Specialists in Motor Racing Tours, Travel and Trade and Press Conventions
Page & Moy of Leicester are synonymous with motor-racing tours for enthusiasts. It all started back in 1959, when Tony Moy went to Le Mans with friends in a 1½-litre Riley, the year Salvadori and Shelby won for Aston Martin, and was so impressed with this unique race and the joys of Continental travel that he decided something should be done about both. At the time he and his friend Leon Page were working at different jobs but they decided to make another visit to Le Mans viable in 1961, by organising a simple tour, using the Dover-Dunkirk ferry and a small motor-coach, at a cost of 9½-gns. a head to those fellow enthusiasts who accompanied them. Tony acted as Courier. There was then no office, not even a telephone, and their brochure was just a duplicated sheet.
However, the seed was planted and by 1962 they took a half-page advertisement in Motor Sport – it severely strained the finances – and this brought in so many enquiries that Page & Moy has never looked back. Indeed, this is now a Company with a Group turnover of more than £9,000,000. From that first ad. in our pages they took stitched-in reply cards, which brought in about 40,000 enquiries, and in recent years Page & Moy have advertised their high-class, comprehensive motor-racing tour-booklet in these pages indeed, they say that they receive more response from this paper than from any other media in which they advertise, which naturally pleases us….
So in 1963 they decided to have a bash at a full programme, as motor-racing tour operators. They took a party to Monaco for 24½ gns., to the Belgian OP at Spa for 10½ gns., to the Dutch and French GPs, the latter the least-expensive venture, at just to 10 gns. a head, and they ran three separate itineraries to Le Mans, from 11½ gns. So here is a tale of a British private venture that has been remarkably successful.
At this time Moy was living in London, Page in Leicester, and they used to meet in Newport Pagnell, at the Swan Revived, for their business meetings. They decided to leave their jobs and form Page & Moy Ltd., which they did that November just themselves and a girl. Page’s name was used first in the Company registration because they had decided to operate from Leicester and this was a postal convenience.
The Company had used Royal Tours of Ostend for a time but now branched out on its own, even to embracing visits to motor-cycle races, cycling, gymnastics and Judo meetings, etc. In 1964 Page & Moy flew their first charterflight to Nice, for the Monaco GP. That tour started from the grass aerodrome at Manston in Kent, using an Air Ferries twin-engined Vickers Viking that had to land at Lyon to refuel. The tour, supported by 28 people, cost 36½ gns. each, including five nights at the Hotel Alexandra, circuit admission, and the ‘buses between Nice and Monaco.
It is interesting to look at how this Company, with just three Directors, Mr. J. M. Elsom having joined the Board later, has developed. In 1966 it ran a visit to the Indianapolis 500 Mile Race, taking in a tour of the Ford factory in Detroit. Only 40 persons were that adventurous, but this was sufficient to be viable. The following year came the blow of foreign-currency restrictions, only £50 a head being permitted, from which the Page & Moy hotel-costs, etc. had to be deducted, leaving Monaco GP visitors with £26 for six days’ holiday. But they were not deterred…
The next year, 1968, is remembered as a time when disaster was close at hand but when P & M were able to show that they were capable operators and thus earned the praise and confidence of their clients; they always try to ensure that they deserve repeat bookings. What happened was that on the eve of the Monaco race France was at a standstill, with riots in Paris and across the country. They managed to get their visitors to Nice by flying them the long way round over Belgium, Germany, Switzerland and Italy, the landing, by British Eagle Bristol Britannia, being made after all Air Traffic Control and ground facilities, including customs-clearance, had ceased to operate, at Nice Airport. One member of the ground-handling staff was helpful, however, loading all the luggage into a Citroen 2CV van. After the race had been seen, real problems began. Nice Airport was picketed and no French coaches were running. P & M rose to the occasion. They used Monagasque coaches to take their clients to the Italian border, where they were transferred to Italian coaches, as the border was picketed. Some were even taken from Nice harbour to Monaco, for the coach connection by boat. The charter aeroplanes had been diverted to Genoa and everyone got home, not more than six hours or so behind schedule. Later that year De Gaulle’s Referendum caused Le Mans to be postponed to September, which required more replanning for the tour operators. Incidentally, for this popular race they introduced in 1968 their exclusively-chartered ship, sailing from Newhaven to Dieppe, with a 1,000-person capacity. From two special trains to this ship, 50 coaches then take the passengers to the Sarthe, where they plan their race-visit much as they please. This trip cost 12½ gns. per person in 1968 and has operated virtually unchanged ever since. I remarked to Tony that the sight of so many motor-coaches taking motor-racing fans to Le Mans must be quite exciting but he remarked that the drivers are mainly Belgians, so too much competition to be first there does not enter Into it….
