ALL IS NOT GOLD ” “
DRY WEATHER MAKES THE ” GLOUCESTER ” HILLS EASY, BUT THE BISMORE ACCELERATION TEST CAUSES MANY FAILURES. AFEW years ago the London to Gloucester .Trial had a reputation of the most fearsome character, its route meandering up and down the muddy Cotswolds to such an extent that the gaining of a premier award was a real test of both car and driver. Note the word “muddy,” for it was the slippery surface of these hills that proved the undoing of many drivers. Bearing this in mind, the jubilation of competitors this year was easy to understand as they contemplated the crisp, frosty night of December 9th. “lies Lane,” they said, for example, “will be easy to-morrow, and so will Ferris Court, and Nailsworth Ladder.” True, perfectly true, agreed the
wily officials of the North-West London Motor Club, and let their thoughts dwell on the acceleration test on Bismore I
But first things first, so let us return to Staines, where at the Bridge House Hotel one hundred and ninety drivers were checked out at minute intervals, N. H. Cole (Singer Nine) being first away at 12.14 a.m. The night was bitterly cold, the North-East wind chilling everyone to the bone, especially the inactive passengers. Fortunately, the N.W.L.M.C. believe in making their night-sections as eventful as possible, and the first hill— Maiden’s Grove—was soon reached. Maiden’s Grove used to be considered quite difficult, but only nine people failed this year. The chalk surface was frozen hard, but even so the following drivers all came to an ignominious standstill :—
R. A. Hannam (Austin), H. J. 0. Ripley (Riley), B. G. Wash (Ford), C. T. Bruton (Austin), T. Wagner (Triumph), C. C. Bliss (Windsor), C. Vi Mills (M.G.), Lord Avebury (Ford), J. A. Driskell (Ford).
Over-gearing was the most general cause of failure, for the restarting point was placed on the steepest part of the gradient.
Nearly three hours after leaving Staines, the cars arrived at Chipping Norton, where a pause for hot drinks put fresh life into the numbed limbs of competitors. The stop came at an oppOrtune moment, for soon afterwards the Restart Test on Old Stanway required plenty of skill and presence of mind on the part of drivers in order to accomplish the scheduled covering of 20 yards in 8 seconds. The gradient was 1 in 6, so that cars with low bottom gears and well-tuned engines were at a decided advantage. The honour of Making fastest time out of the 190 entrants fell to J. A. Elliott (M.G.), Miss C. Labouchere (Singer), and M. H. Lawson (Singer), all of whom
recorded the time of 5 seconds. Only one-fifth of a second slower were W. H. Haden (M.G.), C. Mackenzie (Singer), and A. S. Whiddington (Frazer Nash). Another fifth separated these three from G. IL Robins (M.G. Magna), C. Ree (Singer), and Dom Impanni (M.G.). T. B. Price (Singer) and D. A. Loader (Singer) clocked 5 3/5ths, and A. D. Taylor (Riley) 5 4/5th. Seven Singers out of 13 cars ! Of the failures, G. May cast a blot on the escutcheon of the ” N.W.L. Alvis Team,” Miss Allan’s Bentley suffered from the usual over-gearing trouble, H. J. Ripley and H. C. Hunter were unusual failures, and C. H. Wagstaff’s Donington “
Leaf” asserted the fact that it was out of its element. Kineton is preceded by a water-splash, but the hill itself was quite dry. The majority of competitors had little difficulty in coping with Kineton, but some of the 13 failures were well-known trial drivers, such as A. Negal, whose Special looks as though it might have been developed from the Morris Major he drove of yore, R. j. W. Appleton (Riley), C. A. Calm (M.G. Magna) one of the few con
querors of Litton Slack in the recent M.C.C. Sporting One Day Trial, M. H. Lawson (Singer) and W. B. M. Fraser (Alvis), who was the only man to get up “Cab ‘( Calloway in the Inter-Varsity Trial.
From 5 o’clock until 9.30 a steady stream of competitors arrived and departed from the Cadena Café at Cheltenham, where breakfast cheered up those who had already lost their chance of a premier award, and put new determination into those who hadn’t. Already the field had thinned a little for D. West had found the trouble with his Frazer Nash was not of an immediately remedied nature, Appleton’s Riley and Hess’s Midget were suffering from engine trouble, and I. F. Connell (Ballot) and C. V. Mills (M.G.) also failed to report for duty.
