Phil Homer, reports...
It's great to be using the Cars again!
Craig Johnson's award-winning 1934 Standard
Last Sunday was the annual running of the Chiltern Rally and Roadrun.
This is an event for using the cars, not kicking tyres in a muddy field, though such events also have their place. More importantly, our cars are useful for taking us to lunch on a sunny Sunday, then a short run through our still leafy lanes to a place that is usually so near to us that we have always intended to visit - but never did.
So our lunch was at a very ancient roadhouse, the Chequers Inn on the old Roman Watling Street. Some remarked that this dark beamed and thatched building must have stood here for centuries, but that isn't strictly true. It has burnt to the ground twice in living memory and both times has been restored in such a fashion that no one would ever know.
Have you noticed how Restaurant prices have escalated post-pandemic? Well, this is one place where that isn't true, for their Sunday lunches are plentiful and very good value. So much so, that some of the party were still tucking into puddings right up until we were due to start ( You know who you are!)
The first part of the run took us through the pretty village of Redbourn, now thankfully peaceful, as it is bypassed. The route notes pointed out the railway bridge of the defunct Nickey line which used to run between Hemel Hempstead and Harpenden, with intermediate stops. This was closed in 1979, so well post-Beeching, though not even the railway buffs amongst us could tell us the reason for the closure.
We then set out across rural Hertfordshire, which thankfully, as protected greenbelt, we hope will always resist the growth of London out into the commuter belt. This is so rural that even the pubs are still shutting, we shortly passed the "Old Chequers" with boarded-up windows and a "Lease for Sale" sign. Several of us recalled the days, not too long ago, when this was both a thriving pub and a restaurant. We hope that someone will take up the challenge once again. One of the party commented on the fact that all the pubs around here seem to have the name "Chequers" in their title. We progressed for several miles on uncrowded lanes through fields and wooded areas.
Inevitably, we passed into Central Bedfordshire and started to approach the industrial town of Luton, passing first through the village of Caddington, which now is almost a suburb of the town. We then passed our third "Chequers"!
The procession skilfully avoided the M1 extension to the Airport by using an underpass and shortly turned into the Stockwood Park Discovery Centre, just 17 easy miles from the starting point. The cars lined up in the Carpark for a short presentation. We have 2 awards, the first is for Standard Motor Club members, the second for "everyone else in whatever you bought along". In both cases, the trophies are awarded in a light-hearted manner to the two cars that Lynda and I would prefer to take home with us.
The Standard was the superb 1934 Standard 12 Saloon belonging to Craig Johnson, quite a relatively new member and the second to Mick and Beryl Johnson with their beautiful 1953 Vauxhall Velox six-cylinder. All have the same surname though they profess not to be related. Quite appropriately, the Velox was of course built in Luton. The factory no longer builds Vauxhall cars any longer but has found new life, building Vauxhall, Citroen and Peugeot Vans.
There was then time to visit the Discovery Centre which consists of a series of themed gardens and the World-renowned "Mossiman" collection of Horse-drawn carriages. The facility is operated by Luton Council and is well worth visiting. No one seemed to want to go home, so we sat in the glorious sunshine on their terrace, eating Ice cream and drinking tea.
So, if you like to use your Standard and enjoy socialising with other members, please consider joining us next September. Keep a lookout here on the Website and in the "Standard Car Review" for the details.
Photographs from the event follow.
The award-winning Velox
First outing for Paul Newsome's newly restored Vanguard Vignale
Simon Pallister's 1957 Standard Pennant
Peter Pearce and Family in the Vanguard
Brian and Betty Parkes brought their Standard 8
Lynda Homer presents the Chiltern Cup 1 to Craig Johnson
Lynda Homer presents the Chiltern Cup 2 to Mick Johnson