Babs and the Beach Hotel

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Sir,

I would like to clarify some matters arising from your piece in the February MOTOR SPORT about the ‘Babs’ saga.

The Beach Hotel was the centre of record-breaking activities at Pendine sands in the 1920s, providing accommodation and garaging as well as a morgue for poor Parry Thomas after his tragic accident with Babs in 1927. Babs’ garage at the rear of the hotel has gone but the hotel buildings are much as they were in the golden age of record-breaking, albeit partly derelict now. We have prepared a scheme for the renovation of the hotel complex which includes the creation of a museum dedicated to Pendine’s racing history, so far largely untold. One of the attractive outbuildings, currently a discotheque, was that used for laying out Thomas’s body and would form a splendid setting for ‘Babs’ should the car return to the Beach Hotel.

I would like to correct you about the costs. The proposed museum building, which has been offered for sale to Carmarthen District Council, needs minimal work to convert it into a satisfactory museum. It even has a toilet block attached so that it can operate as an independent unit. Building a museum from scratch on a site outside the village is an alternative being considered by Pendine Community Council, joint Trustees for Babs. This would be a costly undertaking and of no historical relevance. From a town planning point of view the rehabilitation of the Beach Hotel will bring new life to the centre of Pendine village, providing investment and jobs and, we hope, a revival of its motor racing links.

Babs is a principal part of Pendine’s history and the Beach Hotel was its second home after Thomas’s sheds at Brooklands, so pointlessly demolished in 1978. It is hoped to that the Pendine museum will provide long overdue recognition of the work of that great designer and driver Parry Thomas, whose story might be told at the Brooklands Museum, but isn’t.

G Belcher,

Architect for the Beach hotel, New Malden, Surrey.

(The Beach Hotel would certainly seem the better location for Babs, although it might be off-putting to inform visitors to the Museum that the car was in what was the “laying-out” room for Thomas’s body! It should be emphasised that Thomas would not have been particularly proud of “Babs”, which he lashed-up for a quick attempt on the LSR, successfully: his best work was the Leyland 8 and his Leyland Thomas and Thomas Special racing cars, etc. If you include the start of the “Babs” saga, the great car had three homes — Zborowski’s house, Higham, in Kent, Thomas’s Brooklands workshops, and the shed at Pendine. WB)