It was no coincidence that 85 cars lined up at the Westwood Hotel on Hinksey Hill near Abingdon on the 4th of October as this was to be the AWC’s special way of celebrating the MG Car Club’s 85th anniversary.
Following signing on, manned by Gill Martin and Sarah Davies, bacon baps, tea and coffee welcomed all the participants, some of whom had travelled many miles to take part. 25 counties of the UK were represented by the good cross section of MGs from Bob Walker’s 1932 F type Magna to AWC Treasurer, Gill Martin’s 2011 MG6. Only two of the early T types were in evidence but no less than five of the rarer TFs.
Some well researched and interesting background notes to the inception of the club back in October 1930 were included in the excellent road book issued to each driver. Rally plates were given out and thanks go to Summit Motors of Maidenhead for sponsoring these.
The early sunshine disappeared as we headed north then west to travel the roads used by club members of the past for trials in the Cotswolds. These roads at the time offered an excellent combination of steep hills and difficult terrain for the members to test their cars.
The first Abingdon to Abingdon Trial was organised by John Thornley and journalist Harold Hastings and took place on the 7th May 1932, starting and finishing at the MG works; 46 cars took part and here we were replicating that run 83 years later.
Cloudy skies and thick mist engulfed us mid morning, calling for lights on for some miles. The ever popular market town of Burford was, as usual, very busy as the cars travelled through the High Street. The sun reappeared about midday as many used the various pub stops listed in the road book to enjoy Sunday lunch. Glorious Cotswold villages welcomed the parade of cars as we reached the furthest point west at Chalford in Gloucestershire before heading back via more picturesque villages.
A fast 6 mile stretch on the A 419 was welcomed to give the cars a chance to stretch their legs followed by more minor roads through villages and hamlets north of Swindon. The last part of the run went through the west of Abingdon, past the old factory site, but avoided the town centre due to the setting up for the annual Michaelmas Street Fair.
Cars started arriving back at the Westwood Hotel from about 3.00pm still bathed in autumnal sunshine. Toasted tea cakes, tea and coffee were on offer to all the crews who started exchanging the usual ‘who went wrong where’ stories.
An 85th anniversary celebration cake had been baked by organiser Richard Martin’s 90-year old mother and this was presented to the driver of the car that had travelled the furthest to the event – this went to Noel Lindford in his entirely applicable 85th anniversary MGTF who had come all the way from Peterlee in Co. Durham.
Various bottles of ‘MG’ wine were presented, first to the driver who had covered the most miles on the 118 mile run which went to Paul Hetschkun and his wife, Sharon, who covered 146 miles in their OSH MGB. The same couple were celebrating their wedding anniversary which was deemed worthy of yet another bottle!
The hotel manager surveyed the cars in the car park and chose an MGA coupe as his ‘most desirable car’ and owner Paul Reader was rewarded with another bottle of wine. Lastly, the ‘most deserving’ prize, in the opinion of the organisers, went to Deb Comber who was presented with the final bottle of wine.
All entrants were given two cans of our favourite beer, Old Speckled Hen, to take home and drink in remembrance of this historic run. A round of applause and huge thanks went to Richard and Gill for organising the run and their thanks went to Pete and Sarah Davies for the invaluable help on the day.
Text: Pete Macwaters, Photos: Malcolm Bailey.