South of England Show Preview

Rowena Hoseason
February 29, 2012
West Sussex BSAOC at the South of England RealClassic Show

The South of England RealClassic Motorcycle Show has grown considerably in recent years and so that it now sprawls out of the main display hall and into three further agricultural halls, all abuzz with trade stands and autojumble stalls. This event started nearly a decade ago in one of the smaller cow sheds, with half a dozen bikes and half a dozen traders. It’s almost unrecognisable these days – not least because the bovine bouquet has thankfully faded away…

So if you venture out to the South of England Showground at Ardingly in West Sussex (not far from Gatwick), on Sunday 11th March 2012 then you’ll find an awesome array of old motorcycles on display in the Queen’s Jubilee Hall – well lit, warm and dry with excellent facilities. These concours displays feature a broad range of private entries, including British, European, Japanese and American classics, while the club stands usually reflect the major marque clubs (VMCC, Triumph, BSA, Norton, AJS and Matchless) and more unusual manufacturers and models (Indian, Bantam) as well as local groups (Cinque Ports, South London, Deal and District, Sussex and so on).

Norton classic motorcycleThis means that the hall fills with a variety of motorcycles from all eras; roadgoing, trials, competition and even wall of death display machines. There’s so many bikes that the biggest problem is getting everyone lined up in neat rows…

Without doubt, a pair of Norton Nomads were the star of last autumn’s Show. Owner Anthony Curzon unveiled his recently restored 500 and 600 twins which went on to grace the cover of RealClassic magazine, sponsors of the Show. Other worthy award winners included a 1936 Francis-Barnett Black Stag F/44 from the FBOC stand; a very unusual model fitted with a four-stroke Blackburne engine. Ray Ashford’s 1964 Ariel Arrow also picked up a prize; he restored it back in 1985 and has been using it ever since on club runs.

The ‘heavyweight’ award went to a 1954 AJS Model 20 which as clocked up 20,000 miles since its rebuild and was featured on the AJS&M Club stand. At the other end of the scale, the Lightweight prize went to Jill Jackson’s BSA Bantam D7 – and in between those two another dozen bikes were given various trophies, in categories ranging from Best Brit to Competition/Special and Best Overseas.

The Show on 11th March 2012 opens at 10am; RealClassic magazine subscribers can claim a discount off the admission price and come in at the £5 OAP rate (so RC subscribers should bring their blue RC Club cards and show them at the gate.)

Douglas Dragonfly, classic motorcyclePrivate individuals are welcome to book a small jumble stall if you’d like to clear out your garage; book in advance on 01797 344277. You can also bring any bike you’d like to sell and pay the normal admission price to display it in the ‘bikemart’ area. Clubs and group are welcome to ride-in on the day, although it would be worth organising this in advance if you’re a big bunch. The venue provides free parking on good hardstanding, decent toilet facilities, plus on-site refreshments and usually an undercover seating area too, so you don’t have to scoff your hotdog on the hop.

For more details about this event see

We normally feature the show-winning machines on RealClassic, so check at the end of March for a full report.

Share this article