After a time-check at Bull’s Cross came the evil Acceleration Test on Bismore. Cars had to be restarted on a gradient of 1 in 6, and then accelerate for 50 yards in not more than 12 seconds. Last year the standard time was 15 seconds, if we remember rightly, and the extra 3 seconds proved the last straw for all but 43 competitors. Of these, we noticed outstandingly good performances by the following :—R. A. Macdermid (M.G. Midget). C. Mann, on a 1934 Ford V8, G. M. Denton (24 h.p. Ford), H. Laird (Wolseley), Miss loreen Evans (M.G. Midget), K. D. Evans (M.G. Midget), P. Lees (Frazer Nash), R. E. Tongue (Aston Martin), H. P. Peaty (Frazer Nash), J. E. Tweedale (Frazer Nash), C. E. C. Martin (M.G. Magna), J. D. Barnes (Singer), and C. H. Wagstaff (Lea-Francis).
This sobered people down a good deal, and reminded them that a dry surface is not everything. The next hill, Mutton, added to the troubles of 23 drivers, but was not nearly so difficult as last year owing to the corner at the bottom having been widened. The Singers were good as a whole, as were the M.G.’s and Frazer Nashes, but the Bentleys driven by Miss Allan and F. E. Elgood both failed, as did F. R. Gerard (Riley) and D. C. Cory (Riley).
Quarhouse produced fewer failures than any other hill of the trial, for R. S. Hdogkinson (Singer), was the only stoppage. Knapp, too, was not difficult, its gradient of 1 in 5 only troubling 10 competitors, among whom were Lord .Avebury (Ford), Mrs. Moss (Marendaz Special) and F. S. Hutchens (Wolseley Hornet), while E. J. Riddle had the bad luck to break a chain on his very old G.N. Bownham is another hill which loses its power if the surface is hard, and the cars came up easily with monotonous regularity. F. R.. Gerard (Riley) was the first to fail, but right at the end some difficulty was caused through the sun coming up over the brow of the hill and dazzling drivers completely. This occurred just at that steepest part of the hill where the road divides, the route being up the lefthand or upper pathway. Consequently some last minute decisions had to be made as to which was the correct road, and J. C. Elwes (Singer) in particular was quite spectacular as he swung from side to side at speed. M. P. Tenbosch (Hillman Aero Minx) made no effort to keep going, and stopped with the remark that he couldn’t
see ! At that moment J. A. Driskell arrived, wearing an extraordinary—but very efficient—fur helmet complete with a peak. He restarted his 8 h.p. Ford without difficulty. Finally R. S. Hodgkinson (Singer) retired at the foot of the hill with what was apparently clutch trouble. Some difficulty had been experienced by the marshals at the beginning of the trial at Bownham with an individual who objected to the hill being used as a test. His objection took the form of parking a large cart in the narrow lane, and some fairly firm persuasion was required to make him remove same.
Hodgkinson was not the only man who had retired by this time. Others were W. J. Goldsworthy (Singer), J. G. N. Ferguson (Rhode), C. T. Bruton (Austin), who had heard an expensive noise coming from beneath his Austin and found it to be a broken crankshaft, Mrs. Moss (Marendaz), and L. L. Hunt (Wolseley).
For some distance following Bownham there were no hills, the route taking competitors to a half-an-hour stop at the White Swan Inn. Then followed a winding section via Bushcomb Lane, Wortley, Seven Springs, Five Mile House, Edgeworth and Bisley to a 10 minute check at Eastcombe, where it was found that Mrs. Lockl-art (M.G.), E. G. Wash (Ford) and G. Wood (M.G.) had fallen by the wayside. Immediately after this came Ferris Court, with a timed section included for the purpose of deciding premier awards. Mr. Reynolds ensconced himself in a little hollow cut out of the hillside with his telephone and stop watch, and one by one the cars leapt away (more or less!) and hurled themselves at the first hairpin. Here it was a case of more haste less speed for the loose surface easily gave rise to a front-wheel skid which left many people with insufficient lock to round the bend without charging up the side of the bank. This happened to many drivers of fast cars which had accelerated fiercely up to this point, completely spoiling their times. J. W. Whalley, deserting his special open four seater Ford V8 for a saloon of the same make, was spectacular but kept his car under control, and the same can be said for C. Mann (1934 Ford V8). G. E. Abecassis, on a very old Austin Seven, charged the bank and was
on the point of turning over. He stinctively put out Ws hand to hold car up, but the timely work of his passenger saved the situation. R. C. Morris (Alvis) took a similar course, but his heavier car was more difficult upset.
