Full details of this great event will be found in the forthcoming Safety Fast magazine.
The 2nd Distinguished Drive Day was a fun-filled day out for all MG enthusiasts. There was much laughter and excitement as members gathered, dressed in their finest attire, ready for the adventure.
The scenic drive through the beautiful landscapes of Oxfordshire was a treat for the eyes. The winding roads and picturesque views added to the charm of the event, making it a memorable experience for everyone involved.
As the drive progressed, some members got lost along the way, adding an unexpected twist to the day. However, this only added to the excitement and camaraderie amongst the participants, as they helped each other find their way back on track.
One of the highlights of the drive was passing by several film locations of the popular TV series "Midsummer Murders." Classic car enthusiasts and fans of the show were thrilled to see these iconic spots up close, adding an extra layer of excitement to the event.
To wrap up the day, participants gathered at West Wycombe Church, where they enjoyed a well-deserved break with delicious coffee and cakes. It was the perfect way to relax and reflect on the wonderful memories created during the drive.
Words by Mike Lamb
Photos by Jane Lilley
We were up bright and early on Sunday 28th May as today was the 29th running of the ‘The Old Speckled Hen’, the Abingdon Works Centre annual classic road run in the Abingdon Works calendar. The weather forecast was good, the sun was shining and the trusty old MG was ready to go. We set off for our first stop of the day at Radley College on the outskirts of Abingdon. This location has been the traditional start and finish of the run for the last 20 years.
Although the first running of the event was in 1992 in the car park of the old MG Car Factory in Abingdon it has had several start points around the town including the Police Station car park on one occasion. The start then spent three years at the old Morlands Brewery site where the run’s namesake, the Old Speckled Hen beer used to be brewed. However, in 2003 the base moved to Radley College which has proved to be a practical home in every respect.
The run this year was superbly organised as usual by the committee and volunteers. On arrival the collection of route book and signing on was quickly done, rally plaque fixed to the front of the car and off to the cricket pavilion for coffee, biscuits and a catch up with friends, some of whom we had not seen for the past year.
62 cars entered the event, although 7 cancelled and 50 actually made it to Sulgrave Manor for lunch. Of the cars entered 12 travelled over 100 miles to reach the start including 3 from Australia and I from Germany. The age of the cars varied widely with a 1931 C type, a 1933 L type and a 1937 TA, 5 post war T Types 5 Midgets, 8 MGAs, 19 MGBs, 10 modern TFs and an Austin Healy 3000.
We were ready to go, navigators with their Tulip road books at the ready and drivers zeroing their odometers were waved off through the Radley Arch by Centre President Richard Martin using ‘Bill’s flag’ used originally by Bill Wallace for past events. The outward run was said to be 40.6 miles passing through some very picturesque lanes and villages of North Oxfordshire Wootton, Eynsham, Woodstock Aynho, Charlton and Farthinghoe arriving at our picnic ground at Sulgrave Manor.
The Manor House is typical of the old stone farm houses of Northamptonshire and Oxfordshire but it does have a long historical pedigree. Built in the early 16th century by a rich wool merchant it served as farm house and centre of trade. One of the Manor’s main claims to fame is that the five times great Grandfather of George Washington first President of the United States of America lived there. As a result, many Americans visit the Manor every year and have over the last 100 years contributed to the support and upkeep of the house
The manor has recently had a major refurbishment and there are a number of artefacts associated with George Washington’s life as well as many period furnishings but for us the most interesting room was the kitchen restored to how it would have looked during the 17th and 18th century.
Having had our picnic we stretched our legs with a walk in the formal gardens before the return journey to Abingdon. The distance was marginally longer but covered a similar route taking in good views of the HS2 construction sites, which fortunately will be returned to nature on completion.
Back in Radley after 45miles we were ready for the traditional cream tea and an exchange of stories of the trip.
Finally a big thank you to the committee and volunteers for another brilliant event and of course Greene King for their ongoing support which makes this event such a successful and enduring classic, also a big thank you to whoever provided the perfect touring weather.
Opened the curtains very early on the Sunday morning and the sight outside was well, wetter than an Otters pocket, it was absolutely throwing it down!
The cats and dogs had stopped coming out of the sky just a very heavy rain now and I’d booked in my rubber bumper BGT known as DEC for the run but as it’s still the new toy of the year I decided to keep it all tucked up nicely under it’s cover and hopped in the F, apologising as I got into Magnum for taking him out in this weather and headed off from West Wycombe to the start point – Notcutts just outside Berinsfield. Going through a rather deep flood to say they least, it was a good test for what was to come…… On the way up using the A40 then M40, I was starting to think it would have been better to turn off the engine and stick oars out of each window but at least traffic was behaving and driving steadily for the conditions and arrived at the Garden Centre just gone 10am, headed to the car part and realised I wasn’t the only nutter out in this weather in their beloved MG’s.
