The MG Octagon Car Club’s Founder’s Weekend 2018

The MG Octagon Car Club’s Founder’s Weekend 2018

The event took place during the weekend of 11th to 14th May and was held in the Peak District of Derbyshire. It was based at the Rutland Arms Hotel which is situated right in the centre of Bakewell, a busy little market town, famous for its Bakewell tart: and Bakewell pudding:

These weekends are growing in popularity and getting on for half of the participants also take part in the ‘Totally T-Type 2’ weekends held annually, usually in the third week of August.

For what was probably a record attendance, 35 cars and their crews made it by 5.00 pm on the Friday and were ‘shoe-horned’ into the hotel car park, which was conveniently situated on the opposite side of the road. I say “conveniently” because the car park is mis-used by the Bakewell locals, who “conveniently” leave their cars and pop into the town to do their shopping – but it was out of bounds for this weekend as any attempt to ‘steal’ our reserved parking was met with a polite but firm, “No”!

There was a good selection of T-Types; 3 TF1500s, 8 TF1250s, 11 TDs, 4 TCs and 2 TAs. Also, 1 MGCGT, 1 MGC, 1 MGBGT, 1MGRV8, 1 J2 and a couple of ‘moderns’. It was almost a trouble-free weekend for the cars, but more of that later!

Having collected our roadbooks and studied them, we learnt that the Saturday run would take in the southern half of the Peak District whilst the Sunday adventure would, after visits to Eyam Museum and a coffee stop at the Derbyshire and Lancashire Gliding Club in Abney, explore the Dark Peaks via Hathersage and Castleton before returning over Winnats Pass.

We learnt more details of the arrangements for the weekend at a briefing from organiser par excellence Brian Rainbow, who with his wife Rosie had mapped out the routes with invaluable assistance from ‘locals’ Kevin and Melanie Howe.

The first of the two cars to ‘misbehave’ was Geoff Wright’s TF1500. He had driven down from Middlesbrough on Friday with Margaret without any sign of trouble, but when it came to Saturday morning the car would not start. The usual checks were carried out by some enthusiastic members, and on investigation it was found that the carbon brush and spring in the distributor cap was missing. How it came to be missing, as it had been running satisfactorily the previous day, was a mystery.

The ever-resourceful Kevin Howe proceeded to cut about an inch of copper wire from his box of spares and wedged it where the carbon brush and spring should have been and Eureka! the car fired up. It was then driven a short distance to Milford Garage, the home of Mellors Elliot Motorsport. The proprietor, an old rally friend of Brian Rainbow’s, took some time out from development of a Proton IRIZ RS rally car for Proton Cars to cannibalize a spare distributor cap and rob it of its carbon brush and spring in order to fit it to Geoff’s. Job done!

The second of the cars to ‘misbehave’ was my recently acquired TF1500. On the journey from Stow-on-the-Wold, where we stayed the night, to Bakewell, the car ‘coughed’ a couple of times. I was a little nervous about this because it was happening on the first trip of any distance.

The car started OK on the Saturday morning, but after a few miles it started to ‘play up’. The symptoms were akin to petrol starvation, but equally it could have been electrical. As the problem was obviously not going to go away, we took the decision to only cover half of the day’s route and to get back to the hotel early to see if the cause of the poor running could be diagnosed. Several members offered their services, but nothing could be found, apart from two loose carburetor bodies.

We decided to attempt to cover half of the Sunday run but soon wished we hadn’t! We did actually manage to get to Castleton and take in the beautiful scenery, but from there it was touch and go whether we would make it back to the hotel.

These weekend tours are an opportunity, not only to exercise the cars, largely on roads which they would have been driven on when the cars were new, but also to visit with like-minded owners, places of historical interest. The Tour of the Peak District certainly fulfilled our expectations in this department and although we missed half the tour on both days, we were fortunate to be able to visit the village of Tissington in the morning on the Saturday run and the village of Eyam in the morning on the Sunday.

Tissington is known as the mother place of well dressing and visitors come from all over the world to witness the annual well dressing ceremony. As luck would have it, our tour coincided with the weekend of this annual event.

The well dressing takes place on Ascension Day, when five attractive wells are dressed, together with a children’s well. Dressing consists of erecting boards covered in clay, onto which are pressed thousands of flower petals to create an elaborate tableaux of some biblical or topographical scene. It is probable that well dressing took place in 1350, in thanksgiving for the village’s escape from the Black Death, which was attributed to the purity of its water. Wells have been dressed ever since, but not in unbroken succession.

The precise origins of well dressing are unknown but may date from before the Romans.

Eyam – its museum, which we didn’t visit, preferring to explore the village, tells the story of how the village suffered with the black plague in 1665. As it turned out, we were able to see Rose Cottage and Plague cottage on our walk around the village each with a plaque in their front garden.

From Eyam we managed to get to the Derbyshire & Lancashire Gliding Club, albeit the car did not enjoy the long climb up to the airfield at Camphill. However, once there, we were suitably refreshed with coffee and a cake in beautiful surroundings.

We then needed to get back to the hotel on a wing and a prayer and quite a few stops. Such a pity, as the scenery was absolutely magnificent.

We called the RAC breakdown at 9.00am on the Monday morning and finally arrived home at 8.30pm. The car is booked in with Classic & Sportscar Essex to fix the rear main oil leak and to diagnose the problem with led to us having to call the breakdown truck.

A most welcome visitor to the hotel car park was a Club member with his K3.

This K3 has continuous history from 1934 to date. The period up to 2007 was fully documented by Society member Len Goff, when in his ownership, in his book Magnette-ised THE PEDIGREE OF MG K3015-2 FROM 1934 TO 2007. The car went to Germany after Len sold it but is now back in the UK.

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