Cowbourne Updates

After the publication, in 2003, of the last of his quartet of books (three on trials drivers, and one on rally drivers), Donald Cowbourne maintained a simple website to promote the books. He also published a set of updates, the last in January 2008 just six months before his death in July 2008. For some reason, the updates as published were numbered from 11 onwards and I have no idea if there ever were any updates numbered 1 to 10. Luckily I downloaded the updates as PDF files before his website disappeared, and here they are:

Download the Updates (27 Page PDF file).

  • Pages 1/27 to 2/27. Update 11. British Trials Drivers 1902-1914.
  • Pages 3/27 to 4/27. Update 12. British Trials Drivers 1902-1914.
  • Pages 5/27 to 6/27. Update 13. British Trials Drivers 1902-1914.
  • Pages 7/27 to 8/27. Update 14. British Trials Drivers 1902-1914.
  • Pages 9/27 to 10/27. Update 15. British Trials Drivers 1902-1914 and 1919-1928.
  • Pages 11/17 to 12/27. Update 16. British Trials Drivers 1929-1939.
  • Pages 13/27 to 14/27. Update 17. British Trials Drivers 1929-1939.
  • Pages 15/27 to 16/27. Update 18. British Trials Drivers 1929-1939.
  • Pages 17/27 to 18/27. Update 19. British Trials Drivers 1929-1939.
  • Pages 19/27 to 20/27. Update 20. British Trials Drivers 1929-1939.
  • Pages 21/27 to 22/27. Update 21. British Trials Drivers 1929-1939.
  • Pages 23/27 to 24/27. Update 22. British Trials Drivers 1929-1939.
  • Pages 25/27 to 26/27. Update 23. Includes updates to all four books.
  • Page 27/27. Update 24. British Rally Drivers.

Golden Age of Motoring – Caption corrections

The Golden Age of British Motoring, sub-titled Classic Cars from 1900 to 1940, edited by Roy Bacon and published by the Promotional Reprint Company in 1995, is a large-format book of photographs from the Brunell Collection. It has been universally praised for the quality of the photography and the printing, and universally slated for the shoddy captioning. I was not the first to attempt to catalogue these errors as a lengthy letter appeared in the July 1998 VSCC Bulletin (Page 53) although, perhaps unsurprisingly, only five of the errors noted in the VSCC letter cover the trials photographs noted below.

Most of the text below was originally published in April 2011 on a previous version of this website, but has now been updated, checked, and corrected as far as is possible. I have noted, in red, the more interesting photographs that are still unidentified. Can anyone help?

