“1 ‘Worked With Traction Engines,” by Jack Hampshire. 152 pp. 8;4 e 5?i in. Sit covers. (.7. H. Lake & Co. Ltd., Falmouth Pucker Work:, Ponsharden, Falmouth, Cornwall. tie 6d.)
I am delighted to be able to recommend this little book of steam reminiscences, because 1 urged Jack Hampshire to expand on the theme after reading one of his truly enjoyable stories in Steaming, the official journal of the National Traction Engine Club.
This remarkable man grew up, literally, within sight and sound of steam road locomotives and traction engines. When he tells stories about them they are not only true stories, btu the facts and dialogue exactly recapture the spirit Of those peaceful days, when steam worked in the country lanes and in the fields, fifteen miles a day was a long journey, and there was no hurry or panic. Moreover, Jack Hampshire includes plenty of detail, which is the only way to make reminiscences and history live.
I think it was his chapter aboutcarrying a mystery load for the Army from Aldershot to Bristol by 2 remote route on a Clayton steam waggon in the summer of 1920 that really caught my imagination. But there are plenty of similar memories, such as furniture removal with the -Clayton waggon, towing three furniture vans to London behind an 8-h,p. Burrell, an adventure in the Blackwall Tunnel with another Clayton waggon, etc. The little book reeks with the memory of hot oil and coal smoke, as well it might, being written by a man who still owns and drives a steamer, his 1930 Foden, rescued from a scrapyard in Ely. The opening chapter of his book describes in elementary language how a steam traction engine works. Thereafter, the reader is off on this fascinating account of how it was in the past, working with Burrell, Ransomes, Wallis and Steevens. Clayton and Shuttleworth, Aveling &Porter, and Foden engines. Much of the scene takes place in Sussex, Hampshire and Surrey, and familiar places make the stories even more alive. There are 19 reminiscent chapters in all, some quite short, but every one of absorbing interekt to steam enthusiasts or those who
loved the roads as they were up the early ‘twenties. The final chapter tells how the author found his present Foden and undertakes long-distance rallies on it.
The book is illustrated by ” snaps ” rather than professional photographs, but this serves to make it more authentic. There are also some line-drawings, by the author and a friend. MoToe SPORT readers will, I am sure, find ” I Worked With Traction Engines ” quite enthralling. Other publishers of traction engine literature will surely kick themselves for missing this one! A few contemporary cars are mentioned in it; it was a book tO which I was delighted to contribute the Preface.—W. B. Fiat have prOduced a very luxurious picture history book of their productions, starting with those turned out from the Corso Dante workshops 68 years ago, continuing with the products of Lingotto days„ and concluding with Fiats from the modern Mirafiori plant. This supplements a Fiat History which the Turin manufacturer produced some wars ago. The big colour pictures are superb. Many of them had as subject matter the accurate models of historic Fiats to be seen in Fiat’s Turin Museum. The development of the Fiat t tot) from pre-war tittles to the present is illustrated in great detail and altogether this is a great and unique work, although we still await with impatience the serious Fiat history which Michael Sedgwick is supposed cars and subsidiaries, like badges, name-plates, and mechanical details; Ltd., Northdale House, North Circular Road, London, N.W.na. depicts the entire range of 1968 Fiat models. It cannot be bought, it has Wile photographs of period racing scenes and runs to 157 I in. pages. It covers the construction of Modern Fiats and nor is it given away freely, but readers who would like a copy may be previously about the 13rooklands Fiat ” Mephistopheles,” namely that when Eldridge put the t .7-litre aero engine into it a radiator of nearly nine gallons capacity was required to cool it. (There is an error about re-opened after the war until May 192.0 and it is a pity the fine colour illustrations of it show it. in its present form, with suspect seats and tail.) lucky if they apply at once. mentioning Mount Signet, to Fiat (England) this car winning a race at Brooklands in 1918, because the Track wasn’t to be writing. ‘File present book told us one item we didn’t know This lavish publication abounds in magnificent colour pictures of
CARS IN BOOKS
THERE are one or two scraps from the past in ” The Central Blue ” by Marshal of the Royal Air Force, Sir John Slessor, G.C.B., D.S.O., M.C. (Cassell, 1956) which touch off nostalgia, although one would like considerably more detail; it is apparent that if Sir John had kept to personal memoirs of the between-wars years, this column would have been better served ! But in dealing with Air Policy from R.F.C. days onwards, lie was obviously hard pressed to include the intimate items that so fascinate some histOrians. So we have to be content with passing reference to Crossley staff cars and tenders. But I found the mention of the first Hendon Air Display of 1920, in which the author flew a Bentley Snipe from Netheravon and the crowds broke through the ropes, fascinating, and, because I have watched so many aeroplanes flying over the now-unhappily-expanding town of Fleet, I was interested that it was to the west of this place, then so compact and peaceful, that biplanes of No. 4 Squadron, stationed at Farnborough and attached to the 2nd Division at Aldershot, had to orbit, out of sight and sound, before sweeping in to take part, for the first time in the air, in the King’s Review, passing the saluting base at not less than 50o feet at the exact moment when the Cavalry Brigade formed into columns at the west end of LatTan’s Plain, a radio-telephone tender concealed behind the Royal Pavilion giving the pilots the timing. That was in 1925. (I would have enjoyed this more had the author told us what aeroplanes were used, for I cannot identify them from the photograph in his book. But he tells us that ” Soldiering at Aldershot in the twenties was a nice, gentlemanly business,” so perhaps this detail is regarded as unimportant.)
