Eleven rooms were booked at Llanachinda Farm in the Brecon Beacons and we all made our way there on the 8th May with great anticipation. The road up from Llandovery was three miles of climbing, through a farmyard and upwards under the viaduct to what seemed like the top of the world.
We were greeted in the car park by Andrew one of the twin sons and shown into the warm and welcoming farm house. Tea and coffee and homemade cakes awaited in front of the fire on comfy sofas. When shown to our very comfortable room we discovered route books for two days, rally plaques, two presentation mugs and key rings. Nothing was left to chance and everything catered for. As organiser I felt a great sense of relief to be in such a first class establishment and knew from that moment we were in for a treat.
At 6.30pm we assembled for a Pimms welcome and at 7.30 enjoyed the first of three lovely meals. The food was very well chosen and beautifully cooked with fresh vegetables cooked in imaginative ways and desserts to die for. "Couldnít manage a single thing more" was a commonly heard phrase before the speaker sneaked up to the "puds" table to enjoy a choice of crumbles, cheesecakes, and fresh fruit and Welsh cheeses.
Each morning after a hearty Welsh breakfast we were summoned for a briefing where Martin talked us through the route for the day and the best places to stop and admire, petrol, loos etc. All good information and very useful. The scenery on each route was spectacular and with a choice of how far to drive and what to stop and see, was very flexible. Whilst on the route one of the two twin sons would pop up occasionally with a camera and at the end of the weekend we were presented with a CD of the main moments of our tour. We will enjoy seeing that again at Film Night.
I think I can safely say that everyone had a thoroughly enjoyable weekend and more than one couple asked when we could do it again. For those still in a muddle to which son was which. Andrew tipped me the wink. Andrew watch on left wrist and Mark watch on right. I hope I have remembered that correctly.
Many, many thanks to Martin and Lynn and the boys if you read this. You have created a fantastic business that is unique in every way. You have managed to combine efficiency with friendly and helpful service and turned it into an art form. No wonder so many car clubs spend time at Llanachinda Farm.
Thanks to Graham and Betty for their hospitality at a super Buttercup Bounce!
Where am I going?
Showing off the prize
Putting the Bounce into the Buttercup Bounce
Nigel Coulter organised a run of 35 miles through the Surrey and Hampshire lanes on New Years Day. 21 cars of varying makes and ages assembled in the National Trust Car Park at Hindhead.
The weather was reasonably kind compared with the dreadful rain last year. After a pleasant run 46 people sat down to a roast dinner at the Hogs Back Hotel. Below are pictures of some of the participants.
Well, the plan was to take the Auto Train from Paris to Avignon for a gentle meander to the Mediterranean coast and then catch the Train back home two weeks later.
Perhaps 'someone' thought this was a bit tame for Brooklands Centre, the original adventurers of the 60ís.
First of all the train drivers decided to strike. So, change of plan. Leave on Monday, a day early, and drive to Avignon via a lovely Logis called Le Chateau des Tourelles Hostellerie de la Wast. Add two Campanille after that and we reached Avignon on the Thursday after a pleasant drive down. Well most of us. Judy, Len, Martin and Cheryl parked up on day 2 to have coffee and while they were there someone stole a bag from the back of Judyís MG. On discovering the theft of toiletries, shoes, make-up etc., it was decided to travel on. A mile down the road we were chased by a young chap who said he had seen the theft and would take us to where the perpetrator had thrown the bag. (Didnít he like my shoes?) He urged us to call the police and had a description and yes, most of you would have sussed him, but after giving him a little something for his trouble I realised he was disappointed with the contents and cleverly conned us into returning it. Oh well, we live and learn and replacements would have cost Len at least E100, yes really!
When we reached Avignon we unfortunately hit the rush hour. It was terribly hot in the car and we were to find later that the extra use of the Kenlowe fan would completely flatten the battery. Never mind, ignorance is bliss and we arrived at the beautiful Mas De Tour in Gargas just before a torrential downpour with hail the size of marbles. Unfortunately again, we had lost the others who knew the area less well and they all got caught in the storm so came in drenched and fed up.
I am reliably informed that Roland was forced to drive to the hotel without his shirt, which he took off to dry as he had stopped to help Roger put up the Healy hood during a hail storm. Roland's gallantry was much appreciated and he did get some admiring looks from other drivers. Why wasnít I there? A re-run please Roland. Poor Ray Bayliss got so wet when she unpacked, the colours in her clothes had run. She got three soakings as I understand, this lady is a 'Saint'. Havenít they got a hood?
Also when we were in Provence most of us visited Roussillon. Some of us visited the abandoned 'Ochre works' where they used to mine raw Ochre rock and crush it, mix it with binder and manufacture Ochre coloured paint.
Mas de Tour was a very attractive and relaxing Hotel with a pool and we were pleased to welcome Robin and Bev who had had to catch us up. We would have been happy to stay there for a week but after a lovely two night stop we drove down to St Aygulf on the coast.
Dickering at Mas de Tour
The Hotel St Aygulf was very comfortable and the resort very stylish. Iím afraid Len and I just took it easy owing to his back problems but the others took advantage of the surrounding area and did some quality driving, Bormes Les Mimosas being much enjoyed I hear. Some of us also visited the beautiful, unspoilt resort of St Tropez. Everyone looks like movie stars (and of course so did we!)
We then took a leisurely drive along the coast (following Robin who has a built in Sat Nav in his scull) passing through St Rafael, Cannes, Antibes, Nice, Villefranche,to Beaulieu sur Mer where we had another three night stay. We had lovely rooms here overlooking the Marina so could watch the world go by and how the other half live. Most of the group drove to Monaco and did the circuit and on the Thursday the group walked to the Rothschild Villa along Cap Ferrat which was a joy. Again owing to Lenís back we drove there and when we parked up we were accosted by a young man who invited us to park in front of the Villa and to be an 'Exhibition'. The look on our friends faces when they arrived to see our car parked out front was a joy. The gardens at the Villa are wonderful. The fountain plays to music and the whole atmosphere there is of elegance and beauty, with a backdrop of Mediterranean and cruise liners in the bay. That evening we were sitting by the pool when a call came to say would we like to deliver the cars to Auto Train although they werenít sure if TGV was running the next day? Of course we couldnít commit to that so Robin planned our drive home. Some did a dash in two days and eight of us decided to take four days and enjoy the scenery on the way. This we did and I must say it was spectacular along the Route Napoleon and through the Ardeche.
Len and Judy's MG at Rothschild Villa
We had arranged to board the ferry at Caen on Monday 23rd June but on the last morning I got up to pack and realised my and Lenís passport were missing. A thorough search ensued but to no avail so off to the port we went and spent an hour and a half with a Brittany Ferries girl called Sophie who I must say was very patient and helpful and Yes we did get on the boat and yes we did get hauled into customs at this end and have passports cancelled but all in all we were well looked after.
So a holiday to remember but although we missed Jim and Sue due to his back problem and poor Robin had enormous worries about his Mum ill at home we all managed to enjoy ourselves and prove once more what a resilient bunch we are.
