The Golden Age of British Motoring

The text below was published, on 26 April 2011, on the previous version of my Wheelspin website and has been republished here without further proper checking, although I have added some un-checked comments in italics.

This large-format book, by Roy Bacon, of photographs from the Brunell Collection has been universally praised for the quality of the photography, and universally slated for the shoddy captioning. I am not the first to attempt to catalogue these errors as a lengthy letter appeared in the July 1998 VSCC Bulletin (Page 53) although, perhaps unsurprisingly, only five of the errors noted in this letter cover photographs noted below. This is, I believe, the first comprehensive list of the trialling-related pictures and I’ve trawled most of the relevant Cowbourne books to try and answer some of the questions posed below.

  • Page 7 : Can anyone identify the rider, event or location?
  • Page 8 : Can anyone identify the rider, event or location? I suspect this is Trow Hill on the 1913 Exeter, but I need to check.
  • Page 9 (upper) : Can anyone identify the rider or event?
  • Page 17 (lower) : Can anyone identify the rider or the year?
  • Page 21 (lower) : Cowbourne doesn’t list a Salmson with this registration, or entry number, in any Scottish Six Days Trial. So has anyone got any better ideas?
  • Page 27 : This is Pepperdon on the 1930 Brighton-Beer and the same photograph is on Page 591 of Cowbourne 1929-1939. Who?, What?, and When? are all confirmed by Cowbourne. Where? is confirmed by Bryan Ditchman.
  • Page 37 : Cowbourne confirms this as the 1929 Edinburgh Trial, G E Gaskell in the closed car (168) and G H Robins in the open car (169) both winning Gold Medals. Cowbourne lists just four observed hills on this event and I think Stake Moss (or maybe Askrigg) is the most likely location for this photograph.
  • Page 39 (lower) : Although I’ve seen other pictures that may have been taken in the same location, and it may be on Harting Hill, I’m suspicious that this can be anything other than an MCC trial with a competitor numbered 246. More research needed.
  • Page 43 (upper) : Cowbourne identifies this as W H Elce on the 1923 Land’s End Trial, when the observed hill was called Lynton (not Lynmouth). This road is now the B3234 which climbs directly from Lynmouth to Barbrook and is used on the route of the modern Land’s End.
  • Page 53 (upper) : Although not a trials photograph, this is Tarr Steps which features in trials-related photographs over many decades.
  • Page 73 (upper) : This is P D Walker’s O.M. (not H Stevens’ Lea Francis) on the 1928 Exeter Trial, but I can’t identify the hill.
  • Page 73 (lower) : Can anyone identify the location? I think White Sheet Hill.
  • Page 74 (upper) : Cowbourne confirms this as W J Haward’s Bayliss-Thomas on the 1928 Exeter, but I can’t identify the section. Any ideas? White Sheet again, maybe? It’s unlikely Brunell would have photographed the trial in more than one location.
  • Page 88 (lower) : Can anyone identify the driver, location, or year?
  • Page 92 (upper) : Can anyone identify the location?
  • Page 93 : I’m suspicious of this caption and think it is highly likely to be the same location, and the same event, as the photograph on Page 39 (lower).
  • Page 96 (upper and lower) : These photographs are both taken on the 1930 Land’s End Trial, and the cars are all listed in Cowbourne.
  • Page 97 (upper) : This is H H Porter-Hargreaves on his way to winning a Premier (Gold) Award on the 1933 Land’s End Trial. (Information from Cowbourne).
  • Page 97 (lower) : This is H H Vaughan-Knight on his way to a Gold Award on the 1929 Land’s End Trial. (Information from Cowbourne).
  • Page 105 (upper) : This is a notoriously ill-captioned photograph which also appears on Page 9 of Thomas. It is a MG 18/80 saloon, not an Austin, it is Park Rash, and it is the 1930 Edinburgh Trial, but Cowbourne lists three such cars and we can’t identify this one.
  • Page 105 (lower) : This is not a Lagonda, it is J C Haward’s Singer, but it is the 1930 Edinburgh Trial and, I’m pretty certain, Park Rash again. (Information from Cowbourne).
  • Page 106 (upper) : Almost certainly Park Rash but, as Cowbourne doesn’t list motorcycles, I can’t identify the year.
  • Page 106 (lower) : This is not C H Lawford’s Riley (No. 202 in the 1929 Exeter Trial) but C A Biddle’s Salmson. It is the 1930 Exeter Trial and the section is Ibberton .
  • Page 120 (lower) : Interesting primarily because competitors on the modern Lands End Trial pass this spot shortly after leaving Stoney Street and on their way to the rest stop at the County Gate Inn. Cloutsham (not Cloutshaw) is down the hill on the right fork. Written in 2011, remember. The current Lands End does not use Stoney Street or go anywhere near this junction.
  • Page 122 (upper) : This is another photograph from an incorrectly-captioned series of Brunell photographs. It is not New Mill on the Lands End Trial, but Dane Hill in Kent, most likely during the Margate and District Car Club’s Wye Cup Trial on 21st February 1937. The photograph on Page 156 (Upper), and another on Page 48 of Thomas, are clearly of the same (mis-captioned) location and event.
