Vintage Postbag, November 1962

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Country ‘Buses

Sir,

I was naturally most interested to read Mr. Roy Taylor’s memories regarding Stoke-on-Trent ‘buses during the ‘twenties (MOTOR ‘SPORT, September 1962) and, for the sake of the record, I have checked on some of the details.

Pre-Great War road transport began, it seems, with a Straker steamer in 1901, which had a short and not very effective life. The next attempt by the Tramway to motorise itself took the form of three very odd-looking little double-deckers, built in their entirety by the Brush Company in 1904-Brush were intimately connected with the British Electric Traction Group which also controlled the Potteries Electric Traction. These also were not much of a success—photographs show them to have a very flimsy appearance and no doubt the roads of the Five Towns were quite as nasty as those anywhere else. The first useful ‘bus service by the P.E.T. came with the four 40-h.p. Daimler single-deckers purchased in 1913.

As a result of a minor rash of narrow-gauge railway construction at the beginning of the century the Leek & Manifold Railway was built. This came under the influence of the North Staffordshire Railway, which operated their two Straker single-decked steamers in conjunction with the N.G. line. Terribly noisy and most uncomfortable, the Strakers soon went, being rebodied as vans.

In the post-war era, the tramway company did indeed run S.O.S. vehicles. These were built by the Birmingham Midland Motor Omnibus Co., the famed Midland “Red,” and were so successful that several of the Midland “Red” associates ran them. The initials were popularly supposed to signify “Shires Own Specification,” a Mr. Shire being the Chief Engineer of the day. The first S.O.S.s went to the P.E.T. in 1925 and were 31-seat, normal controlled, the 37-seaters were forward control and arrived in 1927.

Incidentally, Gilford is the correct rendering, not Guildford [The printers ignored my correction!—ED.], and, contrary to popular belief, had no connection with the Dennis Bros. concern. The resemblance between Talbots and W. & G.s of the period seems to be due to some sort of managerial connection—can anyone throw any further light on this point ?

Leyland P.L.S.C. “Lions” were not the first forward control chassis by any means but it would be fair to say that they were the first in quantity in the Provinces. From personal experience I can heartily agree that the “Lioness” version was indeed a delightful motor, both to drive, maintain, or simply to look at! “Lions,” by the way, never carried double-decked bodywork and the vehicle referred to by Mr. Taylor was probably a.”Titan.”

Coming to more recent times, the Associated group sold out in 1944 and Stoke-on-Trent Motors in 1951. Even today there are a considerable number of independent operators in the area which, indeed, is a stronghold of the smaller concerns.

ALAN L. THOMAS,  Editor, Vintage Commercial.                                                                            London N.2

 