Sadly dear Mollie, Robins Mum, died a few days later. Mollie has spent so many holidays with us joining in with everything and getting us by with her wonderful command of numerous languages. We will miss her greatly and we thank Robin for his huge amount of organising despite having other more important things on his mind.
P.S. A lot of funny things happened on this trip as always with Brooklands Centre but the funniest were:
2nd Hotel a Campanille. We were looking for it in a downpour and just couldnít find it. When we eventually arrived we complained to the receptionist and suggested they should have a bigger sign to help people. When we got up the next morning in sunshine, walked outside and clocked the biggest, tallest neon sign I have ever seen. Woops!
The 'invisible' hotel sign
In Supermarche with Jane Horsfield. We were in the queue and I was looking for some ginger chewing gum, a passion of mine. She decided to help and was scanning the racks of gum when the queue (mostly men started smirking), what was so funny? She was perusing the rack of condoms. Get out Jane quick.!!!
The Brooklands Xmas Meal was very enjoyable. It was held at the Burhill Golf Club in Walton on Thames.
A very pleasant meal
After a pleasant meal we presented awards to:
Clubman of the Year – Ian Nelson for his work as our Treasurer and for his efforts in organising Beaulieu.
Out and About – Paul and Judy Noakes
John Oliver Trophy – Dave and Karen Whitton for their competitive spirit
Clubman of the Year: Ian Nelson
Paul Noakes receives his award
Roger and Jane Horsfield ran the unique raffle famous at Brooklands, but where was the "Bum Kit"? Whoever has it, if you haven't used it, please put it back in the raffle next year. The best prize saved until last was the magnificent cake made by Judith Weeks, beautifully decorated with the Brooklands Logo and a "50" to celebrate the Clubs 50th birthday year. Thank you Judith!
Roger leads the raffle
Austineers go mad in Bramber!
The usual suspects from the Brooklands 750 motor club drove down to Bramber village in East Sussex to meet up with members of the Tunbridge Wells Centre to visit St Mary's historic house and gardens. The car turnout was very good with a range of cars, some with their hoods down and some not so brave.
The usual suspects
We met in the Old Castle Inn in Bramber village, which happens to be next door to the house and gardens. Twenty Seven people sat down to lunch including the members of the Tunbridge Wells club. It was nice to meet some new friends as well as meeting up with existing ones. After a jolly good lunch we stretched our legs by walking around the village which boasts some wonderful houses and quintessentially English cottages along with its very own Bramber Castle ruin.
To make the most of the unpredictable weather we started by touring the charming gardens first, which are in the process of being restored. The garden near the house is very colourful framed with specimen trees including a large and unusual Ginkgo Biloba. The gardens consist of around 5 acres of land which is slowly but surely being reclaimed from the ravages of Mother Nature. Some features have been carefully restored whilst others are slowly evolving as the garden emerges from the brambles.
We were fortunate enough to be guided around by the current owners, author and composer Peter Thorogood and curator and designer Roger Linton. The house is still a much loved family home and is, in my opinion, a 'must see'.
From the garden we were then guided round the enchanting historic house, built circa 1470, which was full of surprises and wonderful original features. The house is all the better for being lived in and feels much loved and cherished. It is full of wood panelling some of it oak some of it painted pine with unique hand painted panels featuring oval frescos. We were charmed by secret doors and rooms leading into each other every one a new surprise.
St Mary's house & gardens
After the tour, which took most of the afternoon, we ended up having tea and biscuits in the conservatory. Everyone agreed it was a splendid day and thanks to Judy Norman for organising it for us. Those of us with our hoods up had the last laugh as it rained most of the way home. If you get a chance, do visit St Mary's house and gardens you will not be sorry.
For more information visit St Mary's website or telephone 01903 816205
Brooklands Centre members came together in strength to take part in the 750MC annual Austin 7 Rally. Ian Nelson – as usual masterminded a splendid event and even arranged the best weather we have had for many a year. Susan and Richard Perkins manned the trophy table after working very hard to get nearly all the trophies back ready to be awarded again. Robin Gray and Roger Horsfield camped overnight on the Saturday night with a view to erecting the gazebo that would form the home of the Brooklands Centre display to promote 750MC centres. Quite early Sunday morning Bev Keable came with Colin Shaw in Colin's Chummy along with Nigel Coulter and new Centre member Henry Emden in the Trials Chummy "Skanky". Judy and Len Norman arrived and between them all the display was put together. We showed some boards with photos of recent events, a couple of boards with pictures of the Continental Runs the Centre organised in 74, 76, 78, 80 and 84. Colin Shaw's car was put in the tent until needed for the driving tests and we ran some videos of the Cobham Trial.
The Brooklands tent
The driving tests designed and organised by Penny Chew and Mike Griffiths took place in the main arena and were essentially a test of speed and accuracy driving a course of posts and tape laid out to spell Ian Nelson's initials "I" "N". Several Brooklands members took part in the individual tests before lunch – Sue Perkins, Karen Witton, Sue O'Sullivan, David Witton, Peter Walsh, Colin Shaw, David Cochrane, Tom Emden and Nigel Coulter. Nigel won the individual competition with a time of 1 min 57 sec, second Colin Shaw 2 min 20 sec, fourth David Witton 2 min 24 sec (including 5 sec penalty) and fifth Peter Walsh 2 min 32 sec (including a 15 sec penalty). A total of 18 drivers took part.
The afternoon saw the inter-club team relay competition and Brooklands sported TWO teams of three! The Brooklands Babes were Sue Perkins, Sue O'Sullivan and Karen Witton, and the Brooklands Boys were Nigel Coulter, Colin Shaw and David Witton. There were three other teams and Colin Shaw's daughter Annaliese who lives near Bedford and who had not driven an Austin 7 before, gamely volunteered to join Colin Cooke and Brian Smith to make up a North Herts Centre team.
The Reilly Trophy for the Brooklands Boys
The Brooklands Boys convincingly won the David Reilly Shield with a time of 4 min 9 secs and no penalties (an average of 1 min 23 secs each), Cambridge was 2nd with 4 min 41sec (5 penalties), third was North Herts with a creditable 4 min 44sec (10 penalties), fourth "The Griffins" 5 min 39 sec (5 penalties), and Brooklands Babes came in with 5 min 45 sec (5 penalties).
Altogether a super day for Brooklands with two trophies from the Driving Tests and David Witton won the Freddie Henry Memorial Trophy with his 1933 Type 65.
David Witton shows off his trophy
More pictures can be seen in the Gallery
Robin Gray did us proud by organising a smashing trip to Jersey. Twenty six people in twelve cars drove down to Poole and took the fast ferry to St. Helier. For the record Robin was not the customary last on the ferry; the Horsfields had that dubious honour. The drive down started with hoods down and the sunroofs open. By the time we all got to the Winchester area the heavens opened and we hit torrential rain all the way down to Bournemouth. Fortunately the sea trip was not too choppy. Although the weather was mixed during the week it didn't really rain just the odd spit and spot, but it was quite cold at times. We were also very pleased to have Helen Whittet join us on the trip, all the way from Scotland where ironically the weather has been nice and sunny.
