Editorial Notes., September 1924



There has recently been a sharp revival of the old controversy as to whether motoring competitions should be held on Sundays. This arose out of a police prosecution at P-wllheli, where a member of

the Liverpool Motor Club was summoned under a three hundred year old Act for “congregating outside his own parish in concourse with other people on Sunday for the purpose of sport and pastime.” What the motorist was actually doing was taking part in a hill-climb at Screw, the notorious hill near Nevin, Carnarvonshire, which, incidentally, has so far defeated most motor vehicles that have attempted to ascend it. In course of the hearing by the Pwlllieli magistrates it was stated that the Act of Charles I made it illegal for two parishes to congregate in a cricket match on Sunday, but that it was within the law for teams within the same parish to play. Mr. Dean, who appeared for the R.A.C., and the Liverpool Motor Club, who organised the hill climb, submitted that the Act was passed to stop admittedly disorderly customs on the Sabbath, such as bear baiting and bull baiting. He emphasised that on this occasion there was no disorder, quarrel, or bloodshed, and that neither the defendant nor the Liverpool Motor Club had the least desire to annoy anybody. He also submitted that the charge must fail, because it was impossible for an individual to ” assemble ” himself, as it was admittedly impossible in law for one person to be guilty of a conspiracy. For the prosecution it was stated that the hill climb caused people to assemble from many parts of the country, and that the noise consequent upon the competition, interrupted the services in several chapels. After a short retirement the magistrates dismissed the summons.

We think the dismissal of this summons was the only possible just decision, and it was no doubt largely influenced by the fact that it is physically impossible for one person to ” assemble ” himself. At the same time, we hope that those who are interested in Sunday competitions will not be inclined to take refuge in what may be only a technical victory. The question of Sunday sporting events held on the roads or in other public places is certainly one in which the public in general should be considered. In view of the present state of public opinion, as well as by personal inclination, we are against the promotion of motoring competitions on Sundays. We are glad to recall that neither the Royal Automobile Club nor the AutoCycle Union has ever granted a permit authorising the holding of an open event on the Sabbath, and we hope they never will do so. Although we can see nothing intrinsically wrong in a motoring competition held on Sunday, we are deeply conscious of the general attitude of English people in regarding Sunday as a day of rest and of sacred association. This attitude, we would submit, should be rigorously respected, both in a spirit of common citizenship and for the ultimate good of motoring sport. That motoring sport does benefit by none of the classic events being held on Sundays we are quite satisfied. In this connection it should be remembered that many of the keenest motoring sportsmen are adverse to Sunday competitions.

In saying this, we would .emphasise that we are not casting the slightest reflection upon the Liverpool Motor Club. We are quite sure that this Club is conducted by excellent sportsmen who are anxious not to inconvenience or annoy anyone on Sundays or on any other clay; and that in the usual way they always consult the local police before they hold such an event as a hill climb.

Whilst we personally disfavour the holding of competitions on Sundays, we should be amongst the first to resist the exercise of any outworn legislation which would infringe upon the liberties of the individual in regard to motoring in general on Sundays. We think, as a case in point, that the Act of Charles I may well be allowed to lie dormant, for it was certainly not devised under the conditions which now govern the preservation of corporate liberties.

In this issue a contributor deals exhaustively with the uses of the crash helmet, and shows how this device, according to the efficiency of its design, preserves motor cyclists from head injuries when they part company with their machines at speed. It is extraordinary that there are still some racing motor cyclists who raise objections to wearing these wonderful protectors. We term crash helmets wonderful protectors advisedly, for no one who has seen some of the falls we have, resulting in no injuries to the victims thereof, can doubt that many a life has been saved by them. The A.C.U. now wisely insists upon crash helmets being worn by all competitors in the speed trials run under its auspices. Having given patient attention to the evolution of the crash helmet, the Union, in conjunction with the manufacturers, has now brought the approved types almost to a state of perfection. The helmets are no longer uncomfortable, unduly heavy, or even tremendously hideous. They are sold at a price that no keen rider should object to paying, considering their potential practical value ; and they can even be obtained on loan from the A.C.U. by competitors who only occasionally enter for speed events. We trust that the article in this number may assist any still doubting riders to conclude that the crash helmet is a veritable boon and in no sense a burden.

Safety in speed is a factor of which it is not easy to convince the non-motoring mind. Recent observation in town and country has convinced us that in these days many accidents are saved by cars being able to go fast. Rapid acceleration when in a difficult position often avoids a smash, and it is often as important to be able to jump ahead, as to pull up suddenly. In this respect the driver of a modern sporting car usually has advantage over the driver of more sedate touring vehicles. We are afraid, however, that the non-motoring public often concludes that the ” sporty ” looking car is less safe than a touring type. This is probably especially so when the sports car is on the noisy side and therefore gives a false impression of speed. It remains, therefore, for owners of sporting cars to drive discreetly under all circumstances. If they do so we think that whatever prejudice still remains, may soon be banished. People in general will see that the typical sporting car is usually under better control than any other type, and that although it is capable of very high speed this is in itself a factor of safety.