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Great Auclum photo and anecdote request


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#1 Auclum

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Posted 01 February 2021 - 18:36

Good evening one and all.

 

I am writing a history of The Great Auclum speed trials and hill climbs and would like to hear from anyone that has photos and memories of the event.

 

All photographs will be accredited and where appropriate, so will recollections and other information.

Writing is going well and I hope to be in a position to publish late this year.

 

Thanks in advance.

 

Steve Lovegrove



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#2 Patrick Sumner

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Posted 04 February 2021 - 10:57

I've sent you a PM on this.



#3 Allan Lupton

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Posted 04 February 2021 - 12:54

I've sent you a PM on this.

So have I



#4 cooper997

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Posted 05 February 2021 - 04:27

I have notes that Rivers Fletcher's 1995 My lifetime with cars shows a photo of him in the Cooper Mk5 at GA p110 Likely to be other info in the book too, given he ran other years.

 

Simon Hendy also has his dad's 1956 GA photos on the website. Worth asking about use, if you haven't already.

 

http://mydadsphotos....rt_uk_auclum56/

 

 

Stephen



#5 Steve L

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Posted 05 February 2021 - 07:49

Steve, great to hear about your project. Hope you are keeping well.

I would of course be very interested if you turn up any more photos of Ashley Cleave and his Morris Special!

#6 Auclum

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Posted 05 February 2021 - 11:25

Thanks for your comments.

 

Stephen:  yes, I have Rivers Fletcher’s book and recently spoke to Simon Hendy - thanks again.

 

Steve L:  I will let you know if I find any other photographs of Ashley and the Morris.

 

All the best

 

SRL



#7 Allan Lupton

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Posted 05 February 2021 - 12:38

Mention of Rivers Fletcher caused me to look at his "More Motor Racing" of 1991 and there are at least five GA photos, most of which are of AFRF using the banking but there's also a Start Line photo.



#8 mariner

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Posted 05 February 2021 - 16:24

I remember going to the hillclimb in about 1972 when we were living nearby at Theale. Given how flat the Thames Valley is It as quite surprise to find a hillclimb there.

 

One  off topic point is that it is near Burghfield Common which was part of the UK nuclear bombs complex. Everybody is familiar with Aldermarston (the other part of the  AWE) down the Kennet Valley but II the internal bomb components was delivered from Aldermarston  to the military Royal Ordnance factory at Burghfiled  for bomb assembly. One local rumour even clamed a secret tunnel ran from Aldermarston to Burghfield Common to move the bomb parts in safety.

 

The bomb factory was very close to the Hillclimb site and, in fact it is still operational  and can be seen from the M4!



#9 mariner

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Posted 05 February 2021 - 16:32

My post above was bit of a place holder while I tried to think if we kept a programme . We did and its for 1974 - so if it is any help I could scan it for  you.

 

The entry list included Phil Scrag in a Chevron B19 3 litre and two Lotus 35's .Also two 5 litre Brabham BT35X's entered by Waring and Gillow. 



#10 Vitesse2

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Posted 05 February 2021 - 16:39

I remember going to the hillclimb in about 1972 when we were living nearby at Theale. Given how flat the Thames Valley is It as quite surprise to find a hillclimb there.

 

One  off topic point is that it is near Burghfield Common which was part of the UK nuclear bombs complex. Everybody is familiar with Aldermarston (the other part of the  AWE) down the Kennet Valley but II the internal bomb components was delivered from Aldermarston  to the military Royal Ordnance factory at Burghfiled  for bomb assembly. One local rumour even clamed a secret tunnel ran from Aldermarston to Burghfield Common to move the bomb parts in safety.

 

The bomb factory was very close to the Hillclimb site and, in fact it is still operational  and can be seen from the M4!

There are press previews for the 1939 event which name the location of the climb variously as Burghfield, Burghfield Common and even Mortimer. Possibly because those were the only local names which would have appeared on smaller scale maps. As I recall, it wasn't an easy place to find!



#11 cooper997

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Posted 06 February 2021 - 00:32



There are press previews for the 1939 event which name the location of the climb variously as Burghfield, Burghfield Common and even Mortimer. Possibly because those were the only local names which would have appeared on smaller scale maps. As I recall, it wasn't an easy place to find!

 

Bit of late 40s variation too, listing for...

