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Torque of the Town - Stratford Festival of Motoring proves a bank holiday hit

May 2017


The fifth annual Stratford Festival of Motoring was the ‘torque of the town’ this Bank Holiday weekend, attracting tens of thousands of visitors from across the country.

Rain showers didn’t dampen the motor madness that arrived in the bard’s town for the popular two-day event that featured more than 300 cars on show throughout the town’s streets.

From Audrey, the last remaining Vintage Mobile Cinema, to a unique pink ‘Barbie’ Jaguar that once starred in a film directed by Michael Winner, the free festival transformed Shakespeare’s home town into a petrolhead’s paradise for the weekend.

They included cars from across the world spanning decades of iconic motor history, including ‘Vicky's S’ TVR - commissioned by TVR chairman Peter Wheeler for his wife Vicky that he once treated Prince William to a lesson in.

Car lovers from across the country joined in organised runs through the surrounding Warwickshire and Gloucestershire countryside, arriving in Stratford for a lap of honour around the historic town centre before parking up for a day of motor madness.

Participants included Roger Key, who travelled an impressive 442 miles from Stonehaven to Stratford specially for the event, as well as members from car clubs across the country.

Ruth Wood, Events Manager at Stratforward BID - which organises the festival - said: “The weather may not have been perfect, but the odd rain shower certainly didn’t wave the red flag for the festival and this year was another great turnout from participants and visitors.

“The whole aim of the motor festival is to lay on something a bit different and showcase Stratford to an audience from across the country. The sight of hundreds of cars, classic and up-to-the-minute, has become something people will travel a long way to see and this year was no exception.”

More than 300 vehicles from old to new were on display throughout the town’s streets, from pre-1960s cars to performance vehicles and an impressive selection of Jaguars - this year’s Featured Marque - from the Jaguar Heritage Trust.

They impressed crowds of people who travelled to Stratford from far and wide - including one Jaguar enthusiast who apparently came all the way from America.

There was plenty of family fun on offer, from free Jaguar remote control cars to an interactive display by Stratford College, as well as a Treasure Hunt, artwork created using remote control cars, and a ‘Where’s Will?’ competition to spot a waxwork of the bard in cars around town.

Local motor heritage museums the British Motor Museum and Coventry Transport Museum took part in the event, while festival sponsor Listers showcased brands from five of its dealerships, including brand new models.

Toni Dunk, Group Marketing Manager at Listers, said: "This year's Stratford Festival of Motoring has been a great event, showcasing the very best of the motoring world against the backdrop of one of the region's most beautiful towns.

"Listers has been delighted to be the sponsor of such a successful event for the second year running. It's an opportunity for us to get involved, to showcase our own stunning ranges, and to personally meet many of our current and future customers.

“A big thank you to Stratforward for organising such a great event, we look forward to getting involved again in future years."

The dates for next year are Sunday 6th May and Bank Holiday Monday 7th May 2018.

Organised by Stratforward Business Improvement District. of-motoring






Apr 2017


Some serious miles are being racked up by visitors to this year’s Stratford Festival of Motoring - but none more than Roger Key who will be driving an impressive 442 miles to take part in the event.

Mr Key and wife Margaret are travelling from Stonehaven in Scotland all the way to Stratford for the festival, which returns to the town on Sunday, April 30th and Monday, May 1st.

That’s the distance of at least two Grands Prix or 52 laps of the Circuit de la Sarthe, the famous venue of the Le Mans 24-hour race.

Of the hundreds of participants bringing their petrol pride and joys to the festival, Mr Key is travelling the furthest in his MG TF. His journey is nearly 200 miles further than last year’s ‘furthest travelled’ attendee Peter Darby, who drove 260 miles from Dumfries.

But for Mr Key, who has travelled to Mull and Shetland, Brittany and even Denmark in pursuit of his hobby, it’s by no means the furthest he’s gone.

The motor enthusiast and his wife, who is a fan of the bard’s home town, have visited the area in previous years and decided to coincide this year’s return trip with their first visit to the motor festival.

“It looks a super event and it’s in a lovely part of the world,” said Mr Key, who is secretary of the Aberdeen MG Owners Club. “We’re looking forward to taking part in one of the runs and having a look around all the other cars.”