Notcutts had very kindly agreed to open the café up early for us, and that was the signing on point too so headed straight there past delightful Pink Christmas Trees in the shop displays. Signed on, then noticed there was some great breakfasts being served, and as they’d gone to all that trouble to cook it, would have been wrong not to have one! It was good to see so many people turning up from all age ranges too all having a good chat and catch-up. Laughing to one of the F-register crowd about the weather we’d still be topless today, a bit of blue sky started to appear and by the time 11am came, the rain had gone and that blue sky was everywhere so off come the roof!
As I set off on the run, a TF joined behind me, also with his roof off so there was two fruit-loops out! The route was to the Dog House at Frillford but by a scenic 48 mile drive so we headed off to play on the backroads of south Oxfordshire first via North and South Moreton finding a few puddles but nothing too much. Then after a while we turned off the A4074 to Ipsden and that’s when all the fun started, the next 13 miles were going to be rather moist to say the least where a lot of the country lanes were totally flooded across, one being rather long too. There was no way we could turn around, so it was slow down, keep in low gear, close eyes and just go for it! We had caught Mr & Mrs Watson up in their ZS so if that went through so could we, ha ha. If we conked out at least his vehicle could pull us out again! After going through Checkendon and the Peppards, once at Nuffield we were back on main roads, oh no, hang on another few country lanes to do through Ewelme and a few more floods before getting to Abingdon. The Marathon was happening at the same time but thankfully that didn’t cause us any holdups and managed to get to the Dog House via Shipdon with no grief.
Once parked up at the pub, it was time in the style of fishermen (or were we now qualified Submariners) to boast who went through the deepest water with a giggle or two, and many took part in a Sunday lunch at the pub. It was a great adventure, everyone with big childish grins on their face and a reminder that really is about the journey not just the destination and I’ve never had such a washed underneath on the F!
Ian "Worzel" Wright
Even before we arrived at this, the 27th run of this iconic event, we were in discussion wondering how many we had taken part in. The Old Speckled Hen Run was the very first event that Nicky and I along with the Boneshaker ever took part in, way back in 1998. Back then we had never heard of a tulip route let alone used one, now look at us capable and reasonably competent having completed 200 events!
This year we set off from home in Newbury with eager expectation, arriving along with approximately 100 other MGs ready for the day’s adventure. Tea and coffee consumed in the pavilion next to the magnificent cricket field belonging to Radley College, why can’t our lawn look like this? We then joined the short queue to exit under the imposing arch and careful to avoid the bollards. As we leave I ask “left or right”, wait I haven’t opened the route book yet came the reply, quickly this was sorted and we were on our way.
Following the twists and turns taking us through the lanes for 41 miles, passing through iconic Cotswold villages with mellow stone building adorned with thatch, we found our way to the lunch stop at Yarnton Manor. What a surprise was in store here, it’s a magnificent 17th century manor house set in fantastic gardens, opened specially for us, impressive or what! All of our cars were parked up with the help of the enthusiastic marshals in nooks and crannies around the estate. We then wandered on to the sweeping lawns to have our picnics, and explore the grounds, followed by a short conducted tour of the house. Full marks to whoever found this jewel for us to enjoy. Interestingly having explored the Cotswolds a lot during the last 30 years we have never heard of Yarnton Manor and more surprisingly nobody who we spoke to had ever come across it before, a true hidden gem.
Nicky and I were almost the last to set off on the return journey, which was 28 miles back to Radley College taking us via Forest Hill, Wheatley and Stadhampton to the town centre of Abingdon, then it is just a couple of miles on to Radley College. We saw a few MGs setting off for home as we entered the grounds and there was a moment of concern whether there would be any cream teas left for us. This was totally unfounded as the welcoming spread was still available and we tucked in, joining friends to reflect on a brilliant day.
It was light-heartedly agreed that perhaps the route should be renamed, as we all had an opportunity to check out the Oxfordshire road calming humps, did we encounter a 100 during the drive, well possible!
It’s important to express our thanks to all who worked so hard to put this event on, everyone in the organising team were welcoming, cheerful and friendly and are deserving of our congratulations and thanks for all their hard work. The Old Speckled Hen run has become an institution, shall we do it again next year – yes please.
Guess who was the last to leave Radley College – yes it was the Boneshaker!
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.
Sadly none of the 80s fwd saloons were on show. The MGB/C with all its variants was the most popular car present with the MGF/TF models next.
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.
Cars set off, initially in sunshine, all waved off by Club President John Day using the treasured Union Flag so often used to start events by our dearly missed ex president Bill Wallis.
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.
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