1947 Great Auclum, Burghfield - by kind permission of Neil Gardiner Esq. and James Steel, Esq.

1948 Great Auclum, Burghfield Common - by kind permission of Neil W Gardiner Esq. and James Steel, Esq.

1949 Great Auclum, Burghfield Common, near Reading - by kind permission of Neil W Gardiner Esq. and James Steel, Esq.

 

Course map (but you had to get there first)

Great-Auclum-map-TNF.jpg

 

 

Stephen



#12 Auclum

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Posted 08 February 2021 - 13:01

Thanks to everyone for their contributions - all are appreciated.

 

Steve Lovegrove



#13 Doug Nye

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Posted 08 February 2021 - 15:20



Isn't it humbling to look back at that 1939 British event from a 2021 perspective?  There was contemporary home excitement about a freshly instituted speed hill-climb to be run over..."about a 1/4 mile".

 

Consider Shelsley Walsh having also been considered contemporarily here in the UK an event of real stature and substance when its course was barely 1,000 yards long - much later Prescott also assuming some national importance, 1,128 yards.

 

At the same time European 'hill' climbs were being run at 12 miles and more.  But of course it was largely a case of 'beggars can't be choosers'.

 

Similarly, the early-postwar Goodwood races were commonly run over 5-laps, sometimes just 3 lapswhen sur le Continent proper road racers were getting their teeth into 6-hours, 12-hours, 200 miles etc.  A  good reason for short races here in the UK was simple minimisation of the risk of mechanical failure, but really - the British motor racing establishment exhibited a blinkered, parochial, timid and unimaginative outlook compared to their less regulation-inhibited foreign counterparts.  Not much to crow about there.

 

DCN

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#14 Vitesse2

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Posted 08 February 2021 - 16:10

Although, to be fair, Doug, the establishment of the British Motor Racing Organisers' Association in early 1938 was beginning to effect change - more notably so in 1939. The JCC/BARC amalgamation just left a lot of the same old 'Brooklands blazers' in charge in the early post-war years - older, no wiser and still entrenched in their 'right crowd and no crowding' ways unfortunately. Plus they were initially constrained by fuel rationing, which didn't help.

 

A discussion for a different time and place, though. :)



#15 Allan Lupton

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Posted 08 February 2021 - 16:51

Competition distance is a very variable thing as, for example, there is still a huge amount of money devoted to travelling a straight course 1320 feet long!

My suggestion is that in the immediate post-war era there was a great number of people wishing to use whatever car they had in competitions and the short races gave more starters per meeting. My involvement with the Eight Clubs showed me that, in its heyday, our 5-lap handicaps and 7-lap scratch races usually had a full grid plus reserves and the cars ranged from racing specials to bog standard go-to-work cars with occasional serious sports-racing cars.

The popularity of motor sport resulted in a great number of venues with dead wartime airfields providing most of the racing circuits and some of the "Brooklands blazer" types who had decent driveways provided a number of sprint/hillclimb courses.

Great Auclum wasn't very long but nor were Westbrook Hay, Tewin Water or Harleyford -  but they were there and were used.



#16 D-Type

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Posted 08 February 2021 - 21:18

Looking at the map, why didn't they move the start nearer the road to get a longer run?  Was it as simple as providing a space for competitors to queue?



#17 Vitesse2

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Posted 09 February 2021 - 08:34

Looking at the map, why didn't they move the start nearer the road to get a longer run?  Was it as simple as providing a space for competitors to queue?

Possibly, although as the map shows, the paddock was at that time the other side of a public road. In later years I think it was moved 'course-side' - I only ever went there once, but that's my vague memory. That road was also on a bus route.

 

Safety would have been another factor - famously the start was downhill, as can be seen in this picture (with dubious caption!) I've just found on Reading Museum's site: http://collections.r...cord&mwsquery= {collection}={history}&filename=REDMG&hitsStart=1379

 

As I recall there were quite a few trees between the road and the pond and the land did fall away slightly in that direction. The downhill start meant they got to the first banked right-hander quite fast too - added to which that corner was built over a ditch, with the chance of going over the top! This is Tony Marsh in 1957 (Reading Museum again):

 

http://collections.r...DMG&hitsStart=3

 

Steve will know this picture, as he was the one who posted it at the Triple M forum, but this is what could happen if you took that bend too fast!

