The tour was held over the August Bank Holiday weekend (23rd to 26th August). The Metropole Hotel in Llandrindod Wells was our base for the weekend.
Thirty one cars originally entered for the tour, but due to various reasons the final entry was down to twenty seven cars, the majority of which were T-Types.
Saturday’s route took us through the lanes to the town of Rhayader and onwards to the Elan Valley, taking in some fabulous narrow scenic roads around the four reservoirs and dams, before joining the mountain road towards Aberystwyth.
Our coffee stop was at the Hafod hotel in Devil’s Bridge, some 35 miles after leaving our base.
Devil’s Bridge, with its three bridges on different levels, and its waterfalls (300 feet), is a well-known tourist attraction. The first bridge is reputed to have been built by the Devil, but in reality was built in the eleventh century by monks; the middle bridge was built in 1708, wider than the lower bridge, to take horse-drawn vehicles; the top bridge was built in 1901 to cope with modern traffic.
A welcome sight in the village of Devil’s Bridge is this AA box, one of the few preserved in Great Britain.
For the benefit of our overseas readers, the AA (Automobile Assocation) had a network of these boxes (at one time, over 1,000). Members were were issued with a key to gain access to the box which contained a dedicated phone line direct to the AA for emergency breakdown callout.
By the 1990s with the widespread availablity of mobile phones, the phone service became redundant and the boxes, first introduced in 1912 as sentry type boxes, were decommissioned by 2002. Happily, some remain, like this one at Devil’s Bridge, and a couple are Grade II listed.
The AA patrol officer, when not attending to a breakdown, was often to be seen at the side of the road and if he saw the AA badge on your car he would salute you. The story goes that if he didn’t salute you, then you could assume that there was a police speed trap ahead!
After a welcome cup of tea/coffee in the hotel, there were a number of choices as regards routes/ things to do for our T-Type tourists. The railway station for the Vale of Rheidol Railway was a mere stone’s throw from the hotel. This scenic 11.5 mile journey to Aberystwyth was well patronised.
The Bwlch Nant yr Arian Forestry/Red Kite Centre was just under 5 miles away with its visitor centre, extensive walks and the chance to watch the Red Kites.
Alternatively, one could skip these attractions and make the return journey to The Metropole via the old drover’s town of Tregarron and over the Abergwesyn Mountain road. This is a spectacular narrow road over the Cambrian mountains for about 19 miles with the Devil’s Staircase (a steep descent with hairpin bends) waiting to greet you after 10 miles or so.
Some of the crews actually did the mountain road return journey after the train journey/the Forestry and Red Kite Centre whilst others, including yours truly, took the shorter route back to the hotel via the A44.
Full steam ahead through the picturesque Rheidol Valley.
There were stunning views from the train.
There was no shortage of sheep! They were often to be found wandering along the roads.
Thank goodness for passing places, albeit they were few and far between. These two views were taken from the cockpit of Patrick Michel’s TC.
All in all a most interesting and rewarding day in record temperatures for an August Bank Holiday weekend.
The Sunday route took us north through Crossgates and then through the lanes to Abbey-Cwm-Hir, where the the Hall is a Grade II listed Victorian family home with 52 rooms, many filled with amazing objects. From Abbey-Cwm-Hir we continued north through some lovely lanes to Bwlch-y-Sarnau and took the narrow road past Red Lion Hill to join the A483 south of Dolfor. After a couple of miles on the recently opened Newtown bypass and a further six on the A483, we took the B4385 at Garthmyl, passing through the quaint village of Berriew and along the lanes to Powis Castle.
This imposing National Trust property is a medieval castle, fortress and grand country mansion. The castle houses a wonderful collection of paintings, sculpture, furniture and tapestries. The Clive Museum (Clive of India) features more than 300 items from India and the Far East, dating from the 17th to the 19th centuries. On display are ivories, textiles, statues of Hindu gods, ornamental silver and gold, and weapons and ceremonial armour.
After a walk around the extensive and beautiful gardens below the castle, we took advantage of the catering facilities. The picture shows the Editor with our French guests, Patrick and Christiane.