Pre-War Jowetts

Sir,

My father bought his first Jowett, a 1930 7-h.p. fabric saloon, well before the war when the arrival of my brother made the phrase “close-coupled ” peculiarly apt and applicable to father’s 1920’s Morgan. This roomy car served us well, especially after the war when, as well as being in daily use, it took the family plus camping gear on a four-weeks holiday to the West Country. I well remember the occasion when we had to stop and redistribute the weight by strapping bundles to the front mudguards to prevent the rear differential hitting the tool tray under the back seat. I cannot remember a mechanical fault ever delaying our journey. Soon after we bought a trailer, which enabled us to take even more luggage, father changed to a 1936 7-h.p. Flying Fox model which again served us with steady reliability until 1956 and is now the proud possession of a friend—still a friend. This car worked even harder in the summer towing a Rice caravan, which must have neared the ton mark when fully loaded. On these occasions it sometimes suffered from overheating and clutch-slip. We would have to jump out and take the weight of the van while the clutch was persuaded to grip. For the last two years I have been running a late-1937 model which was rescued in a shocking condition and restored on a shoestring budget. Wood-worm and a rare fungus accompanied the usual rust and grime. Nevertheless, a sound chassis made it worthwhile and the final touch was to re-cover the seats with a 30s. job-lot of leather from a breaker’s yard, giving the best armchair driving position I have ever met. Since then the car has only failed me once, when the condenser packed up. Of course I have been in and under it a lot; the reconditioning of a car of its age and state takes time. In two years it has done 14,000 miles mostly heavily laden or in a hurry. It will cruise at 45; top 60 in safety downhill; and climb a 1-in-6 easily. With five occupants on an outing from Cirencester to Bourton-on-the-Water, Fossebridge Hill was climbed in both directions—admittedly the clutch slipped on the outward run and had to be treated with petrol. Perhaps the greatest compliment was received on this trip when one of the passengers, a visitor from New York, experiencing an old car for the first time, said : “But how Comfortable it is.” I have lost count of the number of passengers who have only slept while travelling when in my car. I average over 30 m.p.h. on long journeys, sometimes when loaded to the roof (literally), and her 956 c.c./18.75 cwt. ratio still yields over 40 m.p.g. The main disadvantage is the lack of acceleration and these cars fail to thrill the speed enthusiast, but they are a must to the driving enthusiast. Every hill and incline is a challenge, every corner must be judged to retain the maximum speed with the maximum safety—a student cannot afford to prang. There is enjoyment and skill in this motoring, where the car can be driven at its optimum on almost any unrestricted road! [Ideal for Marples’ 50-mph. roads.—ED.)

The Jowett is remembered for its engine’s longest continuous run of production, but what of that back window—always as wide as possible, before the advent of curved glass; the dynamo driven off the timing chain, and with two of its three securing bolts through slot holes, thus allowing tension adjustment; the needle oil-float instead of those messy and inaccessible dip-sticks; the practical full-width lid under the back seat allowing complete access to the rear axle, brakes, etc.

Finally, may I record the passing of two rare models, here in Leicester and the rebirth of one at Chingford ?—a 1936(?) transition model with normal back but streamlined bonnet, with 4-cylinder, twin-carb. engine, vast air filter, enclosed flywheel, and free-wheel gearbox, and a 1940 8-h.p. saloon with a similar body to the 1938-39s but a protruding rear boot and separate spare-wheel locker incorporating number-plate. This had apparently a standard twin engine, but for aluminium heads. Thirdly, the Jowett agent at the Royal Forest Garage, Chingford, runs a 1935 streamlined saloon converted to a twin which he will not part with at any price!

Leicester.                                                                                                                                  ALAN J. PERKINS.            [This letter, although not strictly about vintage vehicles, is published as dealing with a worthy ” lost cause.”—ED.)

 

Drewry Rail Cars

Sir,

I came across a Drewry car at Longmoor during the last War. In 1941, leave started at reveille and at about 7 a.m. a Drewry car carried the lucky ones from Longmoor to Liss, to join the Southern Railway. This later version was a 4-wheeled railcar of unlovely appearance–almost a mobile shed.

Alternative down transport was by toastrack-style Wickham cars—very last with V8 engines. At least one Sapper-driver was in trouble for speeding with one—and being found out! 

I believe the Drewry Car Company still exists, but no doubt some of your readers who also take the Railway Gazette will have better information than I on this.

Leighton Buzzard.                                                                                                                    NORMAN P. TUCKER

Bethlehem Motor Lorries

Sir,

Mr. Stuart Taylor inquires if anybody has heard of the Bethlehem lorry. I can remember it quite well. It was an American vehicle and it was one of several makes that appeared on the English market during the dark days of 1914-18. There was nothing special about them but they could stand up to a lot of hard work. Other American makes at the same time included the Traffic, Seabrook, A A Riker, Republic, Se!den and others, all advertised widely in the motor journals during the War when British vehicles were hard to get hold of.

The Archangel fire-engine he mentions, I have never heard of. Perhaps it was just a fancy name somebody had put on it, or it may have been another very remote American chassis.

Knaresborough.                                                                                                                                 G. A. SHAW.

[Bethlehem lorries were imported up to 1923, in 25, 30 and 45-H.P. versions, the largest chassis carrying 3½ tons and costing £1,175.—ED.]