 

201511413_1950%20GA%20Mrs%20T%20A%20Ruff



#18 Doug Nye

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Posted 09 February 2021 - 08:57

I also attended only one Great Auclum meeting and - somewhat disturbingly - remember very little about it except the feeling everywhere of confinement.  The roadway was very narrow, largely overhung by trees and that first corner banking looked extremely abrupt and - frankly - as if it had been designed more by a landscape gardener than by an engineer, Brooklands-style.  It did not appear to have smooth transitions.

 

I remember one single-seater went over the edge at the meeting I attended, but after a tyre smoking off-line entry to the corner - when being off-line on such a narrow course was itself quite ingenious - the car half-spun and ended up with only its rear wheels over the lip, from where it was retrieved - after some heaving and straining - by a team of burly marshals.  At least, that's the image I retain.

 

It must have been around 1973 or '74, pre-kids anyway.  Seeing that '74 was the last meeting that would explain why we went - feeling guilty that I'd never yet attended what amounted to our 'local' climb, and this would be our last chance to do so.

 

DCN


Edited by Doug Nye, 09 February 2021 - 09:00.


#19 Allan Lupton

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Posted 09 February 2021 - 09:29

The banking was built for, if not designed by a biscuit manufacturer (Neil Gardiner) for his own amusement.

My one visit is a bit of a faded memory but I do recall a fairly large-engined rear-engined single-seater leaving the road on the way up and hitting a tree sideways. It wound itself round that tree, the point of impact being ahead of its CG, which taught me that marshalling/spectating from behind a stout tree (as we could and did at Westbrook Hay) wasn't as safe as I thought.

I think the paddock was next to the track then.



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#20 Vitesse2

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Posted 09 February 2021 - 09:56

I also attended only one Great Auclum meeting and - somewhat disturbingly - remember very little about it except the feeling everywhere of confinement.  The roadway was very narrow, largely overhung by trees and that first corner banking looked extremely abrupt and - frankly - as if it had been designed more by a landscape gardener than by an engineer, Brooklands-style.  It did not appear to have smooth transitions.

 

I remember one single-seater went over the edge at the meeting I attended, but after a tyre smoking off-line entry to the corner - when being off-line on such a narrow course was itself quite ingenious - the car half-spun and ended up with only its rear wheels over the lip, from where it was retrieved - after some heaving and straining - by a team of burly marshals.  At least, that's the image I retain.

 

It must have been around 1973 or '74, pre-kids anyway.  Seeing that '74 was the last meeting that would explain why we went - feeling guilty that I'd never yet attended what amounted to our 'local' climb, and this would be our last chance to do so.

 

DCN

If it was a Bugatti then we were at the same meeting, Doug! But like you I can't remember if it was 1973 or 1974. Probably the latter.



#21 68targa

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Posted 09 February 2021 - 10:28

This is the paddock in 1974  showing the fashions of the day for those too young to remember !

 

I seem to remember that competitors went straight onto the course on the right.

 

img939.jpg



#22 Tim Murray

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Posted 09 February 2021 - 11:08

Gawd! Look at the trousers of the two lads on the right. To think I used to wear stuff like that. :blush:

#23 Vitesse2

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Posted 09 February 2021 - 12:02

Gawd! Look at the trousers of the two lads on the right. To think I used to wear stuff like that. :blush:

I had flares that were way more outrageous - and wider - than that! Brick red top half, blue below the knee decorated with a red diamond pattern in thread, blue button-down patch pockets ...



#24 Doug Nye

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Posted 09 February 2021 - 12:20

OMG - please spare us!   :eek:

 

NBG



#25 Vitesse2

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Posted 09 February 2021 - 14:13

Looked great teamed with a Jimi Hendrix tee-shirt and a US Army surplus combat jacket! :lol:



#26 Doug Nye

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Posted 10 February 2021 - 22:01

This is rather unfair but to retain a sense of perspective view the video, here:

 

http://www.rallycros...ips/italy/sila/

 

...of the Coppa Sila hill-climb near Cosenza in Calabria - a minor Italian hill-climb inaugurated in 1959...into which Great Auclum would fit more than 20 times.

 

DCN



#27 bradbury west

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Posted 10 February 2021 - 22:32

Gawd! Look at the trousers of the two lads on the right. To think I used to wear stuff like that. :blush:

And to think that I used to have hair like that..   ah, memories..

