Double-Twelves

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In last month’s article about Spyker cars one caption gave Mrs Janson’s name as “Jameson” (apologies, too, to Anabel Jones for changing her surname when praising her for her good showing at Colerna While S F Edge drove the Spyker-Maybach for two spells of 12 hours each at Brooklands in 1922, and averaged 74.27 mph to establish a new Double-Twelve-hour record (night runs having been objected to by then at the Surrey Track), Col Janson riding with him, Mrs Gwenda M Janson was out on the track at the same time, riding a 249cc Trump-JAP motorcycle, on which she established a Class-A D12-hour record of 44.65 mph, no mean feat for such a slip of a girl.

There is something of a mystery surrounding Mrs Janson. She was at that time presumably the wife of Col Janson, but later she became exceedingly well-known and famous as Mrs Gwenda Stewart, wife of Col R N Stewart, with her record-breaking and racing achievements. She set the Ladies lap-record at Brooklands at 135.95 mph in 1935 with the Derby-Miller, did 100 mph in a 750cc Morgan before the four-wheelers in that class, and had competed in the BRDC 500-Mile races in the Duesenberg and Derby-Miller.

I had wondered whether Col Janson was Dutch-born but had served with the British Army during the war, and had taken British nationality when he came here to manage the affairs of the Spyker company, for whom he became the London manager. Alas, this theory cannot be substantiated, unless Christian names were also changed, because the Spyker manager was Col S Janson and Gwenda married the popular Col R N (Bob) Stewart, whom she would have been acquainted with as they both raced Trump motorcycles in 1922. So apparently Gwenda Janson was divorced from Col Janson, maybe when the Spyker project failed and he returned to Holland, Gwenda then marrying the popular Colonel Bob.

But to complicate matters, in his book about lady racing drivers, S C H Davis, who knew more about motor-racing than most of the journalists, has a chapter on “Gwenda Hawkes”, and in it he only refers to Col Stewart once, which reminds me that Gwenda married Douglas Hawkes, with whom she shared her Morgans at Montlhery, after being Mrs Janson and Mrs Stewart!

Incidentally, although only five cars took the Double-Twelve-hour record at Brooklands, as listed in our April issue, it was a more popular pursuit with the motor-cycle riders, possibly because to increase the already high speeds required to break short-distance records was more difficult than ensuring the reliability required to raise this odd D12 target. But there must have been good bonus money in it, for otherwise why would riders expose themselves to two consecutive 12-hour rides round Brooklands track, a monotonous and exhausting undertaking? But they did. Dull but tenacious, one might say! Not all of them succeeded; I list the successful motorcycle D12s below.

The Trump motorcycle ridden at Brooklands by Gwenda Janson and Col Stewart is one of those makes about which not much seems to be known. It was local to the Track, first made in 1906 at the Liphook Motor Engineering Works at Weybridge, but later at the Foxlake Works in Byfleet, when it had been reformed as Trump Motors Ltd. Col Bob Stewart may have had a close connection with the company, because he raced all kinds of Trumps at Brooklands during the 1921 and 1922 seasons and was able to persuade Hurbert Hagens, the supercharger expert, to let him use the big 996cc eight-valve ohc roller-bearing twin-plug 46 bhp Hagens-Anzani engine in one of the machines, which won a two-lap scratch race at 82.08 mph. Other successes included a win for the Colonel on his ancient belt-drive 4hp Trump-JAP at 73.45 mph at a mid-week BMCRC meeting in 1921, a third place at the November races that year on a 5/6 hp machine, a third for J J Hall in 1922, and the win by S E Wood, the Duke of York’s chauffeur, with a 998cc Trump-Anzani, the Royal entry, in a five-lap handicap at 86.12 mph. Hall had also ridden a Trump-JAP at the Royal meeting, and the 18-year old won his race, at 72.5 mph.

After her D12 stint, Mrs Janson won the Ealing MCC’s Novices’ Handicap on a 249cc Trump-JAP at 53.7 mph, and in 1922 there was much record-breaking activity, with Trumps of from 245 to 750cc, ridden by Col Stewart, J J Hall and Gwenda Janson. But it petered out by 1923, after the company had moved to Birmingham. Do any Trumps survive?

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