Brooklands' motley crew
Our hotel overlooked the lovely coastline at St. Brelades Bay. We did the least amount of mileage on any of the Brooklands 750 club holidays and experienced the maximum amount of car problems ever. On the very first day major surgery was performed with a replacement head gasket to the first club outing of Robin's ovely little Morris Minor. This was followed by a replacement car battery for the Theobalds' Austin Seven, a deal was done in a car park in Jersey (all legal of course), Stephen being the mastermind of this transaction. The Perkins' Austin Seven sprang a leak in its hydraulic brake system but with some persistence it was reduced to a weep.
There was some scrabbling around under Martin Barnes' MG TF making after supper repairs to a 'dodgy' clutch. The Robinsons' magic 'nut and bolt' tin was aired and behold a suitable nut was found and the problem solved. The Reads' Roller decided to stop rolling and took six hours to travel six miles with the Horsfields riding shotgun and offering mints and advice a plenty. There was other, not so serious, fettling going on most evenings, with lots of heads under bonnets, and the magic tin being produced as required, but that seems the norm on most car holidays doesn't it? The Charles MGA, the Robinsons Austin Seven (with some brake adjustment), the Lloyds Alvis, the Curries MGB, the Pooleys Alfa Romeo Spider, the Adams Riley and the Horsfields Healey 3000 all behaved pretty well.
The trip coincided with the latter stages of the Jersey Motoring Festival. At various stages we attended the static displays and the two hill climb events. Some even drove the old Jersey hill climb route in the north of the island.
During the week we did a 'round the island' tour with everyone getting lost at some stage. We visited various lovely gardens and houses, the steam museum, and the Nigel Mansell car collection. The Reads and the Horsfields were lucky enough to meet the man himself, we have the photos to prove it. Some took the bus and went shopping in St Hellier. Others visited the Maritime tapestry and museum. Most people visited St. Matthew's 'glass crystal' church which has the most exquisite glass windows, doors, large crosses over the alter and other unique glass ornamentation by René Lalique. Poor Roger has not yet recovered from three trips to Jersey Pearl and yes money was spent!
Nigel Mansell groupies
One day our tour leader Robin and our chairman Bev Keable spent at least 5 hours trying to meet our good friend Christine, whom we got to know well some years ago on a French car event. Wherever they went Christine and her friends had just left.
We also took some lovely walks along St. Brelades Bay where Pam Read was mugged by a seagull stealing her ice cream flake which reminds me of a Monty Python sketch, 'seagull on a stick', let's not go there. Some took a rather sobering trip to the Jersey WW2 Tunnels and to the underground German Command Bunker at Noirmont Point, very interesting and rather moving.
Lots of lovely lunches were partaken of in various establishments around the island. And best of all we had lots of fun and laughter. A very good time was had by all. So it only remains to ask where to next Robin?
Weren't we lucky on Sunday (27 May) when we woke up to a "shirtsleeves day", no rain in sight. It was the annual Buttercup Bounce organised by our very good Brooklands 750 motor club friends Betty and Graham Currie. Not as many cars as usual attended as the date had to be changed because of a very soggy field and far too much precipitation! (i.e. cats and dogs)
Sun hats and shirtsleeves at the Buttercup Bounce
It was lovely to see four Austin 7's out for an airing. We also had an MG TC and the MGA ( are you sure the MG's are not taking over?) There were also some longing looks at the rather nice Aston Martin DB7 Vantage in amongst the modern cars.
As usual we voted for the "the car I would most like to take home with me" award. The award was donated by our much loved and much missed fellow club member Bob Smith. The award is a medallion which was originally presented to Austin dealerships on completion of 25 years service selling Austin's. It was purchased by Bob on a club trip to Guernsey some years ago, but that is a whole new story.
Young Paulo, the eldest grandson of Bob and Jean Smith at 7 years old made a lovely presentation in memory of his grandad to the winner. Jean and son Aden also came along. And the winner is … Brian and Jana Adam for their lovely 1926 Top Hat saloon. The car has been lovingly restored by Brian and has taken some 20 years to complete. Well done to Brian and Jana.
Let's hope we get some more good weather to dig out more Austin's throughout the summer.
29 May 2013
The Brooklands 750 motor club – or the "Jolly boys and girls" as I like to think of us – visited the Cotswolds for a few days. Twenty-five people came along in an array of cars – sadly no Austin 7's and I am not sure our Austin Healy really counts. However, we did have a rather lovely Austin 16/6 Windsor Saloon; along with a 20/25 Rolls Royce; an Alvis TF Saloon; a very French 2CV; an E type Jaguar; a Riley 9 sports car and MG's aplenty: an MGTF; an MGB and the MG Magnette. There is no truth in the rumour that the MG's are making a bid for the club!
Cars lined up for the Cotswold Caper
Although the weather could have been kinder it didn't stop us stalwarts driving to various venues and having a very good time. We set up base camp in the lovely village of Lower Slaughter at the Slaughters Country Inn. A wonderful village with the river Windrush passing by and onward into nearby Bourton on the Water.
We visited the car museum in Bourton on the Water which has expanded and is now rather posh. The last time the club visited it was still in private hands and lovely and "ratty". The Civil Service motor club now own it and have smartened it up but, I am glad to say, without ruining it.
We then regressed back to our childhoods (although it is debatable that some of us ever left) and visited Adam's Farm from the popular Countryfile TV programme. The men looked enviously at the now celebrity status of Eric the bull. It was blooming cold at the farm as it is so high up. Once again we took refuge in the cafe after a tractor ride around the rare breeds and animal pens.
The weather almost got the better of us but we all dashed off to Hidcote Manor National Trust Garden. We managed a quick tour of the wonderful garden in all its spring glory before the rain set in for the day. The garden is famous for its garden "rooms". After a warm up and lunch in the cafe we drove back through the lovely villages including Broadway and Stow on the Wold.
On the last day we visited Fiennes (yes a relation of the actor and the explorer) restoration. Although they specialise in Rolls Royce they do work on other cars. It was very interesting and there were some lovely cars in the process of being "done up". This was followed by lunch by the Thames in the Barley Mow pub at Clifton Hampden and all too soon we departed for home.
Although a holiday in this country is always a chancy affair weather wise everyone had a good time and the hotel was a bonus which made up for the precipitation.
29 May 2013
Stephen Lloyd has done it again! by organising a wonderful car run during the early May Bank Holiday to the Jurassic Coast. And he managed to order some sunshine, well he does know some important people. There was a great turnout of 32 people in 16 cars, including a range of Austins, Vintage and Classic cars. Our Chairman even managed to 'dig out' the mythical 1930 Standard Teignmouth, who some didn't believe existed.
Historic transport for a pre-historic event
After an interesting and varied drive down to Eypes Bay with stops to 'graze' at Stockbridge, Abbotsbury and Dorchester we stayed at the excellent Eypes Mouth Country Hotel and a local B&B. A short walk down a narrow lane to the beach was the order of the day to stretch our legs and take in the air before one of many superb evening meals.
You must understand that on one of Stephen's 'holidays' the last thing you do is relax. We were up early and off to Charmouth on a fossil hunt. Our guide told us what to look for and then foolishly let us loose with hammers. We spent a very pleasurable morning looking for fossils and dinosaur poo, with some success it must be said. As you can imagine there were lots of fossil and dinosaur jokes, which are best not mentioned here.