Reverting to the Crossleys, there is an interesting reference to journey in the autumn of 19t5 in such a vehicle, ” pulling an R.F.C. flat trailer,” from Sutton’s Farm (later known as R.A.F. Station, Hornchurch) to Farnborough to collect spares fir a 13:E.2e which the author had collected from the Daimler works in Coventry and later crashed when landing in the dark, alter patrolling above London looking for hostile Zeppelins. On the way back, with a starboard lower wing, a wheel and an undercarriage-we aboard, they were mobbed by an angry crowd in the Mile End Road, because their headlamps were alight, which were expeeted to facilitate further raids ! The.story of how Sir John Slessor rode his father’s. horse back in haste to his old school, Haileybury to obtain the signed application form that might pave hiS way into the R.F.C.„ and his chapter about the C.F.S., where the Commandant used to fly home to lunch in 1917 in an Avro 504, landing “.on a little strip of stubble at the back of Litilecote House,” are essential reading for those who like to grasp all there is of the nostalgia of theSe days.
One might not expect to find cars in crime books, but even here there are some interesting references. In one of the most absorbing. but sad, books I have ever read, ” Kidnap—The Story of the Lindbergh Case ” by George Waller (Hamish Hamilton, 1961) the type of cars on the American scene or a period iust past the vintage era are revealed, in the form of Col. Lindbergh’s air-cooled Franklin saloon which he kept in the three-car garage at his house in Hopewell, New Jersey, at the time when his first child was kidnapped and murdered. It Was a contrast to the Ford coupe. of Dr. Condon’s friend, which was used to go to the demander of the 5o,000-dollar ransom money. Indeed, when Col. Lindbergh set MT with 1)r. Condon, using this Ford instead of his own car as a last-minute precaution, its narrow seat was emphasised, nicely portraying the difference between the spacious Franklin and the width of what must surely have been a Model-B Ford.
There is later mention of’ the 1930 Dodge four-door sedan used by the suspect, originally painted dark green. but changed to dark blue in 1932, after the kidnapping, which caused some interchange at the trial as to whether a witness was sure it was a Dodge and not a Ford, which underlines the similarity in appearance of American automobiles at this period. There is a note of the three police Ford sedans used to follow the Dodge through the Bronx. Incidentally, if we think we are pretty closely regimented these days, what of the listing on a motor vehicle application form in that Stare in those days of the occupation and colour or eyes and hair of the applicant ? Other Ford and Dodge cars were mentioned-at the trial and there was even the old man whose hobby was waiting to see cars run into the ditch at the junction of the lane leading to Lindbergh’s house and the Mercer County Highway; he remembered a good week when as many as seven cars failed to take this deceptive bend (can any American reader tell us if this tricky turn still exists ?). . . . It is worth noting that when the Lindberghs fled from America to escape threatening letters about their second child, living first at
the, Aubrey Morgan family. estate at Llandaff and later at the Long Barn in .Weald, the New York Herald Tribune wrote : ‘ The departure of C.olonel and Mrs. Lindbergh for England, to find a tolerable home there in a safer and more civilised land than ours has shown itself to be, is its own commentary upon the American Social scene. Nations have exiled their heroes bfore; they have broken them with meatiness. But when has a nation made life unbearable to one of its most distinguished men through a sheer inability to protect him from its criminals and lunatics and the vast vulgarity of its sensationalists, publicity-seekers, petty politicians and yellow newspapers ? It seems as incredible as it is shocking. Yet everyone knows that this is exactly what has happened…. The Lindberghs can live with some freedom ill England … because Of the adult public sense of good taste. restraint and respect for individual rights and privacies which underlies the British freedom from crime.” But that was written 3: years ago …!
