At the Wheel Ashore and Afloat
THIS newly published autobiography by A Commander Montague Grahame-White covers a perk-ad of forty years from 18e5 to the present day. The author’s range of interests is unusually wide, from extending beyond motoring to cover yachting, big-game hunting and the stage, and a bewildering number of celebrities appear within the compass of its aoo pages.
” One cannot help feeling, however, that much of the material found there might with advantage have been omitted, as being of interest only to the author and his immediate circle of friends. The chapters dealing with motoring at the Opening of the twentieth century have an interest which is not so well maintained in the latter part of the book.” After witnessing the historic motor show at Tunbridge Wells in 1895, GrahameWhite’s imagination was fired with the new mode of transport, and after an apprenticeship with the Daimler Company at Coventry, he joined those pioneers Charles Rush and Percival Perry in their motor
business and be(:ame a salesman, making the acquaintance at the same time of Charles Jarrott and S. F. Edge. Selling a car in those days was no mean feat, as in most cases the client had to be taught to drive and instructed in the most elementary facts about his new purchase. Alarming-things were liable to happen to the best-prepared cars, as for instance when the brakes failed on the car he was demonstrating, and he shot down Dover Hill at 50 m.p.h. A particularly hazardous journey was one made to the South of France on an early Wolseley, during the course of which he ran and refitted a couple of big-ends to the engine, and finally had to leave the car in the snow following a collision with a horse-charabanc. The author was no less active on the sporting side of the pastime, and in the Thousand Mile Trial of Igo° steered his car for half a day by directing one of the front wheels with the instep of his shoe. In the 19o2 Gordon Bennett race he was fellow-driver with Herbert Austin (now of course the famous head of the Austin Motor on a Wolseley, but half a mile
after th, start from Paris the crank-shaft broke, tailing daunted, these two set to work to rebuild the car by the roadside, and twelve hours later set out to follow the rest of the field. All went well as far as Switzerland, and then after toiling over the Alberg Pass,. into Austria, the second crank-shaft went at Landeck. Such was racing in the old days.
In later years Commander GrahameWhite concentrated more strongly on yachting and fast motor boats and many pages are devoted to the stories of his dealings and adventures with these craft. Space prevents more than a mention of his wartime activities and his part in the founding of the Order of the Road and the Nineteenth Century Motorists.
” At the Wheel Ashore and Afloat ” is published by Foulis and costs 12/6. It is produced in de-luxe style with some sixty illustrations of cars, yachts, and personalities, and does full justice to an adventur,,u, and nianv-sided carpor.