A little piece of history

Some of you will know that I have spent a significant amount of time over the last eighteen months researching what I refer to as trialling’s Middle Ages (or even Dark Ages) – the period from the end of the Second World War in 1945 to the formation of the ACTC in 1979. Although there were a few events in the latter half of 1945, ‘proper’ classic trials as we now know them did not really re-start until 1946, and the Bristol Motor Cycle & Light Car Club (as they are still officially named) has a very strong claim to have run the first significant PostWar trial with their Full Moon Cup Trial on Saturday 5th January 1946. This was reported in some detail in ‘Motor Sport’ for March 1946, and C A N May devotes a couple of pages of ‘More Wheelspin’ to his reflections on the event.

Competitors in yesterday’s Allen Trial (also run by Bristol MC&LCC) will be interested to note that both Travers (named Ubley in 1946) and Burledge featured in the Full Moon trial of nearly 76 years earlier.

Where are they? – #5

Cotswold Clouds sections

Has anyone got any idea where these three “used once only” sections are?

Wellie Wanted – Used for the 1976 Clouds only.
Hayhedge (Special Test) – Used for the 1983 Clouds only.
Lutheridge – Used for the 1983 Clouds only.

Please contact me by email or via Facebook.

Update: 24 October 2020.
I’ve answered my own question about Lutheridge and I’m now pretty sure that it’s in OS grid square ST8299, to the west of Nailsworth, with the section starting at ST 828995 and climbing south-west.


Ashmeads ‘discovered’

1938 Abingdon route through Ashmeads

A section of the route of the 1938 Abingdon trial – Ashmeads is shown in blue.

Ashmeads is one of those Cotswold hills that has been on my ‘to be discovered’ list for a very long time. It was used for the MGCC Abingdon to Abingdon Trial in 1937 and 1938, and a facsimile of the 1938 Route Card is included on pages 80 and 81 of Roger Thomas’s M.G. Trials Cars. There’s an Ashmeads House on the road along the bottom of the Chalford Valley, so why the difficulty in locating the actual section?

The route instruction prior to the section reads “Keep S O through village [Chalford] for 1 1/2 m. where sharp L up:… Ashmeads”. The route card after the section refers to passing a Post Office and Oakridge Lynch has a Post Office, whereas Frances Lynch does not. A quick study of the OS map (see above) reveals three possible routes: (#1) up the ‘yellow’ road to Oakridge Lynch; (#2) up the obvious footpath (shown with magenta diamonds) from the valley road to Oakridge Lynch; (#3) up one of the footpaths from the valley road to France Lynch. But, whichever way I tried to follow the route on the map, I just couldn’t make it ‘work’. Even backtracking the route from Bisley (off the map to the top), it wasn’t clear which Lynch the route passed-through.

I fairly quickly discounted option #1 because I would have expected the route instruction to be “L at T”. I’d also walked option #2 and, although the footpath certainly looks like a possible trials section, I still couldn’t make the route after the section ‘work’. The breakthrough came when it occurred to me to check if France Lynch had had a Post Office in the past, and Google quickly turned-up The Old Post Office (now an AirBnB rental). But, even knowing where the Post Office had been, I still couldn’t follow the route on the map.

So, yesterday afternoon, I set off to check-out option #3. There is a very obvious track that looks even more like an old trials section than the footpath to Oakridge (option #2) and, although the track forks a short distance after the start, I’m pretty certain that the right fork is the old route (the left fork is steeper but dead-ends at a field). I then followed the route card out of the top of the section, through the village, took a couple of wrong turns (those who know the villages of the Chalford Valley will know that they’re a maze of tiny roads), and eventually I found The Old Post Office.

But the Route Card still didn’t read correctly until I realised that, although I’d approached The Old Post Office from the East,  the trial route must have approached from the West. After that ‘Eureka Moment’, everything fell into place and the route shown in red on the map above follows the route card perfectly (each red circle represents a route instruction). But why did the trial follow such a convoluted route on some very narrow roads through France Lynch when the current map shows a much more direct route? Surely the road priorities can’t have changed that much in the last 80 years, or maybe they have?

[Locals might suggest that the long deviation was to allow the competitors to visit the wonderful Kings Head pub, but it’s not mentioned on the Route Card.]

