Last November I mentioned the motoring done in 1960 by a Mr William Cobbett, private-enquiry agent in association with a court case brought against the ETU in respect of ballot rigging. Mr Cobbett’s task being to post letters in various places round the country to show how ballot papers might have been rigged by such posting by the ETU itself. The drive drew from the Judge hearing the case Mr. Justice Winn the comment that in effect some undesirable fast driving must have been incurred. Mr Cobbett replied that he “had to move” and the Judge said that the witness must have covered ”a good deal of ground at high speed” I said that I would love to know what car was used for this unusual commission, over the difficult roads of 1960.
Since then I have been able to read more about the case in “All Those In Favour? — The ETU trial” by C H Rolph (Andre Deutsch 1962) which anyone who likes court proceedings and legal matters should most certainly read. It would be unfair to quote from the book the itineraries imposed on Mr Cobbett in carrying out his duties for the plaintiffs Byrne & Chapple, in this action against the ETU and its Communist-activated officials, but if anyone with a pie 1960 car wants to try re-enacting these high-speed runs, the details will be found under “Cobbett’s Rural Rides (The Postal Tours)” in Chapter 2. pt 5. of the aforesaid book. As to what car was used fortunately the Judge, Mr Justice Winn, also found this of interest and put the point to Mr Cobbett when he was in the witness-box. From his replies we know that for the first run he used a Ford Prefect and tor his subsequent tours of which there were two a Ford Consul. This puts a fresh complexion on the average speeds he achieved remembering that there were few Motorways in England at the time his journeys look place and that these Fords were not exactly fast high-performance cars. It also makes sense of the Judge’s enquiry when he asked Mr Corbbett whether a day’s drive of 230 miles made him tired (on another day he had driven 345 miles in the Consul) “No my Lord”, replied Mr Cobbett – W.B.