Abingdon Works Car Show – Sunday 7th July 2013
Every generation has an age old ‘Where were you when…’ question. In my case, the question is ‘Where were you when John Lennon was shot?’ For the generation before me, it is ‘Where were you when Kennedy was killed?’ And so it goes back in time, for every momentous occasion, we will always be asked the same question – where were we? Well I certainly know where I was on the day the Abingdon Works Car Show was resurrected after an absence of 10 years. I remember the day clearly, Sunday 7th July 2013. The sun was shining, the temperature in Abingdon hit 29 degrees, and everyone there had a wonderful day.
The show was run jointly by the Abingdon Works Centre and the Rotary Club, and was held on the banks of the River Thames at Rye Meadow, the former location of the annual Car Show up to 2005. Some 250 vehicles attended the show, with fine examples of all MG models and most eras represented, including a handsome collection of pre-war types. Also in large numbers were the MGFs and TFs, the fine weather just too tempting not to! But it wasn’t just MGs, as Abingdon-built Rileys and Austin Healeys were also enjoying the occasion. The show was formally opened by the Abingdon MP, Nicola Blackwood, who acknowledged the proud history of the Abingdon MG factory in her welcome speech. Also in attendance were the Town Crier resplendent in his green and gold regalia and the Lady Mayor who was involved in the prize giving.
During the morning, there was the opportunity to sample the Factory Test Routes by tracing the route taken by MGs as they rolled off the Abingdon production line for road tests around the area. Car Club President, John Day, talked to drivers of some of the cars as they paraded them in the arena whilst later in the day there was a gymkhana, enjoyed by all who took part. The winner was Barry Graham in a Midget, despite having to be push started as he entered the arena.
There was something for everyone, including a kiddies’ fun fare, auto-jumble stall and historic vehicle section, including a replica BMC Competition tender, the MG Factory fire engine and a current Oxfordshire fire tender. There was also an impressive display from the old factory Competitions Department which inevitably drew comparisons with the current competition cars on the Rushforth Racing Team stand. Good food (excellent value, I must say) and cool beer on a very warm day. This show had all the ingredients to become a staple event every year – well done to all the volunteers involved. And to those that didn’t make the show this year – get the date in your diary for 2014 as soon as you can, you won’t be disappointed.
Many thanks to the main sponsors, Hartwells Garages and Manor Garage, Wantage, as well as a number of local businesses, without whose support, the show would not have got off the ground. At the time of writing, the final figures are not available, but thanks to the generosity of those attending on the day and the volunteer collectors, the signs are encouraging that good donations will be made to the two principle charities, Macmillan Cancer Support and Thames Valley Air Ambulance. When known, this will be reported in Safety Fast!
Oh, I very nearly forgot… There was another momentous occasion on Sunday 7th July 2013. Down in London SE19, a certain Andy Murray became the first British Men’s Singles Champion since 1936. So when I’m asked in future where I was when Murray won Wimbledon, I can say quite clearly, I was at the Abingdon Works Car Show – and what a great day it was.
Text: Tony Cotter. Photos: Malcolm Bailey