The Keys will be leaving their classic 1978 and 1969 MG Midgets, which are being refurbished, at home and are instead travelling the length of the country in their more modern MG TF.

“It’s nothing exceptional but it’s cheap to run and good on fuel and it’s been reliable - we’ve covered a fair few miles in it,” added Mr Key.

The Stratforward-organised Festival of Motoring is one of the highlights of the calendar in Stratford, attracting 60,000 visitors last year.

The 2017 event will follow the same successful formula as the past four years with organised runs into surrounding countryside followed by the spectacular sight of 300 cars parked up on the town centre streets on both days of the festival.

This year’s event is sponsored by Listers, which will showcase its own state-of-the-art range, and the 2017 Featured Marque is the Jaguar, with Wood Street filled with cars from the iconic British brand.

The festival will also feature Audrey, the last remaining vintage mobile cinema, sponsored by local classic car hire company The Open Road and an array of petrolheads’ dream cars on show by Auto Adrenalin.

The Shakespeare Birthplace Trust is running a ‘Where’s Will?’ competition, giving people the chance to win a year’s pass if they spot a waxwork model of William Shakespeare among the car displays, and families will be able to take part in The Great Stratford Motor Festival Treasure Hunt, organised by Magic Alley, using a special 'key' to unlock clues across town.

Ruth Wood, events manager at Stratforward, said: “We’re putting the final touches on the organisation of what has shaped up to be a great event, with something on offer for everyone, and we’re delighted to see people coming from far and wide - especially Mr Key and his wife.”

Stratford's Getting Kinky

Apr 2017


World-class music is back on the bill for this year’s Stratford River Festival, with the return of soul band Kinky Farnham to the stage at the multi award-winning event.

The popular funk and soul band is just one of an array of stellar acts on offer for the crowds set to descend on Stratford when the popular festival returns on July 1st and 2nd.

The Stratforward-organised River Festival is one of the highlights of the calendar in the region. Last year’s event on the Recreation Ground attracted more than 60,000 people with more than 100 boats moored up on the Avon and at least 100 stalls providing a weekend of food, drink and fun for all.

Top-notch music is always a draw at the free family festival and this year visitors will be entertained by acts including Kinky Farnham - a huge hit in previous years - as well as TRADarrr, who offer a new take on traditional British Folk music.

Other acts set to take to the stages on the Bandstand and the Acoustic Stage include musical talent from across the region and closer to home such as Stratford-based choir Amicantus and Jack Blackman, one of the UK's leading young blues guitarists.

Event Organiser Ruth Wood said: “Music is always an important part of the River Festival and we’re so excited to be welcoming Kinky Farnham back to our Stratford stages. When it comes to music, there’s something for everyone at this year’s festival, from funk and soul to classical, rock and swing.

“Last year’s festival was another great year, with 60,000-plus people coming to Stratford for what has become one of the most popular events in the region. We can’t wait to welcome everyone back for what is guaranteed to be a great event.”

And for thirsty visitors to the River Festival, three of Stratford’s own local businesses have beaten off stiff competition from other bars and pubs across the area to win the tenders for the alcohol concessions at the event.

The One Elm, The Keys & Kitchen and The Encore won the tenders for the bars at the event after a rigorous and competitive process that saw applications from far and wide.

Mat Faulkner, general manager at The One Elm, which got through 100 barrels of beers, ales and ciders, 2,000 bottles of prosecco and 1,000 pints of Pimms last year, said: “It’s great that three local businesses are leading the way again.

We’re really excited. We have been part of the festival now for who knows how many years. It’s home from home for us now. We love being down there and meeting everyone.”


Apr 2017

Visitors to the Stratford Festival of Motoring will be able to get hands-on, thanks to a series of interactive demonstrations by Stratford College’s Motor Vehicle department.

The 2017 Stratford Festival of Motoring, organised by Stratforward BID, takes place on Sunday, April 30th and Monday, May 1st and is sure to attract car enthusiasts from across the country.

Stratford College has teamed up with festival sponsor Listers to run the demonstrations including changing a wheel and basic car maintenance techniques, giving people of all ages the chance to get their hands dirty and have a bit of fun, while learning about cars.

Sponsor Listers will be showcasing cars from five dealerships on Waterside and Bridge Street as well as providing the car for the Stratford College demonstrations, which will be run by staff, students and apprentices.