After lunch in the pub at Seatown we walked the coastal path back to the hotel. Just when we thought it was safe to sit down we were 'chivvied up' to go for a 'friendly' kite flying competition on the nearby cliff top. Of course Robin Grey had the stunt kite and wiped out all the opposition cutting strings and sending kites off out to sea. Bev Keeble did get the prize for flying the highest kite although it was last seen going to America. After dinner a very lively fiddle, double bass and accordion group called 'Signs of Life' got everyone dancing including a wonderful floor show from our hosts Stephen and Joyce. (I have the negatives for sale.)
On Thursday we drove across country to Axminster via Lyme Regis, stopping for a short but bracing walk on the cob. Some re-enactments of the 'French Lieutenant's Woman' scared the locals so we moved swiftly onwards. It will come as no surprise we had two long tables booked at Hugh Fearnley-Whittingstall's Canteen for lunch. The building was originally the Axminster Ballroom. After lunch we drove to Forde Abbey near Chard in Somerset. The Abbey has undergone many changes in its 800 year history and is now the wonderful home and garden of the Kennard family. We stopped for tea where there was nearly an ugly incident over the last bit of Victoria sponge cake, but we will gloss over that. This being our last evening Stephen produced the most astonishing event cake. It had a model of Forde Abbey, a couple of kite flyers (with kites), two magnificent cars, two dinosaurs and the cake tasted superb.
A magnificent cake – fortunately not fossilised!
On Friday we reluctantly packed up, paid up and left. We drove to Athelhampton House near Dorchester where we enjoyed a very interesting guided tour of the quintessentially English Manor House. The earliest part of the house is Tudor being restored in the 1890's and now boasts a fine collection of Jacobean and Victorian furniture. We then had our farewell lunch at a pub in Plush near Dorchester. Fond goodbyes were said and we set off home. So thanks to Stephen and Joyce for organising this Jurassic Jaunt holiday. We are now all recovering nicely, thank you.
Last year I reckoned it was the driest we have ever known it with a few muddy puddles in the woods but the rest of the ground was bone dry, well, this could not have been more different! This year we had plenty of rain beforehand and on Friday evening the weather forecast for the weekend was dire – torrential rain and heavy winds. That evening I spoke with Bill Watson, our 750MC Sporting Trial guru on the phone and we very nearly cancelled the Trial there and then. I felt we couldn't cancel without actually inspecting the site so we agreed to meet at 9.30 Saturday morning. I took my trials car and my Humber pal Philip Longhurst brought his daughter's A7 trials car and we found to our satisfaction that we could go anywhere within the venue and with a few directions laid out for navigating the estate and avoiding some of the very wet hollows we reckoned we could put on a viable trial using the usual locations.
Class 1-1 Nigel Glover
courtesy of Bonzer photos
We had 10 sections laid out by 1pm, so after our traditional "Setting Out" lunch at the local hostelry, all that remained was setting up the Secretary's tent and scrutineering bay, close to the entrance gate instead of on the plateau in the middle of the venue as we normally did.
It rained, and continued to rain all evening while we entertained our returning Dutch visitors and Dominic Combe our landowner at the Barley Mow West Horsley where we have our Brooklands Centre clubnights.
Class 4-25 David Golightly
courtesy of Bonzer photos
Arriving at the venue early Sunday morning we found that one of our tents had been destroyed by the wind and it was clear that the entrance was getting waterlogged. We quickly decided not to let "moderns" and trailers into the field. Fortunately the road leading to the field was closed beyond the entrance to Dominic's house so the road became a convenient car park for moderns. Worked very well! We had no trouble with the Austins in the venue and although it rained persistently throughout the day they managed at least to get to all the planned sections (even if some of them couldn't get off the start on one or two of them!).
Class 4-722 Kimberley Brown
courtesy of Bonzer photos
There were 36 entries but five non-starters leaving 31competing entries. Not bad considering the appalling conditions. We had 7 standard production A7 tourers and saloons in class 1 this year including four Dutch entrants in two double entered cars, a 33 tourer and a 34 tourer. The biggest class (as usual) was the Modified Sports and Specials, class 4, with 19 entrants with one non-starter. There was just one production sports in class 2 starting – Martin Eyre's Grasshopper replica, then there was a very small modified Saloons/Tourers (class 3) comprising David Cochrane's and my Chummy "Skanky" and Robin Hanauer's SWB Box. There was only one entrant in class 5 for the Reliant engined Dutch specials – Bas Jansen in his Jansen special. Consequently we combined classes 2, 3, and 5.
Class 5-30 Bas & Gerrit Jansen
courtesy of Bonzer photos
There were nine 750MC entries, seventeen VSCC entries, six Dutch entries and three PWA7C entries, and these gain points towards the PWA7C Grasshopper Challenge. It was gratifying to see that there were 11 newcomers to the Cobham Trial.
The results are given below. The organisers awarded the Tony Jones Memorial Trophy to Bas Jansen in the Jansen special for accumulating most of the mud from the venue on him, his father, and the car. This means they will have to return next year and bring the trophy back.
Bas Jansen receiving his awards
courtesy of Bonzer photos
As well as the Dutch guys, entrants came from near and far including Don Skelton from Yorkshire and newcomer David Golightly from Grimsby, Lincolnshire.
A big thank you to all our marshals, first-aider Karen Bawden, the setting out team on Saturday, David and Ilke Cochrane (who came down from Rugby to help for the weekend) for the use of their excellent "Beaulieu" tent and of course Dominic Combe for the use of such a fantastic venue.
Production Saloon/Tourer class:
1st Nigel Glover , 2nd Nicholas Taylor both in a 1928 Chummy, 3rd Dick Visser from Holland in a 1933 tourer.
1st Martin Eyre in the Grasshopper, 2nd Robin Hanauer SWB Box, 3rd Bas Jansen in the Dutch JA Special
Modified Sports and Specials class:
1st in class and 1st overall Don Skelton in his 1930 special, 2nd Eddie Williams in his Ulster, 3rd Terry Gosling, 1930 Ulster replica
David Golightly in a 1933 Ulster replica
Although we are a motoring club, we at Brooklands like to vary our calendar and include visits of interest to alternative places of interest. One such visit was to the Cinema Museum in Lambeth. There was a disappointing response which I hope wasn't a fear of the parking etc, as Len and I went by train, included a walk on the embankment and a very nice coffee and danish before we even got to the lunch meeting place. Eight of us gathered for what was a truly fascinating tour of the Museum.
Can I have your ticket Sir? Bev at the Cinema Museum Lambeth
Our tour guide was an ex projectionist from Aberdeen who along with friends has amassed an enormous collection of memorabilia including all kinds of projectors, sound systems, arc lamps, uniforms from the 1930's to 1950's, fixtures and fittings and even banks of original seats. Everywhere we looked were old cinema signs and posters of our old hero's and heroines and even a fragrance that was apparently sprayed around the auditorium at a time when people generally didn't smell very good.