What’s been going on behind the scenes?

Regular visitors will know that there have been no updates to this site since late September, but that does not mean that nothing’s been happening behind the scenes. I was about to embark on a major update to the Trials Sections Database but decided to change my priorities. I have, over the last three months, been creating spreadsheets for all the major trials, listing exactly which sections were used for each year. This is an expansion of the information which I published for the Cotswold Clouds Trial back in February and I now have comprehensive records going back into the mid 1990s for all the current ACTC Championship events. Non-Championship events will be included in the New Year.

So, with that exercise nearly complete, I can return to updating the Trials Sections Database confident in the knowledge the ‘First Use’ and ‘Last Use’ dates will be more accurate than they were in the past.

Where is it? – #4

So where, exactly, is the section known as Doverhay, used for the Brighton & Hove Motor Club’s Brighton-Beer Trial in 1933, and for the MCC’s Lands End Trial (generally for motorcycles only) from 1932 to 1957 (and maybe later)?

Is it:

  • Doverhay Road (USRN: 43786546), shown on the map above as a red line?
  • Bridleway WL19/17, shown on the map above as a green line?
  • Footpath WL19/16, shown on the map above as a blue line?
  • … or somewhere else in this area?

I’ve read lots of previous reports, including extensive correspondence in the MCC News of the Week back in May 2010, but nothing has been accurate enough to distinguish between the three tracks I list above. Can anyone help?

Update 26 September 2019 18:30:

Simon Woodall posted a short piece, with a link to this post, in the MCC News of the Week 21.09.2019, and this generated responses from four MCC members, so my thanks to Neil Browne, Colin Butchers, Martyn Halliday, and Rick Howell. Piecing-together information from all four, I’m now pretty certain that the line of the section is along none of the coloured lines in the above map, although it’s closest to the Red Line.

The current best-guess is that it is a track not shown on the current OS maps (but clearly visible on the 1903 and 1949 maps and, I’m told, on the ground), which deviates from Doverhay Road (the Red Line) around OS GR SS 8879 4602 and rejoins it higher-up, around OS GR SS 8866 4566, after passing through the right-left hairpin bends which feature in the period photographs along the way. The top of Doverhay Road, where it rejoins the tarmaced ‘yellow’ road high-up on Ley Hill, certainly matches the description in the MG Magazine article linked here, whereas the top of the bridleway (Green Line) does not. Look at this point (around OS GR SS 8838 4508) on Google Street View and you can clearly see the village of Porlock and the mountains of Wales as described by H E Symons in the MG Magazine.

So … what we need now is to find a route card with more detail than the ones I have seen, which merely record the turn off the (current) A39 and assume that the drivers and riders know their way from there to the section!

… later the same day …

Neil Browne has sent me a copy of the route card for the 1957 Lands End Trial, which clearly states that competitors should turn Right at the fork in the ‘yellow’ roads as they exit the village towards the section, so another piece in the puzzle pointing towards the best-guess route above, and not the ‘Green Line’ bridleway route.

Where is it? – #3

 I’ve had this photo for a long time and, indeed, published it some years ago on a previous version of this website, but I must confess that I’ve lost my note of the original source (Nigel Brown? John Salter?) and some of the key information (such as who?). Whatever, it is an HRG and is, I believe, on the 195o Lands End Trial. The question is where?

I had lengthy, but ultimately inconclusive, email exchanges with both Nigel and John about this photo back in September 2011. I have a note that the 1950 Lands End sections were, in alphabetical order: Barton Steep (ST), Beggars Roost, Doveyhay (m/c only), Hookway, Southernwood, Station Lane (Hill), Stoney Street, and Yealscombe; but the Motor Sport report also mentions Ashwell so I wonder if my list is correct?

We eliminated all except Hookway based on our knowledge of the others, but couldn’t match the photo with the section known as Hookway and used by the Silverton Motor Club for their Exe Valley Trial up to 1998 (Silverton used the track west-to-east with the section start at https://bit.ly/348MSPe).

So … does anyone know where this is? Or can anyone at least confirm that No.102 was an HRG in 1950, which might help to confirm the year and, therefore, the ‘long list’ of sections to choose from?

