Saturday 13th September 2008
The big date on the calendar
in mid-September arrives. Time to head 'down south' to the picturesque New
Forest near Southampton to the huge Beaulieu Autojumble for historic
vehicles and the nearby Netley Marsh motorcycle Euro Jumble. That's an awful
lot of vintage motorcycle parts to mooch through over one weekend.
Ominously, Friday is a black-skied, rain-soaked day as we head towards
Unfortunately this year I've
only got the one day to spare and it's to Lord Montagu of Beaulieu's estate
that we head. The road passes through the New Forest; indifferent New Forest
ponies watching the steady stream of cars making their way to the huge,
well-organised car park.
The sun is out today,
thankfully, but the recent rain has left parts of the jumble resembling a
mud bath; and where its not, its ruddy slippery underfoot. The size of
Beaulieu's autojumble is pretty much over-whelming. You need to approach it
with the precision of a military campaign if you want to see all there is on
offer. And what it does offer is a fascinating array of motoring goodies
from veteran to classic, spread over some 4 or 5 fields. A tour of the
fields is practically a history lesson in in itself, commencing with the De
Dion et Bouton stall - not something you find at your local autojumble!
There's also a good deal of flea market ephemera. It keeps the better half
interested - not always a necessity with the good Mrs Sidevalve who inherits
the genes of her father who kept Spitfires aloft at Biggin Hill and went on
to tool-setting for the Villiers works, Wolverhampton.
Beaulieu is also home of the
National Motor Museum, which means there
is a visitors' restaurant / cafe
with a good choice of nosh for our lunchtime 'fuel-stop' and to set us up
for further tramping around all those fields. We went for the chilli and
rice - more Thai sweet chilli sauce than savoury Mexican but edible
none-the-less. We were amused by listening to the staff trying to organise
who does what and when as they sought to cope with the hundreds of hungry
jumblers passing through. Full marks to them.
To add to the day's interest
there's a Bonham's auction and sale of historic cars ... items for all
pockets. A spare £85,750 will buy you a 'Roller' in tip top condition.
Alternatively, if you fancy a
good 'before' photo for your restoration, there's the rusty remains of a
Rolls Royce (I think?!) looking in need of TLC. Its condition arouses a
great deal attention - the romance of a barn find and the story of a
forgotten vehicle. Its abandonment somehow links the present with the past
of a bygone era when it was last parked away. In some ways, a shame to
Personal nostalgia is evoked
by a battery-driven 'Antique Car' with head lights and 'mystery action'.
Reliving the experience of chasing it around the living room floor on
Christmas morning will knock me back £125. One for another day, I think.
Amongst the predominantly
car-orientated stalls there are a number of motorcycle dealers and some
tempting Sunbeams are in evidence amongst their wares. Top asking price was
for a 500cc Longstroke of c.1926 at £10,000. Restoration had given it some
interesting oil lines and a straight pipe exhaust taken under the engine to
the near-side. It definitely looked the epitome of the sporting, flat tank,
side-valve 'Beam replete with steering and fork dampers. A Wolverhampton
registration added to the appeal
(two photos below).
Around the corner was an
un-restored 350cc side-valve
of 1927 or '28. Looking more-or-less correct with its
protective, valanced front 'guard and rear carrier - but lacking rear
chain-case and, more crucially, its magneto. The price was still around half
that of the restored 500cc model
As we were photographing and
ogling the 'Beams our concentration is disturbed - quite dramatically, too.
It is the Dutch
contingent from 'Yesterdays' started up a
multi-cylinder aero engine on their stall; an event advertised to take place
at various times throughout the weekend. What a fabulous sound!
And, it certainly attracted the masses, making a photograph impossible.
Wandering on, an early clip-on
Motosacoche machine catches our eye. Was this the sort of engine John
Marston had his eye on when he conducted experiments with an early
Motosacoche before he dropped the idea after a factory fatality? The jockey
pulley arrangement (wrapping the belt around the engine pulley) looks very
much like the early Stevens' machine produced in Wolverhampton in 1899.
Whatever its provenance or authenticity the machine is an intriguing
'bitza'. A lovely curiosity for the back of the shed
Tucked away at one of the
stalls in the jumble's far field is a lovely, well-restored Lion of c.1932.
Its tax disk indicates it was last used on the road in 1994. It looks
pretty-much straight out of the catalogue, complete with lights and ready
to fire up. And, all at a very sensible asking price I recall, although the
figure now escapes me (two photos
Amongst the day's 'Beams is a
well-known machine for those who may have visited Wolverhampton's Art
Gallery and Museum in the 1990s. UK 8475 is the factory-registered
Longstroke owned for many years by Walter Edge, the inaugural chairman of the Wolverhampton
and North Birmingham Section of the UK's Vintage Motor Cycle Club. This
machine left Yesterdays' stall, making its way back to a Wolverhampton home!
It started up with a cloud of oily smoke and, with a surprisingly higher
state of tune compared to 1930s' side-valves, was ridden back to the car
park. Huge grin, no crash hat. Superb!