A brief history of Chopper Club Northants
The National Chopper Club was formed in 1973 but did not reach Northamptonshire until 1981 when one member joined up. For a while he was on his own but by 1984 membership had increased and the first Chopper Club run in Northants was put on at Naseby.
By 1988 the founding member had moved to another county, where he is still a member of the Club today. Membership in Northants had reached seven full patch members and one prospect — me, and in August we put on another run, at Irthlingborough, the first ever Chopper Club “Mega Run.” Following the run interest in the Club grew and we gained a few more prospects, with more coming along a bit later and two full patch members moving to Northants from NCC Lincs meaning that by 1991 there were sixteen full patch members in Northants.
Since the mid-eighties Northants had been regarded as a hard-core county within the Chopper Club and with sixteen members that reputation was only enhanced leading to ….. some interesting times! We met up two or three times a week and it was like being on some kind of manic unstoppable rollercoaster for a while.
Sadly however the wheels came off the rollercoaster and by the end of 1993 there was only two of us left out of the sixteen, both of us having made the decision to stay with the Chopper Club rather than move on with some of the others from the county.
In the winter of 1993 Ian Kilner, who had joined NCC Bucks at the same time I joined Northants, became a partner in Revolution Motorcycles with the other member of Northants and moved to the county bringing with him his passion for the Club and partying hard giving us a much needed boost. We gained a few prospects and slowly the county started to grow again.
Over the next few years the county became quite high profile due to the quality bikes being turned out from Revolution regularly featuring in the bike press and Ian Kilner’s success at the drag strips on board his FJ1200 based Diamond Missile drag bike. We gained a few new members but lost some too, one of which was the one who, like me, had stayed with the club in 1993 and who had founded Revolution Motorcycles.
Tragically in October 1997 my best mate and a true brother Ian Kilner died suddenly of a massive heart attack, quite literally ripping the life and sole from the county. He was such a larger than life character and left a big hole. His loss was also felt by the rest of the Chopper Club as well as the wider world of custom bikes and drag racing. Ian’s family were the ones who suffered the greatest loss and found themselves with the two Diamond Missiles Ian had used for drag racing, which they didn’t want to end up on the drag strip being raced by somebody else. The Chopper Club reacted fantastically and donations came in from all over Europe until enough money had been raised to buy both the Diamond Missiles which are now proudly displayed in two separate clubhouses. Even his pit bike – in the shape of a Diamond Missile takes pride of place in the “Kilner Bar” at the Devon Clubhouse.
The next couple of years were tough but we kept it together, making up a new member and even putting another run on, this time at Ravensthorpe. Over the next few years things remained fairly stable in the county and we all got on with riding and partying and started putting on the Northants Custom Show at Weedon. All was well until 2005 when we started losing members due to work commitments and even migration! Within a couple of years we were down to three members. We still put the custom show on, partied with the rest of the club and helped three other counties put their runs on, but life at home was a bit quiet.
The three of us kept the Chopper Club going in Northants and then in 2009 we got a new prospect – the first for several years, and then one the next year and another the year after that. We moved the custom show from Weedon to the Bull in Towcester with a bigger car park. In 2013 on the Wednesday before the Easter Bank Holiday weekend, in sub-zero temperatures with snow on the ground the county headed east to help NCC Suffolk put on their Easter Run. It was good to have the county growing again and we were as tight as we ever were, never having compromised just to build the numbers up. In August 2013 we had six full patch members to celebrate the Chopper Clubs 40th Anniversary Run at Cubblington on our own land.
Only a year later our newest patch member left the Club and emigrated to France, but we also gained two new prospects with another one coming along a few months later. The Chopper Club takes a good deal of commitment to become and stay a member and some find this to much and so it was that when we patched up two new members in 2016 we lost another member but had a full patch member transfer to us after moving from Bucks and got another prospect, someone who had been in the Club in the eighties and early nineties so knew exactly what he was getting into! In 2017 we lost another member and patched up another new member so numbers in the county remained stable
In 2017 the Chopper Club Euro Run in August was in Germany and the whole county which was seven full patch members and a prospect all went over and partied so hard together we didn’t spend much time with other Club members proving in spite of all the changes we are still as tight as ever.
Ted NCC Northants.