Cars in books, January 1977

I have been delving yet again into “The Diaries of Evelyn Waugh” (Edited by Michael Davis, Weidenfeld & Nicholson, 1976) and find that I have missed a few motoring items in the 814 pages of this book. I see that when Waugh was a schoolmaster in Aston Clinton he knew about the public road hill-climbs held there, as in 1926 he remarks about “falling down rather painfully trying to take the corner up to the speed-hill”. He was riding what he describes as “a marvellous bicycle—a Sunbeam” and, as the owner had arrived from Denbighshire, it was presumably a motor-bicycle to which Waugh referred. That year there was a Continental tour during which “the Frazer Nash broke its springs” on the way to Blois. Then Waugh’s car had a puncture and Richard Plunket-Green’s Frazer Nash “broke all its springs” (I think they were using two Frazer Nashes). The atmosphere of the age is set by one of the boys at school who asked Waugh, later in 1926: “Please Sir, Cobham must find motoring awfully slow, mustn’t he, Sir?” (I suppose the DH9A plane was good for about 100 m.p.h.)

By 1931 there was a nice addition to Rolls-Royce legend (not mythology, as it undoubtedly happened), when a friend of Waugh’s was driven to a London railway station in someone’s chauffeur-driven Rolls.

He gave the porter 5/-. “The man was flabbergasted. Seeing me get out of a Rolls-Royce, he had expected at least a quid.” Incidentally, Waugh must have been unlucky with cars. In 1948 he had the back-axle of the car he and his wife were using break four miles from home. They transferred to another car, which also broke its axle, just before the journey was over. It was completed by taxi. Also, in connection with this feature, the interesting letter which follows has been received.

Cars in Books


I have just completed reading the September 1976 issue of “Polar Record” (The Journal of the Scott Polar Research Institute, Cambridge). ‘rills journal has an article titled “The First Attempts at Motor Transport in Antarctica 1907-1911.” The article covers the use of converted cars in this area by both Scott and Shackleton.

Shackleton using an Arrol-Johnston in 1907. The mechanic for the expedition and Scotts being Bernard Day who had been employed by Arrol-Johnston from 1903-1907. In addition Price’s manufactured a special “Antarctic” oil for use on this expedition. Scott used two motor Sledges—after losing one through the ice—manufactured by the Wolseley Tool & Motor Company. This was after trials with a single cylinder motor _sledge were not too effective. This earlier single-cylinder model being developed by de Dion-Bouton. The sledges taken on the Scott Expedition being powered by a four-cylinder air-cooled engine of 12 h.p.

Full details of the Scott motor sledges are given in this article together with drawings of Scott’s sledge and photographs of the Wolseley and Arrol-Johnston.

Incidentally, there are photos of the Wolseley in the recently published “Scott’s Last Voyage Through the Antarctic Camera Of Hubert Ponting. Ed. Ann Savours.” (ISBN 0283 981393.)

Thanking you for an excellent magazine.


Miniatures News

Meccano Dinky are concentrating.on military miniatures at the moment. They have brought out a Foden army truck, a LandRover bornb,-disposal unit and two AEC articulated transporters, one carrying a detailed helicopter and the other a Chieftan tank. As these are based on real makes we are pleased to mention them. The first two are to a scale 1/42 and retail for £2.75 and £1.45, respectively. (Ref. Nos. 668 and 604.) The transporters are 332 mm, long, the tank set, No. 616, costing £3.99 and the helicopter set, No. 618, sells for £3.20. Meecano say that the casting for the Land-Rover body is “beautifully crisp”, and the AEC artics. feature a sixwheeled tractor unit.—W.B.