Cars in Books, January 1975



Cars in Books

From “Both Hands” by Gervas Huxley (Chatto & Windus, 1970) comes a splendid description of a iong journey in an Edwardian car, which we reproduce by permission of the publishers and the author’s literary estate. —”By the summer of 1907, my father had bought a Renault of the famous early model which was one of the first really reliable cars. That year we rented a house in Kinross with fishing on Loch Leven and rough shooting, including some grouse; on the hills. The rest of the family travelled north by train, but I had the great thrill of driving up from London with my father. We left at 6 a.m., and after a second breakfast at Stamford and a sandwich lunch, got to York in time for an early tea. In spite of its over-heavy and over-high landaulette body and its small engine, the Renault never faltered over the 200 miles, achieving a speed of thirty miles an hour on the flat. The speed limit on all roads was still twenty miles an hour, but we avoided the police traps at several well-known points. My father sat in front with his chauffeur, while I reclined on the comfortable back seat with the half-hood open’, reading The Story of Scotland and watching the hens scattering, dogs barking and horses shying as we rolled on, leaving a cloud of white dust behind us. After a night in the Station Hotel at York we reached Kinross comfortably by tea, crossing the Firth of Forth by the Burntisland ferry”.

In 1921 the author bought “a 10 h.p. Standard car” for transport into Abingdon from his home at Boars Hill, when he was working at the Leather Company. Later in the book there is reference to flying home to London from Cape Town by the newly-inaugurated Imperial Airways service, and of how they got lost between Broken Hill and Mpika and force-landed, unharmed due to the skill of “Tich” Attwood, the pilot. Several days passed before they were located by an aeroplane of the Rhodesian Air Force. In America Huxley was to meet the famous Amelia Earheart, “with her short fair hair and boyish look, a most interesting person to meet-.