On Sunday 26th May 2013, the Rain God’s early morning alarm failed to go off. So the Sun Goddess awoke to beam down her sunrays all over Oxfordshire and the surrounding area. And so it was, that for the 21st running of the Abingdon Works Centre’s annual Old Speckled Hen tour, 84 cars enjoyed a wonderful day touring the beautiful Oxfordshire and Cotswold villages in glorious warm sunshine.
The tour started at the historic Radley College in Abingdon, where MGs of various styles and ages gathered for their drivers to register and to learn the whereabouts of this year’s tour. The OSH tour is like opening Pandora’s Box, as you never know what to expect until you are handed a route 02-OSH-2013-report.jpgmap a few minutes before the start. The event organisers go to great lengths to keep the route and lunchtime halt a secret. And this works wonderfully well, and adds to the charm of the day. Time for tea and biscuits in the college’s cricket pavilion before AWC President Brian Moylan waved off each MG with the Union Flag.
One by one, MGs ranging from a 1930 M-Type to TFs and even a ZT 260, left the Radley backdrop and followed the tulip instructions, taking us through pretty Oxfordshire villages, down narrow winding lanes and only once did we come face to face with an enormous breakdown truck towing a double decker bus down a road no wider than a farm track!
The spring-like sunshine showed up the warm coloured stone cottages at their very best, but not all entrants got to enjoy the scenery, as there was one casualty. Poor Malcolm Bailey’s Police BGT V8 blew a bottom hose. Despite a running repair, he had to give up and wait for the breakdown service to arrive. I can just see it now, Malcolm saying to the breakdown mechanic in true Ronnie Corbett fashion, “Got any ‘O’s?”
Each year, the OSH tour organisers manage to find a lovely location for our lunchtime halt, and this year was no exception, however a little different. After a run lasting for around 1½ hours, we descended upon Cogges Manor Farm Museum in Witney. This is a working farm, offering an 04-OSH-2013-report.jpgopportunity to discover what life was like in rural Oxfordshire in the late Victorian period. The farmyard has original Cotswold stone buildings and traditional breeds of farm animals. But for this day, there was the added interest of over 80 MGs parked throughout the farm area and picnic orchard. Event marshals did exceedingly well to pack in so many cars, much to the amazement of the public, who were clearly surprised by so many classic vehicles arriving en-masse.
Following a tour around the farm and Manor House, many chose to open up their picnic hampers and sit alongside their MGs to enjoy lunch in the sunshine. While others enjoyed a natter about their cars, the route, and where so-and-so took a wrong turn etc. And then before we knew it, it was time to pack up and continue the tour back to Radley, taking a more direct route, but nonetheless still picturesque.
Grateful thanks are due to the sponsors who make this tour possible, especially Greene King, brewers of Old Speckled Hen, and a long standing supporter of the MG marque.
Text: Tony Cotter. Photos: Malcolm Bailey, Mike Gething, Colin Grant, Dan Smith (of Cogges Farm Museum) and Richard Martin.