Vintage postbag, November 1983

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A Brighton Run Topic

Sir,

“Oh that we could persuade the RAC to reject those who are not members of the VCC and who presumably do not support what the Brighton run stands for.” This remarkable observation, sounding like a trade union official pleading for a closed shop, is, actually part of the Chairman’s report in the last issue of the VCC Gazette — I trust that the RAC will treat it with the contempt it deserves.

Obviously the VCC would dearly like to restrict the Brighton run to Club members. It would force anyone wishing to do the run to join the club, thus swelling their coffers by something like £30 each person per year, and it would reduce Brighton entries so that none of the self-important members of the Club would suffer the indignity of finding themselves on the reserve list. Does it never occur to the VCC that there are a great number of veteran can owners who have no wish to join them? There are others who cannot afford to join them, and some of the most respected and esteemed veteran enthusiasts in the country who have keen members of the VCC have subsequently resigned in protest at the way the Club is run or on matters of principle.

Why on earth should all these people, together with the large foreign contingent who support the run, be excluded from what is, at the moment, a completely open event purely for the benefit of VCC finances? It is not clear what is meant by the suggestion that non-VCC members do not support what the Brighton run stands for — one does not have to go to church to prove that one is religious, and often those who do not go to church are more truly moral and religious than those who do.

However, if the VCC fails to force unwilling people to join the Club, they continue to boost their apparent membership by including every car they can think of in their so-called “List of Members and Their Cars”.

In the latest issue of this list I found my own three veterans still listed as Club cars— bus without names of owner. Going further I found at least ten cars known personally to me which are not even in this country and are certainly not owned by members. If there is no owner’s name opposite the cars in this list it can only be assumed that the Club does not know who owns them, which in itself seems an odd way to run a club. It must also mean that they are not Club cars so why is the list boldly titled, inside and out, as a list of members and their cars? Recently, during an enforced spell of inactivity, I amused myself by counting cars and names. Out of a total of just over 2,000 cars listed as club cars, there are near enough 750 which have no owner’s names. I may be wrong but I can only interpret this as meaning that 36% of the cars listed have no place in what purports to be a list of members and their card .A further implication is that more than a third of the people owning veteran cars in UK are not members of the VCC. Since the VCC is the only veteran club in the country, unlike most other countries who have three or four distinct clubs, a membership of only rather more than half the potential, in a very specialised hobby catered for by a specialised club, does not seem to be very satisfactory.

Meysey Hampton, E. D. Wolley

[We can understand that the VCC might just feel that in respect of the Run, once its preserve, it has of late been somewhat overshadowed by RAC promotion, although the combination has worked extremely wall, in our opinion. Moreover, finance is needed by any ambitious organisation and perhaps M.W.W., in penning the Gazette views, had this primarily in mind? But it does seem as if a revised VCC members’ list is due. — Ed.]

Brighton Run Dating

Sir,

I was pleased to see that “Fragments of Forgotten Makes” had made a comeback recently with your article on the Jackson cars. The earliest surviving car of this marque is probably that belonging to Nick Kingsbury, whose family have owned the car for many years, though the restoration was carried out fairly recently. To must “Brighton Run” enthusiasts this car would look as early as 1903, but despite its looks, no specification can be found to confirm exactly to the vehicle before early in 1905. The photo you give of the Millbank ear however looks quite different, with longer wheelbase, pressed metal chassis etc., and at one time when in Eire, carried the registration number LC 8265. It competed with this number in the 1980 “Brighton”, but by the following year had become C14. If one assumes the original registration to, throw any light on the subject, the “LC number would have been issued about mid-1906, which would seem to de-in with the specification of the vehicle.

Looking through early Registers of Motor Cars compiled by the various licensing authorities, one rarely comes across any Jacksons of 1904, and even later cars fairly scarce, so despite the period advertising material, I wonder whether the)’ were quite that successful! However, then old Registers can be very misleading, as some manufacturers / assemblers registered many of their wares from a “home base”. Brookes are rarely encountered anywhere, but are not at all infrequent in the Suffolk records. Possibly the entire production of Norfolk and La Plata cars was registered in Sheffield, whilst a director of the Dixi agency in the country lived in Wiltshire, where several of these cars crop up in records. Could it have been therefore, that the vast bulk of Jacksons were London’ registered, despite the addresses of the customer?

Regarding Mr Charlton’s letter re old racing circuits, I would be interested to know if anyone can tell me anything about the proposed track at Purley, Surrey, offered in 1903 to the ACGBI by Mr O. F. Massingbred-Mundy. The Club at least got as far as obtaining a lease on the land, which included a mansion for use as a headquarters building. The construction as quoted in the 1904 Motoring Annual and Motorists Year Book would be five parts macadam to one cement, a level one mile stretch some 70 ft wide, whilst in other places this would be reduced to 50 ft. The Warlingham end would have a loop 300 yards in radius, whilst the other end of the track had a loop of 120 yards radius, the complete circuit being about 7./a miles! I would imagine this was a green-field site, and that work never started, being overtaken by a serious lack of funds.

