Calne Bike Meet started life as Calne Motorcycle Meet and was the brain child of two local motorcycle enthusiasts and two Rotarians back in the year 2000.
The basic idea was to bring trade to the town and to “put Calne on the map” as the founder members put it to me.
The first year started small with just a few bike clubs and some private motorcyclists attending but that soon changed as word got around.
By the time I joined Rotary in 2004 the event had grown with vintage, classic and veteran bikes coming in large numbers. Then there were the specialised clubs like Bath Classics, BSA, classic Japanese, BMW, Virago, Royal Enfield and many more but space doesn’t allow for me to mention them all, suffice to say, that every make and style of motorcycle comes to Calne in their hundreds and thousands on the last Saturday of July every year and attracts many more thousands of spectators, filling the town centre for the whole day.
Now it has fulfilled its original aim and certainly put Calne on the map, as people come from all over the country, with some arriving from the continent.
The main reason for this success is the fact that it is based in the town centre and is the only free event of its kind in the country, and the bikers are made to feel welcome.
In 2005 I took over as chair of the committee and soon realised why no one else wanted the job. At that time there were six of us on the organising committee but the workload was enormous for all of us.
Over the next six years we saw the event increase in numbers year on year.
In 2005 speedway bikes and famous riders were introduced. Veteran, vintage and classic bikes dwindled and committee members came and went but the event just kept on growing.
By 2011 Rotary realised that it just didn’t have the resources to carry on without help and so an alliance with The Lions was formed for 2012.
This proved to be a success and so for 2013 Rotary handed over control to The Lions, who had much more resource to ensure the future of the event.
When The Lions announced that they were going to move the event to Bowood and charge bikes and spectators, there was such a backlash from the motorcycling community that The Lions withdrew from the event all together.
I could not let the event just die after all the hard work so many people had put in over the years and so I advertised for help from the community.
The result was that a new committee was formed just before Christmas 2012. Friends of Calne Bike Meet was born and with it came new ideas and enthusiasm.
2013, 2014 & 2015 were a fantastic success for the new committee who introduced a weekend of camping and entertainment for Friday and Saturday evenings as well as running the normal Saturday day event.
for the 2016 the committee took the very hard decision to not put on the camping side to the event due to costs and man power to run the event safely and to the high expectations that we and the public began to expect of it. In short we could no longer contain the beast we had created.
Now in its 17th year the 2017 event will also remain a 1 day bike meet located in the heart of Calne within the town.