The 1964 Brooklands Re-Union

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Last year’s re-union of Brooklands habituees was so successful that Boddy and Gahagan had to do it all over again this year. This time Boddy persuaded the British Aircraft Corporation to let the visitors have a look at what is left of the old Track, which was a nostalgic occasion indeed.

Tom Parker, the General Works Manager, who came to Vickers in 1915, could not have been more co-operative and thus it came about that in a typically Brooklands summer heatwave 100 or so cars formed up behind the Rolls-Royce Phantom II the Editor of MOTOR SPORT deemed suitable to this unique and important gathering, for a conducted tour behind a B.A.C. Land-Rover of the Brooklands grounds. First to arrive through the Fork entrance gates was Dr. H. C. Wright, wearing his late father’s 1907 B.A.R.C. badge, in his blown 1750 Alfa Romeo, soon to be followed by Jenkinson’s 328 B.M.W., Stanley Sedgwick’s Bentley, an Aston Martin that actually raced at the Track, Bill Cook’s very lovely 8-litre Bentley 2-seater, Monica Whincop’s H.R.G. (Bugatti-blue, naturally), Mike Edmondson’s 3-litre Lagonda, S. J. Humphries’ M-type M.G. Midget, Gahagan’s Morgan-J.A.P., devoid of its windscreen for the occasion, a 7/17 Peugeot, and many modern, bread-and-butter conveyances.

Old acquaintances met again after years apart. T. A. S. O. Mathieson, from Spain by way of the International Sportsmen’s Club, had walked from Weybridge Station and was found a seat in the Alfa Romeo. Robert Waddy was there, looking not a day older than when he built the four-wheel-drive Fuzzi in his Paddock shed. Robin Jackson, Proctor of H.R.G. memory, Charles Haywood, who used to fire the maroon to start the “Double 12,” the Ballamy brothers, Rivers-Fletcher, seen to be wearing Humphrey Cook’s 1912 B.A.R.C. badge, Alan Hess and his wife; on all sides, as the long line of cars got ready to move off, Brooklands personalities abounded.

The next 1 1/2 hours were delightful yet sad; enjoyable, if somehow all too final. The memory-provoking procession went along the Campbell circuit straight beside the pits, uphill round that climbing r.h. turn, and left-handed onto the Members’ banking itself, now so overgrown and battle-scarred. Here it parked in disorderly array on the Members’ hill, for us to walk amongst the old but very permanent buildings where tea was taken and Sunday afternoon dances enjoyed by the motor-racing fraternity of the nineteen-twenties. We examined the Test Hill, walked on the Members’ Bridge spanning the steep banking as firmly as ever for all its 58 years; and looked out over the panorama of the historic aerodrome to the distant, and nowadays indistinct, curve of the Byfleet banking.

Forming into line-formation again, the cavalcade of Brooklands personalities went back along the home banking, Mountain-circuitwise, to the Paddock, to park tidily where once stood those, 75 simple but effective car-shelters. The Paddock Clubhouse, with its dome-roofed observation tower, the old sheds, in one of which Waddy found the very piece of piping that fed his welding torch, the faintly discernible E.R.A. signs over Campbell’s shed and the instructions to the 1957 Cavalcade demonstration, brought back a flood of memories…

Next it was out along the Railway straight, pausing in the Warmth of this June Saturday afternoon by the big memorial which Vickers-Armstrongs erected in 1957 to ensure that Locke-King’s Motor Course and Aerodrome will never be forgotten, and on past the always-rickety Byfleet bridge and those sheds where Parry Thomas, Tommy Hann, W. B. Scott, Richard Shuttleworth, R. G. J. Nash and others made motor-racing history or just “messed about with cars.” It was with something of a jolt that two vast VC10 airliners were visited in their enormous shed –  satisfactory symbols of British engineering prestige but a far cry from the Brooklands flying machines of Hamel and Hawker…

As the cars returned to the Fork via the Campbell road circuit and left Brooklands behind for another haunt of pre-war motoring enthusiasts, the “Hand & Spear” Hotel (affectionately remembered as the “Hand & Spike” or ” Mit and Spear “), what secret thoughts were aroused, what sacred memories embellished for the 150 or more fanatics who had thought this June pilgrimage worth while ?

