The Cotswold Clouds is 60!

The Cotswold Clouds Trial was first run on 18th March 1962, so the event is sixty years old this year. The trial did not run on five of those sixty years, so it’s not actually the sixtieth event, but sixty years since the first running is still an anniversary worth celebrating.

The Cotswolds had, of course, been a major venue for trials in the PreWar period, with the North London Motor Club’s Gloucester Trial and SUNBAC’s Colmore Trial, both overnight events, considered as equals to the three MCC trials in the 1930s. But, by 1961, Falcon’s Guy Fawkes Trial and Bristol’s Allen Trial were the only significant trials in the classic format using the hills in the Stroud area.

It was clearly time for the Stroud & District Motor Club to reclaim their local hills from the interlopers. The 1962 event attracted 50 entrants and 45 starters, started from the Five Mile Garage, and finished at the Stratton House Hotel in Cirencester, via 12 observed sections and two special tests. The trial started with a special test at Jack’s Green and an observed section at Bull’s Cross (both used by Falcon in previous years), then south to sections at Butterow and Avening (both Stroud ‘finds’), before looping back to The Ladder at Nailsworth (used over many years by too many clubs to list). It was then back south to Fort 1 and Fort 2 (above Dursley and used by both Falcon and Bristol in previous years), Axe (another hill with a long PreWar and PostWar history), Moreton, Roddy’s Pimple, and the Roddy Lane Special Test (all three Stroud ‘finds’), Througham (an ex-Falcon hill), and the two sections at Bull Banks (rare examples of a first use by Stroud and subsequent use by Falcon). So, a total of 14 sections, seven used on previous events and seven new Stroud ‘finds’; the Cotswold Clouds had arrived with a bang.

The classes were: Class 1 for front-engined saloons, Class 2 for sports cars, Class 3 for specials (including Dellows), Class 4 for rear-engined saloons, and Class 5 for front wheel drive cars (only one entrant, in a Mini, who non-started). At the finish there were just four clean sheets: Thompson’s Ford in Class 1, Goodall’s Morgan and LeFevre’s Sprite in Class 2, and Wood’s Messerschmitt in Class 4; the event was judged a great success.

In 2000, the Stroud & District Motor Club published a small booklet to mark the club’s Golden Jubilee and this included a report on the 1962 Cotswold Clouds taken, I think, from a club newsletter of the time. I’ve scanned the relevant pages and they’re available here:

Extract from S&DMC Golden Jubilee booklet

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 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.

The MCC Spring Trial

The MCC Spring Trial is, as Simon Woodall says below, “a little scrap of forgotten MCC history”.

In October 2007 Simon Woodall sent me the Results for the 1980 event, with these comments:

This is a little scrap of forgotten MCC history. The Spring Trial ran for two years, 1980 and 1981. The Clerk of Course was Martin Halliday, who was then the MCC General Secretary. The start was at a Café on the A25 north of Guildford, the Finish in Biggin Hill, just yards away from the last hill. It was a cars-only event, it being judged too difficult politically to include bikes. [Bikes were invited in 1981. AKB.] The “hill of the trial” was Westcott, which was long, muddy, and approached over an unmanned level crossing. On the first year the specials were OK, but in 1981 it rained, and Westcott defeated the entire field. You’ll recognise quite a few of the names but I was amused to note that the All Wheel Drive Club award for “most difficult recovery” went to Tom Threlfall, presumably in his Model A Ford.

Results of the First MCC Spring Trial on 9th March 1980.

Shortly afterwards, Martyn Halliday sent me the documentation for the 1981 event with his comments:

At last I have found the paperwork for the old MCC Spring Trial. The comment on the bottom of the results saying this was the last time the event would be run was mainly due to the difficulty getting people to help. I was General Secretary, working full time, and had just purchased a wreck of a cottage that we had to renovate so there was no time. Still, running the trial though the “stockbroker” belt of Surrey without a single complaint gave me satisfaction.

Documentation for the Second MCC Spring Trial on 8th March 1981.

… and finally I received some notes from Arthur Vowden:

Duncan (Welch) wrote a report of the 1980 event which appeared in Triple issue no.18, October 1980. There are also some reports of the 1981 event in Triple issue no.21, October 1981.

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.

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