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.
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.
The first is the junction of Willowcroft Road with South Avenue.
Willowcroft Road sweeps round to the left. At the top of the hill is the junction with Sitwell Street. Two photographs were taken here, the first looking to the left. The spire of St Werburgh’s church is visible to the right of the large tree in the grounds of The Homestead.
The second is taken from approximately the same place, but looking to the right of the junction. The Co-op (which I remember as a supermarket from my childhood, but is now a funeral parlour) is visible in the background.
The next photograph is taken slightly further along Sitwell Street. The building immediately on the left is still there today. However, the buildings next to it have been replaced by houses and, I think, Spondon Village Hall.
Turning right here leads onto a lane that brings you to Moult Avenue. The houses shown in this photograph are there today, but the surrounding area on South Avenue was later developed for housing, so it all looks rather different now.
I assume that the next photograph is looking back towards Sitwell Street from this lane, but confirmation would be welcome!
The second photograph is another view of the centre, looking directly towards the White Swan. The House Agent is now a fish and chip shop (and has been so for as long as I can remember). The zebra crossing and its Belisha beacons belongs to a bygone age, replaced by a pelican crossing more suited to today’s traffic conditions.
While the first two photographs remain largely recognisable today, the next shows significantly greater change. This is Chapel Street, looking towards the location that the first photograph was taken from. The buildings on the left hand side were demolished and replaced with a shopping precinct sometime during the late 1960s or early 1970s. The buildings near the lamp-post and bus stop on the right hand side have been replaced by Chapel Street Medical Centre, a chemist and other shops.
It would appear that my father had a mild obsession with Spondon Garage in the 1950s. I’ve found a few more photographs that may be of interest to those who remember the place before it was demolished to make way for housing.
The first I can date very precisely, as there was an index card with the negative. It was taken at 5.45pm on 23rd June 1951 – a Saturday. There’s someone on the forecourt, but other than that it looks deserted. Not many garages are at that time on a Saturday these days! It’s also interesting to see different brands of fuel represented at the same garage – Shell, Esso & BP Power.
The next photograph was in a box marked 1953 and although at first glance it looks very similar, the Esso pump from 1951 has been replaced by one serving BP fuel and there’s also a shelter for the attendants on the forecourt (which wasn’t present in the photographs I have from 1952). Business also looks to have picked up a little!
The final two photographs from 1953 show the view from the forecourt, the first of which looks towards Willowcroft Road. This view seems very similar to how Nottingham Road appears today. You can also see that the garage has a National branded fuel pump. My own earliest memories of Spondon Garage are from when it sold fuel under the National brand (who would ever forget their merchandising tie-up with the Smurfs).
Finally, a view looking in the other direction towards Derby. The traffic island leading towards British Celanese look very well-tended, with a number of smart ‘Keep Left’ bollards. On the right hand side of the frame you can just make out the Westminster Bank sign. This building still exists today but is now a private house. What’s very noticeable by their absence are the houses that now exist on that side of the road leading from the bank to where the traffic island with the A52 dual carriageway is today. Oh, and of course, there’s hardly any traffic to be seen.
While going through a box of my grandfather’s photographs, I came across this picture of Spondon Caravan Centre that I believe is from the early 1950s – possibly taken at around the same time as these pictures of Spondon Garage. I don’t have the negative, so the image was taken directly from the print using my Epson V550 scanner.
The picture looks to have been taken from near the junction of Willowcroft Road and Nottingham Road. The mock tudor building in the background is the Moon Hotel on Station Road.
My guess is that the reason the picture was taken was that my grandfather purchased a caravan from there. The two pictures of his caravan that follow were stored with this one.
It all looks rather basic compared to the fully fitted, double-glazed and heated caravans of 2016.
Many of you enjoyed the black and white photographs of the A52 bypass being built through Spondon I posted here a few weeks ago. I’ve also managed to unearth a few colour slides of Spondon in 1956. These were taken before the bypass was built, presumably in late spring / early summer judging by the state of the foliage.
Willowcroft Road – with no bridge!
The view across Willowcroft Road towards Kirk Leys Avenue
Spondon Methodist Church
I can place the exact location from where the first four of these photographs were taken quite easily. The fifth is a little more puzzling to me. The original slide is labelled Derby Road, but I’m not sure which section it is or the direction that the photograph has been taken towards. My best guess is that it’s facing towards Spondon Garage, taken from around where the Asda roundabout is today. However, there seems to be too many houses on the right hand side of the image for that to be right.
Any help you can give me in working out where the final slide was taken from would be appreciated!
The first four photographs of British Celanese come from the same roll of film as the ones showing the construction of the A52 at Willowcroft Road. This means that they will date from either 1956 or 1957, as the roll (and this post) finishes with three taken on the day of the Queen’s visit to Derby. It’s been suggested that the reason her train stopped at Spondon, rather than at Derby Midland, was to allow more people to witness her visit to the town.
A view from Celanese Road looking towards Holme Lane. The view from Spondon station. The main site entrance. A view of the administration block. Spondon signal box can also be seen in the distance on the left hand side.
The Queen’s visit to Spondon station, 1957.
It looks like security was relatively low-key!
The view from Station Road, with a small crowd gathered on the footbridge in front of the station.