Burnley Civic Trust Heritage Image Collection

Salute to gems of motoring

Article written by Bert Bolton and published in the Burnley Express of June 4th 1985


Horsepower, in one form or another almost took over Towneley Park at the weekend. On Saturday was the Burnley Charity horse (equine) Show, and on Sunday it was the Horsepower (automobile) Show.

Sunday's show is destined, in more ways than one, to become a Burnley classic. There were cars galore, virtually in the shadow of the former stately home of the Towneleys. They were even parked on that most hold-of-holies, the grassland, but no one cared a hoot.

In fact, the cars were the central attraction at the first-ever Towneley staged annual Pendle and District Rover Association Rally. The event got off the ground as a result of the enthusiasm of a small number of keen Rover owners in the district, and have been a regular feature at the Ram Inn, Cliviger, car park since 1978.
This year, thanks to the driving force of the association's membership, the rally mushroomed into a full-scale one featuring not only rovers but some historic classic cars, and their modern counter parts.

Over a thousand spectators visited the 1985 car rally in Towneley park

TOWNELEY provided a magnificent backdrop to a new form of public attraction for the park - a classic and historic car rally with the accent on Rover cars


Officials estimate that around 150 vehicles - including two ancient Rover pedal cycles - were on view. Throughout a gloriously sunny day, the rally attracted thousands of spectators and turned out to be a contender as the town's biggest free show and amusement event of the year. Even the youngsters were not forgotten - with large playing area, including fairground rides, sideshows and other activities.

It all looked so easy-going and casual but, in fact, the rally was the result of some long, intensive, behind-the-scenes preparatory work and planning among association officials since last November. The association's secretary, Mr Steven Whitaker told me: "How could it backfire on us on a day like today? This is marvellous for our first-ever show in the park. We are extremely grateful to Mr John Dyer, head of the Parks Department, for his co-operation and assistance in organising this event." He said the association's members had decided to extend the rally to cover all cars of classic or historic interest.


"The support has been tremendous. We have had entries from a very wide area, including the South of England and even Holland," he said. "The response has exceeded all our expectations - and, most important, it has drawn in the crowds."

The cars, polished down to their inlet manifolds, made an interesting spectacle, but not only in mechanics but also in styling. Cars from the running board, separate wheel wing, 1930s rubbed bumper with sleek, streamlined, ultra-modern sports cars - including TVRs and Lotus cars. Among the oldest on show were a Singer and Rover, both saloons epitomising the 1935 era. The Rover pedal cycles dated from 1885.

Racing cars - and a BL Heritage display of vehicles, including their gas turbine vehicles, one of which, a Rover BRM, took part (and came in sixth) in the 1965 Le Mans race driven by Jackie Stewart and the late Graham Hill - added further spice to the event, which will be treasured by the thousands attending.

New TVR3.5i in 1985
Le Mans 24 hour Racing Car
1938 Rover Sports Saloon