Claygate, David Hales

[So many proposed race tracks have been planned, and then abandoned, down the Years. The last one I tried to investigate, at Wallop Hall near Montogomery, had been approved by Sir Henry Segrave in 1927, but came to nothing. — Ed.].

Brooklands ownership

Sir,

I recently purchased the August issue of Motor Sport in the hope of bringing myself up-to-date with the current state of motor racing with which I felt I had got out of touch. Your article on the Brooklands Reunion quite rightly extols the occasion and the great achievement and enthusiasm which it showed, and Messrs Day and Roddis are well deserving of your praise. However your correspondent is quite wrong to state that the 35 acres of the heritage site was “presented by Gallahers Ltd to the (presumably Brooklands) Society”. This statement is untrue, misleading, and ignores the decisive role played by a number of other bodies.

The 35 acres are in the process of being let by Gallahers Ltd to Elmbridge (the lease is being finalised now but, I believe, at a Peppercorn rent). This is a condition of a Planning permission under which Gallahers may erect a very large office block in residential Surrey. It is the intention of Elmbridge to assign this lease to the Brooklands Trust, when it is set up, to run as a museum. The Brooklands Trust is the culmination of a project which has a long history pursued quite separately over several years by the Brooklands Society and the Vintage Aircraft and Flying Associations; for the last five years with the decisive interest (and significant financial support) of Elmbridge Borough Council. The ten trustees elect (ie, pending formal setting up of the trust) comprise five Council nominees (including myself), two from each of the specialist societies and one from Gallahers. Gallahers have not presented the site to anyone.

Having clarified this point I believe this lease, by making practicable the formation of the Brooklands Trust, has brought a tremendous opportunity to create a motoring and aviation museum and centre of truly international stature.

Walton on Thames, Cllr. John Canton

“Fragments on Forgotten Makes”

Sir,

I have in my possession three diaries for 1906, 1907, 1908, in which are recorded all journeys and expenses incurred in running a 9 hp Jackson Dog Cart No. JS62 and named John Sebastian, the owner being a Michael S. Thompson, of 28 Campden Hill Square, London; it cost £223.8.4d.

Some quite long journeys are recorded, 819 miles being covered during August 1906, including trips to Brighton, Chalfont St Peter, and two weeks touring, from Carnarvon, the longest day’s journey being 160 miles from London to Shrewsbury via Coventry and Birmingham, a tyre being purchased on the trip for £1.17.6d.

In October a headlight was purchased (and named “Alf’) for £3.14.0d and cost £2.5.0d for fitting. Other than this, expenses seemed to be for the odd sparking plug, grease pot, adjustment, charging accumulator, split pins, cleaning and mending radiator, petrol pipe, float, and fitting extra Cupboard. The car continued to be used through January, and February to a lesser degree. Quite a lot of the journeys seem to include Harley Street.

During the first year 4,596 miles were covered, total costs for the year being £73.7.11d (3¾d per mile). The highest was for garaging, at £20.14.06.

The year 1907/08 continues much the same, with frequent visits to Harley St, more was spent on repairs, with visits to Jackson’s. Costs were up by a penny per mile. Brooklands was visited on July 4th 1908. The third diary finishes at April 1909, after two visits to Harley Street, Brooklands was visited on April 10th.

Rolvenden, Chris Booth

TT Vauxhalls

Sir,

I read with interest your feature on the ill-fated Vauxhall ‘IT and GP cars and add the following comments.

H. F. Clay’s car was registered NM 1951 and among its appearances in northern competition were two consecutive years, 1923/4, at Holme Moss, where in 1923 it carried the competition number 15 and in 1924 the number 17b, since at the latter meeting Clay had also entered a Vauxhall 30/98, Reg. No. WT 1265, with the competition number I7a. Clay also entered the car for events at Southport and 1 enclose a photograph of him with this car taken there in 1925.

As you surmised, W. Watson was the Liverpool agent for Vauxhall, the Michelin Guide for 1920 listing his agencies at that time as Napier, Vulcan, Rolls-Royce, Sunbeam, Vauxhall, Morris, Beardmore, Berliet and Dodge. Reverting to the subsequent career of the 1914 cars, a Mr. Aspden used one on the road in the 1920’s, carrying the Reg. No. XL 2707. Which one was this? Whichever one, it must have been so registered in 1922 or thereabouts.

The TT Arrol-Asters: Eddie Hall entered his 1929 TT car, Reg. No. SM 7834, for the September 1929 Shelsley Walsh hill-climb, his times being 57.4 and 55.6 seconds for his two runs. Garrad’s 1929 TT entry was Reg. No. 7833, so presumably the one registered SM 7835 and sold by Jack Bartlett in 1934 was the Garrad non-starter in the 1931 TT.

Tenbury Wells, A. B. Demaus