Sunday 22nd April saw the first event of the year for the JEC Essex Thameside Region. 33 members and partners met up at the services on the A12 junction 28 for the beginning of the visits planned around Suffolk. Our first visit was to Suffolk Sports Cars at Pettistree, Nr Woodbridge. Roger Williams (owner) opened his factory especially for us and provided an informative tour. Roger stated that he formed the company specifically to create a true copy of the original SS100 Jaguar, but using modern XJ Jaguar components.

From its early years the company has constantly improved the specifications of the Suffolk SS100. The car now incorporates many features including left hand drive variants and the demand for higher performance and specifications.

Roger told us of his history in the motor trade were he started life serving 5 years apprenticeship under the Management Training Scheme for a company called Botwoods, who in the 60’s was a Jaguar distributor in Suffolk. After his apprenticeship Roger spent the next 27 years creating a new Ford dealership in Suffolk. In 1995 he took over the SS100 project and created Suffolk Sportscars.

Following on from this visit some of the members headed for Bury St. Edmunds to Greene King Brewery.

Here, we parked up in the staff car park of the brewery and headed into the Beer Cafe were we met up with the brewery tour guides who showed us around the brewery.

It was formed back in 1799 by a young 19 year old brewery apprentice, Benjamin Greene, who moved from London to Bury St. Edmunds. In 1806, Benjamin partners with William Buck – an elderly yarn-maker looking for a strong investment to secure his retirement. Together they brought the 100-year-old Wright’s Brewery in Westgate Street and rename it Westgate Brewery. Then in 1836, Benjamin passes the business onto his son Edward Greene. Edward grows the business and by 1870 he doubles the number of employees to 50 and produces 40,000 barrels a year. In 1886, Frederick King acquires the Maulkin’s Maltings in Bury St. Edmunds and renames it St. Edmunds Brewery which is next door to the Westgate Brewery owned by Benjamin, and tries to compete against the Westgate Brewery. In the 1870’s, Edward understands how important it is to look after our people. So he introduces housing benefits and pension schemes for our employees – practically unheard of elsewhere. In 1887, Frederick King struggles against Benjamin’s brewery, and states, “If you can’t beat ’em, join ’em!” Frederick agrees to join forces with Edward and form Greene, King and Sons. The new company quickly establishes a regional reputation for producing two of the finest types of beer – old ale and bitter. Moving on into the twentieth century, in 1938, they open a new Brewhouse in time to meet the demands of WW2’s Allied servicemen who are based in East Anglia. It was built it to last and is still being used today. By the time the two World Wars had ended, Greene King had acquired Rayments Brewery and opened a new brew house, and by the 1960s a new bottling store had been built and head office was modernised. Greene King had become an established player in the brewing and pub industry. Between 200 and 2009, Greene King’s portfolio increased further following a number of acquisitions. Much-loved brands including Old English Inns, Belhaven and Loch Fyne all become part of the Greene King family. The company now turns over £2bn a year!

Following on from our visit to the brewery, members met up for lunch/dinner at The Shepherd & Dog in Stowmarket. Wonderful pre-booked meals were had by all, courtesy of Jenny and her team in the pub. A great finale to a great day out with the sunshine and warm weather too!

Thanks to Liz Croxsons for her contribution of photographs.


The Hare Breakfast Meet – April 2018

Saturday 7th April was the start of the 2018 season at The Hare public house at Roxwell, a few miles west of Chelmsford in Essex. The Breakfast meetings have been arranged by Gary Downham, the owner of the pub, for the past years and is held on the first Saturday of the month until the last meeting in October.  He also owns The Castle at Great Leighs, Chelmsford and is soon to be opening a new pub just outside Southend.  The ‘Breakfast Club’ is arranged for all car enthusiasts who bring along their pride and joys and meet for breakfast – and a free coffee and Danish if you wish. The venue attracts all manner of cars, from very old Bentleys,

classics from the 60’s, 70’s & 80’s

as well as modern supercars, such as Lamborghini’s, Aston Martin’s, Porsche’s,

as well as very rare unique vehicles, including this Bowler Wildcat.

Another special vehicle making its a appearance at The Hare was this Rally Fighter. I was told it was featured in some ‘Fast & Furious’ films. Not sure if this is the case as I haven’t watch these, but watched ‘Hurricane Heist’ which is on general release at the moment at cinema’s as well as being available immediately on Sky Cinema and this vehicle – or one similar – was featured.