Roger Lund



#28 bradbury west

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Posted 10 February 2021 - 22:56

Doug’s comment above  reminds me that as a callow youth who devoured the European Hillclimb reports in Motor Sport, Autosport , and The Autocar,  I looked forward to the opening of the Thollt  y Will hillclimb on the Isle of Man in 1965, with such a lo o o ng course.  My first spectator events had been the first couple of years’ events at Castle Howard,  - 1958 and 1959, -and the Harewood opener years’ events from 1961, so the term leaning on an open door comes to mind.

Roger Lund.



#29 Auclum

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Posted 12 February 2021 - 19:24

Looking at the map, why didn't they move the start nearer the road to get a longer run?  Was it as simple as providing a space for competitors to queue?

Initially the paddock was across the road from the entrance to GA and the start was closer to the first bend.   The RAC were concerned about too much speed being built up before the corner.  It was later moved back to make the course a full quarter of a mile.



#30 Auclum

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Posted 12 February 2021 - 19:41

I also attended only one Great Auclum meeting and - somewhat disturbingly - remember very little about it except the feeling everywhere of confinement.  The roadway was very narrow, largely overhung by trees and that first corner banking looked extremely abrupt and - frankly - as if it had been designed more by a landscape gardener than by an engineer, Brooklands-style.  It did not appear to have smooth transitions.

 

I remember one single-seater went over the edge at the meeting I attended, but after a tyre smoking off-line entry to the corner - when being off-line on such a narrow course was itself quite ingenious - the car half-spun and ended up with only its rear wheels over the lip, from where it was retrieved - after some heaving and straining - by a team of burly marshals.  At least, that's the image I retain.

 

It must have been around 1973 or '74, pre-kids anyway.  Seeing that '74 was the last meeting that would explain why we went - feeling guilty that I'd never yet attended what amounted to our 'local' climb, and this would be our last chance to do so.

 

DCN

Great Auclum was very narrow and punctuated by stout trees not far from the edge of the track.  This confined space, coupled with its short length made the venue a real ‘Marmite’ hill.  Tony Marsh had very little time for it, nor did Roy Lane, but they both enjoy the social aspect.  Cars disappearing over the banking was a fairly regular occurrence.  Spencer Elton overdid things one year and, on being offered a medicinal brandy by a helpful marshal, Spencer’s Dad barked  “Don’t give him any more brandy - that’s what got him in that mess!”.  Evidently Elton junior had enjoyed a good liquid lunch.

The banking was built to remind Neil Gardiner of his Brooklands racing days.  It was built by guess-work with no scientific basis.  In fact it was made worse in the 50s when the concrete extension was added - again with no thought to design.  However, none of that stopped Rivers Fletcher from making full use of the facilities.



#31 Doug Nye

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Posted 12 February 2021 - 21:14

Hmm - what year did Rivers enjoy that experience there?

 

DCN



#32 Auclum

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Posted 12 February 2021 - 22:00

Hmm - what year did Rivers enjoy that experience there?

 

DCN

Doug

Rivers competed at GA over many years in a variety of cars - first in a MG and in 1974 in an Alvis.  Whatever he drove, he would always take to the banking, even though it was not the quickest line.  When I asked him why he did this he explained that it would have been a shame not to use Mr Gardiner’s track as he himself had meant to use it.  I have lots of photos of Rivers doing the ‘Brooklands’ stuff and also one of Neil Gardiner himself doing much the same in his Bentley Standard Steel.  When I can master posting pictures on here I’ll share some.

 

Steve



#33 Auclum

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Posted 13 February 2021 - 18:08

Hmm - what year did Rivers enjoy that experience there?

 

DCN

Here you go Doug - this is my painting of Rivers doing the ‘Brooklands stuff’ at GA in the 50s.

 

if nothing else I may have just cracked how to post an image on here!

 

SteveAF-Rivers-Fletcher.jpg


Edited by Auclum, 13 February 2021 - 18:29.


#34 Doug Nye

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Posted 13 February 2021 - 19:07

Well done.

 

DCN



#35 cooper997

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Posted 12 August 2021 - 01:53

Douglas Armstrong's Frazer Nash at 26/7/47 Great Auclum, feature borrowed from September 1990 Thoroughbred & Classic Cars (as it's known in Oz).

 

Class 2 Sports Cars 1101cc to 1500cc unsupercharged and up to 1100cc supercharged

17 D A Armstrong Frazer Nash 1496 - times of 29.71 & 28.82

 

1990-T-CC-Sept-Armstrong-TNF.jpg

 

Stephen