"Exeter" Flashback

As editor I wish to apologise to historical archivists and those with long memories who noticed some inaccurate and odd items in the piece published last month about former MCC London-Exeter trials. When this year’s Exeter Trial had to be cancelled due to the abnormal weather it became necessary to fill the space reserved for a report. I was unable to get out of my remote place in the country, the Rover 3500 and the Reliant Kitten both proving most commendable instant-starters in the Arctic temperatures but neither being all that adept at getting to grips with icy uphill surfaces. So, although we managed to break out for food on our 1952 Ferguson tractor, I couldn’t get to the office and it was necessary to telephone-in the stop-Press story, with not quite the results I intended.

Most of the errors that arose should be fairly obvious, but to prevent anyone assuming that I was suffering from galloping senility at the time, I would like to make it clear in that enforced look-back to past Exeter trials that the Imperia which got a gold medal in 1924 had a slide-valve, not a side-valve, engine, this being my only reason for referring to its valve-gear. When I wanted to say that Harcombe hill, reintroduced for the 1939 trial, was by then found to be tame, this came out as “…by then Fortame”! The other hills in that paragraph should have read Meerhay, Higher Rill, Devenish Pit and Batcombe, all introduced from 1929.

Them were several other places where my secretary didn’t hear me correctly; for instance I had been careful to say that S. C. H. Davis commenced his long association with post-war Exeters in 1920, driving a McKenzie, as I was aware that he had competed in pre-war MCC events, but the vital two words were omitted. The point about those folk who saw a shed and left their cars in it before the start, was that the hoods were left unfurled, it was pouring with rain, and only when they returned, still in the dark, did they discover that the shed was roof-less…

Finally, I see that a rather obvious note was added to my “copy” saying that Dellows and other Specials must be legal for use on the road in MCC trials. I wouldn’t have picked on the Dellow because I have always regarded them as road as well as trials cars, dating from the time when I tried a certain “yellow-Dellow” for Motor Sport in 1950. The MCC must have lost money through having to cancel the “Exeter” and as many motor clubs are experiencing hard times these days, you may wish to join this deserving car and motorcycle organisation, which is essential anyway if you intend to run in the Land’s End trial at Easter — the sub. is £6 a year but mention of the entry fee (£1) was another item omitted front my phoned-in “Exeter” Enforced Look-Back. — W.B.