There is a case in ” A Reasonable Doubt,” by Julian Symons 1,Cresset Press, 1960), which is intimately concerned with a car. It was a Hudson, which was burnt out on the moors near Jedhurgh in what appeared to be an attempt by a mysterious stranger who had hired it, to murder its girl driver. This terrible happening took place in 1931; it is interesting that the I ludson was probably bought secondhand and was being used as a taxi in that year. Hudson experts may be able to date it by the mention of a right-hand brake lever and a ” luggage box and carrier platform ” at the back. ‘I he author went back to the scene of the incident before writing his brok and describes the road from Otterburn to Belsay as ” not:greatly changed since 1931, although at Wolf’s Nick Iwhere the car was found late at night, off the road, in gear, and on lire.) the embankment has been huilt up.” The police said that they were satisfied that no murder had been committed, although the driver died the day after the tire. Julian Symonds thinks differently. But I would like to query one point. If a stranger did set fire to the Hudson, how did he know there was a tin of petrol in the luggage box and why was it found neatly placed on the carrier platform after it had been emptied ?
In this same fascinating book there is reference to a £30 A.J.S. motorcycle and ” an H.R.D. motor racing cycle and sidecar,” priced at nearly £140 in 1926, the acquisition a which led to a 17-year-Old boy killing his father and mother.
There is no reference by makes to cars in Leonard Woolf’s autobiography, ” Beginning Again ” (The flogarth Press, 1964), covering the period it I-1918. But the account of a taxi ride from Charing Cross to Putney in 1911 On the author’s return from Ceylon captures admirably the atmosphere of London in those days—” a London summer afternoon of perfect sunshine—tot t was one of those rare years of unending summer. . . .” Woolf remarks that ” The World of the four-Wheeler and the hansom cab, which I left in 1904, 110 longer existed,” so that, ” driving out from Charing Cross to Putney through the mechanized, bricked-up sunshine of this London summer.” in that taxi with his sister and two brothers, he ” felt for a moment like a relic from a slower age.” 13ut I would like to know whether that taxi on its long journey was a 2.-cyl. Renault, a Unit or whatever ?
Later Woolf tells of how Sussex villages were as remote and untouched by progress in England in 1912 as they had been for centuries, unreached. he implies, even by the Model-T Ford. Rut hire cars undertook long iourneys in later times, for in 1932 we find the author and :holds in Greece, hiring” a large open car. driven by a chauffeur,” in which they drove ” to Delphi and all over the Peloponnese:” assailed by ” winds °he chauffeur called them draughts) that blew between the mountains,” so that in spite Of the blazing sun they trembled and shivered. They would motor 16 hours a day, over roads ” nearly all appallingly had ” but the chauffeur refused to go from Delphi to Hosios Loucas monastery. saying the naid was too dangerous and that two young Americans had been killed trying to drive up it. By 1961 this was a list -class road, the book Holes. Again the make of that hire car isn’t mentiOned; but I bet it was a Fiat….
The book refers to one ot Leonard Woolf’s brothers running the ‘W’al.idesdon Estate for Jimmy Rothschild after the First NX’orld Wier. He must have been the Mr. Woolf who was so kind To an :WM of mine who lived there. This reminds tnc that this vilkwe was still pretty quiet, eixti in 1930. fOr I remember that the clocks On the estate were wound .hr a clock repairer who came in trom Aylesbury 111 3 1914 9.5 Standard. that a 1912 Singer Ten served as a ‘bus for estate workers, and that Liird Rothschild remained laitlitul to Iris 40;50 Rolls-Royce in Spite 01 George Lanehester’s etiOrt to get him to change it for a Lanchester. The estate used a subsidy Albion lorry and I think Mr. Woolf ran a 12)24 Citroen saloon.—V% 13.