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A HISTORY OF THE
BORDERS VINTAGE AUTOMOBILE CLUB





Mr Thomas R B Elliot with his 1895 3.5hp Panhard

Extract from the Kelso Chronicle 6 March 1896
"Case Against Mr Barnewall Elliot"

At Berwick Police Court yesterday (Thursday) Mr Thomas Robert Barnewall Elliot of Clifton Park, Kelso, was charged with having, on a certain public highway, used a certain locomotive - viz, a horseless carriage - and whilst it was in motion did not cause a person to precede by at least 20 yards such locomotive on foot, contrary to the provisions of the Highway and Locomotive (Amendment) Act 1878.   Mr J K Weatherhead, solicitor, appeared for the defence, and applied for an adjournment of the case for a week, which was granted.

The case was reconvened on the following Thursday and concluded by the Magistrates intimating that the police had only done their duty in reporting the case, but they regretted the necessity for their having to impose a pentitley. A fine of 6d, with 19s 7d of cost, was imposed.


How It All Began

The Borders Vintage Automobile Club came into being following an adventurous journey north by members of the North East Restoration Club based in Newcastle-upon-Tyne in 1972.   Of the thirty cars that gathered in the Newcastle Civic Centre to head north on May 20 majority were vintage models and their intrepid drivers were joined by fifteen Scottish enthusiasts, mainly from the Borders area, as they crossed the Border.   The route took them via Stannington and Wooler to Kelso where they received a Civic Welcome and Presentation Ceremony led by the Provost of Kelso.    After the Ceremony the cars were displayed at the Kelso, Tait Hall.

The following day, Sunday 21 May, a Concours d'Elegance was held in the grounds of Mellerstain House to the music of the Jedburgh Silver Band and sideshows by the Jethart Callants Festival Committee and the Kelso Laddies Association.    During the journey back to Newcastle that evening, a similar Civic Reception greeted the participants in Jedburgh led by the Provost against a musical background provided by the Jedburgh Pipe Band.   This was a most splendid occasion and it clearly inspired the Scots in the area to form a group with the view to organising similar events in the future.   And so was born the Borders Vintage Automobile Club.

If one cares to read of the exploits of a certain Mr T R B Elliot, a resident of neighbouring Morebattle, it is no wonder that the founder members of our Club chose the Panhard of 1895 as the Club's logo.   Apparently Mr Elliot was the first private motorist in Scotland and was well known all over the Borders thanks to his intrepid trips around the lanes in 1896. Those were the days of "the man with the red flag", of course, a nonsense for which Mr Elliot had little patience.   Reports in the local press in 1896 lay testimony to his good-natured battles with the boys in blue.

The small group of founder members of the BVAC could not hope to emulate such a magnificent spectacle with civic receptions here and there, but they did succeed in inviting several old car enthusiasts both in the North of England and the South of Scotland to a gathering at the home of Lord Binning at Mellerstain the following year.   His Lordship became the Club's President and he held that honorary post until 2009 during which time he inherited the title of the Earl of Haddington upon the death of his father.   Today, the Club's President is Capt. The Hon. Gerald Maitland-Carew of Thirlestane Castle.

From modest beginnings when around thirty-five cars gathered in the estate grounds, the annual show expanded to such proportions that the event simply outgrew the beautiful landscaped grounds of Mellerstain House.   In 2005 the decision was taken to move our annual event to Thirlestane Castle, by Lauder, whose parklands seem particularly suited to our type of event.   We are now building on the success of our first venture there in 2006.