IN WHICH WE MEET A ONE-TIME BROOKLANDS DRIVER, AND INSPECT HIS COMFORTABLE HOME AFLOAT 4.STROLLING along the quay at a Devonshire fishing port, I ran across an old friend, Tommy Haim, who many of our readers will remember as the designer-driver of two interesting Brooklands cars, “Softly-Catch Monkey ” and
“Handy Andy” away back in 1924. In sea boots and jumper he looked more like a fisherman than a racing driver. “Just going aboard with
these stores. Come off and see my floating drawing office,” he said, indicating -a vessel moored with a hundred other sailing trawlers in the outer harbour. ” Here’s the punt.” We
pulled out to the “Little Leonard” in a short sea that spilled the milk into the bottom of the boat, ran .alongside and climbed aboard. “This is about the only way to get enough exercise to keep fit, and be out of the range of telephones and wireless sets nowadays.” The great vessel lay still and peaceful, her
pennant flying 60ft. above the decks. We climbed aboard, and went below, where only the occasional scream of a gull was audible. I was inter ested to know whether he had any assistance aboard. “I do all my own work, including the painting and upkeep of the vessel. When we go to sea, I take on an extra hand, generally a sailing trawler skipper. T hey
are the finest seamen, in fact about the only real ‘sail-sailors’ (to coin a word) left nowadays. ” Bill,’ who was master of one of the largest Brixham vessels at the age of 17, and I have sailed this ship in a full gale alone. I couldn’t get him away from the helm after twenty-one hours of it. This isn’t work, Sir, this is only “Sailing-along “.’ He stood, smiling, watching evtry sea as it towered over our stern, half a pace towards it with the tiller, and the monster had slipped quietly under us. It was grand sailing ! When we had come to an anchor in harbour, and stowed sails and cleared-up decks, he made me sleep for an hour while he hotted the pie his wife had made before we sailed. We both slept well that night
We winter at different ports to get a change of scene. I am generally alone aboard, but friends come off for week-ends and when we are cruising at sea.” Asked why he had not been seen on the Track lately, Hann said, “1 used to race rather more for testing purposes than for ‘ fun,’ if one can call racing ‘fun.’ Recently I have been busy on research work that has not yet reached the test-to-destruction’ stage. The great value of Brooklands to the designer, is that a new material or device can be tested in a few hours. On the roads (Continua on page 87)
this is impossible as one cannot run continuously at full throttle.” enquired as to the present whereabouts of “Softly Catch Monkey.” “She was burnt out in the making of a film. I often regret her loss, as a car so unique should finish her days in a Museum. But some of the other old veterans are still on their legs. ‘Chitty’ is now owned by Mr. Hall-Caine, while’ Cupid Hornstead’s famous old Benz is suitably mounted and preserved at the entrance to the Mannheim works. This racing business, like the East, never ceases to draw one. I hope, as Le Champion used to say, to be committing a little Lappery again before long.” He picked up a framed photograph from the table. ” Here is
Handy-Andy,’ she was the noisiest car ever on the Track. The exhaust was so car-splitting that it gave one a headache before the first lap. was completed.”
Below in the gun-room I saw the preliminary drawings of the HannSped. al , “Softly-Catch-Monkey 2,” “Oh yes ! I shall keep the old name you know.” Particulars of this interesting car I am as yet unable to divulge. “As soon as ‘ Uncle ‘ Archie gets in from sea, we must get you a basket of fish to take to London. We eat fish literally by the bucketful here— and crabs, one man one crab. There
are several ready-cooked in the locker beside you. Pull one out, dress it, and get down to it, if you are ready for lunch.; the kettle’s boiling.”
After seeing the engine-room, cabins and the cunningly contrived bath-room and galley, replete with crab and laden with whiting caught only three hours previously, I was landed on the quay.
“Give me a look up at 1, Albemarle Street next week, and we’ll have a yarn about old racing days. I’ve lots of photographs that will interest you. “
With a wave of the hand, Hann sculled the heavy ” punt ” back to the vessel and his dog and his cat.