V.S.C.C. WELSH RALLY, PRESTEIGNE (October 6/7th)

Presteigne trophy : H. Spence (1930 Lea-Francis).

Road Section and Trial : First Class : D. G. Marchant (1928 Austin Seven), D. P. Harris (1926 Frazer Nash), J. Miles (1928 Austin Seven). H. F. Moffet (1923 Bugatti), A. D. Jones (1923 Vauxhall 30/98). Second Class : K. M. Hill (1930 A.J.S.), G. K. Davie (1926 Alvis 12/50), F. Lockhart (1924/9 Peugeot-J.A.P.), W. S. May (1926 Frazer Nash),  J. C. H. Longden , (1928 Fraser Nash). Third Class : J. K. Milner (1922 Vauxhall 30/98), G. R.  Footit 1928 Riley), R.. L. Heath (1929 Alvis 12/50), M. Croome (1928 Trojan).

Road Section and Concours: First Class: F. W. Gilbert (1925 Alvis 12/50), A. D. Johns {1907 Mercedes). Second Class : W. F. Lakin-Smith (1927. Lagonda 2-litre). Third Class : E. Riddle (1921 G.N.).

Light Car Trophy : K. M. Hill (1930 A.J.S.)

______________________________________________________________________________________________________________

B.A.R.C. MEMBERS MEETING

After 26 years as Secretary of the B.A.R.C. (previously, of course, The Junior Car Club), John Morgan witnessed his last race meeting in this capacity at Goodwood on October 6th.

And a very good meeting it was, too; unusually warm weather for the time of year, and close racing with a minimum of unnecessary incident. This last fact probably came about due to most of the Club Championships having previously been resolved! One Championship still had to be finalised, however, at this the 55th B.A.R.C. Sports-Car Meeting (why “Sports Car”?); this was the Cibie Cup Competition, points for which are based on selected handicap saloon-car races throughout the Year. Although Austin A40s took the first three places, D. P. (Doc.) MerfieId brought his 1½-litre Anglia through to fourth place from scratch and, in doing so, sealed his overall victory in the competition.

Despite 75%, Lotus success, the racing was more interesting. than the results perhaps suggest. Banting and Berrow-Johnson did battle, using similar cars in both the F.J. and Formule Libre races, their Lotuses taking alternate honours. It was a pity that Grier-Rees’ 2-litre Alta and Lovell’s 500-cc. Grenfell reduced interest in the latter event by non-starting. It was the last straw to enthusiasts for motor racing of the early post-war years when Bateman’s Connaught, from the 2½-litre Formula days, failed to fire, its driver sitting with his hand up as the field left the grid.

In the race for Grand Touring cars, Johnson’s Elite gained a fairly safe victory over de Selincourt (Jaguar E-type) and Braithwaite (Morgan Plus Four), who were very close at the finish. Hodgson’s win in the large sports-car race was a much easier one, but Belcher’s Terrier was closing on Porter’s Lotus 7 rapidly in the up-to-1,000-c.c. event.

Similarly, faulty handicapping allowed Konig’s Lotus Elite to win its race by nearly half a minute, whereas Braithwaite’s very fast Morgan gained the lead from Ashby’s 3½–litre Healey Silverstone only in the last few moments of the third handicap.—A. W.

The Winners :

Cibie Cup – Outright Winner:  D. P. Merfield (Anglia).

F.J. (10 laps scratch): R. Banting (Lotus-Ford) 92.32 m.p.h.

     Fastest lap: Banting, Berrow-Johnson, Dunn (All on Lotus) 93.91 m.p.h.

Formula Libre (10 laps scratch): B. E. Berrow-Johnson (Lotus-Ford) 91.90 m.p.h.

     Fastest lap: Rollinson (Cooper-Ford) 93.30 m.p.h.

G.T. (10 laps scratch): M. B. Johnson (Lotus Elite) 84.12 m.p.h.

     Fastest lap: Johnson 86.06 m.p.h.