  • Page 7 : Can anyone identify the riders, event or location?
  • Page 8 : I believe that this Trow Hill, probably taken on the 1913 Exeter Trial, but can anyone identify the lady rider?
  • Page 9 (upper) : Can anyone identify the rider or event or, indeed, confirm that this is Rosedale Chimney?
  • Page 17 (lower) : Can anyone identify the rider or the year?
  • Page 21 (lower) : Cowbourne doesn’t list a Salmson with this registration, or entry number, in any Scottish Six Days Trial. So has anyone got any better ideas?
  • Page 27 : The same photograph is on Page 591 of Cowbourne 1929 – 1939, the event is definitely the 1930 Brighton-Beer, the driver is Major C S Montague Johnstone, and Bryan Ditchman believes that the photograph was taken on Pepperdon.
  • Page 37 : Cowbourne confirms this as the 1929 Edinburgh Trial, G E Gaskell in the closed car (168) and G H Robins in the open car (169) both winning Gold Medals. Cowbourne lists just four observed hills on this event and I think Stake Moss is the most likely location for this photograph.
  • Page 39 (lower) : This is definitely a mystery photograph, although I’ve seen others that may have been taken in the same location, including the one on Page 93. I’m suspicious that this can be anything other than an MCC trial (or maybe the NWLMC Gloucester Trial or the SUNBAC Colmore Trial) with a competitor numbered 246 but Cowbourne doesn’t list any Wolseley with this number in any of these events in the 1920s. More research needed.
  • Page 43 (upper) : Cowbourne identifies this as W H Elce on the 1923 Land’s End Trial, when the observed hill was called Lynton (not Lynmouth). This road is now the B3234 which climbs directly from Lynmouth to Barbrook and is used on the route of the modern Land’s End Trial.
  • Page 53 (upper) : Although not a trials photograph, this is Tarr Steps which features in trials-related photographs over many decades.
  • Page 73 (upper) : This is correctly captioned as the 1928 Exeter Trial, but the car is P D Walker’s O.M. (not H Stevens’ Lea Francis) and I believe that the photograph was probably taken on White Sheet hill.
  • Page 73 (lower) : This is correctly captioned as the 1928 Exeter Trial. The first car is W C H Pitts in his Austin Seven, followed by J C Thorowgood in his Austin Seven. I have no idea where the photograph may have been taken.
  • Page 74 (upper) : Cowbourne confirms this as W J Haward’s Bayliss-Thomas on the 1928 Exeter and I believe that the photograph was probably taken on White Sheet hill.
  • Page 88 (lower) : Can anyone identify the driver, location, or year?
  • Page 92 (upper) : Can anyone identify the location?
  • Page 93 : I think this is highly likely to be the same location, and the maybe even the same event, as the photograph on Page 39 (lower). But Cowbourne doesn’t list any Standard with the number 239 in any major event in the 1920s. More research needed.
  • Page 96 (upper and lower) : These photographs are both taken on the 1930 Land’s End Trial, and the cars are all listed in Cowbourne.
  • Page 97 (upper) : This is H H Porter-Hargreaves on his way to winning a Premier (Gold) Award on the 1933 Land’s End Trial.
  • Page 97 (lower) : This is H H Vaughan-Knight on his way to a Gold Award on the 1929 Land’s End Trial.
  • Page 105 (upper) : This is a notoriously incorrectly-captioned photograph which also appears on Page 9 of Thomas. It is Park Rash, and it is the 1930 Edinburgh Trial, but it is an MG 18/80 saloon, not an Austin, although I can’t identify the driver as the number plate is not visible in the photograph (Cowbourne lists three such cars in this event).
  • Page 105 (lower) : This is not a Lagonda, it is J C Haward’s Singer, but it is the 1930 Edinburgh Trial and, I’m pretty certain, it is Park Rash again.
  • Page 106 (upper) : Almost certainly Park Rash but, as Cowbourne doesn’t list motorcycles, I can’t identify the year. Maybe 1930 again?
  • Page 106 (lower) : This is the 1930 Exeter Trial, and the section is Ibberton, but the car is C A Biddle’s Salmson, not C H Lawford’s Riley (which was No. 202 in the 1929 Exeter Trial).
  • Page 120 (lower) : Interesting primarily because competitors on the modern Lands End Trial used to pass this spot shortly after leaving Stoney Street and on their way to the rest stop at the County Gate Inn. Cloutsham (not Cloutshaw) is down the hill on the right fork.
  • Page 122 (upper) : This is another photograph from an incorrectly-captioned series of Brunell photographs. It is not New Mill on the Lands End Trial, but Dane Hill in Kent, most likely during the Margate and District Car Club’s Wye Cup Trial on 21st February 1937. The photograph on Page 156 (Upper), and another on Page 48 of Thomas, are clearly of the same (mis-captioned) location and event.
  • Page 123 (upper) : I assume that this is probably the same event, and the same location, as the lower photograph but can’t identify the cars to confirm.
