CALNE'S rally driving mayor Tony Trotman swapped the roll cage for a hog when he swept through town on a Harley-Davidson, flanked by other bikers, to open the annual motorcycle day.

The mayor, who took part in the 1976 RAC Rally, had initially declined to open the event on Saturday on a motorbike, but sporting his chain of office he gamely got on to the back of the bike.

Coun Trotman said he enjoyed the experience, but admitted he felt safer in a rally car than on a bike. Praising his careful driver he said: "They took good care of me."

Motorcycle enthusiasts from across the country mixed freely with curious families and residents who came out to see the motorcycle displays, enjoy the entertainment and soak up the pulsating atmosphere.

Rotary Club member Ivor Watkins said he thought the event was nearly twice as big as last year, with between 1,500 and 1,800 motorcycles.

Bikes were stacked in every spare piece of parking space in the town centre, with lines of bikes disappearing up High Street, crammed into the town hall car park, along the Wharf, Beach Terrace and outside the library.

But without warning in the early afternoon when The Strand was packed with Great Western Rally cars, motorcycles and families on holiday, driving through town to avoid the M4, the traffic lights at the Church Street junction failed. Chaos was averted thanks to quick thinking Rotarian Michael Bishop, who spent two hours directing the traffic.

Three Harley-Davidson clubs, from Bristol, Yeovil and the Midlands roared into town as well as riders from Bristol and Avon Roadrunners, the Cotton Club of Yeovil, and Virago South West.

There were also dozens of individual classic, vintage, veteran and special interest bikes on display.

The Wiltshire representative of the National Association for Bikers with a Disability, which is dedicated to helping disabled bikers back on the road, was also at the event.

John Lance, 65, of Pewsey, lost his leg in a work accident, but it has not stopped him riding on a specially modified trike.

"We have 400 members without an arm and 3,000 members overall," he said.

"We adapt bikes for people whatever the disability and we can usually find someway of getting around the problem."

"This is a brilliant event full of real people. If you want to get a life, get a bike."

There were many stalls at the event, including bike jumble, accessories, trade and club stands, and a barbecue on the Wharf, as well as junior quad bike rides in Castle Park.

Another attraction was jazz by The River Marden at noon and live music all day at the Kings Arms, which had a special biker's bar.

A craft and collectables fair was held in the town hall. Mr Watkins said: "The event went fantastically well and it's going to keep growing and growing. I think it's established now and all the bikers I spoke to said they wanted to come back next year.

"Everyone loved it. Even the elderly people living near The Wharf said they loved having all the visitors outside their homes."

The mayor said the event was good for the town, providing entertainment and bringing in trade.

Cash raised from the event will be distributed among the Wiltshire Air Ambulance, Naomi House and other rotary charities.