Now in its 26th year, Harpenden’s annual Classics on the Common car show continues to wow the crowds, with mouth-watering exotic sports cars lined up alongside more mundane runabouts from the last 100 years of motoring. Up to 1,000 classic cars and motorbikes are displayed on Harpenden Common, with last year’s event attracting around 10,000 visitors, and the show is said to be the biggest midweek classic car show in Britain.
Classics on the Common was first held in 1994, when a small advert in the events section of the Herts Advertiser newspaper enticed 125 local car enthusiasts to bring their vehicles down for an impromptu gathering. The event was organised by two classic car fans, John Tibble, at the time the landlord of the Carpenters Arms pub, and Peter Madden, a Metropolitan Police officer and resident of Harpenden. By 2009 the show had outgrown itself, and organisation of the event was handed over to Harpenden Village Rotary Club, who continue to run the show today with the assistance of other local volunteers.
As well as bringing a nostalgic smile to people’s faces, not to mention feelings of envy at some of the shiny and expensive vehicles on show, Classics on the Common is a major fund-raising event which benefits local and national charities. All the classic vehicle owners make a donation to enter, and although there is free admission to the public, spectators are encouraged to contribute to collection buckets as they arrive. The 2018 event raised a record £37,500 for the show’s charities, and over the 25 years of the event more than £230,000 has been collected.
The show’s organisers describe Classics on the Common as “an event for the community where classic enthusiasts mix with local families and their children”. What better way in the 21st century to use the vast and attractive expanse of Harpenden Common – local people celebrating our motoring heritage, and raising money for charities at the same time?
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