It was appropriate that Roesch Talbot-owning members of the STD Register should bring them back to the Barlby Road works of the Rootes Group for a rally, the first of its kind, for it was here that these fine cars, proudly bearing the radiator badge with the crest of the Earl of Shrewsbury and Talbot and the words “Talbot-London” (now found for some inexplicable reason on the front of modern Sunbeams), were built, an absorbing story soon to be published in considerable and fascinating detail in a book which I am sure will come to be known as Blight’s Bible. . . .
The array of Talbots which arrived at the factory was indeed impressive. They ranged from little spidery 10/23s, which Roesch developed from the less refined 8/18, to 95s and 110s which had just escaped the later Rootes influence—how generous of the hosts to welcome cars which many of those present are convinced were superior to these later side-valve Talbots.
A handsome programme had been printed, containing an article on Talbot coachwork of the period, reprinted from The Automobile Engineer of 1934, and pictures of the old works from which emanated Percy Lambert’s 100-in-the-hour Talbot, a link with which was provided by Messenger’s splendid ex-Marsh 1920 25/50 drophead on its 895 x 135 Dunlop tyres, and after these had been distributed there was a speech of welcome by Mr. W. Chipperton, General Manager of the works. He reminded us that Rootes took it over in 1933, that it made R.-R. Merlin aero engines during the war, and that it was rebuilt in 1947 as a Service Station which is thought to be the largest in Europe, probably in the World. Here 40,000 to 50,000 Rootes products are serviced every year, not including commercial vehicle servicing, and 6,000 new parts are handled daily, the stock of which is valued at £½ million, revised four times year. On this note parties went on a tour of the premises, from which the gasometer round which pre-1914 airships used to circle and the wood-block semi-banked test track is still discernible; they say that Talbot chassis on test used to arrive at some 55 m.p.h. off the banking into the reception area . . .
After coffee and cocktails the Talbots moved off to Kensington Gardens for a Condours d’Etat under the Geoffrey Hughes’ marking system. At the factory there had been a gate-crasher in the form of a Morris-Oxford two-seater and now the London Talbots and accompanying Wolverhampton Sunbeams were joined by a smart open fabric-bodied Hillman 14, a scruffy yellow Hillman 14 saloon, both
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