Tea on the lawns, and beer in the bars, with Arthur Dobson examining Gahagan’s E.R.A. he used to drive on its trailer outside and Frank Kennington riding up and down on his Manx Norton. Charles Mortimer showing some of his fine car models, which included a big one of the lap-record-holding Napier-Railton and the f.w.d. Derby-Maserati. Stanley Sedgwick arriving with W. 0. Bentley and Jerry Crozier, R. C. Fleming and H. T. H. Clayton recalling the latter’s excursion over the lip of the banking in the former’s offset single-seater M.G. (Clayton saying sadly, “This is what I am remembered for, that lucky escape from death, whereas I was one of the pioneer Amilcar exponents long before that “), murmurs of Chitty-Chitty-Bang-Bang, Finlayson recalling, with H. P. Blake, how he toiled on the Birkin Bentley and rode beside Chassagne before going to Seaman, photographs were handed round, old Race-Cards displayed, and reminiscence broke out on all sides.

Films were shown – British Movietone News’ sound documentary starting with the 1929 500-Mile Race and concluding with Earl Howe regretting the demise of Brooklands, his remarks about only the roads being left for testing racing cars striking a topical note although M1 and Cobras were then unheard of, a film brought by Paul Wyand himself’, one of Rivers-Fletcher’s films of pre-war racing, a fine amateur film discovered by one of MOTOR SPORT’s staff, showing veteran cars taking the Mountain circuit in 1930 and the big Benz, Cobb’s V12 Delage and contemporary track cars going down to the start.

Later a simple competition, enthusiastically put on by Vitamins Ltd. at Boddy’s suggestion, consisting of identifying two cars which ran at the 1925 B.A.R.C. Easter Meeting, from a recent Bemax advertisement, aroused interest, Mrs. Wyand and many of the ladies present handing in solutions. Only seven people got one of the cars right – the 350-c.c. Jappic – and none of them knew what the other car, which won the race, was, suggestions ranging over Alvis, Fiat, and Horstmann until Paul Wyand remembered that it was a 4-seater Marendaz Special (nee Marseal) and won a fine enlargement of the photograph and a supply of Bemax which, in the words of the advertisement on which the competition was based, is essential to those of you who “remember 1925 Brooklands” and have therefore “passed your fortieth birthday”!

To mention everyone present is impossible. But journalists Jerry Ames and John Bolster; Maurice Baumer who rode in Moss’ Fronty Fords and drove a Delage in a “500”; Roland King-Farlow, with his wife, who filled almost every role at the Track and married Victoria Worsley who drove M.G.s, etc., in “Double-12s”. R. Baldwin, Peter Monkhouse’s mechanic; B.M.C.R.C.-rider J. Bell; Norton Bracey who drove M.G.s etc; E. Bowler, Secretary of the B.R.M.C., who worked on the BowIer-Hofman Special; Ian Clark, who owns the Thomas Special; Bob Dicker who helped prepare the Alcock and Brown Vickers Vimy for its Atlantic flight; Dan Clare; F. J. P. Coles, who never missed a Bank Holiday Brooklands Meeting from 1920 onwards; E. A. Dedman, who rode in Emerson’s Zenith-Bradshaw sidecar; A. C. Fairclough, who marshalled and sometimes drove at the Track from 1937-39; Granville Grenfell; F. J. Hughes, who raced a Prince Henry Vauxhall there in 1912; R. Dunn, I. H. Foulkes and J. Rands of T. & T.s; Wing/Comdr. Harris, R.A.F., Rtd., who learned to fly there; L. G. Jennings; L. H. Jackson, of the Shuttkworth Trust; F. W. J. Knight, whom J. E. P. Howey taught to drive on the Track whilst with his regiment at Aldershot; A. Kellow, who drove a 1,100-c.c. Alta; G. E. Lucas of Shell; J. Logan, who spectated as a schoolboy; Ian Macdonald, who won a 1926 50-Mile Race in his Alvis; H. W. Moy, who passengered with Eldridge and was in Violet Cordery’s Invicta team; J. A. Mumford; R. W. May, who rode a rigid-frame Norton with girder forks; J. Edmondson, who drove a single-seater M.G. Magnette in 1938-39; Rex Mundy the K.L.G. Rep.; Nigel Orlebar; Wal Phillips; R. Potter, who, did oil-temperature tests on the Track in the 1930s on, of all cars, Armstrong Siddeleys and, earlier, was with the Zborowski equipe in a minor capacity; W. Porter, who took part in the M.C.C. High-Speed Trials of 1935-36; R. Palmer, who spectated as a schoolboy in 1924, rode a 250 Excelsior and 500 Norton there from 1931-39; G. Robert, who started riding a Rudge in 1913 and was knocked out by a wheel from Eyston’s M.G. “Magic Midget” while observing ten years later; L. P. Sawers. who watched the 1908 August Meeting and drove a Douglas car after the war; J.C.C. competitor L. A. Schofield ; H. Sweny, who spectated at the Track from the 1925 “200” onwards; G. H. Symonds who rode 3 Duzmo in 1920, drove an R-type M.G. in 1938-39;. Hugh Tours. who wrote the Parry Thomas biography; motorcyclist E. Ventura; Alan Wood, who drove Ulster Austins in L.C.C. Relay Races; H. Gordon-Webb, who rode Indians,. winning the 1926 Private Owners’ Aggregate Cup; J. T. Wood, the “W” of G.W.K.; Vic Derrington of Salmson fame, and others were, or had hoped to be, present.