The weekend will also include organised ‘runs’ out into the Warwickshire and Gloucestershire countryside on the Sunday and Monday morning, followed by the spectacular sight of 300 cars parked in the town centre streets, showcasing some of the world’s finest motor heritage.

Ian Watson, Motor Vehicle lecturer at the College, said: “Joining forces with Listers at the Festival is a wonderful opportunity for our Motor Vehicle department and for the College as a whole.  The students and apprentices will have the chance to share their skills with members of the public and demonstrate the successful practical training that epitomises the College’s vocational courses.” 

Stratford College will have a stand at the festival in the family area in Rother Market.  As well as interactive demonstrations, staff and students will be on hand to discuss course options and College life with visitors.  The College offers apprenticeships, full-time diplomas and part-time leisure learning, all provided by a highly experienced, knowledgeable team in an industry-standard workshop.

For more information on any of Stratford-upon-Avon College’s courses, please visit or call the College on 01789 266245.


Apr 2017


The stunning sight of hundreds of cars driving out into the countryside will return as a highlight of this year’s Festival of Motoring.  It is free for spectators to come to the festival in Stratford town centre.  There will be two routes for the ‘runs’ from Stratford into picturesque Warwickshire and Gloucestershire countryside on Sunday April 30th and Monday May 1st.

The first route, ‘The Parliamentary Tour, is a petrol-powered treasure hunt-type quest involving a search for clues. The second, ‘The Four Shilling Tour, is based on an old Stratford guide book.

Following the success of last year’s ‘Pub Cricket’ treasure hunt, the ‘Parliamentary Tour’ will again be based on pub signs but you will be looking for something different. ‘The Four Shilling Tour’ is based on part of a 1960s guide book, ‘Shakespeare Country by Car’, which sold for the princely sum of Four Shillings.

Tony Merrygold, from local classic car hire company The Open Road, came up with the new routes for the runs.  “One of my challenges each year with the festival is to produce two routes that everyone will enjoy and find interesting. I was fortunate that one of our 2016 participants suggested the theme for the Parliamentary Tour and then I came across an old guide book on eBay which gave me portions of the second tour.  The Four Shilling Tour includes some very narrow lanes I have never come across before, and two fords for drivers who want a splash with their dash. We are only covering about one third of the route from the book so I guess it really ought to be called the ‘1s 6d Tour’.

Participants of the two-day festival, can choose to take part in one of the morning drives before parking up in town.  There are still spaces left so please enter at   There is a charge for entering.

As the cars arrive in town they will drive a Lap of Honour within the festival's streets before parking up to display the very finest in vintage motor heritage for tens of thousands of motor-minded fans from across the country. (This year there is no cavalcade with the cars simultaneously driving around town, due to health & safety concerns.)

Spectators can take part in a free treasure hunt organised by Henley Street’s Magic Alley. Using a special "key", visitors will unlock clues across town to win spectacular prizes. In Rother Street there will be a family area with the ever popular fire engine, go karts, bouncy castle and for the first time, remote control jaguars.

This year’s Stratford Festival of Motoring is sponsored by proudly sponsored by Listers. The Featured Marque is Jaguar, and Wood Street will be filled with cars from the iconic British brand, including Jaguars from the British Motor Museum and Jaguar Heritage Trust.


Stratford's Passion for Fashion

Mar 2017


Stratford’s very first online fashion campaign is underway, showcasing the town’s true passion for fashion to thousands of potential new customers.

The campaign, dubbed SS17 Passion for Fashion, will put Stratford on the map as a great destination for shopping with a series of stunning images of models from 14 fashion retailers across the town.

The pictures will form the basis of a social media campaign, introducing the shop staff whose personal touch is one of the unique elements of Stratford’s shopping experience, as well as promoting the diverse range of styles on offer in the town’s array of shops.

The fashionistas from a mixture of independents and high street big names glammed up to strike a pose for the campaign, each providing a sneak peek into their lives that is the trademark friendly approach that makes Stratford stand out from the crowd when it comes to a fantastic shopping experience.

As well as the Facebook campaign, the information will be featured on a whole new section of fashion pages on the Stratforward website that will soon cover every single clothing retailer in the town centre.

Each shop has received their own A2 poster to show off the fruits of their fashion labours.

