VSCC's Jubilee Welsh Trial

The VSCC does things wholeheartedly. So when Jubilee year of its Welsh Rally came about, it celebrated in some style. Instead of the customary two days’ trial in the Welsh wilds, it reintroduced a 200-mile road-section on Saturday October 14th, with the option of the Sunday trial as before, or a quite difficult 66-mile rally at 22 mph.

Not only that, but with the appreciated low-key help of Southby’s, a grand party was held at the traditional Radnorshire Arms in Presteigne, addressed by President Roger Collings with his inimitable proficiency and replied to by the owner of Pilleth, where he generously allows the Club to have the final trials sections and provides an enormous free car park. It was splendid that not only did 80 year old Sam Clutton drive Blakeney Edwards’ Frazer Nash in the trial, but he also assisted in changing its gasket the night before. It was fine, too, that one of the cars which ran in 1939, the 1908 9.1-litre chain-drive Daimler of Nigel Bradshaw, turned out again, driven by its owner Ryder-Richardson and NEJ Bradshaw; what is more, it successfully completed the rally route. This had to be done from control to control, whereas in 1939 it was possible to send those useful telegrams to the rally HQ. Two other cars from the 1939 rally were entered, the 1911 Fafnir driven then by Sam’s father, Col.Clutton, and the Renault “Agatha”. Alas, the former expired after 20 miles and the latter had chewed up some of its new gears, so non-started.

At 8.30 am on the Sunday most crews were weary-eyed from the party that had ended the same day; Max Hill had shown films and we hear that Di Threlfall and Ryder-Richardson, dancing the Charlston to the Eureka Bank, made quite a contribution … Trial entries numbered 81, with 69 for the rally. In VSCC tradition, 22 were 30/98s. Presteigne was choc-a-bloc with vintage cars, a “new” one being Barry Clarke’s replica of the A7-engined sports two-seater which HR Godfrey and his partner Proctor built in 1928, with GN front suspension.

It can be invidious for one person to report an event with many hills, because what a driver does on one section may differ from his performances on others. Let me just say that on the short, sharp railway incline, failures I saw included Hill in the Crouch-Helix, which wouldn’t leave the start, Hewson’s MG Midget, at the top, Bendall’s 30/98 which disliked the muddy start, and Peppercorn’s top-hat A7 and Cobb’s hoodless A7 Chummy, both of whom got to the gate. Low’s fabric two-seater A7 went up fast, Bentall’s Lea-Francis two-seater indulged in much wheelspin, Holt’s Ford saloon had no trouble, Jane Tomlinson, passenger in the back of her top-hat A7, was very proficient, the Proctor-GN was slow but sure, Winder’s Humber just made it, revving hard, but Hescroffs very smart AC cried nbg. Wheeler’s Morris fair raced up, Clutton crawled.

Going on to Pilleth, hill-ten, the long grassy ascent, defeated Spollon’s 30/98 and the Helix etc. The indominable Harry Spence had a bad moment when, going fast, the Lea-Francis cut out momentarily and nearly stopped. Unified bouncing helped Rankin’s 30/98 to a “clean”, Roach’s A7 GE Cup-Model was excellent, but Adnams’ A7 Chummy, hood up, went quickly then failed near the end. A very enjoyable Threlfall edited Bulletin-size book of memories of the “Welsh” should still be available from the VSCC office for £1.25 post-free. WB