Many drivers seemed to spin wheels unnecessarily on the hairpin, notably among the Singer fraternity, in contrast to others who were just fast, if not faster, in a neater way. ticularly tidy climbs were made by T. C. Taylor (J.2 Midget), Mrs. (Frazer Nash), Kenneth Evans (M.G. Midget) and Miss Doreen Evans (M.G. Midget).
E. J. Riddle, on the old G.N. with a couple of hurricane lamps in tail, couldn’t get round, but restarted in sideways slide under his own power. R. E. Tongue (Aston Martin) got rather a mess, as did J. Elliott Midget), J. G. Tice (Avon Standard) climbed the bank a good yard, and G. Olive (Standard). H. P. A. Peaty Nash) approached the corner at speed, realised he would be unable make it, and stopped. . He reversed restarted without assistance. Miss got round the first bend but failed up. The sliding cars tended to remove loose stones from the hill by pushing sideways, but a party of local small were determined to see fair play and fully put them back again after each had climbed.
Bussage is not a difficult hill, when the stone setts at the bottom slippery ; then wheelspin prevents speed from being obtained with which tackle the 1 in 4 section. Four stopped, G. E. Abecassis (Austin), C. C. (Windsor), A. Huggins (Singer), and A. W. MacRobert (Crossley saloon).
Iles Lane was the next obstruction. The gradient here is only 1 in 5, but the hill can be very difficult nevertheless. There is no room to rush it, and if it is muddy, large cars inevitably spin to a standstill. This year the frost had frozen the ground hard, so that the hill itself was easy, but this same Jack Frost relented and came to the rescue of the organisers by turning a long puddle at the foot of the hill into ice. It was difficult to see this ice from the seat of a car, and it was rather comical to watch the expression of some drivers’ faces as they found themselves coming s a standstill with wheelspin on what was apparently hard ground. Quite a good number of seasoned drivers were caught in this way, among them being E. P. Ortweiler (M.G.), B. P. W. Twist (Triumph Gloria), Miss Allan (Bentley), L. Sandford (Singer), G. W. Olive (Standard), and W. M. Couper (Austin). T. W. Dongue (Riley), K. E. Lilley (Riley), F. R. Gerard (Riley), and E. Denny (Riley) also failed. And so to the last hill, Nailsworth Ladder, which in normal circumstances should have been a real terror. The gradient is supposed to be 1 in 21, but doesn’t look it. Even so the hill is a formidable one, and it is a great tribute to modern cars that only 24 failed to climb. The full list of failures is as follows : R. A. Macdermid, E. P. Ortweiler,
G. E. Abecassis, Miss Allan, J. H. Whittindale, F. S. Hutchens, Miss Watson, R. A. Hannam, A. P. Smethurst, A. L Watson, B. G. P. de Mottos, Sir A. W. MacRobert, V. H. Tuson, Mrs. Garstin, K. E. Lilley, D. C. Cory, F. R. Gerard, C. C. Bliss, E. Denny, N. V. Terry, Lord Avebury, J. A. Driskell, 0. 0. Coryton, R. C. Hockey. Of the many good climbs it is almost impossible to single out any for special mention. As makes, the M.G.’s, Singers, and Frazer Nashes were consistently good. the Singers heading the list without
a single failure. Large cars with heavy bodies required some “handling, and for this reason Miss P. McOstrich (Talbot) deserves special praise.
The hill was crowded with spectators, many of whom were of that idiotic type who must stand right in the path of the cars until they are nearly run over. The finishing point was only two miles away, so that the early numbers had time to get back and watch the rest of the competitors come up. Some amusement was caused when H. F. Wilmot (M.G. Magna) roared up at high speed, struck the bump with a tearing sound, followed by an appalling clatter, and left his mangled dumb-iron cowling on the road behind him. Altogether, the North West London Motor Club is to be congratulated upon a really well run trial. C. F. Dobson, Clerk of the Course, left nothing to chance, and his staff work was a triumph of this type of organisation. No less than twelve observed hills were included, and if the dry surface made some of them rather easy. Dobson’s foresight in stiffening the
acceleration and timed sections retained for the London to Gloucester trial its reputation of severity.