys, plus about 10 other classics were displayed along the arc, and another 10 members joined in after arriving in modern cars. All the displayed cars were judged by the members and the rally ended with the annual awards presentation.