Cars In Books, August 1995

Browse pages
Current page

1

Current page

2

Current page

3

Current page

4

Current page

5

Current page

6

Current page

7

Current page

8

Current page

9

Current page

10

Current page

11

Current page

12

Current page

13

Current page

14

Current page

15

Current page

16

Current page

17

Current page

18

Current page

19

Current page

20

Current page

21

Current page

22

Current page

23

Current page

24

Current page

25

Current page

26

Current page

27

Current page

28

Current page

29

Current page

30

Current page

31

Current page

32

Current page

33

Current page

34

Current page

35

Current page

36

Current page

37

Current page

38

Current page

39

Current page

40

Current page

41

Current page

42

Current page

43

Current page

44

Current page

45

Current page

46

Current page

47

Current page

48

Current page

49

Current page

50

Current page

51

Current page

52

Current page

53

Current page

54

Current page

55

Current page

56

Current page

57

Current page

58

Current page

59

Current page

60

Current page

61

Current page

62

Current page

63

Current page

64

Current page

65

Current page

66

Current page

67

Current page

68

Current page

69

Current page

70

Current page

71

Current page

72

Current page

73

Current page

74

Current page

75

Current page

76

Current page

77

Current page

78

Current page

79

Current page

80

Current page

81

Current page

82

Current page

83

Current page

84

Current page

85

Current page

86

Current page

87

Current page

88

Current page

89

Current page

90

Current page

91

Current page

92

Current page

93

Current page

94

Current page

95

Current page

96

Current page

97

Current page

98

Current page

99

Current page

100

Current page

101

Current page

102

Current page

103

Current page

104

Current page

105

Current page

106

Current page

107

Current page

108

Current page

109

Current page

110

Current page

111

Current page

112

Current page

113

Current page

114

Current page

115

Current page

116

Current page

117

Current page

118

Current page

119

Current page

120

Current page

121

Current page

122

Current page

123

Current page

124

Re-reading The Private Life of a Country House 1912-1939, reissued by Clio Press, Oxford, in 1992, one enjoys again Leslie Lewis’s account of what life was like in an Essex house during those years. She describes Pilgrim’s Hall as a small house, but an aerial view shows it as a quite considerable mansion. While I like most books about the pre-WWI period and the 1920s, strings of references to then commonplace objects, like Lifebuoy soap, Glaxo, Californian Syrup of Figs, Fry’s chocolate, ABC teashops, the Boy’s Own Paper, etc can become a bit tedious. Leslie Lewis avoids this and has an absorbing tale to tell, of an age which persisted into the 1920s, even in some cases almost to 1939, of how the better-off managed their country houses.

The cars? Well, around 1912/13 the house was served by a dark green Austin landaulette driven by the uniformed chauffeur Simmons he is remembered by the child as mending innumerable punctures in the garage, ringing the holes in the tubes with a well-licked purple indelible pencil before applying the patches. Before he went off to the war, that is… The Austin was supplemented by various horse-drawn vehicles, suitable for distances of about eight miles each way; the cob that pulled the dog-cart moved her ears constantly to gain instructions and knew automatically when a smart trot to catch a train was called for, or a more sober gait needed with nursery parties. (I can almost see why some people preferred horses to cars… !)

After this cob died in 1920 or thereabouts a Model-T Ford was acquired, a tourer with side-curtains and a Stepney spare wheel. The lady of the house used to crank up the Ford and drive it herself; with a double-dogcart it sufficed for station work, picnics, going to point-to-point races, and general chores, along the roads near Ongar and the North-Essex villages. It was succeeded by a Chevrolet tourer, on which Miss Lewis and her brother were taught to drive by the ex-under-coachman. He also looked after the oil-engine which supplied the house lighting-plant, primed with a blow-lamp, its big flywheel half buried in a concrete base. It was sold in 1939, when mains electricity had reached the house. The Chevrolet was augmented by a Sunbeam landaulette, driven only by the aforesaid coachman, until it was given to one of the author’s brothers, then at Oxford. (I recall how this was often the case, an Overland tourer I knew, of about the same age, being given by father to a son, after the parent had bought another Overland.)

After the Chevrolet went, it was replaced by “a delightful touring Sunbeam”. Bicycles were also much used but the transport needs of the household are described as getting easier for the women when an Austin 7 become available to them. There is a picture of it, a late-model Chummy, Reg No VX 9176, being driven by the author’s brother Bill in the grounds of Pilgrim’s Hall “against the house-rules”. Another picture is of a rear-engined friction-drive GWK two-seater with an aunt at the wheel and grandfather beside her, in about 1917, outside Springwells, in Steyning, its Reg No BB 3047. The starting procedure used by the lady, and the GWK’s remarkable fate, are well worth reading about?