2018 Old Speckled Hen Run Report
Despite the dreadful weather forecast for the day, which included a ‘yellow weather warning’, there was a steady flow of MGs coming up the drive of Radley College on the late Spring Bank Holiday Sunday. This year saw the AWC’s 26th Old Speckled Hen Tour which celebrates two of Abingdon’s finest – MG cars and Old Speckled Hen beer, first brewed in the town in 1979.
With 20 counties represented by the entrants, the AWC Committee had spent a few nervous days watching the forecast in the run-up to The Day, but the one thing you can’t control, began the day cooperatively, by being dry. Perhaps we were going to be lucky! With cars ranging from the 1930s to the present day, spaces in front of the attractive College buildings were soon filled and cars were being parked on the grass to one side of the photogenic cricket pavilion. After signing on and picking up route books, rally plaques and commemorative pin badges, drivers, navigators and passengers – there were 8 dogs, a record for OSH tours – took advantage of the refreshments on offer whilst renewing old acquaintances from previous tours or making new ones.
Once refreshed it was time for the off although, for one, there was another task to perform first. Paul & Sharon Hetschkun had driven the OSH MGB from Suffolk the day before without any problems, but had picked up a puncture in the 8 miles from the Dog House Inn – an old MG factory management haunt – where they’d spent the night! A quick wheel change and they joined the other cars being flagged off by Abingdon’s Mayor, Councillor Margaret Crick.
The route through the Vale of the White Horse headed towards the horse racing territory of the Hendreds and Ilsleys before cutting across into Berkshire and stopping at the lunchtime halt of Mapledurham. The house and estate has been used for filming “The Eagle has Landed”, “Taboo” episodes of “Midsomer Murders” and will be seen later in the year on ITV in Vanity Fair. Whilst the house, built in 1588, is undergoing major refurbishment and is closed during 2018, the Watermill – seen on the cover of a Black Sabbath album – was open with the Miller happy to talk about the last commercially working watermill left on the Thames!
Picnics complete, the cars made their way back to Radley heading towards the Chilterns along roads that made it difficult to believe that you were travelling so close to the Reading conurbation. Once at the College it was time to compare travel notes and experiences whilst tucking into the mouth-watering cream teas which the AWC Team had spent the intervening few hours preparing.
This year, we were joined for the day by an Indian film crew working on behalf of MG Motor (India) who were compiling an MG documentary. Footage taken on the day will be combined with other filming during their couple of weeks in the country and they were extremely grateful to everyone for their help and cooperation throughout the day.
Report by Richard Martin
Photos at Radley College by Brian Broom
Photos at Mapledurham Estate by Richard Martin