  • Page 123 (upper) : I assume that this is probably the same event as the lower photograph but can’t identify the cars to confirm.
  • Page 123 (lower) : Cowbourne confirms this as the 1930 MCC Sporting Trial (in the Buxton area, but not called the Buxton Trial) so the cars are almost certainly waiting to attempt Litton Slack. The Morris and the MG are both identified in Cowbourne, who says that the car behind is a Chrysler, not a De Soto.
  • Page 125 (upper) : This is certainly not the “Nailsworth Ladder” which has featured in trials from the 1930s to the present day. It may be part of the current main road, higher up on the approach to the village of Box, but I haven’t yet been there to check. Has anyone any other ideas?
  • Page 127 (upper) : This is unlikely to be a “typical club trial” with an entrant showing a number as high as 258. It certainly looks like Beggars Roost, is probably on a Lands End Trial, but I haven’t yet checked Cowbourne to confirm the other details. And I think Bacon means a Lands End Gold Award!
  • Page 130 (upper) : I think this looks like Maiden Grove, but others disagree. Can anyone identify the section?
  • Page 130 (lower) : Cowbourne confirms this as R Gower’s MG on the 1931 Brighton-Beer, and it’s definitely Fingle Bridge.
  • Page 131 (upper and lower), Page 132, and Page 133 (upper) : I am reliably informed that this is Lower Doverhay Farm, in Porlock Village, and the vehicles are waiting to attempt the Doverhay section. See also 155 (upper).
  • Page 133 (lower) : Can anyone identify the section? It has been identified. More information to follow …
  • Page 142 (upper) : This is most definitely Nailsworth Ladder.
  • Page 142 (lower) : … and this, almost certainly, is not! But where is it? I believe it may be Bushcombe Lane, but this needs checking.
  • Page 145 (upper) : Tarr Steps again – see Page 53 (upper).
  • Page 147 (upper) : Bryan Ditchman tells me that this is Cowcastle – crossing the River Barle at Horsen Ford. In which case it is in Somerset, not Devon. But can anyone identify the cars, or the year? And saloons in the Experts Trial?
  • Page 152 (lower) : Obviously taken in the same place, and at the same time, as the photograph on Page 147 (upper). Car or year, anyone?
  • Page 154 : This is G H Harrington’s MG NA (NJ 3470) crossing Palmer’s Mill Ford, on the route between the Hatherland and Beerdown sections, on the 1934 Brighton-Beer Trial. With thanks to Bryan Ditchman for this detailed information. And definitely not Fingle Bridge!
  • Page 155 (upper) : This is clearly another photograph in the same location, and taken on the same event, as those on pages 131 to 133 (DR 7434, with No.20, also appears in the upper photograph on page 131).
  • Page 156 (upper) : Another from the incorrectly-captioned “New Mill” series. See Page 122 (upper) above.
  • Page 156 (lower) : Cowbourne identifies this as G Taylor’s Alta on the 1930 Land’s End Trial, I think on the upper slopes of Beggars Roost.
  • Page 161 (upper) : Bryan Ditchman identifies this as Ibberton Church Hill, the picture possibly taken on the Salisbury Motor Club’s Budgen Trophy Trial in June 1936. The car is an MG K1, still “alive” and well and living in Surrey.
  • Page 169 (lower) : Cowbourne identifies this as I H Johnstone Baugh’s Rally (not a Straker-Squire) on the 1929 (not 1937) Edinburgh Trial. In which case it’s probably from the same sequence as the photograph on page 37 and is most likely to be Stake Moss or Askrigg.
  • Page 180 (upper and lower) : Cowbourne confirms the cars, their drivers, and that it is the 1938 Edinburgh Trial. Bryan Ditchman thinks that the section is Adderstonshiels. Can anyone confirm this?
  • Page 182 (lower) : This is the 1935 (not 1938) Welsh Rally. See Page 34 (upper) of Thomas.
  • Page 183 (lower) : This photograph also appears on Page 84 (lower) of Thomas where it is captioned as the start of the 1938 Chiltern Trial. It is, apparently, taken outside Platt’s Garage in Marlow.
  • Page 185 (upper and lower) : Surprisingly, I suspect that these photographs may be correctly captioned as the 1939 Abingdon Trial was a trial/rally event with an overnight stop in Shrewsbury, according to Thomas.
  • Page 186 (upper) : This is the 1938 Lands End (car checked with Cowbourne), and I’m pretty certain that the photograph is taken at the top of Beggars Roost.
  • Page 186 (lower) : Simon Woodall is pretty certain that this is not an MCC event as the number is too low for a three-wheeler, although I still think it looks like the top of Beggars Roost. Has anyone got any better ideas?
  • Page 187 (upper and lower) : These are both most definitely Crackington, but I haven’t checked the other details yet.
  • Page 188 (upper) : This looks like a sequence taken at Darracott on the Lands End Trial, but I haven’t yet checked Cowbourne to confirm the year.

Page published : 25 April 2018

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