Out of The Past, June 1986

Out Of The Past

Some time ago we had something to say about early vintage motoring in Wales, in particular in remote Radnorshire, where cars were few and far between in the 1920s. Some research in that county, now re-named Powys, has revealed a number of interesting facets. For instance, Tommy Evans of Van, above Llanidloes, had a 1923 Maxwell tourer (FO 1246), which local inhabitants still remember. He used to run a taxi-service with it into Llanidloes, charging 3d return. A rival service as set up by Mr Jenkins of Central Garage, with a 1924 23.7 hp Wolseley seven-seater (FO 1418). which would have been one of the six-cylinder side-valve worm-drive cars, in use up to 1934. In Wales chapel-goers were very loyal, and it is said that for this reason the Maxwell got the lion’s share of this not very lucrative trade!

A Bleriot-Whippet cyclecar was a lone visitor to Radnorshire in those days, but why, or by whom it was brought there, isn’t known. It lasted only from July 1923 to December 1924, its last registered owner being Eddie Vaughan of Lanidloes, who was a “dealer in anything”, so presumably broke it for spares. Another interesting snippet involves the Morsom brothers, who lived at a remote farm, Castle Crab, four miles from Llandrindod Wells. Jack Morsom returned from fighting in the Great War and some time afterwards bought his first car, from Weale Bros in Builth Wells. It had belonged to the Vicar of Glasbury, who had left it at the garage to defray heavy repair bills. It was probably a Galloway (FO 1392), of which Jack Morsom was the last registered owner, but one wonders why such a car, built in far-away Scotland, should have been the Vicar’s choice. Jack Morsom’s brother Ivor went to join an uncle in Kenya but, returning home on extended leave in 1924, bought a 3 1/2 hp Connaught sidecar-outfit, with which he was so pleased that he took it back to Kenya with him, less the sidecar. A Connaught, in this case a 2 3/4 hp two-stroke, also with sidecar, was acquired by Ivor Morsom’s friend E. H. Owens, who was the shoemaker at Hundred House, probably on Ivor’s recommendation. It was bought from Colcombe’s in Builth, a well-known motorcycle dealer, who also had a Salmson through his hands. The Connaught motorcycle was used by Mr Owens for several years, surviving such vicissitudes as the 13-year-old daughter damaging its front mudguard when garaging it in the shed beside the shop, the latter now a general store. In fact, this machine, FO 1451, had no other registered owner. Owens’ son followed in his father’s wheeltracks, his first machine being a 250 cc two-stroke Dunelt.

Another Radnorshire-registered machine was a 1925 2 3/4 hp Raleigh ridden by a lady who lived near Abbeycwmhir, rumour, perhaps apocryphal, suggesting that this Involved an intrigue with a man of Holy Orders who was united in wedlock with another lady, the motorcycle being used for journeys to their meeting place. . . — W.B.