SHRMF Heritage Weekend and AGM 18-19 November 2017 at Hunt House
Duncan Feetham had once again applied persuasion to a number of victims to provide enlightenment and entertainment on matters of interest to SHRMF and RREC members. He had correctly deduced that almost any topic on matters of aviation and motoring could be found to have some connection to Rolls-Royce, as well as being in itself of interest to that audience.
With his background of training in engineering and accountancy, David Towers had chosen to cover the career of W. O. Bentley, from his education, involvement with selling DFP cars before WWI with his brother H. M. Bentley, BR1 and BR2 rotary aero-engines, design of the first Bentley motor-cars, with special reference to their engines and their successes in racing or otherwise. David then went onto the winding up of WO’s company, with some discussion on consequent involvement with Rolls-Royce, followed by his later design activities leading up to his retirement. The talk aroused some comments and additional information from the audience and David added an accountant’s view on the financial health of WO’s endeavours.
Motoring author Jonathan Wood contributed a talk based on his upcoming book on the Triumph Dolomite. This was based on the design of the 1930s Alfa-Romeo straight-eight 8c 2300 and developed by Donald Healey with two other engineers poached from Riley. The Alfa’s two-seater body styling by Touring of Milan was a strong influence on other makers’ sports car bodies. Something of a failure as only three were built, but two survive.
Victor Riley followed with a light-hearted talk on the evolution of the Riley company from weaving equipment to bicycles to cars via motor-bicycles. The bicycle period under his grandfather included adoption of the Sturmey Archer epicyclic gear. Also included was Percy Riley’s early work at age 16 on internal combustion engines, largely concealed from his father who didn’t like noisy and nasty smelling vehicles. The success of the four cylinder ohc engine of the Nine was mentioned, as well as the study by Ivan Evernden of the close-coupled body of the “Monaco” saloon, incorporated later in the Continental Phantom II and Derby Bentley bodies.
The SHRMF AGM was relatively non-controversial, and was preceded by Jane Pedler presenting the Philip Hall award to Ian Neish, who has been responsible for much of detail work in the construction of a replica of the just Pre WWII “Corniche” 14BV. It was followed by a presentation to Chris and Linda Ball of something drinkable in recognition of their efforts around the recovery of stolen items from Hunt House and the conviction of the culprit.
Sunday’s session started with Peter Grieve: the evocative sound of his Merlin rig at the Annual Rally is an effective drowner of the band and the PA system. He deftly covered the main variants of the engine during and following WWII in marine and tank versions, as well as applications in civil aviation and the achievement of economic service intervals. Apart from installations in some distinctive motor cars, some other uses mentioned include testing the resistance of tall building facades to high winds. Around 150 Merlins are still in airworthy state in WWII aircraft such as Spitfire, Hurricane and Mustang.
Malcolm Tucker, ex Club Chairman and also author, did a review of the cars he has owned, by no means all by Rolls-Royce: his interest in RR was triggered by a ride at the age of 12 in a Phantom II limousine run by a car hire company that was part of a car dealer business bought by his father. A good number of the descriptions ended up with “I now regret parting with it.” One he has bought back is a 1934 Humber Vogue, and one he would like to own again, of all the cars he mentioned, is his 1935 3½ litre Gurney Nutting sweep panel pillarless 2dr saloon coupé B186EF.
For the final session, Tom Clarke, well-known author on all matters RR, covered the early writers on the history of Rolls-Royce through to the 1980s. An interesting point was that the company was really only prepared to support publications they had commissioned, although one of the earliest books, “Two Brave Brothers” by H. F. Morriss was commissioned by Lady Llangattock, Rolls’ mother. In post WWII years two books were suppressed for some time. Tom’s view was that the first comprehensive coverage of the cars was “The Rolls-Royce Motor Car” by Anthony Bird and Ian Hallows. As usual, Tom had researched the authors thoroughly and brought out some fascinating details that only he would notice.
A good weekend, with excellent catering and company. Duncan is already in search of speakers for 2018.