Earlier on today I came across a number of photographs taken on the afternoon of Sunday June 26th 1960 at the British Celanese Motor Club Driving Tests event. Thanks to my late father’s meticulous record keeping I can also provide the context to the event, as well as the photographs.
The entry form for the event.
Instructions for each of the six tests. If anyone would like a copy of the complete booklet containing the descriptions of all of the tests, just let me know!
The first test in progress. The Moon Hotel (now known as The Canal Turn) is in the background. According to the DVLA’s vehicle enquiry service, the white Austin Healey, 434 HNU, is still taxed. If the current owner would like to contact me, I have a number of other photographs of the car along with records from the BCMC to show that it was competing in their events from soon after first registration in July 1958.
A small but enthusiastic crowd of spectators look on.
Did he touch the back of the garage? It looks like a close-run thing to me.
And finally, the results.
The Austin Healey finished fourth. This was one place behind my future Godfather in third, with my future father finishing first.
This map and description of Derby in 1950 is taken from the AA’s Road Book of England and Wales. Much remains familiar. The Cathedral, Bridge Chapel, Art Gallery, Library and Museum (still boasting a Bonnie Prince Charlie room) are open for visitors. County cricket continues at the Race Course Ground. Royal Crown Derby will definitely welcome you, but there’s no need to apply by post in advance. Engineering is still a core activity, even though the Brexit the city voted for may put it in jeopardy.
But much has changed. County Hall relocated to Matlock in the mid 1950s. Derby became a city in 1977. St Alkmunds was demolished to make way for the Inner Ring Road in 1967 and rebuilt a few hundred yards away as a striking example of modern architecture. The railway stations at Friar Gate and near Chester Green are long closed. The A52 dual carriageway, the 1968 absorption of Spondon into Derby’s boundary and the creation of Oakwood have moved the city’s centre of gravity North-Eastwards. The locomotive works are now the site of the Pride Park industrial area, Wyvern retail park as well as being the home of Derby County.
I received two Christmas messages from political campaigners yesterday. The first was from a right-wing US website. I have no idea how I ended up on their mailing list. I’ve tried to unsubscribe many times without success. Their endless stream of nonsense is now fed directly into my junk email folder.
The Christmas mailing asked me to thank Donald Trump for fulfilling 150 campaign promises by choosing one of “… six beautiful digital cards you can personalize and send to the president without cost … to counteract the constant attacks on his policies, his character and his dedication to putting America’s interests first.”
The second message came from Vince Cable. In it he asked us to do something to support a local charity tackling homelessness this Christmas. In Derby, the Padley Group have helped people with a range of issues including homelessness, debt and destitution, drugs, alcohol, mental health issues, physical disabilities, learning disabilities, severe autism and long-term unemployment since 1985. It’s challenging to maintain services when £250,000 in local and central government grants have been removed.
However, they’re trying hard to attract new supporters to their Padley 4000 scheme which you can subscribe to for £2 a month – less than the price of a cup of coffee. They’ve asked their existing supporters to publicise the scheme this Christmas. If you are local to Derby, please think about joining it. There are also opportunities to volunteer if you’d prefer to donate your time.
A Happy Christmas and peaceful new year to you all.
Here’s a short cine film of the British Celanese Motor Club’s treasure hunt, held on 21st March 1965.
This was one of an annual programme of motoring events that also included paced drives (rallies).
As the club was affiliated to the RAC and the events had to be notified to the local police, it all seemed to be taken pretty seriously. There was an intricate scoring system that made allowances for participants being unable to take part in some events due to work commitments.
This treasure hunt started from the Manor Road Service Station on the A5111 ring road in Derby. I think the garage has long since vanished, but looking at the stills it would seem to have been somewhere near where the Argosy is today.
We next see the competitors in Kirk Langley turning right onto Flagshaw Lane. Except – the turning doesn’t look anything like that as far as I can work out. Unless I’m in the wrong place, of course … in which case I’m only going to score one point for a non-finish! The scenes get progressively snowier and more ‘interesting’ to drive, with the competitors finally reaching Tansley in the Peak District. Scotland Nurseries is still going strong today.
The treasure hunt finishes at the Celanese Sports & Social Club on Borrowash road, having first turned right across the A52 from Derby to get there. That’s not been legally possible (thankfully) for many, many years!
A sprint finish into the social club with the completed check sheets to end.
Unfortunately I can’t find a record of the winner of this particular event in my father’s BCMC files, which are in good order up until the end of 1964. I suspect that my recent arrival may have distracted him somewhat.
I’ve finally started to digitise some of the 8mm cine film that was shot by my father, brother and me during my childhood. The earliest reels are from 1964, with the latest being from 1979/80. Most of it is obviously just family stuff, but there are some more generally interesting scenes in amongst the holiday memories.
This excerpt is the 1973 St. George’s Day parade in Derby. From what I remember, these were fairly large events that started somewhere near the Council House and finished with a church service. Venues changed yearly – as I’m sure that as well as attending this one at St. Alkmund’s Church on Kedleston Road, a parade I took part in another year finished at the (now former) Queen’s Hall Methodist Mission on London Road.
If you look very closely you’ll see me marching with the 147th Derby, 3rd Ockbrook & Borrowash cub scouts …
Harper Gardens is a small public space sandwiched between the A6 Pride Parkway flyover and Siddals Road. Not much larger than many suburban gardens, it’s somewhere I usually pass without a second thought on my regular walks between the office and the city centre. But today I noticed the lovely flowering cherry tree in the north-eastern corner of the plot and stopped to photograph it.
It’s a curious location for a public garden. A quick search of the internet reveals that at some point in the 1940s a paint factory burned down on this spot. Quite how the site ended up in the city council’s hands and became a garden seems less clear.
If anyone can fill in the details for me, the comment box awaits below!
Here’s an enjoyable driving route around Mid Derbyshire. Especially on a cold but sunny Saturday in February in a Caterham 7. What other way is there to travel?
My route map is below, just in case anyone is interested in replicating the experience. I can recommend Kedleston Hall, Carsington Water’s Visitor Centre and Middleton Top as places to visit on this route if you’re not in a hurry …
Today’s steps were easily achieved as this evening I went out leafleting on behalf of the excellent Liberal Democrat by-election candidate for Allestree, Deena Smith.
For those of you that don’t follow Derby politics closely, the vacancy was caused by the Conservative councillor elected in May being jailed for two months for providing a false address. I think the people of Allestree deserve better than to have their votes taken for granted by the Tory party. The by-election is on Thursday and I hope that the recent success elsewhere in Derbyshire is a good omen in what has been considered a safe Conservative ward.
If you’ve never delivered leaflets before, this is what the activity looks like to a Fitbit tracker.
I was quite pleased that I didn’t have to backtrack too many times.
There are just three days left in my September walk all over cancer, but there’s still time to sponsor me. My donations page is here. Thank you!