The MG Octagon Car Club’s ‘Founders Weekend’

This year’s ‘Founders Weekend’ took on a special significance as it was a celebration of the 50th Anniversary of the founding of the Club by the legendary Harry Crutchley.

Running in parallel with the ‘Founders Weekend’ was TB80, co-organised by Mike Inglehearn and Jeff Townsend to celebrate the 80th Anniversary of the TB. The TB enjoyed a brief production span in 1939, until it was cut short by the outbreak of the Second World War.

The TB participants were ‘billeted’ at a country inn just outside of Witney, this being necessary because it was not possible to accommodate everybody in the private dining room of the Oxford Spires Hotel.

Brian and Rosey Rainbow presented us with some interesting routes for the two days of touring. The Saturday run took us to the south and west of Oxford in the area known as the ‘Vale of the White Horse’ and covered some 90 miles. The Sunday run, at around 85 miles, took in the Chiltern Hills area to the south and east of Oxford.

Setting out on the Saturday run, we made a point of stopping off at The Boundary House, now a pub, but formerly Kimber’s home from 1933 until 1938. As can be seen, the plaque on the wall was installed there, courtesy of the New England “T” Register back in 1990 when the Register came over from the US for their Circuit of Britain tour. My main reason for stopping was to check that the weeds in the border area below the plaque had been kept down and I was able to report back to Mike Leckstein that everything was ‘ship-shape and Bristol fashion’; meaning, in good order.

We then followed the post-war to late 1940s Factory test route and called in at The Black Horse, situated quite early on the route, for a cup of coffee. It did not seem 14 years ago since I last stopped there when I organised a run to mark 60 years since the start of TC production on 17th September 1945.

This Greene King brewery (Old Speckled Hen) public house is one of the venues used by the Abingdon Works Centre of the MG Car Club.

Having completed the test route we went ‘off-piste’ (we often do!) because the call of the massive Garden Centre at Millets Farm Centre in nearby Frilford was just too much for Sue to ignore. Octagon readers of this magazine (there are plenty of them) might recall that ‘Millets’ was a favourite venue for the ‘Wings Runs’ back in the 90s, when it used to attract over forty cars.

Having studied the roadbook, Sue was keen to visit ‘The Living Rainforest’ at Hampstead Norreys, situated at the southern-most area of the route. It was well worth going there to see lizards, beautiful butterflies and birds, Goeldi monkeys, Harry the Armadilly (six-banded armadillo), Cinnamon the two-toed sloth and many species of plants and trees.

We made our way back to the hotel and arrived early enough to enjoy a walk along the river Thames towpath to Oxford city centre.

For the Sunday run we had arranged to meet Mike and Angela Inglehearn at Wheatley windmill. The history of the windmill is sketchy, but it is thought to date from the 18th century.

With the coming of the nineteenth century and the certainty of title deeds, we know that mill was bought by George Cripps in 1857 and it has been in the hands of the Cripps family ever since, except that we learnt on our visit that it is currently in the process of being sold.

The picture shows the mill, which has an octagonal plan which narrows to form the circular rotating top.

We were fortunate to visit the mill on one of its rare open days (only 6 open days a year) and we enjoyed the hospitality of the locals with very nice home-made cake.

Our other stop on the Sunday run was at Pendon museum. We had heard excellent reports of Pendon and we certainly weren’t disappointed. The inspiration for and founder of Pendon was Roye England, who was born in Perth, Western Australia in 1906. He came to England in 1925, staying in the Vale of White Horse. It was here that he saw the dramatic changes that were taking place in rural England and resolved to preserve in model form the English countryside as it was in the 1920s and1930s. The realisation of this vision became his life’s work.

The Vale Scene is a massive landscape based on the Vale of White Horse and the modelling is absolutely stunning right down to the vegetables growing in the kitchen gardens of the cottages! The Railway Scenes are no less impressive – we were so glad we went.

We thoroughly enjoyed the camaraderie of the Founders Weekend, as did the TB80 participants. In fact, they enjoyed it so much that they are talking in terms of having another reunion, but not waiting for TB85 or TB90 holding one instead in two or three years at the same venue.

The Friday evening / Saturday morning TB80 line-up – photos by kind permission of Mike Inglehearn

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