Following in the tyre tracks of Rex Judd, whose splendid idea the Brooklands Re-Union of Weybridge racing motorcyclists was, Dudley Gahagan and William Boddy, Editor of Motor Sport, decided that so many people—drivers, mechanics, journalists and spectators—have such happy memories of the old Motor Course that the car side, too, should have its Re-Union.
This duly took place at the “Hand & Spear,” by Weybridge Station, on June 29th. Even before the hotel opened at 6 p.m. an air of Brooklands’ nostalgia could be felt, as those interested began to turn up and make themselves known to Dudley Gahagan, Bill Boddy (who wore a 1927 B.A.R.C. badge, this being his first attendance at the Track) and Mrs. Boddy (sporting a Brooklands’ A.R.C. Staff badge as she, with one of her daughters, was recording the names of those present).
As the evening wore on the bar was alive with excited talk of the old racing days, ancient Brooklands photographs, badges and other souvenirs were handed round, and two showings were necessary of films of racing at the Track, these having been loaned by the V.S.C.C. at the instigation of Dudley Gahagan and shown by David Roscoe.
Before “time” was called, something like one hundred people closely associated with Brooklands were present, avidly discussing the golden age of the Sport. They came out into the fresh air and the glare of the neon lamps that now light roads round the Track that were once quiet country lanes, to find two magnificent vintage Bentleys standing guard over the hotel entrance, as they might have done on an evening after a “Double Twelve” or 500 Mile Race.
W. B. “Bummer” Scott had come all the way from Norfolk and was looking for a picture of the unmodified 1 1/2-litre G.P. Delage he drove in the late ‘twenties. Eileen Ellison, one-time “blonde dicer” in a Type 37 Bugatti, was enthusiastically talking Molsheim lore with Gahagan, G. P. Harvey Noble, of Salmson and M.G. memory, had come up from Hove with H. T. H. Clayton, who went over the Members’ banking in Fleming’s ex-Horton single-seater M.G. and lived to drive again (he also knows intimate things about Amilcar Sixes), J. M. Crickmay who won a race in a Morris-Cowley and built the Aston Martin-engined R.L.B was present, and so was L. A. Cushman, who made the vee-twin G.N.s go so quickly.
Other well-known personalities who came, and stayed to reminisce, included E. Farley, who raced M.G. and f.w.d. Alvis cars, Guy Griffiths, Louis Giron, J. Pares who spent many months in Weybridge Hospital after a crash in Capt. Grey’s Brooklands-model Austin Seven in which he was a passenger in an early J.C.C. 200 Mile Race, his first ride having been beside Parry Thomas, Wal Phillips, J. Wilson, I. Watts, Jack Bartlett who drove so many different cars on the Track, Tim Carson whose Vauxhall took records there, Jack Playford, J. Granville Grenfell, Ian Metcalfe, Harry Bowler, who raced a stripped 3-litre Bentley, K. R. Day, Fred Cann whose job it was to make Gwenda Hawkes’ Derby-Miller and other cars go to her satisfaction, Jerry Crozier, Stanley Sedgwick, Godfrey Eaton, and many more.
Bert Denly, who is fully entitled to attend both B.M.C.R.C. and B.A.R.C. Re-Unions, was smiling happily, tankard in hand. T. R. Allchin brought a big photograph showing how he lay beside the Fork after being thrown from E. B. Ware’s gyrating Morgan 3-wheeler in the 1924 200 Mile Race. Vaughan Davis, who owned one of the Thomas Specials in recent times and has the ex-Marker 6 1/2-litre Bentley-Jackson (he displayed a con.-rod and piston from it) was chatting of old times with the “Bentley (D.C.) boys.” E. Sawers must have felt very much at home, because he stayed at the “Hand & Spear” for the 1908 August Bank Holiday Brooklands Meeting, when racing took place on the Saturday and Monday, and frequently in the 1920’s when he was racing flat-twin Douglas small cars. C. Lewis, cousin of the Hon. Brian Lewis (Lord Essendon) was there; Mr. Pursey claimed that he was born at Brooklands!
Plenty of people who had been keen spectators mingled with these drivers and racing mechanics, and several contemporary journalists were there. Paul Wyand, who as a boy worked for Parry Thomas and who, as the greatest of the News-Reel operators, watched the Club films with genial tolerance, came with his wife, who wore a B.A.R.C. Ladies’ brooch. “The Trade” of those days was represented by Steve Mellstrom (Shell Mex & B.P.) and Rex Mundy (K.L.G.). Present-day journalists Harry Mundy and Ron Barker (Autocar), Cyril Posthumus (Motor), George Bishop (Small Car) and Jerry Ames (Meccano Magazine) had come along out of sheer enthusiasm for Brooklands and its associations.
Even the Chelsea Aeronautical College, which had a shed on the Byfleet side of the Track, was represented.
Alan Hess sent a letter saying how sorry he was that illness prevented him being amongst his many friends, K. C. Radburn couldn’t get down from Coventry but promised to drink a toast to Brooklands precisely at 7 p.m., five minutes after getting home, and D. J. Brewer, who ran a PB M.G. in the L.C.C. Relay Race, etc., sent his good wishes. Boddy was also glad to see the pilot who used to fly Motor Sport to Continental races (he used to test his Alta on the Track) even if he did produce a photograph of W. B. as a young man—taken at Brooklands, of course!
It was all very nostalgic, without being sad, for happy memories of old Brooklands refuse to die out. Almost certainly Gahagan and Boddy will do it again next year, so that the last Saturday in June will become Brooklands Re-Union Saturday. Maybe Vickers-Armstrongs will permit the guests a glimpse of the ancient bankings and Club House? Perhaps a Brooklands Society should be formed, to keep memories and momentoes of Brooklands evergreen, or should we say bright yellow and black? Bill Boddy will be pleased to encourage any suggestions.
V-to-C Miscellany, November 1996, November 1996
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