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.

The Experts Trial

The Experts Trial was organised by the Mid-Surrey Automobile Club from 1933 until 1938. It used seventeen different sections scattered around Exmoor, so not quite on the organising club’s doorstep. Exmoor has always been prime trialling country and the Mid-Surrey AC were not the only club to travel miles to use Exmoor sections. The Brighton and Hove Motor Club’s Brighton-Beer Trial (neither starting in Brighton nor finishing in Beer) also used some of the same sections and, of course, the route of the MCC Land’s End Trial has always included sections on Exmoor.

The Experts was a prestigious event, as only invited drivers could enter and they had to have achieved considerable trials success in the preceding twelve months before Mid-Surrey AC would send them an invitation. The start of the Experts was generally from the market square in Dunster, usually at the civilised hour of 10.30, or even 11.30am, with a short route mileage and fewer observed sections than was normal for “one day” trials in the 1930s.

C.A.N. May reports on several of the Experts Trials in Wheelspin, with detailed descriptions of some of the more memorable sections, and the event has always had a special appeal to MG enthusiasts as so many of the “expert” competitors of the period were MG-mounted. Although a few of the sections may be familiar to those who competed in the Minehead Motor Club’s Exmoor Clouds Trial in the 1980s and 1990s, most are now lost to the sport.

I am indebted to Bryan Ditchman and Jonathan Toulmin for providing most of the information below and I know that Jonathan, in particular, has a lot more detailed information gleaned from his father’s records. Bryan and Jonathan published two articles in the ACTC magazine “Restart”, in November 2007 and March 2008, detailing the exploits of their “walking trials” on Exmoor looking for sections used for the Experts, Brighton-Beer, and Land’s End Trials.

1933

  • Date: 7th October 1933.
  • Start/Finish: Tiverton / County Gate.
  • Sections: Hatherland, Doverhay, Cloutsham, Yealscombe, Lipscombe, Loxhore.
  • Entries: 41 entries, 34 starters.
  • Winner: H M Avery (Singer).

1934

  • Date: 3rd November 1934.
  • Start/Finish: Dunster / Exford.
  • Sections: Slade’s Lane, Ashwell, Kersham I, Kersham II, Howetown, Kemps Lane, Cloutsham, Downscombe.
  • Entries: 27 entries.
  • Winner: AB Langley (972cc Singer).

1935

  • Date: 26th October 1935.
  • Start/Finish: Dunster / Exford.
  • Sections: Slade’s Lane, Howetown, Edbrooke, Widlake, Doverhay, Yealscombe.
  • Entries: (Not known).
  • Winner: H G Simmons (2litre BMW).

1936

  • Date: 31st October 1936.
  • Start/Finish: Dunster (assumed) / (Not known).
  • Sections: Ashwell, Kersham, Widlake, Cloutsham, Downscombe, Picked Stones, Mannacott Tunnel, Kipscombe [timed test].
  • Entries: 29 entries, 27 starters.
  • Winner: HK Crawford (MG PB).
  • Notes: “Non-skid” (e.g. chains) permitted. It was obviously a very wet event. Cowcastle and Yealscombe (which were to be included) were both cancelled, due to deep water, Toulmin and Crawford rescuing Miss Watson from her Frazer-Nash BMW which had been almost submerged in the swollen River Barle.

1937

  • Date: 30th October 1937.
  • Start/Finish: Dunster / Blackmore Gate.
  • Sections: Kersham, Colly, Widlake, Cloutsham, Downsombe, Yealscombe, Cowcastle 1, Cowcastle 2, Pickedstones 1, Pickedstones 2, Mannacott Tunnel, Trentishoe [timed test], Martinhoe [timed test].
  • Entries: 31 entries, 30 starters, 22 finishers.
  • Winner(s): AG Imhof (MG T) and JM Toulmin (MG T) [tie].
  • Notes: Kersham, Colly, and Yealscombe, were all cancelled; Yealscombe probably before the start of the event, Colley (after Allard – in CLK 5? – overturned) and Kersham during the event.

