Salmson Recollections

Browse pages
Current page

1

Current page

2

Current page

3

Current page

4

Current page

5

Current page

6

Current page

7

Current page

8

Current page

9

Current page

10

Current page

11

Current page

12

Current page

13

Current page

14

Current page

15

Current page

16

Current page

17

Current page

18

Current page

19

Current page

20

Current page

21

Current page

22

Current page

23

Current page

24

Current page

25

Current page

26

Current page

27

Current page

28

Current page

29

Current page

30

Current page

31

Current page

32

Current page

33

Current page

34

Current page

35

Current page

36

Current page

37

Current page

38

Current page

39

Current page

40

Current page

41

Current page

42

Current page

43

Current page

44

Current page

45

Current page

46

Current page

47

Current page

48

Current page

49

Current page

50

Current page

51

Current page

52

Current page

53

Current page

54

Current page

55

Current page

56

Current page

57

Current page

58

Current page

59

Current page

60

Current page

61

Current page

62

Current page

63

Current page

64

Current page

65

Current page

66

Current page

67

Current page

68

Current page

69

Current page

70

Current page

71

Current page

72

Current page

73

Current page

74

Current page

75

Current page

76

Current page

77

Current page

78

Current page

79

Current page

80

Current page

81

Current page

82

Current page

83

Current page

84

Current page

85

Current page

86

Current page

87

Current page

88

Current page

89

Current page

90

Current page

91

Current page

92

Current page

93

Current page

94

Current page

95

Current page

96

Current page

97

Current page

98

Current page

99

Current page

100

Current page

101

Current page

102

Current page

103

Current page

104

Current page

105

Current page

106

Current page

107

Current page

108

Current page

109

Current page

110

Current page

111

Current page

112

Current page

113

Current page

114

Current page

115

Current page

116

Current page

117

Current page

118

Current page

119

Current page

120

Current page

121

Current page

122

Current page

123

Current page

124

Current page

125

Current page

126

Current page

127

Current page

128

Current page

129

Current page

130

Current page

131

Current page

132

Current page

133

Current page

134

Current page

135

Current page

136

Current page

137

Current page

138

Current page

139

Sir,

Mr. Dave Hunt’s letter recalling happy memories of Sunday mornings at Bunny Hill and, in particular. his mention of Sir Henry Birkin’s Salmson, has taken me back over many years to when I was employed by this once-famous firm at their depot in Motcomb Street, Belgrave Square. I well remember this actual car before Sir Henry took delivery of it.

In those days our agents for the Nottingham area were two brothers by the name of Gibson, who had a garage in the City. Their salesman was a cheerful type by the name of George Simkins, with whom I was on very friendly terms, after an acquaintance covering several Olympia shows. One day he confided to me with great satisfaction that he had Secured a firm order for one of the new “Grand Prix” models, of which hardly any had come over at that time, and asked me to keep a special eye open for its arrival, as it was to be delivered in chassis form and the owner was to be a well-known nobleman and sportsman who had built up a reputation by racing motorcycles. The body was to be built to special order by a local firm.

Now in those days all but a very few of our cars were delivered by barge to Messrs. Leps Wharf at Chiswick, in the middle of the Sewage Farm, and stood out in the open until collected. One morning, to my surprise, George arrived apparently unscheduled at Motcomb Street, clad in his usual immaculate light grey overcoat but sporting a natty line in Nottingham caps in place of his bowler. After the usual greeting I enquired what had brought him to London, only to be told that he had come to take delivery of the GP and hoped it was ready! A general flap then ensued and I was despatched immediately by LGOBC to collect it from Chiswick. When I arrived there the chassis had only just been landed but I slapped in the regulation two gallons of petrol, strapped on my tradcplates, and tied the spare wheel down with cord for a seat. As usual the car was unstartable by hand after its long stay in the open coming over on the boat. But I secured a tow from a passing lorry driver, and away we went. Never shall I forget that journey! The French arc a wonderful people in many ways but their penchant for never delivering anything quite the same as last time was absolutely outstanding in those days and frequently gave us a lot of trouble. In this case I had only gone a few yards when I discovered that I had no silencer of any kind and that all that was fitted was a short length of exhaust pipe connected to the manifold and which terminated beneath where I was sitting. However, time was short and my old friend was waiting, so I really got down to it and pressed on with gusto. I can only describe my subsequent journey as meteoric. My progress as I sped up the Chiswick High Road through Hammersmith and past the Albert Hall must have astonished a great many respectable beholders.