  • Page 123 (lower) : Cowbourne confirms this as the 1930 MCC Sporting Trial (in the Buxton area, but not called the Buxton Trial) so the photograph is almost certainly taken close to Litton Mill in Miller’s Dale and the cars are waiting to attempt Litton Slack. The Morris and the MG are both identified in Cowbourne, who says that the car behind is a Chrysler, not a De Soto.
  • Page 125 (upper) : This is not Nailsworth Ladder, it is Bushcombe Lane which is on Cleeve Hill to the north of Cheltenham. The Austin Harris website has many photographs taken in the same location with the distinctive house in the background.
  • Page 127 (upper) : This is unlikely to be a “typical club trial” with an entry number as high as 258. It is almost certainly Beggars Roost on either the 1929 or 1930 Lands End Trial. Cowbourne lists Riley Nines with this number on both events, and both won Gold Awards, but there’s no more information to identify which car and which year.
  • Page 130 (upper) : I think this looks like Maiden Grove, but others disagree. Can anyone identify the section?
  • Page 130 (lower) : Cowbourne confirms this as R Gower’s MG on the 1931 Brighton-Beer, and it’s definitely Fingle Bridge.
  • Page 131 (upper and lower), Page 132, and Page 133 (upper) : I am reliably informed that this is Lower Doverhay Farm, in Porlock Village, and the vehicles are waiting to attempt the Doverhay section. See also 155 (upper).
  • Page 133 (lower) : I am reliably informed that the section is Yealscombe and the photograph is taken about half-way up.
  • Page 142 (upper) : This is definitely Nailsworth Ladder.
  • Page 142 (lower) : This is most definitely not Nailsworth Ladder, and I am almost certain that it is Bushcombe Lane, but I haven’t yet tracked-down the car or the event.
  • Page 145 (upper) : Tarr Steps again – see Page 53 (upper).
  • Page 147 (upper) : Bryan Ditchman tells me that this is Cowcastle, crossing the River Barle at Horsen Ford, in which case it is in Somerset, not Devon. But can anyone identify the cars, or the year, and wouldn’t it have been strange to have saloons competing in the Experts Trial?
  • Page 152 (lower) : Obviously taken in the same place, and at the same time, as the photograph on Page 147 (upper). Car or year, anyone?
  • Page 154 : This is definitely not Fingle Bridge. It is G H Harrington’s MG NA (NJ 3470) crossing Palmer’s Mill Ford, on the route between the Hatherland and Beerdown sections, on the 1934 Brighton-Beer Trial. With thanks to Bryan Ditchman for this detailed information.
  • Page 155 (upper) : This is clearly another photograph in the same location (Lower Doverhay Farm, Porlock), and taken on the same event, as those on pages 131 to 133 (DR 7434, with No.20, also appears in the upper photograph on page 131).
  • Page 156 (upper) : Another from the incorrectly-captioned “New Mill” series. See Page 122 (upper) above.
  • Page 156 (lower) : Cowbourne identifies this as G Taylor’s Alta on the 1930 Land’s End Trial, most likely on the upper slopes of Beggars Roost.
  • Page 161 (upper) : Bryan Ditchman identifies this as Ibberton Church Hill, the picture possibly taken on the Salisbury Motor Club’s Budgen Trophy Trial in June 1936. The car is an MG K1, still “alive” and well and living in Surrey.
  • Page 169 (lower) : Cowbourne identifies this as I H Johnstone Baugh’s Rally (not a Straker-Squire) on the 1929 (not 1937) Edinburgh Trial. In which case it’s probably from the same sequence as the photograph on page 37 and is most likely to be Stake Moss or Askrigg.
  • Page 180 (upper and lower) : Cowbourne confirms the cars, their drivers, and that it is the 1938 Edinburgh Trial. Bryan Ditchman thinks that the section is Adderstonshiels.
  • Page 182 (lower) : This is the 1935 (not 1938) Welsh Rally. See Page 34 (upper) of Thomas.
  • Page 183 (lower) : This photograph also appears on Page 84 (lower) of Thomas where it is captioned as the start of the 1938 Chiltern Trial. It is, apparently, taken outside Platt’s Garage in Marlow.
  • Page 185 (upper and lower) : Surprisingly, I suspect that these photographs may be correctly captioned as the 1939 Abingdon Trial was, according to Thomas, a trial/rally event with an overnight stop in Shrewsbury.
  • Page 186 (upper) : This is the 1938 Lands End (car checked with Cowbourne), and I’m pretty certain that the photograph is taken at the top of Beggars Roost.
  • Page 186 (lower) : Simon Woodall is pretty certain that this is not an MCC event as the number is too low for a three-wheeler, although I still think it looks like the top of Beggars Roost.
  • Page 187 (upper and lower) : Cowbourne confirms the 1939 Land’s End Trial, and the details of both cars. The section is most definitely Crackington.
  • Page 188 (upper) : Cowbourne confirms that this is C G Fitt on his way to a Premier Award on the 1939 Land’s End Trial, and the photograph looks very much like Darracott.