1938

  • Date: 29th October 1938.
  • Start/Finish: Dunster / Blackmore Gate.
  • Sections: Stoke Mill, Colley, Widlake, Cloutsham, Yeo Vale, Cowcastle, Pickedstones, Pennycombe [timed test].
  • Entries: 26 Starters, 22 finishers.
  • Winner: Alf Langley (747cc Austin).

For more information about the Sections used, see the Trials Sections Database.

This Post was originally published on 11 May 2020 as a Page on this website and is re-posted here with minor amendments.

The Gregory

20121020_01

Josh Moss in PPP 387 on the 2012 Ebworth Trial.
Photograph by Dave Cook

This post (originally a page on this website) is the result of a trials-related “London Bus Syndrome” – most of us had never heard of the Gregory until along came two of them.

3 November 2007. The first item was in John Aley’s MCC News of the Week.

Then there’s the Gregory. It seems there was more than one of these and one, with a Ford V8 engine was rebuilt to a very high degree about 20 years ago. The question arose because this one, which is described as a Dellow like car with a V8 engine, is being rebuilt by the son of Les Leston – a name which will be familiar to many as the first purveyor of Go Faster goodies from his shop in Holborn.

10 November 2007. This prompted a response in the following News of the Week.

More on the Gregory: Thanks to Arthur Vowden for contributing this: During the 1980s a Gregory Trials Special was campaigned in MCC and Southwest ACTC events by John Clarkson of Camelford. It was a Dellow lookalike but with a square nose front and cycle wings. It was Ford 10 based with the transverse spring front suspension. The engine and gearbox were Ford 1500cc pre-crossflow (Added later – originally 1172), its registration number was PPP 387. John advertised it for sale in the September issue of Wheelspin. By coincidence the same day as the newsletter came through I had read a 1955 copy of Motor Sport and in it were pictures of the MGCC Chiltern Trial, one of the pictures was of C.O. Gregory driving a Ford 10 based Dellow look-a-like special with a square nose and cycle wings, its registration number being PPP 259. Barrie Kirton has sent a press cutting from Classic & Sportscar of November 1990 in which there’s a letter from John Clarkson in which he suggests that 6 of these were built, but does this include the V8 engined monster?

13 November 2007. I received this email from Colin Gwyer, who is not an MCC member, out of the blue.

I have aquired a Gregory 1952 which over the years has seen many modifications and once I have done a few things to it will get trialing again. Do you have any information on how many were built etc. because it seems a bit of a rare motor?

20 November 2007. Followed-up by a further email from Colin a week later.

I bought the Gregory PPP 387 from Graham Price who did a few events in it including the ’06 Clee Hills as shown on the results page of your website. Also on your site is an entry for the Derbyshire trial of 1966 with a Gregory, don’t know if it is the same car. I have the old buff log book and some photos taken over the years that show the changes made to such items as the front wings. The car at the moment is at work while I find time to get some MOT items sorted.

14 December 2007. I then had a flurry of emails from Nigel Brown, who’d discovered this photograph …

20071214_01

… and pointed me in the direction of this listing for the results of the H&H Auction at The Pavilion Gardens, Buxton, on 4th October 2000, although we cannot be sure that the photograph above is of the car being auctioned – it could be the “other” V8.

Lot : 54 : 1951 GREGORY V8 SPECIAL SPORTS

Estimate: SOLD for £5250
Mileage: 0800
Colour: GREEN
Trim Colour: SILVER
Chassis No: BM1002
Engine No: E71/7252129
Registration No: OKX 276
CC: 30 HP
M.O.T: 19.6.2001

This rare car was built by Bob Gregory in 1951 behind his father’s pub, the ‘Shaggy Calf’ in Slough. Bob had previously worked at Lotus and James Boothby Motors, who both built race and hillclimb specials, and when JBM collapsed Bob went on to build eleven 1172cc Ford engined specials and two V8’s, the first on a pre-war Ford chassis and the second, this one, around an entirely purpose built tubular space frame chassis.

