Cars in books, August 1976

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I scarcely thought to find much of motoring interest in a book my wife, who has a liking for historical biography, was reading, namely, “Queen Mary” by James Pope-Hennessy (Allen & Unwin, 1959) but in this I was mistaken. There was ample reference to the accident in which Queen Mary’s Daimler overturned after colliding with a lorry. This happened in 1939 and I had faint memories of it, but thought it had happened at a crossroads in Wandsworth, whereas it happened in Wimbledon. There is no need to enlarge on it here, as I am sure it will be dealt with in Brian Smith’s forthcoming book on the Royal Daimlers, except to say that Queen Mary, outwardly unmoved by the accident, was driven home in her “big car”, which I assume to refer to one of the 57 h.p. Daimlers, whereas it must therefore he supposed that the maroon-coloured Daintier limousine that was overturned was a smaller one, maybe a 35 h.p.

Although Queen Mary is described as “rather an apprehensive passenger in a .car”, she continued to use the Royal Daimlers. Indeed, when she left Sandringham for Badminton against her wishes in 1940, the journey which took from 9.40 to 6 p.m., across country via Oxford, Swindon and Chippenham, after she had been driven via Peterborough, Oundle and Northampton to lunch with Lord and Lady Spencer at Althorp; that morning, she described as “a lovely drive”. Incidentally, as she was moving 63 of her Marlborough House staff and their dependents at the same time, a fleet of cars followed in the Daimler’s wake; it would be interesting to know what makes were entrusted to this mammoth task. I also find it noteworthy that in 1938 Quenn Mary made a series of country visits and on her return to London from Badminton House noted in her Diary that she had travelled I,687 miles in her car during the month of September—this surely shows considerable interest in motoring, because Her Majesty would not personally observe the mileometer and presumably asked for the exact mileage when writing up her Diary.—W.B.