M.G.Trials Cars – Caption corrections

M.G. Trials Cars, by Roger Thomas, is one of the “Essential Seven” trials history books. Subtitled “An Appreciation of The Works Teams” this large format book was published in 1995 to accompany the MGCC “60th Anniversary Weekend” celebrating the formation of the famous Cream Cracker and Musketeers MG Works Teams. Lots of photographs, some well-known, and three (well-chronicled) captioning errors, but still a tour-de-force. It has been out-of-print since 2001 and there are no plans to reprint it. Copies are available from time-to-time on eBay, or from the regular suppliers of motorsport memorabilia, often at ridiculously high prices.

Captions corrected
  • Page 9 (lower) : This photograph also appears on Page 105 of Bacon, where it is correctly captioned as being taken on Park Rash during the 1930 Edinburgh Trial. It is an MG 18/80 saloon, but unidentified as Cowbourne lists three such cars in this event and the number plate of this one is not visible in the photograph.
  • Page 34 (lower) : Another famously-incorrectly-captioned MG trials photograph. It was the subject of copious internet correspondence in 1999, resulting in a page on Michael Leete’s Classical Gas website, at the end of which correspondence it was identified as Wrynose Pass on the 1935 MCC Edinburgh Trial.
  • Page 48 : Another famously-incorrectly-captioned MG trials photograph. It is not New Mill on the Lands End Trial, but one of a series of Brunell photographs taken on Dane Hill in Kent, most likely during the Margate and District Car Club’s Wye Cup Trial on 21st February 1937. Photographs of the same event, both incorrectly captioned as New Mill, appear on Pages 122 and 156 of Bacon.
More comments on captions …
  • Page 16 (upper) : Park Rash?
  • Page 41 (lower) : The location of this photograph is a mystery. Cowbourne lists Langley’s number in all the major events during 1935/6, and “10” doesn’t feature. So when and where is this?
  • Page 42 (lower) : Park Rash?
  • Page 53 (lower) : This is certainly taken on the 1938 Colmore Trial (entry number checked in Cowbourne) and I’m pretty certain that it’s at the top of New Kineton.
  • Page 56 (lower) : This is Green negotiating the watersplash at the approach to New Kineton on the 1939 Colmore Trial.
  • Page 58 (lower) : This is Green during the Maidstone and Mid Kent Motor Club’s Bossom Trial on 6th February 1938, but I haven’t yet identified where.
  • Page 72 : The 1934 Abingdon Trial was the first recorded use of Juniper, the classic Cotswolds section, for a major Trial.

Classic Trials Books

It’s quite amazing that one hundred and twenty years of classic trialling has produced a total of only seven books devoted exclusively to the sport, and one of them (the MCC history) features non-trials motorsport as well. Here’s a brief list, in roughly chronological order and arranged by author. All were originally published in hardback. None are still in print but most are available through the obvious motorsport or second-hand booksellers, sometimes at quite sensible prices but occasionally at seriously inflated prices. Shop around!

C.A.N May
  • Wheelspin. Competition Motoring from the Driver’s Seat. First published 1945. Second edition 1945, reprinted 1946 and 1948. Classic reprint 1971. All by G.T.Foulis & Co. 174 pages. There was a later paperback edition. May’s personal recollections of the period from 1933 to 1939, so biased towards certain cars and certain events, but tremendously evocative of the period and an essential book in any motorsport enthusiast’s collection.
  • More Wheelspin. Post-war Competition Motoring from the Driver’s Seat. First published by G.T.Foulis & Co. 1948. 192 pages. There was a later paperback edition. Similar format and style to ‘Wheelspin’ but covering just the short period from the end of WWII in mid-1945 to the removal of the basic petrol ration in December 1947.
Peter Garnier
  • The Motor Cycling Club. Britain’s oldest sporting club for motor cycles and cars. First published by David & Charles. 1989. 222 pages. Second edition printed by Footeprints. 2009. A potted history of the MCC from its formation in 1901 up to the late 1980s. Very patchy as a true history with some aspects of the club covered in detail whilst others are ignored completely. The second edition has a few minor additions but the printing is poor quality and I know (because he told me) that John Aley was very disappointed with the end result.
Roger F Thomas
  • M.G . Trials Cars. An appreciation of The Works Teams. Published by Magna Press. 1995. 104 pages. Produced as part of the MGCC celebrations of the sixtieth anniversary of the formation of the two Works Teams. Lots of information about the cars, their drivers, and the main trials organised by the MGCC during the 1930s. Now quite rare with copies in good condition selling for £100 to £125, or even higher. The captions for some of the photographs are incorrect (the book was produced very quickly with minimal time for checking) and a corrections list will be published on this website in early 2022.
Donald Cowbourne
  • British Trials Drivers. Their Cars and Awards 1902 to 1914. 2003. 602 pages.
  • British Trials Drivers. Their Cars and Awards 1919 to 1928. 2001. 590 pages.
  • British Trials Drivers. Their Cars and Awards 1929 to 1939. 1998. 720 pages.
  • All three volumes were published by Smith Settle and I’m pretty certain that there is only one edition of each and no subsequent reprinting. They all consist primarily of tables charting the entries in a selection of the major trials of the relevant period, supplemented by photographs, brief details of the events themselves, and bit and pieces of trialling trivia. None of the three are a ‘bedtime read’ but they are all absolutely essential reference books for the periods which they cover.
… and Others