Although used as daily transport and for holidays it was mainly for competition in auto-cross and trials events. In 1961 it competed at the Firle hillclimb, driven by John Kirby who finished only 0.70 of a second behind the legendary Jim Tiller in the Allard. Since being discovered in the mid 80’s in Devon it has been restored to its former glory, a photographic record is included, and reunited with its original registration number.

The large history file also contains letters from his younger brother and photographs of other Gregory cars as well as magazine articles. Interestingly it is registered, both on the buff logbook and the V5 as a Gregory, and not a Ford, special and this is an exiting road going sportscar and a relatively inexpensive candidate, in the Allard mould, for many hillclimbs and trials such as Land’s End and Exeter.

2 June 2010. I receive the following email from Josh Moss, of the well-known Stroud trialling family.

Hi Andrew. I have recently purchased the Gregory from Colin and will be mildly restoring it and then using it in trials. Just thought i would let you know. Josh.

29 November 2010. I stumble upon a page of the Flathead Meltdown website and there, right at the top of the page, is a photograph of Gregory OKX 276 owned and driven at the Shelsley meeting by Nick Leston – see John Aley’s item from New of the Week 3 November 2007 above. This picture confirms that WSV 523 (photograph above) must be the V8 built on a pre-war Ford chassis, as described in the H&H Auction listing, and so, presumably, both V8 Gregorys still exist. But is Josh Moss’s PPP 387 the only survivor of the eleven 1172cc Ford-engined Gregory specials?

Postscript 30 December 2021. The above was written over ten years ago, and Josh Moss campaigned PPP 387 successfully for a number of years. But, when I asked him recently (November 2021) why we hadn’t seen the car for some time, he said that it was “tired and needed a lot of work”.

This Post was originally published on 23 December 2015 as a Page on this website and is re-posted here with minor amendments.

The Guy Fawkes Trial

The Falcon Motor Club’s Guy Fawkes Trial was one of many trials first run in the late 1940s or early 1950s as motorsport was restarting after the Second World War. The Guy Fawkes started off as a “North Chilterns” road trial before moving to the Cotswolds, then back to the Chilterns, ending its “first life” as a single venue classic trial before returning as a PCT from 1996 on.

Although now (2021) fifty years since it last ran as a multi-venue classic trial, the Guy Fawkes has an important place in trials history for two main reasons:

  • During its heyday (1954 to 1965), when it ran as a multiple-start night-and-day event in the Cotswolds, it was the only event of this type apart from the three MCC classics. Indeed, although there have been a few one-off night-and-day events, I think it was the only PostWar, non-MCC, event of this type which ran on a regular basis. This may, of course, have something to do with the fact that John Tucker-Peake, who was a prominent member of both Falcon MC and the MCC, became the main organiser of the Guy Fawkes from 1954.
  • Again, during its heyday, the Guy Fawkes used many sections in the Cotswolds which had been used PreWar, and ‘discovered’ quite few more. Indeed, although many in the Stroud & District Motor Club might disagree, the Cotswold Clouds Trial might not be the classic event that it is today if the Falcon Motor Club had not kept trialling in the Cotswolds alive from the early 1950s into the mid-1960s.

You can read the full Guy Fawkes Story on the Falcon Motor Club’s website.

A brief history of the various formats:

  • 1950 to 1952, and 1953? : One day road event in the Chilterns.
  • 1954 to 1965 : Multiple start long distance event with most observed sections in the Cotswolds.
  • 1966 to 1967 : Not run.
  • 1968 to 1971 : Single start (Oxford) long distance event with most observed sections in the Cotswolds. Cancelled 1969.
  • 1972 to 1980 : Single venue classic trial in various Hertfordshire locations. Cancelled 1973.
  • 1981 to 1995 : Not run.
  • 1996 to date : Production Car Trial at Kensworth, Bedfordshire.

You can see the actual dates (1950 to 1980) of the various events on the Trials Events Database, and the information about the sections used on the Trials Sections Database.

This Post was originally published on 11 May 2020 as a Page on this website and is re-posted here with amendments and additional information.

Classic Sections – Leckhampton

From the JES (Jesus) Jones collection with thanks to Mike Dalby and Bryan Ditchman.

Leckhampton is interesting for two main reasons: it caused a sensation when first used for the 1935 Colmore Cup, as described in detail by Austen May in Wheelspin; and it is right on the outskirts of Cheltenham and probably closer to a major town than any other section that I can think of. But Leckhampton was no easy drive-through, it was (and still is) as steep as Simms or Blue Hills and three or four times as long.

Data
County OS 100km GR Entry GR Start GR Exit
Gloucestershire SO 949189 949189 949186
ROW Status ID Number First used Last used View map?
Footpath Not known 1935? 1938? Click here
History

Leckhampton was used for the 1935, 1937 and 1938 Colmore Trials and one can only assume that the chaos caused in 1935 led the trial organisers to think again in 1936. Everything that really needs to be said about the section is contained in the extract from The Autocar report of the 1935 Colmore as quoted, verbatim, in Austen May’s Wheelspin.

Frightful rumours had been current all day concerning the severity of the last hill, called in the programme Leckhampton and known locally as the Jinny. This hill turned out to be like at least four Simms Hills rolled into one, slippery surface, 1 in 2 1/2 gradient, and tractor were all there. (Note: The tractor, actuating a wire cable, was stationed at the summit for the purpose of hauling up cars unable to climb unassisted, it being quite impossible to manhandle a car to the top.) Yet Simms is in the heart of desolate Dartmoor, while the Jinny is on the very outskirts of the far-flung town of Cheltenham, leading off the main road.

Special permission had been obtained for the use of the hill, which is common land, and reserved as a rule for walkers only. (Note: It formed the base of a now dismantled wire-rope railway to the quarry at its summit.) But the police stopped the first cars from ascending, and were only prevailed upon after some delay to allow proceedings to go on. Even with the short, sharp Simms … there was, in the recent London-Exeter Trial, a long queue of cars waiting. With the immense length of this new terror, Leckhampton … a delay would, in any case, have been inevitable, and apart from the short lane leading to the gradient, there was only one place for the waiting cars – the main Cheltenham-Birdlip road!

Rapidly this road became choked as well with a double line of spectators’ cars. A policeman strove nobly at the entrance to the narrow lane, but he could not be everywhere at once, and for a time complete chaos reigned. Main-road congestion, too, was inevitable with “racers climbing a precipice” so near a populous town …

To add to the difficulties of the situation, or, perhaps, to solve them, the tractor broke down when some twenty-two competitors had tried their ascents, of whom Haden with his MG Midget and Attwood with his Magnette were successful. A massive cog burst asunder, and those who were stuck on the hill – were stuck! A six-wheeled lorry was next reversed down to pull up a car which had stuck, but the caterpillars of this broke under the unequal strain, and the car pulled the lorry down the hill. That finished it. The hill was abandoned, the cars waiting in the lane had to reverse, and the competing cars lined up in the main road went on their way.

In Wheelspin, May reports briefly on the 1937 Colmore when Leckhampton (17 successful climbs) was second only to Juniper (15 successful climbs) in severity. May then comments that in 1938 “Leckhampton seemed to be losing its sting … the hill was conquered by more than twice as many cars as got up Juniper – thirty-four in all.” And that, we can only assume, was that with just three events over four years. Leckhampton is not mentioned in More Wheelspin.

The line of the section is still clearly visible today although the banks which feature in the 1937 photographs have long-ago fallen-in and there are now substantial trees growing on what was the trackbed of the old tramway. Tramway Cottage, at the foot of the section and clearly visible on the right-hand-side of the top two photographs below, has a significant place in local history as the scene of the “Leckhampton Riots”.

Those with an interest in the industrial archeology of the area can read more in the article available from the link below. The trials section follows the line of Middle Incline (B3 on the map on page 44 of the article) and the cleans exit route was along the track marked E3 on the same map. Interestingly, the table on page 43 shows the gradient at 1 in 3.5 but I think this may be an average including the flatish section at the very bottom alongside Tramway Cottage. As the incline was abandoned in 1924, and the whole area acquired by the Council in 1929, I think we can assume that there was some sort of hard, if loose, surface in the late 1930s rather than the deep mud and decades of leaf-mould visible today.

Photographs – Then and Now
Click for larger imageJES (Jesus) Jones (MG TA)
1937 Colmore Cup Trial

From the JES (Jesus) Jones collection
with thanks to Mike Dalby and Bryan Ditchman.
Click for larger imageThe same view today
Photographed on 24 March 2008
by Andrew Brown.
Click for larger imageDickie Green (MG PB)
1937 Colmore Cup Trial

With thanks to Bryan Ditchman.
Click for larger imageThe same view today
Photographed on 24 March 2008
by Andrew Brown.
Visiting Leckhampton

Pass through the Cheltenham suburb of Leckhampton on Leckhampton Road, climbing gently all the way. Shortly after the road steepens sharply, and bears round to the right, turn left into Daisybank Road. Pass the bottom of the section and turn right into the public car park. Retrace your route a few yards to Tramway Cottage and the “Public Footpath” sign pointing up the section.

It is a steep climb, generally following the left-hand bank which is clearly visible in the PreWar photographs, until it abruptly levels-off at the old quarry workings. Turn sharp right here and follow the very obvious track (the “cleans” route in the 1930s) which descends gently, with a stone wall to your left, until you eventually return to the main Leckhampton Hill road just a few yards up the hill from the turn into Daisybank Road.

This Post was originally published on 30 December 2015 as a Page on this website and is re-posted here without amendment.

Classic Sections – Ibberton

 From the JES (Jesus) Jones collection with thanks to Mike Dalby.

I’d long wondered about the location of the wonderfully atmospheric picture on Page 161 of Bacon but it wasn’t until August 2007 that Bryan Ditchman positively identified it as Ibberton Church Hill. (There is another picture of Ibberton on Page 106 of Bacon.) Shortly after I received the very similar photograph, above, on a CD from Mike Dalby and this was clearly captioned as Ibberton. Then two photographs of Ibberton were published on the Austin Harris website. But the final impetus to create this page came when Jonathan Elliott provided me with the two photographs below, showing just how little the section had changed in the last seventy or eighty years.

Data
County OS 100km GR Entry GR Start GR Exit
Dorset ST 789077 789077 790075
ROW Status ID Number First used Last used View map?
UCR? Not known 1929? 1936? Click here
History

According to Cowbourne, Ibberton was first used for the MCC Exeter Trial in 1929 (which is maybe why Autocar magazine decided on a visit to take the photographs published on the Austin Harris website), then every year until 1934. For these six years it was the final hill, before the trial finished in Shaftesbury (1929, 1930, 1931) or Blandford (1932, 1933, 1934). Remember that in the 1930s the Exeter Trial “about-turned” at Exeter before heading back east to the finish, rather than continuing further south-west as it does now.

Ibberton seems to have fallen out of favour with the MCC from 1935, when Meerhay became the final Exeter section for a few years, although Ibberton was used for other clubs’ events until at least 1936.

Photographs – Then and Now
Click for larger imageJES (Jesus) Jones (MG J2)
1934 Banfield Cup Trial

From the JES (Jesus) Jones collection
with thanks to Mike Dalby.
Click for larger imageThe same view today
Photographed on 18 November 2008
by Jonathan Elliott.
Click to view on the Austin Harris websiteEH Williams (Triumph Super Seven)
1929 Exeter Trial

From the Austin Harris website.
Click for larger imageThe same view today
Photographed on 18 November 2008
by Jonathan Elliott.

This Post was originally published on 30 December 2015 as a Page on this website and is re-posted here without amendment.

Classic Sections – Dane

MG Musketeer team captain MacDermid climbs Dane, probably on the 1937 Wye Cup Trial.
Photograph taken from page 48 of Thomas.

Dane Hill in Kent is hardly a well-known PreWar section, so why does it feature here? Solely because Brunell took some photographs there, in 1937, which have been famously mis-attributed.

Data
County OS 100km GR Entry GR Start GR Exit
Kent TR 176479 176479 174480
ROW Status ID Number First used Last used View map?
Private? 1937? 1937? Click here
Discovering Dane

Enthusiasts had known for many years that the Brunell photographs on page 48 of Thomas, and pages 122 and 156 of Bacon, were not New Mill in Cornwall, as captioned in both books, and were highly unlikely to have been taken on the Lands End Trial as they all showed cars with double-figure entry numbers. (At the time, MCC events generally had over 100 motorcycle entries, and motorcycles always took the lower numbers.) It was clear, from a study of the spectators and the non-competing cars, that they had all been taken on the same event, but which event, and where was the hill?.

Then, in January 2004, I received this email from Colin Butchers:

As I said, I was always doubtful about the “New Mill” pictures. The terrain did not look like Cornwall, the buildings did not look Cornish, and the low numbers ruled out the MCC Trials. Then I was browsing through a pre-war “Light Car” Magazine and came across a report of the 1937 Wye Cup Trial and there was a picture of Dickie Green on the same hill, and it was captioned as “Dane Hill near Canterbury”. Now Kent has a number of Danes and another trials nut, Lewis Elgood, suggested that it could be Dane Farm near to the village of Bladbean in the Elham Valley a few miles south of Canterbury.

I visited the site – down a gated public road – very, very rural and whilst I felt certain that I had found the right place, nothing seemed to fit. I then checked a pre-war map and realised that the hill itself was a “white road” which does not appear on the current o/s maps. The lane coming down from the top right corner in the photographs is still there and you can see one of the gates (open) just to left of the farm house. This lane then turns left (I think Colin means right. AKB.) at the bottom of the hill and goes up the bottom of the valley through Covert Wood. The trials section branched off at the bottom of the hill and went more or less straight up the other side of the valley to meet another lane, which still exists, near Palmstead. The farm house has been rebuilt as have the farm buildings but they are all more or less in the same position. The trials hill is now fenced off at the bottom but you can clearly see the line of it winding up the hill between low banks and parallel lines of shrubs.

Strangely “Wheelspin” refers to Palmstead but says nothing about Dane (Page 124 in my edition, referring to the Kentish Border Car Club’s November Trial. May describes Palmstead as “straightforward stuff”. AKB.). Palmstead is at the top of the hill and I can find no other likely site, so I wonder whether Dane and Palmstead were one and the same.

This Post was originally published on 30 December 2015 as a Page on this website and is re-posted here without amendment.

ACTC Championship Trials

The ACTC was founded in 1981 and the Championship was started in 1984. Since then it has run every year, although awards were not made for 2001 (as the number of events was reduced by the Foot and Mouth crisis) nor for 2020 (as most events were cancelled due to the Coronavirus crisis). This page lists all the events which have been included in the Championship between 1984 and 2021.