Joe Baconnet, Director at Stratforward BID, said: “We can’t ignore and we can’t compete with online stores. But what we can do is promote the unique selling point of the Stratford shopping experience - the fantastic customer service and personal touch provided by our wide range of retailers, and this campaign showcases this for all to see.”

Hair was styled by Stratford’s own Matthew Curtis Hair Design and make up by Gorgeous Obsession beauty salon. Studio Stratford photographed them to capture their latest looks.  the only exceptions was the hair for EAST which was buy Tony and Guy, and Debenhams created thier own make up inhouse.  All businesses gave up their time for free to support the campaign.

One retailer to take part was family-run business Charles French Menswear on Sheep Street. Owner John Ricketts said: “A campaign like this helps promote my business and also promote other businesses, helping each business to help each other. If we all work together it’s got to help.”


Feb 2017

The Stratford Festival of Motoring returns on May Bank Holiday weekend - with Listers back in the driving seat as the sponsor of the event.

The 2017 festival, which takes place on Sunday, April 30th and Monday, May 1st, is one of the big events in Stratford’s calendar, attracting car enthusiasts and petrolheads from across the country.

Last year’s event attracted 60,000 visitors and this year’s will follow the same successful formula as the past four years with an organised run out into the Warwickshire and Gloucestershire countryside on the Sunday and Monday morning.

It will be followed by the spectacular sight of 300 cars parked up on the town centre streets, showcasing some of the world’s finest motor heritage.

The 2017 Featured Marque is the Jaguar, with Wood Street filled with exciting cars from the iconic British brand, including Jaguars from the Jaguar Heritage Trust.

And on top of that, sponsor Listers will showcase its own state-of-the-art range, displaying cars from five dealerships on Waterside and Bridge Street.

A Listers spokeswoman said: “The Stratford Festival of Motoring event is a firm favourite in the Listers annual calendar of events, we are delighted to support the event again this year and look forward to displaying our very own unique brand of horsepower with an incredible range of Audi, Honda, Toyota, Lexus and Volkswagen cars on display on Bridge Street and the Waterside.”

The Festival of Motoring offers entertainment for all the family, from a treasure hunt for the hundreds of vintage car owners who descend on Stratford for the weekend to live music, food stalls and an array of activities around the town.

A prize-giving will be featured, including awards for the Furthest Travelled, Mayor’s Choice, Treasure Hunt Winner and a Sponsor Prize.

Ruth Wood, manager of the award-winning Stratforward events team, said: “We are delighted that the Listers Group are sponsoring the Stratford Festival Of Motoring for the second year running.

“The festival is one of the highlights of our calendar, drawing people from across the region and beyond. It’s also the perfect opportunity for Stratford and its businesses to show a huge audience what we have to offer.”

Town Hosts Win A Swan

Feb 2017

Stratforward’s very own Town Hosts have been recognised for their hard work - scooping a Touch FM Pride of Stratford Award.

The Town Host team scooped the Customer Care Award, sponsored by Shakespeare's England, after receiving widespread praise from businesses across the town.

The Town Hosts act as the face of Stratford for visitors to the town, offering a range of services including information, basic first aid, helping find and reunite lost people, as well as assisting with security issues.

In addition they act as the link between the rest of the Stratforward team and businesses carrying out surveys, promoting discount BID member staff schemes like the BID Discount card, reporting member concerns about everything from busking and begging to potholes to the relevant agencies, aiding with major events in the town and hosting Ambassador Tours and security radio schemes.

Their award, presented at a ceremony at The Crowne Plaza, follows a nomination packed with praise. The team was commended for providing “excellent customer service” and described as “a credit to the town” and “an asset to Stratford”.

Town Host supervisor Shan Smith said: “We were all absolutely thrilled with winning Customer Care Pride of Stratford. It was an amazing evening, just like being at the Oscars.”


The Pride of Stratford Awards are always a popular event in the town, and something Stratforward is delighted to be involved in. The BID sponsors the Town Centre Business of the Year award, which this year was won by the Dirty Duck.

BID members also scooped awards in other categories, including Business of the Year which went to Gemini on Wood Street, and Artisan of the Year which was won by Hooray’s Gelato on High Street.

Stratforward Director Joseph Baconnet said: “The Touch FM Pride of Stratford Awards are a real celebration of everything great about the town. Obviously we’re over the moon that our Town Hosts were recognised and it was great to see so many businesses publicly congratulated for their hard work.”