It was only after I’d written the above that I remembered that motoring bookseller Simon Lewis ( had written an article about trialling books for the November 2020 issue of Restart, the ACTC magazine. It was gratifying to note that I hadn’t missed any of the major works, although Simon also listed a number of other books which give trials a mention alongside other motoring topics.

Classic Trials Magazines

In January 2016 I started trying to unravel the dates when the various ACTC magazines were published. Then, less than a month later, I was lucky enough to acquire, from MCC member Martin Webb, a veritable treasure trove of old trials magazines which not only filled lots of gaps in my own collection but also answered some of the outstanding questions. I have all of the magazines listed below (except for the first three years of Four Wheels Out when it was primarily a sporting trials magazine) so, if anyone wishes a scan of any particular issue, do please Contact Me by email using the link in the sidebar.

Four Wheels Out – the first “ACTC” magazine

Four Wheels Out started out, in July 1981, as “The Magazine of Sporting Trials”, changing its tagline to “The Magazine of Sporting and Classic Trials” in March 1984 (No.28) and keeping this tagline to the last issue in May 1987 (No.60).

  • 1981 – July 1981 (No.1) to December 1981 (No.5). Five issues (no August).
  • 1982 – January 1982 (No.6) to December 1982 (No.15). Ten issues (no June or August).
  • 1983 – January 1983 (No.16) to December 1983 (No.25). Ten issues (no June or August).
  • 1984 – January 1984 (No.26) to December 1984 (No.35). Ten issues (no June or August).
  • 1985 – January 1985 (No.36) to December 1985 (No.45). Ten issues (no June or August).
  • 1986 – January 1986 (No.46) to December 1986 (No.55). Ten issues (no June or August).
  • 1987 – January 1987 (No.56) to May 1987 (No.60). Five issues.
Wheelspin – the second “ACTC” magazine

“The Magazine of Sporting and Classic Trials”. Brian Cope was the editor of all issues.

  • Volume 1 – No.1 September 1987 to No.9 May 1988. Monthly. Nine issues.
  • Volume 2 – No.1 September 1988 to No.9 May 1989. Monthly. Nine issues.
  • Volume 3 – No.1 September 1989 to No.9 May 1990. Monthly. Nine issues.
Restart – the third (and current) official ACTC magazine

After the demise of Wheelspin, Jenny Vowden and Anne Templeton produced a single edition of ‘ACTC News’ in December 1990. This morphed-into Restart, with Jenny and Anne as the editors from March 1991 to March 1993, and Anne Templeton (on her own) from September 1993 to November 1997.

  • 1991 – Volume 2. March / July / December. Three issues.
  • 1992 – Volume 3. March / July / October. Three issues.
  • 1993 – Volume 4. March / September / December. Three issues.
  • 1994 – Volume 5. May / August / December. Three issues.
  • 1995 – Volume 6. April / September / December. Three issues.
  • 1996 – Volume 7. May / September / December. Three issues
  • 1997 – Volume 8. July / November. Two issues.

Pat Toulmin took over the role of editor from Volume 9, Issue 1, March 1998 since when Restart has been published four times a year, every year.

Triple – the MCC magazine

Triple was first published in October 1974 (the “First Issue”), then three times every year from January 1975 (No.1) to date, except 1992 when there were four issues. All the issues are consecutively numbered so, for example, after 41 years (1975 to 2015 inclusive) the Winter 2015 issue is No.124 (41 x 3 = 123 + the extra one in 1992 = 124) although, of course, it’s actually the 125th issue as the “First Issue” was not numbered.

This Post was originally published on 25 August 2019 as a Page on this website and is re-posted here without amendment.

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