Apart from the thundirous roar from the exhaust, every time I lifted my foot from the accelerator, tremendous reports filled the air and sheets of flame shot beneath me. Eventually, I turned into Lowndes Square and shot round the corner into Motcomb Street and straight on to our service lift, which to my amazement ascended at once. I think they had heard me coming and somebody had his hand on the switch! With one final effort I roared off the lift and across the floor to the fitters’-bay, where I stopped. George rushed over and almost embraced me, beaming with joy as he murmured “Wonderful old boy, wonderful!” I started to say something about having dinner and spending the evening together but to my great surprise he turned away saying firmly, “Notttingham tonight!” As it was then well after lunch on a dull, wintry day and the car was not fitted with lights, you can imagine my feelings at this remark but I knew George and once he had made up his mind, that was that! And so, after a quick check round by the fitters, to Nottingham he went and, marvellous to relate, arrived intact. I saw him shortly afterwards and I seem to remember that he said he covered the last 30 or so miles in total darkness by hanging behind large vehicles. But these were happy carefree days and provided that you did not actually kill or maim anyone, the police did not bother you, especially if you were well-known locally— in other words, keep out of trouble and we don’t want to know! [Quite right tool—ED.]

Dear old days indeed! If George Simkins or Fred Clarke, the great tuning impresario from Motcomb Street, or any of the old gang with whom I have lost touch these many years are still in circulation, I would be glad to hear from them.

By the way, Sir Henry very nearly did not get his Salmson after all. George once confided to me that a week or an after the order had been placed, a beautiful limousine arrived outside Messrs. Gibsons Nottingham showrooms and a venerable figure stepped out, none other, I believe, than Sir Henry’s father. Entering the showrooms he tackled George at once and said “I believe sir my misguided son has ordered a racing car or some such thing from you. I won’t have it, do you hear, I won’t have it”. However, if George had not been a motor salesman he might have been in the diplomatic corps. He knew his onions and stuck to his guns and as we all know, the deal did go through!

Cheltenham. Harold K. G. Garland

[I didn’t know Birkin had a Salzman— presumably between DFP and Bentleys. Has anyone a picture of it?—ED.]

V-E-V Odds & Ends. – A reader, Mr. A. B. Snow, of Newcastle, Staffs., recently delivered a talk to Stoke-on-Trent Round Table on vintage cars, in the course of which he quoted statistics of used cars advertised in a weekly motor paper in 1924 and 1929. With the proviso that these were cars largely from London and Home Counties addresses and that cars such as the Model-T Ford probably sold so readily that they would seldom be advertised, it is interesting to find that in 1924 the most popular makes advertised were Humber (51), Wolseley (46) and Buick (38), out of a total of 435, and that of 916 cars advertised, 191 were pre-1920, and that 656 had open bodies, 201 bodies that could be opened and 59 had closed bodywork. The most popular single models were 27.3 h.p. Buick (29), 11.4 Humber and Austin 20 (26 each) and Model-T Ford and 2.9 h.p. Maxwell (20 each). By 1929 Morris led with 247 from Austin with 201 and Chrysler with 82 and out of 1,985 samples 920 were open, 265 openable and 800 had closed bodies. The most frequently advertised single model types were Morris-Cowley (130), Morris-Oxford (116) and Austin 12 (99). In 1929 Buick scored 78, Armstrong Siddeley 71, Standard 65 and Bentley 62, in this painstaking analysis by this chartered accountant.

You may also like

Related products