A model of Charlie Chaplin made out of strips of cardboard
The memories came flooding back when we were seated in an old theatre setting and shown a Harold Lloyd silent film involving a troublesome car, of course chosen especially for us. This really was an excellent event and I hope other clubs will go for a visit, by the way, this place is a charity, unfunded and relies on donations and entrance fees. Visit their website for more information.
On the weekend of 20th/21st August 32 of us drove to Kent in Austins and various other Classics and a Singer. After a very nice lunch we visited Penshurst Place which was super. They supplied us with an excellent parking area which gave the public a chance to see an interesting selection of "old cars". Our night stop was the Rose and Crown in Tonbridge who did us proud with comfortable beds, a three course dinner and a splendid breakfast.
On Sunday we drove to Eynsford to visit Lullingstone Roman Villa and the truly excellent Lullingstone Castle and World Garden. Unfortunately the castle staff had forgotten we were coming so we didn't get into the castle grounds to park but we had a wonderful time there and I for one need to return to see it all. We were lucky enough to have a tour by Tom Hart Dyke (owner's son) who in 2000 was taken prisoner in Columbia for ten months and whilst in captivity devised the World Garden in his mind to keep his thoughts occupied. Upon his release he set to create the garden in the grounds of his family home. Tom is a fabulous character and we learnt so much. After visiting the charming Lullingstone House we made our way home.
Claire and Andy met up with the Isle of Wight Austin Seven Owners Club on 3rd July for a picnic at Blackgang Chine on the south of the island.
Go to the Gallery for more pictures!
Eleven cars, with twenty two passengers, including the only Austin Seven with the intrepid Jim and Sue Robinson on board left 'Pompey' mid June 2011 for Santander on the last of 'Robin's Holidays'. As ever, the last car to arrive with a short time to spare before embarkation was Robin Gray's Deux Chevaux with Molly riding shotgun. This year we were joined by Debbie and Malcolm Gray from Canada in Robin's MGA and Cheryl Van Graan from South Africa in Martin Barne's MGTF.
The cars meandered across 'Green Spain' climbing the San Glorio pass up to 5,310 feet and then on to the Douro Valley and back via Salamanca and Segovia to Bilbao. The trip involving much hilarity, covered over 1,000 miles, and was a cultural feast taking in wonderful old castles, walled cities, cathedrals and the green, vine covered slopes of the port producing Douro Valley.
There was a wonderful boat and train trip along the Douro Valley during which Graham Curry was particularly pleased to see a big sign on a hill side showing where Graham's port was produced. Joyce Lloyd was enjoying an ice cream in the shade and nearly got left behind on the return trip. The next day the Lloyds suffered the ignominy of their (modern) car roof getting stuck half way between open and closed and the embarrassment of being the only car to have a problem. This proved to be a wonderful excuse for all the engineers to assist by getting it to the down position.
The weather got hotter as we crossed the Spanish Plains (along with tempers) reaching some 37C. Jane Horsfield suffered a 'tropical moment' and tipped water over her head to cool off after being cooked sat over the exhaust pipe in the Healey. Debbie Gray arrived wearing a fetching mosquito net over her face to help her keep cool. Stephen Lloyd showed an interest in any passing 'big bird' (the ornithological variety).
The breakfasts in the hotels proved very popular and Brian Adams found the Champagne for the bucks fizz although he said it was better without the orange. The Perkins in Sue's Mini managed to see twice as much as everyone else without even trying. Roland Read has taken over the 'corridor creeping' title from the much missed Bob Smith by exiting his room via the unlocked, adjoining door, through a complete stranger's bedroom. Least that's what he told Pam. Les and Ray Bayliss wizzed everywhere in their red Riley and only got over excited about the hotel shower which sprayed the bits other showers couldn't reach. And finally, Robin got his 'collar felt' by two motorbike cops clearly looking for promotion, after entering a one way street the wrong way (didn't we all). The 'Spanish Inquisition' then frog marched Robin to the nearest cash machine.
Sadly, Robin said this holiday will be the last he will be organising. Many thanks Robin from everyone for a cracking holiday and let's hope we can twist your arm to organise just one more.
Your roving A7 reporter.
Last Sunday we assembled once again at Ash Manor for the Buttercup Bounce. The buttercups were present this year but the field unfortunately deigned too bumpy for Austins, so we had a very leisurely BBQ and a very enjoyable time. We were pleased to see new faces this year and especially pleased to welcome "Cuff" back into the fold (Cuff was previously owned by Bob Smith our friend, who sadly died last year).
Bob presented to Brooklands a rather nice medallion which we have had mounted to use as a trophy in his memory. We asked each person at the Bounce which car they most admired and would like to take home. The overwhelming winner was the A7 Mulliner owned by Susan Perkins, see picture. The trophy was presented to Sue by Bobís son Aiden.
This year was the 30th anniversary of running the Cobham Trial and it was marked by the fact that it was an "international" competition for the first time. We had six entries from Holland! The Dutch Pre-War Austin Seven Owners club brought three "Jansen" specials powered by Reliant engines and each car was double entered. These cars were built by Bas Jansen and his father Gerrit Jansen through their company Carrosseriebouw Jansen. They are essentially long wheelbase Austin 7s modified and improved for fast road use. They had their own class in the competition.
courtesy of Bonzer photos
I'm pretty sure this year was the driest we have ever known it. There were a few muddy puddles in the woods but the rest of the ground was bone dry. Grass, bluebells and leaf mould gave the only opportunities for reduced traction. We limited the tyre pressures to a minimum of 10 psi but I think that pressures up to 15 would have done as well. So sections were tight and in some cases more like driving tests. Once again we had the invaluable help of 750MC Sporting Trial guru Bill Watson who brought along his very professional equipment to lay out 10 sections of 12 gates each. The kit comprised stout poles, clip-on numbers and the thing that really impressed me was that Bill supplied 2 wooden mallets for EACH SECTION so that marshals could repair the section and change it between rounds. We arranged the day by having 1 round of 10 hills in the morning and another round on the same hills but "adjusted" in the afternoon, giving competitors 20 hills to attempt. Cars in all classes attempted all the same hills. There were four sections facing the big house, grassy slopes with a steep finish, two in the woods, and four in the "Warren", lush green slopes with a sandy subsoil.
courtesy of Bonzer photos
There were 42 entries but three non-starters left 39 competing entries. We were down on standard production A7 entries this year, just a standard 28 Chummy, a 31 Chummy and a 32 Box Saloon. Production sports comprised an Ulster, a Grasshopper and two Ulster replicas considered by the scrutineer as appropriate for this class. The Modified Saloons/Tourers comprised four Chummies, a 2 seat Tourer, and two Saloons. The biggest class (as usual) was the Modified Sports and Specials with 11 cars used by 15 entrants, and of course there were 3 cars, six drivers in the Dutch class.
courtesy of Bonzer photos
As well as the Dutch guys, entrants came from near and far including Don Skelton from Yorkshire and exceptionally Mike Davies who DROVE his 2 seat tourer all the way from Cornwall, competed in the trial and drove back home again to Cornwall.
There were six 750MC entries, nineteen VSCC entries, six Dutch entries and eight PWA7C starters, and these gain points towards the PWA7C Grasshopper Challenge. The results can be downloaded here. The organisers awarded the Tony Jones Memorial Trophy to the Dutch team with an invitation to return next year and bring the trophy back.
