At the coalface

Richard Twelvetrees, Editor 1925-26As one who in the early days of Motor Sport, or the Brooklands Gazette as it was then called, occupied a somewhat rickety editorial chair in a corner of a small publisher’s office, I should like to offer my congratulations to those who now celebrate its 25th anniversary. When one realises that Britain’s only periodical devoted entirely to the interests of the sporting motorist began as an unofficial record of racing at Brooklands, the achievement of its present status in motor journalism can only be described as phenomenal.

It so happened, however, that the early associations with Brooklands and its habituees had been a very important influence upon the subsequent development of the magazine. We made many good friends there who helped to popularise Motor Sport by allowing their biographies to appear in its pages. Sir Malcolm Campbell, Sir Henry Segrave, Parry Thomas, Glen Kidston and others inspired ambitious youngsters of their day to win a flutter of the chequered flag through the medium of Motor Sport.

Even in those early days, the magazine was held in high regard among keen sportsmen and students, as evidenced by an occasion when as Editor I was invited to deliver a lecture at Oxford University on ‘Tuning Cars for Trials’, a far more terrifying experience than charging between masses of spectators on Beggars Roost.

Your then-Editor also spoke to Motor Sport readers and thousands of other motorists over the ether from 2L0 [the BBC at Alexandra Palace] in the early days of broadcasting.

In addition to collecting material from every available source, plying scissors and paste brush, my editorial duties included participation in trials and competitions at the wheel of a 11.9hp Bean, induced by much mechanical juggling and the dissipation of more hard cash than it was actually worth, to perform creditably in company with expensive sportscars of the period. Incidentally, that old Bean was one of the first cars in the country to be equipped with a wireless set and achieved notoriety by being turned out of an enclosure at Ascot racecourse, by the Clerk of the Course in person, for being a public nuisance, even before there was time to adjust the cat’s whisker on the crystal detector used with amplifying valves and a horn-shaped loudspeaker.

To me, the editorship was an exhilarating experience which only came to an end after a strike-breaking crash in 1926, but it left a permanent urge to turn competition experience to good account in an altogether different section of the motor industry.
July 1949 (taken from the 25th Anniversary Issue)