A LONDON VENTURE
CITY AND GUILDS M.C. INCLUDE MANY NOVEL FEATURES IN UNIVERSITIES’ TRIAL
THE day before the City and Guilds Universities’Trial was the
wettest for the last ten years. The day following was the coldest for the last nine years, or something of the kind. During the event itself the weather varied between these extremes, being warm but wet during the night run, and cold but still wet during the day.
The original idea of the organisers of the trial, the City and Guilds College, part of London University, was a grand one, for the event was to be open to members of seven different Universities. Besides the organising club,. and Oxford and Cambridge, Birmingham, Manchester, and Dublin Universities had been invited to take part, and also the United Hospitals and University of London M.C. The inclusion of Dublin nearly caused the organisers to have to apply for an international permit, which could scarcely
have been granted I However, this difficulty was smoothed out, and a contingent from the Irish University was actually expected. However, on hearing that a night run was to be included in the route, the Irishmen found themselves unable to come over, on the ground that their machines had no lighting sets (the Dublin team was to be composed of motorcyclists), nor had they any ” ordinary” tyres. To those unaware of conditions governing the sport in Ireland, these difficulties certainly seem very extraordinary, but that was that, and the ” international ” element was out. Birmingham and Manchester had also promised teams, and a special starting point had been arranged for them in the Midlands. But they, too, had to cry off at the last moment, one, it is said, because they had mistaken the date until it was too late—these midnight starts are sometimes a little confusing—and the other because of an important club function
on the same day. In their defence it must be stated that the organisers brought some of these troubles on themselves, as the regulations were not issued until very late. Oxford and Cambridge Universities, both dispersed for the Christmas vacation, managed to send a few starters, but not
even the powerful Cambridge U.A.C., which has more than three hundred members, could survive with a complete team, Thus the event developed into an internecine contest between the City and Guilds and the United Hospitals clubs, for these two bodies are closely allied, and their members enjoy equal privileges. In the circumstances, though there was
a strong entry from the City and Guilds, the team value of the contest was lessened, and the winning trio, composed, as it happened, of three motor-cyclists, might have claimed to come from either club. A night run is now something of a rarity in trials, except for the I.C.C. events and the ” Gloucester,” but the Guilds men were not discouraged by the torrents of rain which fell (hiring the preceding day, and turned up at the London starting point, the Ace of Spades, on the Great West Road, some in incredibly open and exposed Austin Sevens, even
girl passengers appearing comparatively lightly clad. The rain ceased to fall shortly before the Start, but it was only a temporary respite, enough to let the mists and fog gather in the Cotswold Hills’, for which
competitors were Making. Old Hollow was included during the night run, and the foot of this hill is quite difficult to find even in the daylight, owing to the maze of narrow lanes. The fog was particularly thick here, in the early hours of the morning, and many of the competitors lost their way. Their resultant late arrival was perhaps just as well, since the marshals due to take charge of the hill were also lost, but arrived in the nick of time.
A scheme had been devised to divide each of the observed sections into ten Sub-sections, and marks were awarded according to the distance that a driver covered before coining to a stop, a clean climb counting the full ten marks. This, at any rate, was what the organisers intended, and so it turned out in the end ; but the wording of the clause in the supplementary regulations gave rise to an objection that a competitor failing low down on a hill and subsequently restarting and climbing the rest of the hill could claim marks for all sub-sections through which he passed unassisted.
A Guilds trial is run in the most friendly manner, however, and upon an explanation from the man who drew up the regulation, saying what he meant, the objection was withdrawn without the necessity for a ruling from the Stewards. It is certainly very pleasant to be able to settle any such discussions over a hotel fire, instead of lodging formal and embittered protests.
The sub-sections scheme has been used before in trials, and gives interesting results. It is necessary, however, to make quite sure that all marshals understand the plan, and can mark their cards accurately and intelligibly for the different sections with which they are concerned. One card in the Universities’ Trial bore algebraic symbols such as : OC x (6-8) 5, which may be interpreted as meaning that the third member of the Oxford team stopped in sub-sections 6 to 8, and re ceived five marks ! It should be explained that, instead of competition nmnhers, small cards were mounted on the windscreens bearing initial letters, the first corresponding to the University of entry, and the second to the driver’s place in the team. Thus ” G.P. ” on an ancient Austin Seven would not indicate that it was a Grand Prix model, but that the driver was the sixteenth entered by
the Guilds College. ‘Unfamiliar, but informative, if one has the key, and, since some appear to object to competition munbers, quite a good substitute. Owing to so many drivers losing their way to Old Hollow, it became difficult to assess the results Cal this hill, but everyone turned up in the end at the breakfast stop, the well known Bear Hotel on Rodborough Common—everyone, that is,. . except the Chief Marshal, I. K. Nixon, in his Austin, who had with him all the
necessary cards and impedimenta for the running of the event. Consternation was created, but at last Nixon arrived. having been home, since he left the start, fitted a new dynamo, changed several wheels, and generally rebnilt the car.
The trial then proceeded, and the first hill after breakfast was Ham Mill, rough and rocky as ever. The formidable rock step near the bottom caused quite a lot of drivers to fail even in the first subsection, but on the whole results were evenly divided over the various sections, and one of the motor-cyclists had the misfortune to foot in the very top section, thus gaining only nine marks. The only two car drivers to climb the whole hill were M. P. Laudet, with his WolseleY, and H. L. Riseley, with a Hillman Minx. Laudet kept going very fast all the way up, while Riseley’s effort, in a saloon car not of trials type, was most creditable, for on wet chalk the top slopes of the hill were very slippery.
The next hill was Nailsworth Ladder, but three of the plucky little Austins, GK, (IL, and GM, driven by P. P. Strouvelle, H. Oxlin, and R. M. H. Gordon, were so jaded by their attacks upon Ham Mill that their owners decided not to attempt the precipitous gradient. Perhaps this was as well, for on Ham Mill their hand brakes had seemed none too gripping, and the Ladder is a nasty place to run down backwards. The Austin contingent had been further depleted when G. K. Grey retired, in some confusion, as he and his passenger were proceeding quietly along when the rug was suddenly whipped from their knees, to entwine itself round the propeller shaft !
Most competitors found the Ladder in difficult condition, and only Laudet with his Wolseley reached the summit. Riseley stopped in the fifth section, and thus received four marks. By this time the air was growing colder,. and damp mists were drifting across the hills, so that waiting for the competitors,. behind schedule after the difficulties of the first two sections, was a wearisome business. Station Lane was divided into two parts, Of which the second, a narrow, winding path through the wood, was so difficult that it stopped the entire
entry. D. Baddeley, driving a sports Austin with overhead valve engine, did. extremely well to reach the seventh subsection, and here Laudet fell from grace, scoring only two marks, as he failed in the third section, while Riseley could. only get one section higher.
Finally came the muddy Gypsy Lane, but all competitors climbed this successfully, before returning for lunch, which had, for many, become tea, at the Plough Hotel at Cheltenham. The results were quickly worked out, and the City and Guilds team of motor-cyclists were declared the winners with a total of 153 marks, while Laudet made the best car performance.