A big thank you to all our marshals, our Steward Tony Tickle, first-aider Karen Bawden, the setting out team on Saturday and of course Dominic Combe for the use of such a fantastic venue.
Incidentally Tony Tickle has been involved in trials for many years and it was 50 years ago that Tony won the 750MC Trials Championship in an Austin 7 trials car with a highly modified engine which had de-siamesed inlet ports and four Amal carburettors.
The Brooklands Centre of the 750MC invited members of the Dutch Austin 7 Club (DPWA7O) to enter the Cobham trial last April. This report is from Gerard van Zadelhoff the co-ordinator of the A7S, which is the competition part of the DPWA7O. Gerard gave us permission to publish the article which has been translated by Ilke and David Cochrane.
Austin 7 Cobham Trial
(our club could learn something from this!!!)
As you already know, we (the DPWA7O) got an invitation from David and Ilke Cochrane to take part in the Austin 7 Cobham Trial. At first there seemed to be quite a bit of interest, but eventually only 3 teams were left. The Austin 7 Cobham Trial was on the Saturday before Easter, you can make a nice long weekend of it (4 days). On the internet there are several video clips of the Cobham trial to look at. We bombarded David (with Ilke as intermediary) with questions, about which tyres & pressures are best, shock absorber settings, etc. Very many questions were answered by David and the most important advice that he gave was of course "have fun"; taking part is more important than winning prizes.
We (Bas, Johan and I) were convinced that our Sevens were very suitable and in particular our super (Reliant) engines would throw clods of grass in the eyes of the other cars with their original old-technology Austin engines. Moreover we have mountains in 'the East' (Holter- and Lutternberg) where we can train. After all, we have gained loads of experience with the '100 miles of Amsterdam' rallies. And above all via Ilke who has arranged absolutely everything for us, the camping, the entries, the tourist suggestions. A truly ideal woman. We were totally ready for it.
The 3 teams, Johan de Graaf / Bart Baljon, Bas Jansen / Dirk-Jan Visser and Dick Visser / Gerard van Zadelhoff had decided to go to a campsite with two campervans. Because Good Friday is a holiday in England, and following that is the long Easter weekend, this is seen by many as an ideal short holiday, so busy on the campsites and in the tourist areas. For these reasons we had decided to spend the Thursday night on a caravan site close to Calais and then next morning to take the boat together.
In the morning onto the ferry then a gentle drive to our campsite near Cobham. The campsite turned out to be a well organised campsite with all permanent plots, a grass piece for the awning and gravel for the campervan or caravan. I am afraid that a few of campsite guests fell off their chairs when Bas with his campervan plus trailer with 2 Austins drove onto the campsite and even more so when a roaring orange Seven came out of the campervan. These Dutch are crazy!! In the evening Ilke had arranged that we could eat in a pub with the organisers and some club members. Our Austins attracted quite a bit of attention from the members.
courtesy of Bonzer photos
Saturday: the day of truth
Up early in the morning with a real "English breakfast" prepared by Bas, enough eggs, bacon, sausage and so on, plenty of calories for the whole day. Drove to the Trial ground in our usual way, much too fast, went past it three times etc but we got there in time. It turned out to be a very beautiful rolling estate, far too nice to drive clumps of grass out of the ground. There were lots of Sevens there, just like Hans Mazee's black car. So not in concours condition but technically well maintained. These later turned out to be wolves in sheep's clothing. As soon as the engines started you could hear the horsepower. I am a bit surprised by the people there. A mix of young and old, grandparents with their grandchildren. A wonderfully relaxed atmosphere. We were immediately welcomed into the group.
Well, what do you know! It's really not at all about which car has the fewest penalty points and wins. The Cobham trial is really a competition between the crew of the car, and especially about fun. A competition between husband and wife, between grandad and grandma, between grandma and grandson. It's about the agility of the driver with the car.
About ten sections have been set out. When you want to drive a section, you have to check it out on foot first. Only then do you realise how steep the hills are. A section is set out in such a way that you drive a route along 10 markers. You can continue on the section until you don't go forward anymore or don't pass a marker. How long you take isn't important. The trick is probably that you take a corner as slowly as possible and as tightly as possibly with as little power as possible at the wheels (otherwise the wheels start to slip). Sometimes it seems as though the engine has stalled, but then suddenly there is the roar of the engine again which gives the car another push. The moment the wheels start to slip, the passenger has to "bounce", this creates a changing load/grip of the wheel on the ground. The "bouncing" has a significant effect on how far you get. I think that's why the women win more often than their (heavier) husbands. Of course the technical make-up of the car is very important for determining how far you get, and certainly greatly influences whether you win the trial. It makes no difference at all to the real competition between the driver and bouncer (passenger).
All the Dutch ended up with quite a bit of egg on their faces - really their cars are only suitable for road use, they take the corners too wide and have too little power at low revs. We all ended up right at the bottom with the most penalty points. Dirk-Jan and Bas were the best [of the Dutch] and I won't even mention the achievements of Gerard and Dick (neither of them even made the first marker!!!). This was of course caused by the poor technical condition of Gerard's car, and definitely not by the skill of the drivers.
courtesy of Bonzer photos
So what is so special about the trial????? The atmosphere among all the people, the element of competition between a car's crew. The camaraderie and the pointers you get from the group. The "tea-break" under a tree, eating a sandwich, having a drink and looking around. Observing a grandfather giving his grandchild instructions/driving lesson. Wondering why one person does get to the top and another doesn't. As David had indicated, it's about skill and particularly about having fun.
The Austin 7 Cobham Trial went very differently from what I had expected. Much more difficult, MUCH nicer. MORE FUN!!!
Why do so many 20- 30- 60- 70-year-olds compete??? Why are there so many fiercely enthusiastic ladies driving??? Agility?? Why don't we have this at the DPWA7O?????
Another one of Bas' breakfasts, and we went for a lovely long tour of the area and went to the Brooklands museum with the famous banked track, the test hill, aeroplanes and there we had a look at the assembly hangars of Concorde and the Wellington bombers.
We had a super weekend. Our self-confidence has become severely dented, especially in our agility and the reliability of our cars. But with the help of the lovely weather it was great and definitely not forgetting our Dutch ambassador Ilke.
The Brooklands Centre holiday was the most relaxing holiday we have had in years, we sailed from Portsmouth to Caen and spent some time on the 2nd WW beaches before driving to the Suisse Normand region. Our base for the first 3 days was Clercy which is a delightful village near Falaise. The Hotel Au Site Normand was very comfortable with charming staff so if you are in the region it's a splendid place to stay, whilst there we visited the Castle at Falaise home of William the Conqueror. We travelled on to the Cherbourg Peninsula and stayed in the Hostellerie du Chateau in the centre of Bricquebec, this Hotel is a favourite of many car clubs and very comfortable. After a crossing from Cherbourg to Poole on Saturday we made our way home via the New Forest for a last lunch together.
Would you go on a tour of northern moorland in open cars during the coldest May on record for 10 years with morning frosts? Probably not but 29 of the 750 Brooklands Motor Club did having been invited on the Peak Performance Rally organised by "Judicial Jaunts" with kind permission of Gertrude Lloyd Enterprises.
