Wednesday, 5 March 2008

A Drive in the Country


No, honestly, I'm not going to go on about cars again. Well, not very much. Here we have the 1952 Motor Show Number of Country Life, the essential top shelf mag. for top rural people. Of course there's page after page of Singer Roadsters, Austin Herefords and Bristol 401s, but, as now, it's the property pages that make me go cross-eyed. I know it's all relative, but in 1952 you could buy a country house near Wimborne in Dorset with 3 sitting rooms, 9 principle bedrooms and 3 bathrooms for £8,500. Oh, and agents Turner, Lord & Ransom (really) would throw in a servant's hall, lodge house, and garages with 'a flat over'. And I bet Mrs. Miniver waiting to see her dentist still looked at the monochrome ad. and went "How dare they? How can it possibly be worth that". So, back to the cover. This evocative watercolour is by Rowland Hilder, a prolific artist who lived in Blackheath and whose work can be seen in Shell posters and books. To my eye the car isn't a specific model, and, although there's something of the Allard about it, one can imagine the editor in Country Life's Tavistock Street offices briefing Hilder to keep it anonymous- "Don't want to upset any of those motor chaps, eh Rowland?".

21 comments:

Justin Savage said...

I can see a little bit of Lea-Francis, a dash of Austin Devon and a trace of Vauxhall in the sculpted bonnet. What a relief you're not banging on about cars any more. Pass me the Bartholomew's Road Atlas dear, the one with the green cover.

Peter Ashley said...

You know, don't you Justin. The Bartholomew's Six Miles to the Inch motoring atlas was one of the best ever produced. I once knew a girl (here we go)who had worked for the Ordnance Survey in Southampton, and she said they used to look at it with envious eyes.

Toby Savage said...

The house may have 'only' been £8500, but on ten bob a week that was the stuff of dreams then. I was just explaining to my hair dresser, Holly... charming girl, that although my house was only £15,000 back in 1982, I was only on eighty quid a week. She was bemoaning not being able to move to this neck of the woods with her boyfriend, Darren. She could do better if you ask me.

Diplomat said...

Due to a recent re-wiring of the brain I hadn't noticed the car and was enjoying the "Northern" vernacular and topography in an unmitigated fashion. Off for surgery this arvo.

Jon Dudley said...

There's a hint of Armstrong Siddeley there too (a good name for one's butler I always thought). Not your typical Rowland Hilder either...quite often purchased as a 'Boots' print and featuring tip-carts, mangold wurzles, oast houses and wintery trees they're even disappearing from the car boot sales as the 'ironic decor' set pick up prints of The Green Girl along with the quintessentially English RH. Cor! Bartholomews maps - we had one with vital pages missing where my sister had been sick on it and supplemented it with Esso maps which had a very nice coloured picture on the front. My Dad still got lost though as he was continuously being distracted by my Mother's complaining of a 'hot smell' from somehere under the Vanguard's bonnet, and a 'mind that milk float' as the United Dairies horse drove itself whilst the milkman fulfilled his reputation with the cheery housewives.

Peter Ashley said...

I loved that Jon. And of course you've got me going again- Esso maps with the watercolour cover. Time to start rootling. I've got 'London' somewhere, but it's held together with what is now brown Sellotape. Was your family Vanguard an early hump-back or a Mark 2. Or that thing they called a Vignale?

Justin Savage said...

Or, Jon, was it a diesel? The Uk's first production diesel car, complete with Fergie 20 engine, was a Vanguard. They never really took off (I'm surprised they even left the kerb, given their power to weight ratio). I know all this because I noticed one on eBay last week. Unfortunately I was completely sober so failed to bid. It had an interesting history, having been impounded for running on hooky fuel.

A F-A said...

I see Humber Hawk, Mk11, less the small lower grilles...but the split windscreen is a killer because "posh" cars were mainly single panel by then (not, of course, humble Minors and A30s etc). AND they all had over-riders!

My father hated maps - we had early SatNav. That is, we Sat there until the local Navvie appeared: then we asked the way!

Jon Dudley said...

It was the Mark 2 with the truncated boot. Putty coloured, it was a sturdy old thing with a bench front seat and column change...American in everything but styling and performance. Someone told me that the engine was basically the same as a Ferguson tractor - well they came out of the same factory so it might be true. I believe there are people around these parts who know these things. Get on the Esso map trail whilst they're still around...great covers indeed. A propos of absolutely nothing at all, Rowland Emmett is long overdue for an exhibition or some sort of commemoration don't you think. Why didn't my parents take me to the Festival of Britain? - ah yes, I was only two, but they could still have taken me.

Jon Dudley said...

There, between my writing and sending, yer' man Justin's confirmed that beneath those steel shrouds beat an agricultural heart. Thank you.

Peter Ashley said...

Right. First person to name Emmett's railway in Battersea Park at the Festival of Britain. No Googling. First correct answer gets a download of my painting of the Vanguard Mk2 outside Lilford Hall gate lodges. Oh no, what have I done?

Jon Dudley said...

Absolutely off the back of my memory...was it 'The Far Tottering and Oyster Creek Railway'?

Philip Wilkinson said...

Darn it! Jon Dudley beat me to it. F. T. and O. C. it was. Tottering being the operative word. As the Pleasure Gardens Guide put it: "not a stone unturned, not a wall left upright or a beam in line to produce as impressive a pair of bits of railway architecture as you have seen in many a far totter". Passengers were told to look out for landmarks such as Mrs Bristow's Folly, "an inspiring structure complete with water tower". All aboard for Cloud Cuckoo Halt...

Peter Ashley said...

(Fanfare on rolled-up copy of 1952 Country Life) And the winner is....(fumbles with metaphorical envelope....Jon Dudley! (wild ecstatic dubbed-on applause).

Diplomat said...

The reason behind the "development" !!! of the appalling Standard diesel was in its very swift introduction in to the Ferguson in its original petrol/tvo format. It immediately became necessary to agriculturise the motor for the tight farmer. This was achived by simply planting a diesel head on the already sad block, upping the compression ratio to diesel proprtions and dispensing with the ignition system, I have had a rant about this engine in SS&G, particularly in respect of its unwillingness to start, usually due to a cracked pre-combustion chamber insert - all very British and unsatisfactory.

Justin Savage said...

Thanks Diplo. Thought as much.

Jon Dudley said...

Lost in the blogosphere was my acceptance speech. Suffice to say that fellow Ashmolians would have wept had seen it.

Jon Dudley said...

Add the word 'they'...excited posting sorry.

Tom Harris said...

Peter, you have started something here. is this the record number of comments per blog or is this how it is and I am nive (purpesly misssspelt).
Secondly, does Diplomat really know all that?

Peter Ashley said...

Tom: I forget who holds the record. Almost certainly Ron Combo because his consumption is a great source of amusement and deep envy. And yes, Diplo really does know all this stuff. It's sickening.

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