M.G. Car Club 'Y' Register Autumn Run 2011 - September 11 2011
By Peter Sharp
The second MGCC Y Type Register Autumn Run took place on Sunday 11th September
2011. Every day of the week leading up to it saw the TV weather men and girls
predicting a ‘low front appearing over England at the weekend, bringing with it
gales and torrential rain’, which did depress me a bit. I then did what everyone
who ever organises an event in England does, I googled ‘weather’ twice a day and
read every forecast. I read every one so that I could chose the best one to
believe in. This did me no good though because they were all dire. But then
forecasts of heavy rain turned to heavy rain showers, and then to light showers
and then to ‘fair all day’.
Well a couple of them did.
The entries for the run hadn’t exactly flooded in and even two solid certain
participants had withdrawn; one through illness and one because he was becoming
a grandfather, for the second time, that weekend. In the end though we had a good
dozen entries, plus five ‘In Spirit’ runners from overseas (more of them later).
The day did dawn bright and clear and we drove to the start, Stondon Motor
Museum. There were some early risers there already, two Ys and a Varitone MG ZB.
We had two phone calls from MG Z owners who were due to attend; one had broken
his arm and couldn’t come. The other was going to attend Goodwood Revival the
next weekend and his wife needed to buy some seamed stockings. One of the best
excuses for lateness I have ever heard.
We toured the museum before we set off. It is not a museum in the normal formal
sense, rather a collection of cars, motorbikes, bicycles, trucks and buses
housed in what was once a garden centre/nursery. There is even a replica of
Captain Cook’s Endeavour outside, its masts kept short so as not to impede
planes taking off from Henlow airfield.
For those of a certain age the place is bursting with memories. Sunday trips out
in Granddad’s Morris 10, going on holiday in Dad’s BSA three wheeler, the
shininess of Uncle Ted’s new Standard 10, the smell of early morning fags
upstairs on the London Transport RT bus, the first car you bought, the car you
learned to drive in; they are all there.
It is a shame the museum is not better known or better funded. In its way the
randomness of some of the exhibits reflects British road transport history
better than say, Gaydon, because it reflects car ownership rather than vehicle
After cups of tea in the little café we started off on the run, another MG ZA
arrived to join us just as we left.
The run was sub-titled ‘Tour the Mountains and Plains of South Bedfordshire’
with tongue in cheek because Bedfordshire is for the most part flat, with a
ridge or two running through it. We had planned a route across some of those
ridges, to give some good views of what I think is one of the prettiest counties
in England. A gentle climb up to Meppershall gave a good view of the imposing
church at Shillington and the road to Barton runs along a ridge of the Barton
Hills. Sharpenhoe Clappers gave a good test of climbing ability; it’s one of
those hills that keep going up just when you think you’re at the top.
We had found a couple of lanes with grass and mosses growing down the middle,
including one that had tunnels of overarching trees and was signed ‘Unsuitable
for Motor Vehicles’. That’s just the sort of challenge we like.
The weather? Well just when it looked as if we were in for a good fair day, the
sky darkened and emptied itself. For us it meant getting out the kitchen roll
and stemming the leak in the windscreen; for Mike and Sue Silk it meant putting
up the hood of their YT before they drowned. Paul Merryweather in the late
arriving MG Z helped them put it up quickly.
On the way most of us stopped at ‘The Globe’, an old pub on the banks of the
Grand Union canal outside Linslade. Although we arrived unannounced, we found we
had somehow got an empty line of parking spaces to display ourselves in,
brightly reflected in rain puddles.
After food and drink and chat, we drove into Leighton Buzzard and the narrow
gauge railway at Pages Park.
The railway at Leighton Buzzard is fascinating. It was built in 1919 as a sand
carrying line, using war surplus track and equipment from First World War
battlefield supply railways. It has been running ever since, latterly as a
passenger line only.
Three miles of two-foot narrow gauge track run through housing estates, parks
and countryside, crossing roads where traffic is held up by a railwayman with a
flag. There were tiny toy-like engines and hefty looking industrial engines, all
in steam. We travelled in a closed carriage on the way out and in an open-sided
one on the way back. My face and arms were satisfyingly covered with black
By then the day was getting later and the weather was getting colder and we all
said our goodbyes until Jerry’s run in the spring.
And no one got lost all day.
The runners and riders? In the end we had six Y Types; Mike and Sue Silk’s YT,
Neil and Janet Cairns’ YB and four YAs. Very special mention must be made of Ray
Knight who came from Wellingborough in the YA that he and his welder Nigel have
been rebuilding for years. We have met them at runs in the past, asking
questions and having a look to see where everything was supposed to go. We were
honoured that Ray chose the Autumn Run for his very first drive out in it. Very
good it looked too. It was good also to see Don and Lin Avery from Huntingdon.
They came to meet us at Shuttleworth last year just after buying their Y Type in
Pembrokeshire so it was good to have them on the run this year. The other YAs
belonged to the 1950 MG himself, Murray Grainger and to me.
We invited the MG Z
register to join us and four planned to come. In the end Paul Merryweather and
family and Steve Miller made it. Roger French went straight to Leighton Buzzard
but left before I got there, thanks for coming anyway. John Harris broke his
arm. Mike and Sue Whitby and Neil McCarthy attended last years Autumn Run in
their respective Midget and MGB roadsters but they have both been sold now. They
did the run this year together in Mike and Sue’s son’s Mitsubishi Evo with Neil
as passenger; I think they filled the tank twice on the 35 mile run.
I mentioned the ‘In Spirit’ entries; there were five cars in this class. Larry
Brown of Georgia USA said on the bulletin board that if there was an In Spirit
class he would be in it, so I created one. Five people entered, I printed
pictures of their cars and these were taken in real cars on the run. At the end
we took pictures of the pictures being held by the drivers that took them on the
run, to prove that we took it seriously.
In the end we decided to award Paul Barrow’s Y5270 the ‘In Spirit’ Cup for his
services to Y Types (now over 500 on Y’s on Parade) and for coming the furthest
distance. The ‘In Spirit’ Cup isn’t as good as ‘spirit in cup’ and it is
completely virtual, but you can’t have everything can you?
Next year? For next year’s Autumn Run I will be going round to every Y Type
owner south of the Wash and dragging them out personally.
See you all in the Spring.
To enlarge the pictures, double
click on them.