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"Dedicated to the preservation of Standard Cars 1903-1963"

Dedicated to the preservation of Standard Cars 1903-1963

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Robin Wilson’s impressions as a first timer on this famous Standard Club run.

Our first taste of this event was a hearty (heart stopping?) Friday lunchtime fry-up at a transport café on the outskirts of Bury St Edmunds, where Cheryl and I met up with about 30 fellow club members to begin the famous Anglia Run. The car park was a wonderful site to behold, glistening in the warm sunshine with a variety of much loved cars including the Maxwell’s Flying 12, the Brotherton’s Standard Avon, a colourful assortment of 8s and 10s and the Ferris’s very smart Pennant, a Triumph 2000, Stag and Dolomite, the Leggett’s Vanguard Phase 2 and our Vignale Estate. Other cars included Peter Lockley’s Doretti and my favourite non-Standard of the event, a split screen Morris Minor convertible in pristine condition.

Since joining the club 5 years ago we’d heard glowing reports from lots of people about this annual fixture, so had put our names down for the 2015 event and now the time had finally come to “go east”. By the café stop we’d done about 170 miles from home near Worcester, avoiding the motorways to enjoy the A roads at a less hectic pace, but there were still some 26 miles ahead of us on the busy A14, and I was a bit worried we’d be jostling with all the container trucks heading for Felixstowe docks. However, I soon discovered there was a cunning plan to deal with the big trucks …

The Anglia Run was the brainchild of Suffolk based club members Ian and Vera Leggett back in 1995. And it’s been held every year since, a remarkable achievement for a regional event in any car club! As in most previous years, Ian and Vera were the main organisers and with our hotel and dinner arrangements already done and dusted, it was now time for them to hand out the route packs and the special A14 Standard Defence System: union jacks on sticks with plastic clips for your side window glass. The convoy set out in great splendour and presented a united British force to be reckoned with – we hit the A14 in style and headed east with flags flying high - all the big trucks and other traffic gave us plenty space and, to be fair, they were actually very courteous and many gave us friendly smiles and waves as they passed by.

There was an optional visit to Jimmy’s Farm where we saw rare breed farm animals and could buy delicious looking cheeses and meat produce from the farm shop. The outdoor clothing store had very posh green wellies at £245 a pair! Luckily the forecast was dry, and meat wouldn’t keep, so after a cup of tea and some local real ale we left empty handed! A short drive took us into Ipswich to the Belstead Brook Manor Hotel, a quiet and comfortable place in its own grounds with a nice swimming pool, real ale on tap and a secluded car park. What more could you want? This was to be our base for the next three days. The welcome introduction from Ian was followed by an excellent dinner and a relaxed evening. By this time about 10 more people had arrived, including the McDowells in their Sportsman and our youngest participant Josh, along with his dad, Conan Lewis, driving the oldest car in the rally, their lovely 1928 Standard Kenilworth.

On Saturday morning we visited the Transport Museum with its fascinating collection of buses, coaches, trams, lorries and other wheeled machinery, all found or donated from the local area and carefully restored. Some we could see still as-found or under restoration. This was followed by a ride in an old double decker Bristol bus around Ipswich and across the magnificent Orwell bridge which rises 150 feet above the estuary, giving us panoramic views of Ipswich and the surrounding countryside.

The afternoon was in Felixstowe where we could enjoy the breezy beach and sea-front cafes. We then drove out to the headland where you can see the vast container port. It handles 3.7 million containers a year and is amongst the largest in Europe.

On Saturday evening after dinner we were treated to an hour with Suffolk’s most famous raconteur, Charlie Haylock, who gave us some amusing insights into Suffolk’s quirky customs and could do all the different dialects from around the UK. He recalled funny anecdotes from his grandfather Bill about such things as 6-seater loos and Suffolk ladies wearing the very convenient “Wide open Wednesdays” style of undergarments! His raucous account of what people would use when paper was in short supply, including saving those tissues you used to get Outspan oranges wrapped in, was topped by John Worby’s retort that his mum used to put them in the oven first to soften them! The straight-faced Charlie finally cracked at this point, apparently it made his evening! Meanwhile, with the rest of us already in stitches, poor Brenda Worby was laughing (if not crying) so much that she attracted Charlie’s special attention and was later awarded a prize for being such a sport!

A wet Sunday morning saw us head north to the Suffolk Owl Sanctuary at Stoneham, which also had a colony of Meerkats, plus craft shops and restaurant. Here we were joined by Norfolk club member Brendan Doyle in his smart blue 1929 Little Nine. Over lunch he told me his mother bought it for him exactly 50 years ago - to the day! He was then approaching his 17th birthday; she let him have the car on condition he wouldn’t ride motorbikes. They kept to the deal, he’s kept the car for half a century!

The sun shone as we headed further north to Thetford to see the Dad’s Army museum. This pretty Norfolk village was chosen by the BBC as the base for all the on-location work, with its old-world stone buildings and a suitable army training area near by. Then the drive back to Ipswich for dinner was followed by a fun-quiz which included feely bags and general knowledge questions. Ian and Vera were given a “thank-you” present from all and the Rally Cup this year was awarded to Brenda Worby for her “outstanding contribution to entertainment” the previous evening. We then gathered around the piano and everyone joined in to sing a special version of “Old MacDonald had a farm”, with verses made up and contributed by different club members as a way to celebrate 20 years of the rally and to thank the organisers for all their hard work over the years.  As first-timers on the rally, Mike and Pat McDowell joined with Cheryl and me in presenting Ian and Vera with a special thank-you gift, a boxed retro-style game “Travelling around England”, as we had been made to feel so welcome in amongst all the more seasoned Anglia Runners!

Monday morning was warm and sunny; some of us even had a swim before breakfast!

The final day visits were to Rougham Airfield and Bury St Edmunds. We were one of the last to leave the hotel and decided to go straight to Bury before heading home. With its Sportsman engine, our Vanguard is OK at 50mph but gets rather rough and noisy by 60. However, it quietens down again by 70mph, so this is its best cruising speed. Well, that’s my excuse for blasting past the convoy of Standards on the A14 that morning. It was great to see all those cherished cars doing what they were designed for: being driven and enjoyed on the open roads. Long live the Anglia Run !