When I retired from editing the magazine in December 2008 having ‘done my bit for the club’ there was a bit of a hiccup when the new editor was not up to the job and threw in the towel after a single issue but fortunately Jeremy Naylor stepped into the breach and has remained in post ever since. He has done a sterling job and maintained the quality of the magazine throughout his tenure.
Jeremy has the twin distinctions of being the longest serving editor (having chalked up nearly 11 years in the post so far) and being the first one to miss an issue since 1983! The Windows XP device which he inherited from me finally died in April 2019. Ever since 1995 the magazine had been compiled with the aid of Adobe PageMaker desktop publishing software which had been obsolete and unsupported since 2004 and would not work with later versions of Windows. Apart from installing a new computer Jeremy had to set up the whole magazine from scratch again with different software. This was not a five minute job so the May issue of 2019 never appeared.
Unsurprisingly, throughout its long history the club had a few disagreements and departures from the committee as all organisations do, with a couple in the 80s and 90s. The period from 2009 through 2014 was particularly fraught as the club lost three successive chairmen, a long serving secretary and several other committee members over various internal disputes. Some of the arguments spilled over into the public domain, did the club’s reputation no favours and some longstanding members were lost as a result. Everything eventually settled down though and it currently has a stable, hard working committee who are committed to the club’s well being.
30th anniversary year and an incorrect date
This was celebrated in 2010 and the club produced a very nice commemorative Jaguar in a special box with a booklet detailing previous club cars. I believe this was the point when the error over the club’s formation date happened. As I said at the beginning of this history the club was actually formed in January 1981 so although 2010 was the 30th year of its existence the actual birthday would not occur till January 2011. When the car was commissioned someone confused these two things and the wrong date was put on its nose. Prior to the release of this car a formation date of 1980 had never been mentioned in any club literature and the 25th anniversary Minis of 2005 had no reference to it either. The error has been perpetuated ever since.
Membership decline and financial implications
By 2010 the influence of Facebook was really starting to be felt and a long term slow decline in membership took hold. This was not uncommon amongst enthusiasts clubs of all kinds and slot forums also began to suffer a reversal of fortunes as people departed for this brave new world. New members were still being recruited but not enough to balance those who left for the dubious short term delights of social media. By the end of the decade membership levels were less than half of those achieved at its peak although the associated NSCC Facebook group currently has over 3000 members.
‘Likes’ and ‘shares’ don’t pay the bills though and printing/postal charges for the magazine began to seriously outweigh the receipts from annual membership fees. Costs incurred in supporting the UKSF were also a drain on the funds. By 2012 the once healthy bank balance was seriously depleted and the club became unable to finance the purchase of club cars upfront and, for the first time in many years, advance payment from members became necessary.
In order to control costs the number of pages in the journal were restricted to keep the weight down so that it would normally qualify for ‘small letter’ rate and it was sent out second class instead of first. It remains excellent value though at less than £3.00 (including postage) per issue.
The production of limited edition club cars was also stepped up considerably. Previously they had only appeared at irregular intervals but were now an annual occurrence and each swapmeet also had its own one which was only available to members who actually attended the event. Special event cars were also produced for the UKSF each year. To some extent this has devalued the rarity value of the club cars but it helped to balance the finances and it has remained a significant source of the club’s income ever since.
This is the latest one:
During this period there were occasional abortive attempts to revive some of the older swapmeets, such as Eastleigh which ran for a few years. In 2011 the Northern Swapmeet was reintroduced, initially held in Ossett, near Wakefield. It proved successful and is now a firm fixture on the calendar with subsequent events taking place in Leeds. Both this and the Milton Keynes swapmeet are run entirely by the NSCC committee and any profits provide a boost to the club funds.
As the decade draws to a close the club is still here and providing benefits for its members just as it has always done. For just £35 per year they get an excellent monthly magazine, free access to two swapmeets, an opportunity to attend the social weekend at Ramsgate and a regular supply of exclusive cars. The club still has unrivalled access to Scalextric management with the most comprehensive reports on the brand in the magazine that you will find anywhere. A major unsung benefit of club membership is the opportunity to meet and make friends with fellow enthusiasts at the various functions which it organises and the shallow, ephemeral world of social media can never replace that. Former committee member, Rob Smith summed it up when he told me: “The best thing about the NSCC is the sheer number of people I have met over the years, some of whom I even like!”
Will the NSCC still be around in ten years’ time and celebrating its 50th anniversary? I sincerely hope so as it has given its members an immense amount of pleasure over the years and has been a prime source of innovation in the slot car world as I hope this history has shown. Without its influence we may not have had the rich variety of events and suppliers we enjoy now.
Much depends on the willingness of an upcoming generation to take over its running when the present committee reaches its sell by date. Throughout its history it has always been a struggle to find fresh committee members and especially a new magazine editor when one retires. Jeremy will step down at some point and that will be crunch time because the club would struggle to survive without a magazine and Facebook will have taken over the world!
Whatever the future may bring the NSCC can be justifiably proud of its achievements. Its past membership list reads like a who’s who of the slot car world and it has been responsible for the birth of swapmeets, exclusive club cars, two of the biggest UK slot car suppliers and the Slot Festival. Not at all bad for a small club that stems from one man and his Scalextric track in that Wood Green ballroom some 44 years ago!