The Start Of It All - The History of the Griffin Trust


1986 to 1994

The story commenced in 1980 with David Beckett, a Vauxhall transport logistics employee. David organised a small collection of transport exhibits for two family days at Vauxhall Motors Sports and Social Club in Ellesmere Port. Following the success of these displays, he organised a further larger display of vehicles at Speke Air show in 1983. The experience gained at these shows prompted the idea of a much more unique show on a grander scale. After three years of negotiations David had permission from high ranking Vauxhall officials to stage an event on the plants 28 acre showground, adjacent to the Ellesmere Port car factory. It was at this point that David was joined by Christine Thomas, Peter Matthews and Peter Watson to form the organising body of The Griffin Trust. Later they were joined by numerous other enthusiasts who joined the team.

Wheels 86

The first event was called ‘Wheels’ and held in 1986. The main attraction was the Marlborough Flying Team who performed a daring aerobatic display above a full showground. Every type of wheeled vehicle imaginable was present and with family attractions we made sure everyone had something to see or do. It took years of planning both with our in house team and with the assistance of Vauxhall Motors, the event was a roaring success and the organisers were left feeling an attraction of this type was needed in the area and eager to put on another show.

Wheels 88

In 1988 a further show was arranged, the main attraction was two Harrier Jump Jets which performed an aerial flying display and landed on the spectator field. A surprise visit from the Vice President of G.M. America, Mr Edd Cazpore, cemented Vauxhall support for the event. It also set the scene and every year from then on dignitaries and sponsors, which included high ranking Vauxhall officials, Local Council and Army personnel were invited and attended. Proceeds from all these events where donated to The Soldiers, Sailors, Airforce Appeal. In recognition of this the Show organiser David and his wife was invited to the Queens garden Party.

Success at these shows showed that a base for operations was needed, preferably with storage space and perhaps a small transport museum. Once again David went "cap in hand" to Vauxhall Motors and asked for part of the hangar complex vacated by Vauxhall some years previously. Fortunately Vauxhall had faith in the show committee and agreed to open negotiations to lease the site. Charitable status was applied for by the show organising committee and in 1990, Vauxhall agreed to a 15 year lease on two of the historic Belfast Aircraft Hangars on the site to the newly named Griffin Trust Charity, the name being chosen after the Vauxhall Motors logo to acknowledge their support. After negotiations with Wirral Borough Council the buildings on the site were given Grade II listed status.

The year 1991 saw the appointment of a Project Manager, Christine Thomas, who as of 2016 remains in the post. With the help of CWTEC and Vauxhall Motors, Health & Safety procedures where put in place and then a steady trickle of volunteers, with a variety of trades were recruited to clear the site of all types of car debris and then put Hooton's history on display to be enjoyed by the public.

Following on, a cafe was established and the toilet block was re-instated in Hangar Two. The past was put on display along side with various Auto jumbles, Aero Enthusiasts collectors fairs, Lorry Runs, Classic Motor Cycle events, Lombard RAC rally scrutinising as well as industrial training seminars and monthly Sunday guided tours where being held on this vibrant site. Whilst a successful application to the local council granted the project its own postal address. Hangar Two was kept in good repair and Huts 27 and 28 were totally restored by the volunteers.

Wheels 92

1992, these shows where set to become a bi-annual. This event featured the Crunchie Wing Walkers Aerial display team which enthralled the crowd. The backdrop of this events ranged from, in the air, an RAF rescue helicopter the British Aerospace Mosquito and Dakota supplied by Air Atlantique whilst on the ground working, custom and vintage/classic lorries. Buses, car, motorcycles and tractors.

1994 to Present > > >