The Late Major Ben Hervey Bathurst
The Major's Trial is an invitation event for the very best of Club drivers, and is attracting more and more competitors every year. This is the 46th year of the competition, the 18th as the "Major's Memorial Trial". All profits from the event go to the Major's favourite charity, the maintenance and restoration of Eastnor Parish Church, a cause very close to his heart, and to Eastnor Village School, the charity of Land Rover Driving Experience.
Eastnor is a wonderful venue, much loved by the Major, and we are grateful for the continued support of his son, James Hervey- Bathurst, whose permission to use the land means that we can carry on enjoying our sport.
The trial that we now call "The Major's" started in 1969 as a result of comments overheard by Major Ben Hervey-Bathurst The Late Major Ben Hervey Bathurst (the land owner and then Midland Rover Owners' Club President) who was presenting the prizes at the National at Eastnor. The ground had been rather dry and "the trial was too easy and not challenging enough for the best drivers";.
The Major continued with the prize giving and then issued a challenge to all clubs to bring their best drivers and return in October to see if the ground was still too easy. He laid the first trial out himself, setting a testing course across varying ground. The aim was for the Major to pit himself and his driving experience against the cream of Britain's Land Rover drivers, having driven all the sections himself.
Photo by Rowan Griffiths
He donated the much-coveted Rose Bowl and the Major's Trial was born. The Midland Rover Owners' Club have run it ever since, apart from 2001, when Foot and Mouth forced its cancellation. The format has changed over the years. It began as a one day trial only, with the later introduction of a competitive safari, which no longer takes place. The format was changed again to the present two-day event that we have now with drivers tackling ten sections on each day.
The trial is essentially a classless trial, where the total score of a team of three drivers is used to decide the winner. However, we felt a need to encourage the dwindling numbers of unmodified vehicles so a trophy for the best all standard team was introduced. In 1998, a Ladies Trophy was also included.
When the Major died in 1997, it was decided after much thought and discussion with his family, to continue with the event and to change its name to "The Major's Memorial Trophy". I am sure that Major Hervey-Bathurst would have been proud to know that the Trial, which bears his name and which he started himself, still continues so strongly. Long may it continue!