Other cars seen at this event were, the new Honda Civic Type R

Alfa Romeo 8C Competizione,

Ford Shelby Mustang,

Lotus Elise,

Nissan Skyliner GTR,


As well as a brand new Aston Martin Vanquish S, which was less than 24 hrs on the road, owned by our very own Steve Rider.

Next month, Gary has arranged for the Breakfast Meeting to be held at The Castle at Main Rd, Great Leighs, Chelmsford CM3 1NE.  If you haven’t been to one of these meetings before, try and come along on Saturday 5th May between 9am -midday (come a lot earlier if you want a parking spot!)



Hello Sailor

Late last year, the Club night Raffle, I won a prize. My winning ticket wasn’t the first out of the hat, nor even the second, in fact there wasn’t much left when I reached the table to collect my winnings, but there was an unassuming white envelope, looking a little forlorn, with the script “Two Tickets For The Boat Show”, hand written on the address side. How could I resist? This was kindly donated by our own Lester Magness, who does have an interest in things marine – but more of that another time.

So, on a cold January Friday morning, Sue and I set sail for the Excel in Docklands. I’ve always fancied a boat but those that I lust after all come with a seven figure price tag, hence no boat for me. Indeed, looking around the vast, but sparsely populated Hall, there appeared to be many that would meet my needs, but not my pocket. Let’s go in.

The first boat by the entrance was a Riva Rivamare, being sold by Ventura. Powered by twin Volvo Penta D6 400hp engines, this 12 metre long baby will cruise at 31 knots, maxing at 40. No slouch then and, with mahogany and maple panelling, premium sound system, fully furnished, this one-owner sexy little 5-berther could be yours for £880K. One of my ‘take home from the show’ choices. Moored next door we found Sue’s favourite.  A Fairlane Squadron 53. With 6 to 9 berths, two or three with en-suite, panelling to shame those boys at Crewe, and a couple of those Volvo motors, this is one to take to Monte.

I did see some small submarine-like devices both on display and in cubby holes on some of the yachts. It turns out these are Seabobs. As the advertising copy goes…”if you’ve ever dreamt of emulating the Spectre Agents in Thunderball, chasing 007 with their underwater tow sleds, Seabob is for you!” You can be a human dolphin, swimming at speeds up to 14 kph (or 13 KPH underwater); and that’s just the base model. Better still, the SR version has a Seabob Cam System to let you film these frivolities.

Speaking of that very un-secret agent, if James Bond ever owned a boat, it would be a Sunseeker and, on the Show’s largest stand, there were several to choose from. The first item you notice is the white Bentley at the entrance. This Continental convertible was resplendent in a white leather interior and yacht deck timber. There was a cocktail bar on the stand, as well as in the car, together with some sumptuous furnishing so that you could part with your cash in comfort and partake in a stiff drink when you realised how much you spent. Next to this Sunseeker, Prestige Luxury Motor Yachts fielded an excellent stand with more eye watering nautical must haves. But it was not all gin palaces for the rich. There were many other displays to attract this non-sailor.

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Take the gin and tonic holder, for example. There you are, having just mixed your favourite Death’s Door, with coriander and cardamom pods poured over crushed ice when a ripple across the Med sends the Fever Tree and the gin flying across the foredeck. Well, no more. This little gadget keeps everything in one place.  One retailer selling lights, switches, table lamps et al to kit out your super yacht in a display reminiscent of an interior shot on the Starship Enterprise…great stand.

Fancy a camper van? You could choose red or black. For reasons I am not a party to, a couple of Fiat 500s made an appearance, as did tables made from reconstituted stone(?) which hosted a fire behind glass and, more usefully, beer on ice. Yours for a show offer of £3295 apiece. There were some others made from bits of tree. You could even have a helicopter. Just load up the Louis, slap on the Chanel and fly down to your mooring in Monaco. Passing the Moet and Chandon Bar, we came across Rimmer Music selling baby grand pianos. Made by Yamaha, these could play themselves, be an electric or percussion piano, be programmed from your iPad and teach you how to play and compose. Probably much more. Only £42K each.

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Plenty of sleek power boats on offer, starting around £80,000 they looked like a lot of fun for a ‘relatively’ small outlay. Canal boats were there too, perhaps not as romantic as the other offerings, but looked like a great holiday idea. Whilst they looked old, they were, in fact, new. If unlocking locks and an evening by the lock keepers pub is your bag then go hire.

There was much more, but before you all become seasick, I’ll cast off. Try it next year. You won’t be disappointed.

Neil Shanley