When we were driving back from the 2009 Spring Run, Gillie said it would be nice to have a Y Type run in the county we live in, Bedfordshire. I thought about it and looked at some possible start and finish locations. Bedfordshire is one of those counties that no one knows anything about. It struggles for any fame; it has no mountains or landmarks, the most famous person from the county is John Bunyan, its most famous show-biz stars are The Barron Knights. So I thought it would be good to have a run that would show the hidden treasures of Bedfordshire. I asked other Y owners whether they thought it was a good idea. They said yes and I presented the idea to the Committee at Kimber House. They said it was a good idea and thanked me for volunteering to organise it!
The rest is a bit of a blur. Jerry Birkbeck gave me excellent advice and encouragement, Peter Vielvoye gave me his support. Gillie and I drove the route a few times and checked mileage and turnings, we arranged rally boards and permits, I negotiated discounts and parking places at the end venue, I wrote the route book, I did some artwork, we advertised the event.
The week before the run I checked the first six websites that appear when you Google ‘UK Weather’. All the ones that predicted rain I ignored, I believed the ones that said it would be fine and sunny.
On the morning of Sunday September 5th I drove GBX 166 to Woburn public car park, checking the route on the way. It was clear with no closures and no one had stolen any signposts in the night. I was happy to see that some cars had arrived already at 10.00am.
Gathering at Woburn
Nine Y Types had booked entries, together with four other MGs and a couple of interlopers. I would not be driving my YA on the run because I wanted to get to the finishing venue before anyone else to check the arrangements. Also we had our granddaughter with us and children under ten can’t be passengers in cars without seatbelts. I had offered to lend it to John and Sue Turner from Tasmania who were visiting relatives in England with their family. They have a YA at home so I knew I could trust them; also I told John I would hunt him down if he put a single scratch on it.
When almost everyone had arrived (see the Y Register section of Safety Fast for the identity of the last arrival) we sent them off. My granddaughter Esme, 2¼ years old, waved a flag to set them on their way. Like her mum before her she called it a ‘wag’. It’s short for a waved flag; logical in the way that only young children can be.
We got in the Audi and started out for Shuttleworth happy that everyone had turned up; that everyone had a rally board and a route book and that the weather was good.
Waving them off
Then my mobile rang.
Some of the roads we had checked at 9.30am had now been closed for resurfacing; the planned route and mileages wouldn’t work anymore.
I’ll draw a discreet veil over all the many mobile phone calls I received in the car, my language and loudly voiced opinions of road contractors and my attempts to catch up with drivers to get them back on the right track. I’ll also gloss over a slight mistake in the route book.
When we got to The Shuttleworth Collection at Old Warden we found that we had been given a good spot at the front, with dedicated access through the other parked cars and enough space to picnic on. (The space was in front of the cars but of course all the Y owners sat behind at their boot lid picnic tables.)
Two cars from the run had arrived already; Neil Cairns’ YB and Roger Jackson’s TF 1500. There was another Y in attendance that didn’t take part in the run. Don Avery had bought it the week before in Pembrokeshire and had it trailered to his home in Cambridgeshire. This was the first time he had been out in it and he came to Shuttleworth, ‘To see if he could get any help or advice from other Y owners.’ I told him he’d get more help and advice than he’d ever know what to do with, and then a bit more. Which he did.
Despite setbacks, everyone got to Shuttleworth in time for the flying; GBX 166 came in last because John and Sue had been soaking up the charm of Bedfordshire’s villages on the way. Then I could relax.
In the end we had ten Y Types; five MG 1¼ litre Saloons, three MG 1¼ litre Tourers and two of what Jack Murray calls, ‘Y Type replicas’. The other MGs were a 1947 TC, a 1955 TF 1500, a 1965 MGB Roadster and a 1983 Midget.
The flying was superb. I’ll not list everything that was flying, just mention the elegant thirties biplanes flying in perfect formation in a very gusty wind, the even more elegant Miles aircraft, the thrill of seeing (and hearing) the Battle of Britain Memorial Flight’s Avro Lancaster fly past us at what seemed almost arm’s length and the Hurricane and the Gladiator (my favourite) coming back from a display at Duxford in time to perform superbly.
My thanks to everyone who came for making it such a great day and especially to Jerry Birkbeck for advice, Peter Vielvoye for support and to my wife Gillie, my daughter Amy and my granddaughter Esme for all their help, and the cakes.
Report provided by Peter Sharp.
There is a film of the display on Youtube link here
Autumn Run 2011 Report. Available on this link.