  • Allen (Bristol Motor Club): First run in 1946, and included in the Championship every year from 1984 to 2021.
  • Camel Classic (Camel Vale). First run in 1985, and included in the Championship every year from 1985 to 2021*.
  • Chase Clouds (Shenstone & District). First run in 1985, and included in the Championship every year from 1986 to 1999 although it did not run in 1999.
  • Clee Hills (VWOC and MAC). First run by the VWOC in 1980, although there had been a Hagley & District event with the same name and run in the same area in the late 1940s and early 1950s. It was included in the Championship from 1984 to 1993 although it did not run in 1988, 1991, and 1993. It was run as an ‘ACTC Invite’ event, by the MAC, in September 1994. It then returned to the Championship from 1996 to 2021*, although it was not run in 2001, 2015, and 2018.
  • Cotswold Clouds (Stroud & District). First run in 1962, and included in the Championship every year from 1984 to 1989. It then became an ‘ACTC Invite’ event from 1990 to 1999, and returned to the Championship for every year from 2000 to 2021*.
  • Derbyshire Conquest (Sporting Owners Drivers Club). First run as the Conquest in 1977, in the Home Counties, by 1983 it had moved to Derbyshire and become the Derbyshire Conquest. It was included in the Championship every year from 1984 to 1990 but the 1990 event was an organisational disaster and the club were informed that the event would be removed from the Championship for 1991 and replaced by the White Peak (see below). The Derbyshire Conquest never ran again after 1990.
  • Exe Valley (Silverton). First run in 1979 (I think), then as an ‘ACTC Invite’ event in 1988 and 1989, and was included in the Championship every year from 1990 to 2000. A similar event was run by the Crash Box and Classic Car Club from 2002 onwards (see below).
  • Exe Valley (Crash Box and Classic Car Club). Included in the Championship every year from 2002 to 2007. Also see above.
  • Exmoor (North Devon). Run as an ‘ACTC Invite’ event in 1988 and 1989, and included in the Championship every year from 1990 to 2021.
  • Exmoor Clouds (Minehead Motor Club). First run in 1973 (I think), and included in the Championship every year from 1984 to 2021.
  • Hardy (Woolbridge). First run as the Vogue Motors Trial in 1971 (I think) it was renamed, first as the Wessex Motors Trial, and then as the Olds Motor Group Trial. The Olds Motor Group Trial was an ‘ACTC Invite’ event in 1985 and 1986, and joined the Championship in 1987. The event was renamed, again, as the Hardy and was included in the Championship from 1988 to 2021*, with the following exceptions: in 2005 it was run by the VWOC, not Woolbridge; it was an ‘ACTC Invite’ event in 2010 to 2012; it did not run in 2004, 2007, 2009, and 2017.
  • Ilkley Classic (Ilkley & District). Run as an ‘ACTC Invite’ event in 1994 to 1996, then again in 2004 to 2007, and included in the Championship every year from 2008 to 2014. The Yorkshire Dales (see below) is essentially the same event under a new name and run by another club.
  • Kyrle (Ross & District). First run in 1978 (I think), and included in the Championship every year from 1984 to 2021*.
  • Northern Classic (Fell Side Auto Club). First run as an ‘ACTC Invite’ event in 2000, then included in the Championship every year from 2001 to 2021*, except 2009 when it was cancelled.
  • Tamar (Launceston & North Cornwall). Included in the Championship every year from 1984 to 2021.
  • Taw and Torridge (Holsworthy). Included in the Championship every year from 1984 to 2021.
  • Torbay (Torbay). First run in 1987, then as an ‘ACTC Invite’ event in 1988, and included in the Championship from 1989 to 1999 although it did not run in 1990 due to a date change from December (1989) to March (1991). It did not run from 2000 to 2008 inclusive, then has been included in the Championship every year from 2009 to 2021.
  • White Peak (Sheffield & Hallamshire). First run in 1989, then as an ‘ACTC Invite’ event in 1990, and included in the Championship from 1991 to 1997 although it did not run in 1993 and 1997, and I’m not sure about 1994.
  • Yorkshire Dales (Airedale & Pennine): Included in the Championship every year from 2015 to 2021*. See Ilkley Classic (above).

2021* means that the event did not run in 2021 due to the Coronavirus crisis.

In addition to the events listed above, the three main MCC trials, the Exeter, the Lands End, and the Edinburgh have all been Bonus Rounds of the Championship from 1984 to 2020.

For an explanation of the Championship Leagues, and the scoring system (including the Bonus Rounds), see the Championship page of the ACTC Website.

This Post was originally published on 12 May 2020 as a Page on this website and is re-posted here with updates and minor amendments.

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