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.

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