Update 26 September 2019 18:00:

Well … it is the 1950 Lands End Trial, and it is D.C.S.Bassett in an 1100cc HRG on Lyn Hill near Barbrook in North Devon (the list of 1950 sections, above, is obviously incomplete). Lyn Hill starts on the B3234 at OS GR SS 7196 4859 and heads south east to end at OS GR SS 7245 4827. It is clearly shown as an ORPA on the current OS Maps. Lyn Hill was used for the Lands End Trial in 1949 and 1950 only and, according to my source, the bridge over the West Lyn River was washed-away in the infamous 1952 Lynmouth Flood and was subsequently rebuilt as a non-vehicle bridge. Which explains why the hill was never used again. The pillars and gates are still, apparently, in situ on the sharp left-hand hairpin bend clearly shown on the OS maps.

If you view the B3234 on Google Street View, heading uphill towards Barbrook, you can clearly see the bridge in the valley on the left-hand side just uphill from the Olde Cottage Inne.

Update 18 February 2020 12:00:

I’ve just received the above photo from Jo Goodman (of the Goodman family who own the wonderful Barbrook Filling Station, well-known to all who’ve done the Lands End Trial). I think this is final and conclusive proof that the photo of the HRG is most definitely on Lyn Hill, as described above. Are those really the same gates as were there 70 years ago? They certainly look identical!

Where is it? – #2

I’m not sure where these two photographs came from, although I know that they’re both attributed to Brunell. I’ve also seen a third one, of a BMW 319, taken in the same location, but the current owner of the car had inherited the photo album which included the photo when he bought the car and had no idea where it was taken. So … does anyone know where this is?

 Update 2 September 2019 14:00:

Well … very many  thanks to Alastair Queen for setting me on the path to sorting-out this one. The event is the 1936 Brighton-Beer, and the section is Hone Horror at Hone Farm, just off the A396 to the north of Dulverton in Somerset (OS GR SS325927). For those who want a more accurate location, the cars are at https://w3w.co/tonic.fonts.corrosive. Hone Horror was listed as a ‘Brake and Acceleration Test’ and was never used again, as far as I am aware.

For those interested in the ‘research process’ read on … After Alastair saw the original post above, his research took him to https://bit.ly/2lViR41 and thence to https://bit.ly/2lUcsWO where all is revealed. I then realised that it was hardly surprising that I recognised the photograph of the Frazer-Nash BMW 319 when I saw it at Prescott in 2016, because it was the same photo (the top one above) that had been sitting in my own archive for years. Steve Fathers, who posted the photo on PreWarCar.Com, is the ‘current owner’ that I refer to above and he’d obviously made his online post several weeks after I met him.

Then, when I got to the MMM Register website, I was embarrassed to realise that this photo …

… was already sitting in my archives, clearly marked as the 1936 Brighton-Beer. No wonder the location looked very familiar although, until today, I had no idea where it was.

So … the one question remaining is … why did Brunell decide to photograph the 1936 Brighton-Beer, which was a ‘premier league’ trial in its day, at such an obscure location? Or maybe he just knew that it would produce distinctive photographs?

Where is it? – #1

These two photographs have come to me from different sources. It’s obviously the same event, and at a very similar time (look at the spectators standing under the bridge), but does anyone have any idea where they were taken?


Update 27 August 2019 12:00:

After linking this post to the Classic Trials Facebook Group, David Alderson came up with the photo below, taken from the book “So This Is Yorkshire – A nostalgic look at Motor Sport from 1910 to 1939”. I then got hold of a pre-1960 1″ OS map of the area and it clearly shows two fords, one on a ‘yellow’ road leading to/from West End, and another on an unfenced track to the east of Mogington Bridge. Both these fords, and the ‘yellow’ road over Mogington Bridge, are now submerged under the Thruscross Reservoir.

The balustrading may have changed in the time between the photos from the book (below) and the photos I have posted above, but the bridge structure does look very similar. I suspect these photos are all of West End because the road is the more major of the two, might have justified a parallel footbridge, and has a single-arrow ‘steep hill’ mark on the OS map immediately after the ford to the east.

Now … does anyone know anything about Yorkshire trials that might have included a section called ‘West End’?