The Story So Far...

The Marches Transport Festival started life as the ‘Ludlow Vintage Vehicle Display’, an event organised by Philip Reckless to mark the Ludlow Art Festival’s ‘silver jubilee’ in 1984.

Just 20 vehicles were displayed in the town’s castle square indluding a Bedford Bus, an AEC Lorry, a BSA Motorcycle plus 17 pre 1959 cars

Proving such a successful event the Ludlow Festival Committee asked Philip to stage a further event in 1985; this saw some 35 vehicles displayed and again was very well attended by visitors.  (It is worth mentioning here that during these early years of this event it was both personally funded and organised by Philip Reckless, with a handful of willing helpers on the day!)

In 1986 the Ludlow Town Hall was demolished. Philip used this quiet period to try to secure sponsorship; eventually being successful with the Prudential Assurance, which ensured the backing for a further three years, during which time the exhibits had grown to 155.

In 1990, again, the Vintage Vehicle Display was under threat due to lack of funding. (As a serving councillor, Philip was unable to get funding direct from the Ludlow Town Council.) The then Editor of the Advertiser (Vince Bufton) and then Mayor of Ludlow (Cllr John Morris) appealed to readers and local businesses for help and sponsorship. As a result several people came forward with offers of help and a committee was formed by Philip Reckless, George (Philip’s father) Frank Tipton, Christine Hatt (Secretary), Phil Steele and Phil Maile (then licensee at the Bull Hotel, who also sponsored).  This committee put in an application to the Ludlow Town Council for funding, which was successful.  A local printing firm, Centre Print of Leominster, offered to print a program free of charge, with the proviso that Philip R helped to put the entries onto their computer!  The event was back in business!!

Ten Years Later....

10 years of the Vintage Vehicle Display was celebrated in 1994; with the new addition of a Leominster Vehicle Display and the start of a Leominster to Ludlow run, which was generously supported by the Leominster Town Council. 

After 15 enjoyable years of organising the Ludlow Vintage Vehicle Display Philip Reckless decided in 1999 to leave the running of the event in Phil Steele and Phil Maile’s hands. 

The beginning of the new millennium saw a gradual reduction of ‘vintage’ vehicles being displayed year on year, and so it was agreed to go out to a wider audience, covering all types of vehicles from bicycles to tractors, and renaming the event – the Marches Transport Festival.

Over the years the event grew so large that it was taking up valuable parking spaces within the town centre to display all of the vehicles!  So, a solution had to be found for its expansion. The committee approached Powis Estates and Ludlow Castle who were extremely helpful and allowed the use of the Outer Bailey of Ludlow Castle to display the vehicles, for a minimal cost: consequently enabling this popular festival to remain a ‘free’ event (the small revenue required each year being raised by a raffle, selling programmes and sponsored trophies).

25 Years on.....

In 2008, once again, the Marches Transport Festival was under threat faced with inevitable rising costs, especially the hire of Ludlow Castle for the event.  It was given the opportunity to amalgamate with Ludlow Marches Food & Drink Festival and to join in the launch of the new 2009 Ludlow Spring Festival (to be held over the same weekend of the display) with the aim to secure the festivals future!

And so, alongside the Ludlow Spring Festival, the Marches Transport Festival successfully celebrated its 25th Year in 2009 with a ‘bumper’ display!  

With the continuing interest in supporting the display of these vehicles the committees decided to continue with a 2 day event (tried for the first time in 2009) for the Marches Transport Festival. 

32 Years and it's still going strong....

The event has changed a lot since the start and now runs alongside the Ludlow Spring Festival as part of the event rather than a separate entity. Becoming part of the Spring Festival has ensured longevity for the event as administration and infrastructure costs have been taken on by the festival as well. The event now runs over 2 days rather than just one and attracts a larger and more diverse audience than previously attended. In 2016 the event will celebrate 32 years - a significant landmark for any event and a very special one for those people who were there at the beginning and still help out with making sure it stays special even now!