Everyone seemed to have found this Re-Union worthwhile and it was nice to see Rex Judd there, who started the original motorcycle Brooklands Re-Unions some years ago. The organisers wish to thank the British Aircraft Corporation for opening the gates of Brooklands (we feel we should order a couple of VC10s to properly express our thanks!), David Roscoe who came and voluntarily ran a non-stop film show, those who lent films, the “Hand & Spear” for agreeing to open for tea, Mrs. and Miss Boddy who (wearing “period” B.A.R.C. Staff badges) acted as ushers, and all those who, by attending, signified their desire that Brooklands Motor Course should not be forgotten. – W. B.

Postscript: Many letters of appreciation of the B.A.C.’s hospitality and thanks to the organisers have been received, of which I publish a couple herewith. – ED.

Dear Boddy,

I cannot let the occasion of the Brooklands Re-Union pass by without writing a line to thank you for all the excellent arrangements you made and to say how much we – and, I am sure, everybody – enjoyed it.

I can well imagine the amount of work you put in to ensure such an obvious success and I want you to know how much this is appreciated.

With renewed thanks and kind regards.

ALAN HESS,

Controller of Group Public Relations,

Simms Motor & Electronics Corporation Ltd.

London, N.2.

 

Dear Boddy,

I felt I must drop you a line to congratulate you and Gahagan on yesterday’s excellent show. The weather played its part, of course, and Vickers were the real boys, but they wouldn’t have functioned without your bludgeoning! My wife and I enjoyed it all enormously, sad though it all was. However, it is so much better to see the Holy Land used for really valuable work, rather than occupied by a mass of council houses, as it might well have been.

The only slightly unhappy point was the absence of so many people who might well have been there – Sammy Davis, George Eyston, John Morgan, Cyril Watkinson (maybe the last of the full-time B.A.R.C. staff, now running “The Steering Wheel”), Mike de Belleroche (one of the regular marshals), Gordon England, Archie Nash, Mike Couper, Desmond Scannell, Harry Edwards, Fotheringham-Parker, Mort Goodall, Kenneth Evans, Peter Clark, Bob Gerard, Bob Barber (with myself, the only surviving Brooklands timekeeper) and many others. Another time, would there be a possibility of contacting some of these more obvious people in advance and urging attendance? Perhaps not practical, and anyway you had a big enough turnout. But it would have been fun to have seen more of the more prominent old-timers. Again, thank you very much.

ROLAND KING-FARLOW.

London, N.6.

(It would have been nice if the personalities, particularly the drivers, mentioned by Mr. King-Farlow had turned up. Surely they don’t recall motor racing solely as a commercial venture, devoid of all sentimentality? Purposely, no invitations were issued, to avoid discrimination or omissions, but as the Re-Union was publicised in The Times, the local Press and the motoring Press, it can hardly have gone unheeded by any interested persons. Perhaps, if we do it again, more drivers will turn up. – ED.)

 

 

 

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