For a full list of winners and photo galleries from the night, visit

The Pride of Stratford - BID Members Triump!

Feb 2017

BID Businesses Triumph at Pride of Stratford Awards

2017 was another great year for BID members at the Touch FM Pride of Stratford Awards.
Congratulations to all our members who walked away with a swan, as well as those who got through to the finals.

A massive well done to our very own Town Hosts, who scooped the Customer Care Award, sponsored by Shakespeare's England, recognising the hard work they do, come rain or shine.  See picture with Jo Lloyd of Shakespeares England and the Town Hosts receiving the swan award.

Stratforward also sponsored the Town Centre Business of the Year award, which went to The Dirty Duck.

Tourism Initiative of the Year went to the Shakespeare Celebrations 2016, while the RSC picked up the Team of the Year Award. Business of the Year went to Gemini on Wood Street, and Hooray’s Gelato on High Street walked away with the Artisan of the Year Award.

Special Awards were also presented to Gregory Doran, Artistic Director at the RSC and to Ali Grey from the Stratford Cancer & Eye Hospital Appeal.

And Sarah Summers, Stratford Town Clerk was presented with the Stratford Pride Award.

Stratforward Director Joseph Baconnet said: “The Touch FM Pride of Stratford Awards were a real celebration of everything great about the town.

Obviously we’re over the moon that our Town Hosts were recognised and it was great to see so many businesses publicly congratulated for their hard work.

Congratulations to everyone!"

For a full list of winners and photo galleries from the night, visit 


Joseph Baconnet of Stratforward and The Dirty Duck team led by manager Sam Jackson


Vintage Mobile Cinema

Feb 2017


A 1960s icon will be the star billing at this year’s Stratford Festival of Motoring over the May Day Bank Holiday weekend.

Audrey - the last known surviving vintage mobile cinema of her type - recently featured in George Clarke’s Amazing Spaces hit TV show. Described by Clarke as “the most amazing cinema bus in the world”, she is set to wow tens of thousands of people expected to attend the two-day festival on Sunday, April 30th and Monday, May 1st.

And it will be a bit of a homecoming for the 50-year- old classic beauty – whose Bedford SB chassis was fitted with coachwork by Coventry Steel Caravans.

Audrey was one of seven custom-built mobile cinemas built by the Government in 1967 to tour engineering companies around the country promoting modern production techniques in an effort to help improve UK productivity.

Auctioned off in 1974 at the end of the project, she is believed to be the only survivor of the seven. Over the years since various owners have lovingly completely restored her including upgrades to the engine, gearbox and brakes to handle modern traffic conditions, enabling her to tour events around the country for all to enjoy.

Her cinema has been given an update too, with modern cinematic technology replacing the original 35mm projector housed in a perspex dome above the driver’s cab, including a High Definition digital projection unit and Dolby 7:1 surround sound for the full cinema experience.

Today Audrey is owned by Ben Moorhouse who bought her in 2015. He said: “Stratford sounds like the perfect event that Audrey is great for, and the kind of audience that will be there will be incredibly excited about it I think.”

Speaking about his dream to now restore Audrey’s original matching trailer that was found on a Sussex farm in 2015, he added: “The plan is to turn the trailer into a cocktail bar, or a space that can be used for all kinds of functions. I suspect Audrey will still be the priority for people’s bookings, but this is more about restoring the trailer.”

Work on the trailer is set to start soon and will be part funded by a crowdfunding campaign which will be launched just after the Festival.

Festival visitors will be able to watch Pathe archive newsreels dating back to the early 1890s, as well as material provided by the Jaguar Daimler Heritage Trust and hear about the plans for the trailer. Audrey’s attendance at the event is sponsored by local classic car hire company - The Open Road.

Tony Merrygold, of The Open Road, said: “The appearance of such an important piece of British motoring heritage is a real coup for the Stratford Festival of Motoring.

“The combination of the Vintage Mobile Cinema, Pathe newsreel films of Stratford and the Heritage Trust films of Jaguars will provide something for everyone who visits Stratford over the festival weekend.”

The event – which last year attracted 60,000 visitors - will include around 300 classic cars parked throughout Stratford town centre for the two days.