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.
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