Patrick and Christiane are from Martin Eglise (just south of Dieppe). They came across to Newhaven, stayed in Bognor Regis for one night, stayed in Keynsham for one night and then travelled with yours truly and Sue to Llandrindod Wells. The return journey took in a stop for lunch at Tintern, where our French friends were impressed with the remains of the Abbey, dating from 1131 but which fell into ruin after the Dissolution of the Monasteries in the 16th century, for which King Henry VIII was responsible.
After a brief stop for a cup of tea in Keynsham, our guests travelled to Salisbury where they stayed the night, before travelling to Newhaven for the return journey to Dieppe.
Patrick’s TC was sounding increasingly like a tractor and when he arrived home he found out why!
There was so much to see in Powis Castle and I should not forget to mention that during WWII George Herbert, 4th Earl of Powis, shared the castle with his children and their families. As a governor of the Welsh Girls‘ School in Ashford, Middlesex he invited pupils and teachers to evacuate to the castle at the outbreak of war. The classrooms and dormitories are there to be seen together with recordings of the girls‘ singing lessons.
Following a good few hours spent at Powis Castle, our route took us through the small town of Montgomery, the traditional county town of the historic county of Montgomeryshire, which is now under the administrative control of Powys, following Welsh Local Government reorganization some years’ ago. The town has two 13th century buildings; a castle and the parish church.
From Montgomery the route followed the A489 for a couple of miles to Sarn, where just outside the village we took the narrow (and potholed!) lanes to skirt around Clun Forest, via Anchor and Felindre, before joining the B4356 at Llanbister and on to the A483 which led us back to Llandrindod Wells.
Our stay at The Metropole Hotel coincided with the annual Llandrindod Wells Victorian Festival and when we arrived back from ‘the Powis Castle day’ we learnt that dinner was to be brought forward by half an hour to enable some of the hotel staff to attend/take part in the torchlight procession through the town. This made its way to the town’slake, where we enjoyed an impressive firework display, claimed to be the largest in Wales.
On Monday morning it was time for most of us to say our goodbyes, albeit ten cars stayed over on the Monday night to avoid the Bank Holiday Traffic. The next picture shows some of crews getting ready to leave on the Monday.
The next one shows Graham and Sonja Walker in their TC with ‘Bentley’ waving goodbye.
The next picture shows George and Pauline Arber in their TC EXU (note rear bumper). George used to own TC8533 (FUN 504) which he deeply regretted selling all those years ago. It went over to the US and was owned by the cartoonist Phil Frank until his passing in 2007. Phil was the creator with Joe Troise of the fictional character, Nigel Shiftright.
The Nigel character was characterized as a scarf-wearing RAF Flying Ace, turned ex-pat racing driver, who continued his fight against the enemy on the roads and streets of California.
To quote Phil in a San Francisco Chronicle article, which must have been just before his death:
“Nigel is an Anglophile, loving all things British and imagining himself to be an unrecognized member of British Royalty living in the US with a fleet of spindly-wheeled old cars at his estate on Flapping Bonnet Lane.”
Acknowledgement to Bradley Restoration website www.bradleyrestoration.com
Ed’s note: FUN 504 was restored by Doug Pelton’s From the Frame Up in November 2014.
The last picture shows Brian Rainbow lending a hand with Paul Ireland’s distributor problem. Paul had noticed a misfire on the drive over from East Anglia, so decided to change the 123 distributor and revert to the standard one. However, there was a problem with firing up the engine after the changeover, but this was successfully diagnosed so that Paul and Christine could make their way back home.
All in all, it was a most successful weekend and we just could not believe our luck with the weather (it could have been so different in the mist and rain!).
Brian Rainbow had done a sterling job with the routes and our tour sponsors, NTG Motor Services and Hagerty International, did us proud with the rally plates and the roadbooks.
In recognition of Brian’s contribution, he was presented with a gift (a TA rocker shaft!) and Rosie, ever supportive, was presented with a Marks & Spencer voucher. Graham Walker did the honours.
To my embarrassment, I was presented with a sum of money by Christine Ireland for doing the admin work. I will put it towards a weather vane in the shape of a TF and will include a photo in TTT 2.