You should now be getting some idea of how ambitiously this three-man company works. By 1969 a very keen crowd was flown out for the Targa Florio, direct from Luton to Palermo in a Britannia Airways Britannia 312, that much-loved “Whispering Giant”, which cruised at 400 m.p.h. with four Bristol Proteus engines, carrying 132 passengers. In 1969 the visitors got three days and two nights away, and all the excitement of this Sicilian road-race, for a charge of 34 gns. By 1970, when the scheduled tourist-fare was £60, P & M chartered a jet aeroplane for the Monaco visit, which cost 39 gns. for the five nights’ stay. In 1971 they instituted a four-day coach-tour to Monaco at £22, and even ten days in Austria, by coach, cost only £42. An innovation that year was the specially-chartered flight direct to New York by Caledonian Boeing 707, for the Watkins Glen GP. All 189 seats were easily filled. That led to more visits to far-away races, such as to Kyalami in 1973, 17 days for £249. The next year the programme of visits to all the major European races was widened considerably and the now-famous Page & Moy full-size brochure was issued for the first time and if you have not applied for your copy, I recommend that you do so now, mentioning that you are a Motor Sport reader, because not only will this explain the enormously complete coverage of race tours now operated by Page & Moy Ltd. but it contains some nice pictures of cars, drivers and circuit-maps, etc.
The year 1975 marked the charter of two British Airways Boeing 747 Jumbo Jets for the Monaco tour. Every seat was sold out, indicating how popular this race is. James Hunt flew into Nice on the first of these flights, which was the first time a Boeing 747 had arrived at Nice Airport. Even better was to follow! In 1976 there was a P & M return flight to the Brazilian GP – in an Air France Concorde. Only one passenger came up with the £1,149 fee but the prestige was worth it. That year a specially chartered Boeing 747 had to be laid on for the United States GP, so much interest was shown in this race, and 40 clients were flown to Japan to see James Hunt clinch the Drivers’ World Championship. The pattern has changed to some extent since then, inasmuch as more use is now made of scheduled services, two Air France Jumbo Jets being used for the 1977 Monaco visit, for instance, and more than 100 people were flown to Long Beach. Last year the aforesaid Le Mans trip by boat, very informal and enjoyable, was on again, as it had been for ten years, but the cost per head was down to only £27 and the widest-ever range of tours to Monaco was organised – see that P & M brochure for 1979 details. You can get one free, from Page & Moy Ltd., 136-138, London Road, Leicester, LE2 1EN.
I asked Tony Moy which motor-racing tours were the most in demand. Monaco comes first, he said, with Le Mans a strong second, and the Dutch GP is popular, at a circuit where there is not a surfeit of Armco and the seaside is at hand. New circuits attract attention, too, from the race-going connoisseurs, such as Hockenheim, Dijon, etc., in their time, and Long Beach has proved attractive to many travellers, involving as it does a 10/11-hour flight and a stay on the Queen Mary. The German GP used to be near the top, when it was run at the Nurburgring. The season really commences in March, with the S. African GP at Kyalarni, a 17-day luxury tour for £549 but it’s all in that colour-brochure.
What is not so generally known is that P & M Operate about 90% of all the Convention visits and tours run from this country. In the motoring firmanent alone their clients include Amoco, Alfa Romeo (GB), BMW Concessionaires, BP, Colt, Dunlop, Ferodo, Ferrari, Fiat UK, Jeep of St. James, M.A.N. Concessionaires GB, Mercedes-Benz UK, Renault, Steyr-Daimler-Puch and Volvo Concessionaires UK. For these and many great companies outside the Motor Industry they arrange Press previews, Dealer conventions, and other Trade gatherings, all over Europe, and to Japan, etc. complete down to the beautifully produced visitors’ booklets of tour-itineraries, etc. Managed by Dave Hackett, this is an expanding business. It was responsible for Renault’s 1977 anniversary of the 1902 Paris-Vienna Race, etc. In addition, P & M (Page & Moy sounds rather like something out of comic opera, but there is nothing comic about today’s P & M operations!) organise many of those holiday package-tours which you see advertised in the better women’s magazines, by ITV, and similar big undertakings.
Thus has this very successful business grown up, we like to think from that first half-page advertisement in Motor Sport only 17 years ago. The Company now has its own purpose-built office-block, an imposing building on the left-hand side of the hill on the London Road as you drive up the hill out of Leicester towards the M1. The ground floor is occupied by the many enquiry and booking desks, for those taking P & M tours and employs many very attractive local girls. The offices are on the floor above, in this building of 26,000 sq. ft. Altogether the Company employs 107 people, not including Couriers and Overseas reps. It is looked after by three Secretaries, Janet Dobson, Angela Jeffrey, and Sue Martin, and has recently become interested in Anglo-Welsh narrow-boat canal tours. It is interesting that Page & Moy, now a £9 million concern, carries approximately 50,000 passengers on its tours every year, of which some 5,000 constitute the motor-racing fraternity. A very nice example of British private enterprise. – W. B.