The origins of the HCVC actually go back beyond the Historic Fire Engine Association Vic Branch (HFEAA Vic).
Our founder, the late Fred Penny, an avid fire engine and commercial vehicle enthusiast, attempted to start an “enthusiasts” association in 1969, buying and swapping fire engine books, 32mm slides and memorabilia.
But after 12 months and only a few members, it went in to decline. In 1970 Fred, still keen to get something up and running, (he now had a collection of fire appliances) contacted the NSW Historic Commercial Vehicle Association (HCVCA). At this time the NSW Fire Brigade were disposing of their post WW1 (1918-1952) large fleet of open bodied, timber framed fire appliances. Most of these vehicles came complete in running order with new and used spares, various accessories and instruction books. Some of their larger pumps were removed and kept in service for a further 20 years, such as my Dennis Big 4.
The HCVCA were starting an Historic Fire Engine Association (HFEAA NSW) to sign up eager collectors of these low mileage veteran, vintage and historic vehicles.
In 1972 Fred offered to operate a Victorian branch of the HFEAA and enrolled some of the enthusiasts association members and their meager assets. The majority of the new Vic branch members (7) were either Metropolitan Fire Brigade (MFB) employees or Country Fire Authority (CFA) employees or volunteers. The expanding group met in rotation at various member’s homes for a number of years where an “I can provide a bigger and better supper than you” competition commenced between several of the wives (no partners) in those days. It got to the stage of a buffet evening meal.
The early member’s collections included not only appliances but buses, trucks, military and steam powered vehicles. This was a fore runner of the HCVCA of today. Some of the CFA members were attached to the Boronia fire station as full time firemen. We were offered the use of one of their recreation / training rooms as a club meeting room for a low rent donation if we would provide a display of our fire appliances on station open days and state government events. Naturally we complied with these conditions.
Many members of the HCVCA may not be aware that the segment in our present meetings called “round the table” started at the Boronia fire station where the chairs were arranged around the perimeter of a rectangular placement of tables. Some members were always bringing parts and memorabilia to sell or swap, placing the items on the table in front of them, hence the foresaid segment. In those early days, it did not always pay to ascertain the source of some of the items on offer.
The seeking of a permanent home started in the 1970’s with the then state government planning an Historic Transport Village on the Police paddocks off Stud road, Endeavour Hills with rooms for like minded clubs, but it ended up in part in Swan Hill. Later on, the Shire of Lilydale put up a similar proposal when its Lake project was in the planning stage, but it failed due to the lack of funding.
Editing the club newsletter in 1976, the logo changed to a fire fighting Monitor. The monthly newsletter name, along with “Round the table” segment, are a reminder of our past origins as the HFEAA.
The HFEAA split its ranks after a heated dispute over some members running unregistered vehicles on false plates. This big reduction in membership created the opportunity for people with other commercial vehicle interests to join the HFEAA and swell its ranks. A meeting was called on 21/11/1984 for those who had filled out a questionnaire at the 1983 Commercial Vehicle Rally held at Lillydale Showgrounds Reserve. This meeting was to ascertain the level of interest in forming a commercial vehicle club. This is where the present club was formed. Since its inception, the club has had an evolution of name changes in the following order:-
Historic Fire Engine Association of Australia – Vic Branch
Historic Fire Engine Association
Historic Fire Engine Association – Commercial Vehicle Branch
Historic Commercial Vehicle & Fire Engine Association of Victoria Inc.
Historic Commercial Vehicle Club Inc.
Historic Commercial Vehicle Club of Australia Inc.
Our Display Day venues have also changed over the years to meet the clubs needs and accommodate the growing number of vehicles attending this event each year. The first Display Day was held at Caravan City Croydon in October 1982. The next two display days in 1983 & 1984 were at Lilydale Showgrounds Reserve. The fourth Historic Commercial Vehicle Rally was held at the Wantirna Rally ground of the M.S.T.E.C. in October 1985. In 1986 we commenced a long stint at International truck assembly plant car park Dandenong. Our next venue was AFL Park Waverley beginning in 1995. In 2000 the Display Day was held at Chesterfield Farm and in 2001, the car park of Monash University. We then moved to Sandown Racecourse Springvale in 2002 and continue to hold the event there to this day.
As was stated earlier, the club first held its meetings at Boronia CFA Fire Station. The club moved from there to the Bayswater Community Centre due to the relocation of the fire station in 1997. For the last half of 1999 the meetings were held at the Bayswater Uniting Church hall. After this, the meetings were held at Frog Hollow Pavilion Camberwell starting in 2000 for two years. Meetings then commenced at Black Flats Community Centre Glen Waverley in 2002 until the present day. Later this year we will move to our own clubrooms at Unit 8 / 4 Macquarie Place Boronia
In 2006 a Building Sub-committee was formed to investigate the possible purchase of a suitable property for clubrooms. In August 2006 the Building sub-committee met with the general committee to discuss and set criteria for the search for clubrooms. It took 6 long years of searching all over Melbourne to finally purchase our new home in Boronia on the 9th March 2012 our 40th year. Over those 6 years we researched in detail all facets of purchasing a property including the financial and legal implications of refurbishing a factory to form clubrooms. Work commenced on 28th March with a small band of enthusiastic volunteers working to transform this 180 square metre factory to include a general meeting area, committee room, library, kitchen and storeroom. The Club has been very fortunate to have had many members loan or donate money towards either the initial purchase or the refurbishment. Together with the monetary assistance, members have also donated materials that have greatly assisted with the refurbishment of a factory into suitable clubrooms.
To celebrate the club’s 40th Anniversary, a spit roast lunch was held at the new clubrooms although not yet finished. Terry Roberts, one of our members, cooked a beautiful 3 course meal for 90 members and sponsors on 29 July 2012. Each person at the luncheon received a commemorative placemat to celebrate the occasion. This was the first social function to be held at our new clubrooms, the fore- runner of many more to come.
Written by Ross Taylor and Ken Whitworth