This was the 5th Rally under the "JJ" banner and having taken all of its rooms was based at the Yorkshire Bridge Inn at the foot of the Ladybower reservoir in the upper Peak area of Derbyshire being the first National park set up in Britain.
Using the very helpful detailed route instructions and maps provided by JJ which avoided motorways lunch was taken on the way up on the Tuesday at the Hedgehog Inn just north of Lichfield.
The participants having enjoyed the benefits of a blossoming economy during their lives, although retaining their much loved Austin 7's, came in cars of more capacity that they had acquired and in the main of the 50's and 60's. Indeed with so many MG's there is a risk of a change of title. They ranged from a 1931 Rolls Royce 20/25 Tickford cabriolet to a 1966 Alvis TF 21 though I am pleased to say that there were 2 fine examples of the Austin 7. Sadly in the event it was not possible to have the Gallic flair of the 2cv with us. In the harsh climate we now face under our new political leaders some may revert to their Austin 7's. All the cars displayed the official rally plate and the programme followed the details set out in the customary colour brochure provided.
This time a professional, very youthful and most amenable film crew were deployed consisting of a half Swiss (Capt. Mainwaring's grandson) a half Menorcan and a full Greek. Having done pre-event interviews on the Saturday/Sunday and filmed the area on Monday after lunch in spirited fashion they captured some useful footage on the journey to the YBI.
As usual on these occasions before dinner with JJ giving a donation to a charity of their choice we enjoyed a musical item by "Four to the bar" who gave us wonderful nostalgic numbers from the 60's, 70's, 80's and some earlier eras. Indeed they were so good that Konstantinos the Director of the Film/documentary has decided to use some of their performance as background music. Dinner taken in our own dining room set the standard for the delicious food in quantities that challenged the most hearty eaters. Full English at the YBI, in the words of modern advertising, gives you exactly what it says on the tin. Owner/Landlord in residence John Illingworth, who oversees a very well run ship, and his staff looked after us admirably and provided an excellent base for our activities.
Wednesday morning, sunny but decidedly sharpish, commenced with leisurely drive to the dams used for practice in WW2 by the famous Dambusters Squadron. Then a real treat. Escorted by John Illingworth we had a visit to a private museum in one of the towers of the Derwent Dam dedicated to the Dambusters. Unfortunately activities by Trent Water meant that we were not able to view the dam mechanisms. Despite his protestations to the contrary the creator and now curator of this museum has created a very professional layout with a wealth of exhibits including fascinating material on the making of the reservoirs.
The afternoon was planned as helicopter flights for those who had chosen to do so and a free period for others who enjoyed such local attractions as Haddon Hall, still owned by the same family, the Cutlery Museum and the Plague Village. On the stunning drive to Owler Bar, our takeoff point, the Pooley DHC Alvis decided to give us all the reality check of a mechanical failure. The gear lever became more and more stiff making driving impossible which was very annoying as it had just been fitted with an overdrive by a specialist restorer. But worse was to come: the helicopter, which had just been serviced, failed to appear as it had rear rotor blade trouble and this major feature of the event had to be postponed until Friday afternoon. This was more than enough to considerably increase the blood pressure of Captain M. We all wondered if the same mechanics had worked on the Alvis and the helicopter!!! Still it is an ill wind as they say since the film crew were delighted at the drama of two breakdowns to add spice to the documentary including the Alvis being put on an AA low loader in the middle of dinner.
This trouble was soon forgotten when that other regular feature of these Rallies, the Event cake, was displayed. Hilary Ashby exceeded even her own previous best with an entirely edible wonderfully moist fruit cake confection which depicted Derwent Dam, a Wellington bomber complete with bouncing bomb on the surface of the water, the helicopter, the YBI with 3 of our cars in front and a tap dancing couple (see later for relevance). Martin Barnes' co pilot John Seymour as our most welcome guest did the honours with cutting the cake. We then retired to the Bar for a showing of a DVD, made by a Canadian Film Company, about the famous very early car race of 1908 from New York to Paris. Unfortunately the pace of the film about this epic journey at times was as slow as the cars in the snow and mud of the American wilderness and for some was as sleep inducing as an evening of television.
Thursday having removed the frost from the windscreens we all set off for a marvellous day tour of the area with full instructions for each junction and maps provided which made for very easy navigation. First stop was a trip down the Speedwell Cavern. The 104 steps down to the boat and back showed just what a fine job the 2 orthopaedic surgeons had done with new hips for Len an Jana. Our guides amongst much useful information told amusing anecdotes such as the man who asked if he could take his helmet off because his head kept hitting the roof!! Fortunately one camera had an infra red facility so this aspect will be on the film.
Next we very briefly sampled the Monsal Trail, including the old railway viaduct, immortalised by Julia Bradbury in her TV programme of Walks. When operative this railway line was travelled by Mollie Gray, the Curries and our Captain in their youth.
Lunch was taken at the "Cock and Pullet" with its collection of clocks and situated in the pretty village of Sheldon. Parking was a problem but a kindly Alvis owner living opposite the pub allowed us to park in his field. The afternoon showed just what a variety of terrain and motoring this area offers culminating in the famous "Cat and Fiddle" pub, the second highest in England with its fine views and then the run down into the Spa town of Buxton. The afternoon had provided excellent filming opportunities including our cars travelling up the Wynatts Pass whilst camera man Ian travelled down in the Alvis TF21 (which doubled as the film crew car) taking moving footage from out of the webasto roof.
Following a quick tour of the town those attending the performance at the Opera House went to the Old Club House for supper where we met by chance the "Four to the bar" group and another filming opportunity was provided by 8 dolly birds with flashing bunnies ears out on a hen night. Unfortunately the Captain's friends the Tuttons were not able to join us as they were grounded in Spain by the volcanic ash cloud. The marvellously restored Victorian Opera House gave us an evening of sheer energy and exuberance as its young troupe tap danced their way through from Fred Astaire to the music of the present day in show aptly entitled "Tap Dance Fever". We all marvelled at the way in which they moved their feet at an eye flickering speed faster than the exposed valves on a GKN at full chat. We assembled in the car park for a convoy home including some night filming. Whilst a certain Austin 7 provided entertainment by seeking when reversing to modify the front of the MGB the Polley ran back to the theatre to see one of the stars back stage on the thinly disguised excuse of losing his mobile phone which proved to be in the car all the time.
Friday morning the film crew en Alvis went ahead to film all the cars crossing the famous bridge into Chatsworth House seat of the Duke of Devonshire. The cars were lined up at the foot of Lodge Hill but unfortunately the Duke was called away and he was not able to judge the cars as arranged. However another Judge in our party stepped into the breach and chose the fine Norman's MGTD – awarding them the JJ prize of a book about seminal cars – as much for their contribution to the Club as for their MG. The very good guided tours of the House, still the home of the Duke and his family, revealed accumulated treasures and wealth that even the most successful "Dot Com" entrepreneurs and Russian billionairs of today could not match.
