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An MG Belle
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Once I had done the MG pages I couldn't miss the opportunity of doing my bit as a
evangelist. For me Jean Bugatti's Type 55 roadster is the most beautiful car of all time, closely followed by the Type 35 Grand Prix car. These two cars are the ones that I would most dearly like to drive, or even ride in. Believe it or not these cars are regularly driven in anger at places like the Bugatti Owners Club
hill-climb circuit near Cheltenham in the May Classic and the August VSCC meetings, and the last time I was aware of a Type 55 changing hands it was for eight million pounds Sterling!
Continuing the speed theme, 1998 saw the breaking of the sound barrier on land for the first time, by the British Thrust SSC team. It should be remembered that the driving force (pun intended) behind Thrust SSC was Richard Noble OBE who broke the World Land Speed record himself in 1984 in Thrust II and held it until Andy Green took it in the SSC car. The pictures of the shockwave breaking across the desert and refracting the light above the car were fantastic (from http://www.andrewgraves.biz/ssc_stuff/SSC_pics.htm).
1998 saw my daughter Nicola's wedding where I achieved the long-held ambition to drive to church with her in one of Kimber's large four-seater open tourers, and met an MG-owning vicar. Nicky spent two summers working on that beautiful island Nantucket which would do me just fine as my Paradise Island. Having mentioned son and daughter, my long-suffering wife Jenny ("Why I can't ride in smooth, quiet, air-conditioned comfort like I used to I'll never understand" (but now she can)) and her interests deserve a mention, like the achievement of her lifelong ambition - a trip to Egypt - and her love of those beautiful creatures owls. Jenny and Matthew both support West Bromwich Albion (long-suffering souls that they are). Completing the family line-up,
So. An interest in classic cars is well established. But I am also fascinated by Britain's industrial heritage that powered the world for so many years. As a fan of Fred Dibnah I was chuffed (pun intended) to see he has a new series (Industrial Age) on BBC TV. If you have never heard of Fred,
he is a fascinating bloke. Born in Bolton towards the end of Britain's supremacy in engineering,
he grew up surrounded by steam power. Fred became a steeple-jack - repairing,
and now restoring factory chimneys and the machinery under them. Fred has built himself a steam-powered workshop that he uses in his restoration work. Update February 2000: Fred's second BBC TV series - Magnificent Monuments - has him wearing a hard-hat on some locations,
but typical Fred,
he wears it over his cap! It takes the Blackpool Big Dipper to remove it (and his glasses).
If you have any interest at all in industrial heritage then you must visit the Ironbridge Gorge Museum in Shropshire. Ironbridge was the birthplace of the industrial revolution, and is one of only fourteen World Heritage sites in Britain. It can easily take a couple of days or more to get round all the sites. Another good site is the Black Country Museum in Dudley where you can visit canals, mine workings, industry, homes, shops and even buy sweets and things with old money at old prices! (Mind you, you have to buy the old money at the current 'exchange' rate). For a Black Country site covering industry genealogy, beer and many links, try The Black Country Pages.
Finally a dedication to the memory of my much loved father-in-law Harry Munn. Harry was at Dunkirk in 1939, but it is a part of the Dunkirk story that all too few people know about. It was only relatively recently that Harry felt able to put down his wartime experiences on paper, and then only some. I would appreciate it if you could take the time to read them.
Acknowledgments are due to: