History of Hopmog
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2014 is the 40th anniversary of the formation of Hopmog. Here’s how it all started.
History of Hopmog
HOPMOG Started life as The South East Social Sub-Centre of The London Centre. So for some background information I begin with a short history of The London Centre.
The London Centre was the first to be called a centre as such. The main nucleus of the club was, as you would expect, based in the midlands. In the early sixties it was suggested that a centre based in the London area would be a good idea. There was quite a concentration of members in and around London so after a meeting at Jim Banbury's home in Chelsea on Friday 3rd November 1961 the London Centre was born. Unfortunately its birth was a bit premature as there is little evidence of any activity
In 1965 after several impromptu meetings at W.A. (Griff) Griffiths Garage usually on a Saturday Morning. The London Centre was re-born on the 29th of September.
Most of the London Centre meetings were held north of the Thames, as I think many still are. So a group of us 'South London Lads (& Lasses)' thought we could hold meetings to the south of London in the Kent area (later to include Surrey) thus the embryo that was to become HOPMOG began.
The South East Social Sub-Centre of The London Centre (a bit of a mouthful that) started life in 1972 and became a ‘Centre’ in it own right, The South East Centre, around July 1974. The HOPMOG name was adopted in January 1976.
HOPMOG initially covered Kent, but soon there was demand to meet in neighbouring Surrey and then several members started meetings in the Canterbury area and with a good regular attendance is now known as ‘East Kent’. So now we have 3 regular noggins each month, the second Tuesday in Kent, the fourth Tuesday East Kent and in Surrey the last Thursday in the summer months and Saturday lunchtimes in winter months, a very large catchment area. We also hold occasional Sunday lunch time meetings, often with an addition feature in the afternoon keeping us busy throughout the year. These include visits to gardens, historic house and castles, also kite flying, quiz evenings, the odd treasure hunt. We have regular very popular favourites like the centre barbecue and our own dinner dance.
We publish HOPMOG REVIEW, a bi-monthly news letter. We produce a HOPMOG CALENDAR of events, which is sent to all MSCC members in our “patch” in January. Now we have this Website. We also produce our own Regalia, and Car Badges.
We have run three national Club events; MOG 90, at The Whitbread Hop Farm and a decade later we ended the millennium in style, with MOG 2000. If that was not enough in 2013 we returned to Canterbury for MOG 13. In 1992 we held our first Morgans at Brooklands, which was such a great success; this was repeated in July 1995 and June 1999, where we celebrated our Silver Jubilee. We have also ventured across the channel with several very successful events in Le Touquet and Brugge. The first of our visits to the Schlumph Bugatti collection in Mulhouse, an unforgettable weekend at the first Le Mans Classic, all in 2002 (Many of us have returned to this biennial event to this date). The following year returning to France with a trip to Monet’s house and gardens in Giverny complete with day out in Paris. In 2004 we celebrated our 30th Anniversary with an event at Cobtree. 2005 saw a return to France with a second Mulhouse visit, followed by a wonderful trip to Guillestre in the Alps.
In 2014 we celebrate our Ruby anniversary with a Gala Dinner in April.
If that were not enough for the more senior Morgan owner there is TOGMOG*, the brainwave of a mature Hopmogger, Ben Brittain, he said: “TOGMOGGING was born out of selfishness. I wanted to get to know other Morgan drivers but I didn’t enjoy evening noggins. They are, by definition, evening events and driving home at night, in the dark, having had the odd drink is not my idea of quality Morganeering. I realise they are a good way of socialising but, being retired, I’m usually tired by the end of the day and prefer to be at home with my feet up by the time most evening Noggins start. Mid week, daytime Noggins - now that’s a different matter.
The second step towards the birth of TOGMOGGING happened when Tony Baker and I joined one of Quentin’s trips to France- this was the trip to Mulhouse in July 2002. Tony and I had independently made the decision to get more involved with the Club and when we met up with Nancy on the visit to Monet’s Garden and Paris in 2003, the ground was laid.
The three of us were elected to the HOPMOG Committee at the 2003 AGM- or in Nancy’s case re elected since she and Graham were founder members of HOPMOG. We immediately began to think of ways of making a contribution to the Club and I came up with the idea of mid week daytime meetings. The Committee encouraged me to find out whether there was much interest amongst members and I put a piece into Miscellany which Quentin suggested take the form of a letter to “Dear Charles”. I wrote under the title “Is it me?” a phrase most of you will associate with Terry Wogan’s morning radio programme. Next we co-opted Brian on to our informal sub committee and TOGMOGGING was launched. I wrote a letter to The Togmeister himself advising him of the momentous event and was rewarded with a T shirt to auction in recognition of our commitment to raise money for “Children in Need”. We have raised a few hundred pounds for the cause so far and will do more.
Tony, Brian, and Nancy have given tremendous support. We get together once a year to select events and a mid week TOGMOG is now a regular part of the HOPMOG Annual Programme. Tony has also organised several superb mid week breaks; first in Snowdonia in 2005; and then in North Yorkshire in 2006 and many more.
TOGMOG monthly meets started with a Spring and Summer programme visiting Country Houses and Gardens but demand for a full year of events obliged us to introduce Autumn and Winter ideas including organised walks in the Winter months. Driving snow and oozing mud are not a pre requisite but they help stimulate the thirst and taste buds for our final destination- The Pub.
Nowadays there is a TOGMOG on the first Wednesday of every month culminating in a Christmas lunch to swap stories and prepare for the following year.
What more can I say? Everyone is welcome at a TOGMOG event. I have a list of more than 60 car owners who come from all over the South to join our events. Some of the little terrors are still working but sneak off for a Morgan fix as often as they can. For myself, well, I have succeeded in building more friendships over the past few years than I previously found in a lifetime!
Ben Brittain, Cardigan- in Chief, retired. *[TOG: Terry’s Old Geezers (or Gals)]
Ben has hung up his cardigan but still a frequent participant. Long may it continue.
And this is an article from the Number 2 edition of Miscellany in 1974