What is “The OVERLORD Show”?
The Overlord Show, also known as the Solent Overlord Show and Overlord Military Spectacular, is a military orientated show held during the Spring bank holiday in Denmead, Hampshire.
Over the course of three days the public can experience a little bit of military history which they might otherwise be unable to see first hand.
With approximately 300 military vehicles, 30 re-enactment groups and 100 trade stands, combined with regular arena events, there is lots to see and do.
Proceeds from the show go towards organising the next show and surplus is donated to our selected charity.
History of the Show
The show has been going in various forms since the 1970’s
After the war military vehicles were perceived as little more than scrap. Some found homes with farmers, transport firms, construction companies and a few private individuals. Most were destroyed. The late Peter Gray founded the Military Vehicle Conservation Group to support the dawning realisation that history in all forms should be preserved. Interest in military vehicle ownership, particularly from WW2 continued to grow and in 1969 a local group based in Portsmouth was formed. This ‘Solent Area’ group was chaired by the late Chris Davis and included a number of members still active in the military vehicle field, including Don Staples-Harris.
This group undertook the organisation and running of a military vehicle show to commemorate the Normandy landings, the first show being held at Fort Widley, near Portsmouth in 1974, 30 years after D Day.
The membership of the Solent Area steadily grew and regular monthly meetings held. The club continued to organise their annual D Day military vehicle event at venues including, Fort Widley, Blackbushe, Thruxton and Popham. However it was the shows held on Southsea Common that established the popularity of the event. In the later years many will remember the notorious ‘Mudmead’ show held in Denmead, this being as a result of a tropical rainstorm that engulfed the South Coast over the show weekend and the subsequent discovery of a high water table on the show site!
The annual show continued to gain in popularity, attracting international exhibitors and members of the public from Europe. The Overlord Show became one of the premier shows for military vehicle enthusiasts worldwide. As the show gained in popularity, so the show site grew to accommodate an increasing number of military vehicles, traders and participating public.
The public’s interest in and private ownership of in military vehicles continued to increase as did the countrywide membership of the MVCG and in 1989 the group became the Military Vehicle Trust (MVT). The Solent Area of the MVT continued to flourish and maintained responsibility for the organisation of the Overlord Show.
To secure the future and success of further shows, a new independent club was formed in 2004. Solent Overlord Executive Military Vehicle Club (SOE) was renamed in 2008 as the Solent Overlord Executive Military CollectorsClub. This new title reflected the club member’s wider interests in military vehicles, and also military history, weapons and equipment and the ever increasing popularity of living history re-enactment.
The club continued to grow, attracting members interested in all aspects of the military, and with a strong social club network organised guest speakers on club nights, visits to museums, and to important historical sites.