Having to miss the other delights of Chatsworth the helicopter group then scrambled again to Owler Bar and boy was it worth it. Stunning views of the outcrop Stannard Edge the reservoirs the dams and the YBI. Footage taken from the front seat of the helicopter by Ian will be a highlight of the documentary. We all received a certificate of our flight.
The Pooley Alvis was collected from the Restorer on our way home. Nod was correct it only needed half an hour's work to lubricate the gear stick ball joint. We could have cured it in half an hour before dinner on Wednesday.
And so ended another extremely enjoyable and successful trip marred only by the low temperature and those stalwarts Mollie and Robin Gray being unable to attend because of car and logistical problems. Also Jim Robinson's back giving way on the Friday morning so that he and Sue missed Chatsworth and the Helicopter. Still at least Mollie and Robin will be with us in just over a fortnight when we all yet again enjoy Robin's great annual holiday to the Continent.
Stephen Lloyd, 20th May 2010
You can download the results of the 2010 Cobham Trial here.
Courtesy of David Southcott, photos taken at this year's trial can be seen at Bonzer Photos.
Sunday 2nd August, the day of L.O.T. (Lunch on Train). It was glorious weather, so with hood down, we set off to Northiam, where we were due to board the Kent and East Sussex railway for lunch. On arrival, we noticed a few vintage / classic cars in the car park and our group gathered on the platform impeccably dressed, not a pair of 'jeans' T-shirt or trainers in sight and all wearing (as requested by K & ESR) ties. On entering the platform, we were served with complimentary drinks by two young uniformed volunteers, before boarding our carriage. At the blast of the whistle, the train started its journey, wending its way through the lovely countryside of Rother Valley whilst we enjoyed a wonderful 3-course meal which had been freshly prepared and cooked on board the train, (the sweet trolley was eye boggling!) The journey took us from Northiam to Bodiam, back through Northiam then onto Tenterden, passing through Wittersham Road and Rolvenden Stations before returning to Northiam. That special smell of smoke that only steam trains can give, along with the tiny smuts of soot that landed on the white table cloths truly gave us more than a hint of 'time gone by'. The staff (all volunteers) were authentically dressed, extremely polite, happy and obviously took great pride in recreating levels of service seldom enjoyed in today's busy world.
After the relaxing train journey and bellies full, we drove to Bodiam Castle for a quick visit. Bodiam Castle was built in 1385 and is the perfect example of a late medieval moated castle. As the weather was still hot, we decided just to walk round the moat, whilst others investigated the interior. On leaving the Castle it had been arranged for us all to meet at the 'Spotted Dog' in Smarts Hill. This P.H. was apparently frequented by Stephen and his brother in their younger days! The evening was still very pleasant, so with drinks in hand, we wandered outside to sit in one of the tiered beer gardens, overlooking what could have been a spectacular view if there were less trees! As the sun started to fade, and glasses now empty, we decided to make our way home after what was a very enjoyable day.
April 1939, it is 70 years since Bill Boddy and friends sat down at the Wheatsheaf Public House in Virginia water Surrey to discuss the formation of a motor club.
The club was to be centred around the Austin 7 and was not to be a club to encourage trips to the seaside or tea and cake on the village green, but a club to gather together the ordinary man in the street and make it possible for him to take part in competitive motoring by modifying and tuning the Austin 7 as cheaply as possible using innovation, ingenuity and "scrounge". Of course the Austin Seven had already taken part in racing hill climbs and intense competition, ever since Lord Austin announced it to the world in 1923, but in the main these activities were carried out by wealthy individuals, such as the works cars driven by Austin's son-in-law Arthur Waite, Gordon England, Boyd Carpenter and many others who lived in the big houses at the best end of town.
The V.S.C.C. had been formed a few years earlier and it could be argued that this worthy club catered for the aims of Bill Boddy's club; however the V.S.C.C. members tended to wear expensive suits and ties and have a "Man" prepare their cars thereby keeping their finger nails clean.
Bill and friends decided to call their club the 750 Motor Club as the 750 was near enough the cubic capacity of the Seven engine. It is not in dispute that the 750 Motor Club had great influence, indeed it could be argued that the 750 Motor Club gave birth to the motor racing industry of today. Many famous names have cut their teeth within the Club including Colin Chapman of course, Mike Costin, Keith Duckworth and Bruce Mclaren, whose Seven Special still has pride of place at the Mclaren premises in Woking to this day.
Remarkably the sound of drills, lathes and hammers can still be heard behind closed doors and lock ups all over the country as many Austin Seven specials take shape, even in 2009.
Motor Sport May, 1939 Club News reported the event:
The "750" Club held a most successful opening Rally at Virginia Water on April 16. Twenty-seven cars followed Boddy's late-type Austin Saloon on a 50 mile follow-my-leader run organised by the club captain, Mr. Kipps. Apart from two Morris saloons, an open Morris, and a f.w.d. B.S.A. three-wheeler, all were Austin Sevens, and three "Ulsters", a special "Brooklands" two-seater, a 1934 two-seater, an "Army"-type two-seater, a converted Army two-seater, and early saloon; three "Chummy" four-seaters; Brown's special sports two-seater; an "Arrow" two-seater, a very well-preserved Stadium two-seater; two "65" two-seaters, a special four-seater and two late saloons took part. Fifty-one persons took tea together after the run, and they were addressed by Messrs. Hunter Williams and Kipps. Several new members were enrolled on the spot.
70 years on Brooklands Centre decided to celebrate the 70th Anniversary of the first run and Nigel Coulter gathered together 53 Austin Sevens, that is Nine Chummys, one Top Hat, ten Box Saloons, seven Tourers, one Boat Tail Two seater, one Gordon England Cup. one Gordon England Stadium, two Type 65's, one Speedy, two Nippys, one Ulster Replica, two Ulsters, three Pearls, two Rubies, one Mulliner Sports, eight Specials and Bob Smith's 1936 Morris Eight Tourer. Among the Nippys was Peter Richards driving the ex. John Moon BXE 603 which took part in the inaugural run in April 1939. Graham Fullalove brought along the Harold Biggs Special WMF 5. Harold and John were both founder members in 1939.
Reg Nice came along with his Hot Ulster accompanied by Bill Boddy's daughter Nondus Banning Boddy and Janet Edroff and Gill Davis entered with their Super Accessories Special OC 7336. Janet and Gill had just completed the Lowerstoft to Lands End Run the previous week.
Sunday April 19th produced a beautiful spring morning as the 53 entrants lined up at Savill Gardens in Egham, (a stones throw from the original meeting place) for the start of the fifty six mile Commemoration Run. The route took the cars through the beautiful and quiet lanes of Surrey, stopping for a brief but very enjoyable coffee stop at the Manor House School in Effingham.
This stop was generously organised by Brooklands Centre member Stephen Lloyd who was helped by the school staff. Our thanks to all concerned.
Our tour ended at Brooklands Museum where after assembling by the famous Club House we were escorted by Brooklands Donna Hopton, in a convoy, onto the Members banking.
After a photo shoot we assembled again for a farewell speech by Ken Cooke who thanked Nigel Coulter for a superbly organised and most enjoyable Commemorative Run.
You can download the results of the 2009 Cobham Trial here.