Sports Cars (10 laps scratch): C. A. C. Hodgson (Lotus-Climax) 87.90 m.p.h.

     Fastest lap: Hodgson 90.00 m.p.h.

1,150-c.c. Class Winner: M. P. Renny (Lotus 23)

Up to 1,000 c.c (10 laps scratch): D. B. Porter (Lotus-Ford) 85.86 m.p.h.

     Fastest lap: Porter 88.16 m.p.h.

G.T. Class Winner: J. R. Bloomfield (Diva-Ford) 

Cibie Saloon Car Race (5 laps handicap): A. G. Payne (Austin A40) 76.30 m.p.h.

     Fastest lap: Merfield (Anglia) 84.71 m.p.h.

Closed Car Race (5 laps handicap): M. L. F. C. Konig (Lotus Elite) 77.75 m.p.h.

     Fastest lap: Merfield (Anglia) 85.87 m.p.h.

Sports/G.T. Race (5 laps handicap): H. R. Braithwaite (Morgan) 83.26 m.p.h.

     Fastest lap: A. P. Belcher (Terrier-Ford) 86.75 m.p.h.

 

WIN A TRIP TO THE DAIMLER-BENZ MUSEUM

In the next issue we will be inviting readers to take part in a quiz, the prize for which is a weekend trip for two to the famous Daimler-Benz Museum at Unterturkheim, This Mecca for motoring enthusiasts houses not only the world’s first automobiles, but examples of many other historic Mercedes racing cars front the pre-1914 Blitzen Benz to the W.196 all enveloping and Monoposto Formula 1 cars Of 1955. Daimler-Benz A.G. and Mercedes Benz (Great Britain) Ltd., will ensure that the winner and his lady (or vice versa if the winner is a lady) will be transported to Stuttgart and back and given a V.I.P.-style conducted tour of the Museum.

The contest will be a simple picture-identification one and will be published, together with details of where to send entries, in the next issue of MOTOR SPORT. Employees of MOTOR SPORT and of Mercedes-Benz and their families may not take part and the winner will be deemed to be the first correct entry to be opened; the contest is confined, for obvious reasons, to residents in Great Britain. The Editor’s decision is final and no correspondence will be entered into about the result.

CLUB ODDMENTS

A reader seeks the address of the Peugeot O.C…..   Roy Begent, 36, Vaughan Road, Chorlton, Manchester 21, is interested in hearing from owners of vintage Triumphs, including Glorias, Dolomites and Vitesse…… The V.S.C.C. are holding a film Show at the Little Abbey Hotel, Great Missenden, Bucks, on November 14th; details from G. H. Dovid, Flint Cottage, Little Kingshill, Great Missenden, Bucks…..  The B.T. & R.D.A. is sponsoring a Junior Trials Championship on March 24th, open to all trials formula drivers who have not qualified for the R.A.C. National Championship….  John B. Allaway is in the process of forming a Swift Register; letters should be addressed to him at “Challow,” Shortheath Lane, Sulhampstead, Reading.

QUERIES ANSWERED

A few more addresses this month : Chiltern C.C., c/o David Dixon. Woolmer House, Priory Close, Stanmore, Middlesex. O.R.M.A., c/o Mrs. Molly Wheeler, O.R.M.A., Kent House, Market Place, Oxford Circus, London, W. 1. Rover Sports Register, c/o T. L.. Bentley, 11, Woodall Drive, Pinner, Middlesex. B.S.A. Front-Wheel Drive Club, c/o C. H. Bryce, 90, Greenvale Road, Eltham, London, S.E.9. Rolls-Royce Enthusiasts’ Club, c/o Miss G. M. Harris, Paternaster Farm, Yarnton, Oxon. Standard Car Register, c/o J. R. Davy, Esq.. Standard-Triumph Sales Ltd., Coventry. Fiat C.C., c/o Mrs. Maxwell, The Mount, Lea, Gainsborough, Lincs. Mini-Se7en Club, c/o Eaton Cottage, Elevenacre Rise, Loughton, Essex.

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