The enclosed remarks of mine may be of use to you for publication, and create a certain amount of interest among your readers.
There was a tremendous lot of fuss made about last winter’s snow spell and no doubt it was bad in places, but within a 30-mile radius of this place and Snetterton just nothing.
Not a patch on 1946-47 when I was out on the road every day, Sundays included.
I was carting churns of milk in a Bradford van from my brother-in-law’s farm to the depot four miles away and bringing empty churns back, and I hope that you were able to have the cup that cheers for breakfast, and likewise in your office in the afternoon, or do you indulge in cider (hot) or Norfolk barley wine, to warm the cockles of your heart ? [No, Oxo.—Ed.]
I can go back to the bitter winter of 1917-18 in Picardy, when the roses did not bloom, when I was a corporal mechanic fitter in the Royal Flying Corps, with the efficiency of the Royal Engineers and the discipline of the Guards, on 5s. a day pay.
I had graduated to this position from being a farm worker, a farmer’s son, who owned a motor-cycle in 1905, with a wage value of 15s. per week, which the farm worker was then paid, but then real beer was Is. per gallon, of which 9d. was tax, and Players 10 for 2 1/2d.
An aero engine had to be taken (a 160 Beardmore) to the Squadron near the Belgian border from Pont de l’Arche near Le Havre, and a certain Air Mechanic, Class 2, had the job of fetching it with a Crossley Tender with precisely the same chassis as the C.O.’s and Staff cars.
Motor transport was at a standstill except for rations for man and beast, but this lad of twenty was ordered to get through, and he did, and all alone, but not within time limits, but it might be informative if I spilled the beans as to the specification of the chassis with which he did it.
Engine : side-valve four-cylinder, 4-in. bore, 5-in, stroke, water-cooled with anti-freezing mixture, one part of methylated spirit to three of water, cast-iron pistons, Smiths carburetter, British Thomson-Houston magneto, and plugs which in “Civvy Street” were Is. 6d. each before the war. [Today’s least-expensive well-known plug is the Wipac, costing 3s. 6d. each.—Ed.]
Four-speed gearbox, and back axle of 4 to 1 (17 by 68). Rudge knock-on wheels, twin at rear, tyres 920 by 120 (30 in.) with steel studs set in chrome leather.
Petrol was not aviation, as drivers knew that it could not pull the skin off a rice pudding used in Leylands, Crossleys and Phelan and Moore motor-cycles.
Engine lubricant was 50/50 Mobiloil, B.B. and castor, gearbox and back axle castor, as used in the rotary aero engines, by farmers in stationary paraffin oil engines at 4 1/2d. per gallon, and for doctoring cows, sheep and pigs. The only things electrical on the chassis were the magneto and plugs, spares being carried but seldom wanted, including a magneto contact-breaker just in case. A week later I did the same journey with a Leyland, under much the same conditions, on solid rubber tyres with chains as had the Crossley, and back axle ratio of 7 8/9 to 1.
That 2 A/M is now Managing Director of one of the largest manufacturing concerns (not cars) in the motor industry of Britain, both of which shall be nameless. At the same time, in remembrance of happy days, though it was war, I hope that there are still many readers of Motor Sport to whom the password “Elephant” will convey a lot !
You seem to have among your readers a lot of people who are interested in old cars, and may I through you be permitted to pass that interest along.
We Norfolk Dumplings were not much behind in motoring matters fifty years ago, as then we had the Soames steam car which was built in a village just outside Norwich and is now in mint condition in Norwich.
We have also the finest ex-aerodrome racing track in Britain, if the speeds of the 500s and Salvadori are anything to go by.
It is one of the easiest of access from London, being just 90 miles from Holborn via Tottenham, Ware and Newmarket; my time with the Bradford for the 95 miles from Attleborough to Lincoln’s Inn Fields being 2 1/2 hours. The sporting boys have got to thank my friend Fred Riches for Snetterton, as he is really the owner of the land.
I first met Freddie when he was a schoolboy 35 years ago, and I was introducing Castrol to East Anglia, and his father had a one-pump garage at Great Hockham between A11 and Watton.
Snetterton was purchased by the Air Ministry from the Earl of Albemarle, and became the H.Q. of the 8th U.S.A.A.F.
The A.M. sold it, and it went for an old song to a syndicate of farmers, and now it is what it is today.
I think that during the coming season we shall hear quite a lot about Snetterton.
With all good wishes. I am, Yours etc.,
Attleborough, L.A. Postle