Cars in Books, October 1984

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Cars in Books

It was interesting to -find a reference to cars in the biography of a non-conformist preacher, and I am indebted to Tim Harding for drawing our attention to it. For in “David Marlyn Lloyd-Jones — The First Forty Years, 1899-1939 by lain Murray (The Banner of Truth Trust) there is an account of Lloyd-Jones gating with his father, at the age of eight, on his first visit to London, after lots has been drawn with his brother, as only one boy could go. That was in 1908 and they went to the Agricultural Hall, Islington. Instead of the intended return from the agricultural show, they made the journey with a squire from the area of Llangeitho, who had decided to buy a car on the Saturday morning and drive to Wales in it. After some difficulty he found a Darracq built by Alfa Romeo at a garage at King’s Cross that afternoon and they left around 5.30 pm. Although it must have been a circa-1906 model, it was apparently in poor condition. The tyres began to puncture before they had cleared the suburbs of London. A repair was effected at Uxbridge but on reaching Oxford at 7 am the following morning, all four tyres were flat. William Morris was awakened at his then cycle-shop and four new covers and tubes were fitted, while they breakfasted at the Randolph. The cold was intense but they pressed on, getting to Abergavenny by supper time. Later, Lloyd-Jones and his son having to walk behind up the hill to Bwlch. Here “sparks and flames” showed that the engine was overheating. Repairs were made and Lampeter was reached by the Monday morning, where Idris Jones, the cycle dealer who had accompanied the squire to London to help with his new possession, got off. Further trouble caused him to be called out again, by the boy who ran back to his house. Idris Jones could not have welcomed this, as he had been so tired that he had fallen asleep while driving and left the road. The Alfa-Darracq reached Llangeitho at about 9 Pm on the Monday, met by a crowd of

villagers.

It is not easy to glean information about the vehicles that played their part in the Great War of 1914/18, but a few interesting relevant pictures appear in ‘The Old Contemptibles — A photographic history of the British Expeditionary Force, August-December 1914″ by Keith Simpson (Allen & Unwin, 1981). Alas, not many of the vehicles depicted in this early stage of the war are identifiable, at all events by me. One notes, however, the two spare tyres, sans wheels, carried on the roofs of the two cars in which members of the Royal Family visited Chelsea Barracks to see the First Battalion Grenadier Guards leave in August 1914, these presumably Daimlers. In the picture of the British Army manoeuvres of 1913 there is a g,limpse of what may have been a Unic taxi, but the touring car with French troops advancing to the Marne in September 1914 could be anything.

There is a very good photograph of a London ‘bus, probably a Daimler, but which an expert like Nick Baldwin could indentify by its radiator, wheels and contracting brakes, bringing wounded British Marines out of Antwerp in October 1914, the vehicle remarkably clean, and carrying a D-70 identification on its bonnet (D for Daimler?) and the former MET ‘bus company’s lettering unsullied on its side. Behind it is a Red Crass tourer, just possibly a Sunbeam, but its rear hub-caps might identify it to someone. — W.B.

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