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The Lydstep Speed Hill Climb


The following article was written by Mr Mike Worthington-Williams the noted motoring journalist who has  regular columns on Automobilia Collecting & Finds& Dicoveries in the monthly journal THE AUTOMOBILE..

The article has been provided to us by te editor of Pembroke Life a monthly magazine promoting every thing that is good about this county with well written articles on both past & present

WE ARE GRATEFUL TO BOTH MIKE & PEMBROKESHIRE LIFE FORTHE USE OF THIS ARTICLE


TYRE TRACKS

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The years following WW II saw an enormous revival of the interest in motor sport all over the UK. Despite petrol rationing, a shortage of new cars, and other Government restrictions during the austere Stafford Cripps era, the British public did their best to recapture the carefree days of the twenties and .thirties. As in the Great War, many had learned to drive whilst in uniform, and had acquired skills in vehicle tuning and maintenance which stood them in good stead when trying to keep ancient vehicles on the road which had been laid up forthe duration of 

the conflict.


For many motor sport was confined to two wheels, or to the hugely popular 500 Formula, a minimalist form of motor racing in tiny rear engined single seaters  powered by motorcycle engines. This became Formula 3 and,accepted by the FIA in1950, it provided the nursery for many who were eventually to reach the top rank of motor racing  Stirling Moss, Peter Collins, Ken Wharton, Stuart Lewis-Evans and many more. The Cooper name- still current on the Mini Cooper - commenced on a 500cc racing single seater.


An alternative was the "Special", home made by the competitor himself and usually based on Ford or Austin Seven components, with streamlined bodywork fitted, improved suspension systems, and various bolt on goodies in the go faster department. Motor sport existed at all levels, and even before the war Mr Everyman took part enthusiastically in rallies, trials and hill climbs which involved little expense.  Because of the economic conditions existing post-war, it was in the main to the less expensive trials and hill climbs that the impecunious enthusiast returned, and the sport received a boost in the return to civilian use of army training grounds suitable for hill climbs, and redundant aerodromes which provided adaptable for sprints and races.


Between 1899 and 1925 hill climbs and speed trials were the only form of speed competition permitted on public roads in the United Kingdom, and even this limited competition came to an end when the governing body of British motor sport, the Royal Automobile Club, banned all speed contests on public roads early in 1925.  Thereafter the emphasis transferred to private ground, and venues like Shelsley Walsh and Prescott - both in use by the Midland Automobile Club and the Bugatti Owner's Club respectively to this day - continued to flourish.


Not to be outdone, Wales had its own version of Shelsley Walsh. Basically a private road within the grounds of Lydstep House at Lydstep Haven just south of Tenby in Pembrokeshire,  the Lydstep Hill Climb was administered by the Tenby Motor Club, and held regular meetings there in the early post-war years. A programme for the Hill Climb organised there on March 24th 1951 indicates that a wide variety of machinery was attracted, and makes interesting reading. It was sent to me by Michael Lowndes, who tells me that he ensured free admission by volunteering as a marshall, other marshalls being drawn from the membership of Tenby Motor Club, Carmarthen Motorcycle Club and a visiting club, the Hagley & District Motor Club.


The president of Tenby Motor Club during this period was Graham G. Ace F.I.M.T., of the Morris, Wolseley, MG and Riley distributors in Tenby, George Ace Ltd., whose roots dated back to the bicycle boom of the late nineteenth century, and who were established in 1886.  Club Captain, and Publicity Manager was O.H.J. Davies of the Castle Garage, Pembroke.  He is best remembered for having developed and sold a twin SU carburettor maifold conversion for hotting up the old sidde valve Morris Minor, which proved extraordinarily effective.  Michael Lowndes was at the time working for SU Carburettors, and secretly had one of the Davies conversions tested in the firm's workshops.  It was found to be virtually 100 per cent efficient on gas flow, having been developed without the benefit of sophisticated equipment, flow members or the rest, long before tuning establishments like Alexander, Crippspeed and others had made such bolt-on goodies big business.


Sector Marshalls for the hill climb were drawn from personnel of S.A.A.A. at Manorbier, and celebrities competing on the day included the international racing driver Ken Wharton, fielding a Welsh-built Keift 500cc racer.  Other 500cc racers included Cooper-JAPs driven by J. W. Cox and Cecil Heath, and there were several Coopers with 1,000cc engines, and no less than six Dellow trials cars.  J Neil also drove a Keift, and M.R.G. Llewellyn and MG TD.  Llewellyn was a well-known competitor and member of the MG Car Club who competed at Silverstone in his TD with the likes of Ted Lund, and who was connected with the MG 'Monkey Team'.


As might be expected, there were a sprinkling of Ford Specials, several Allards, a V-* Special, and various motorcycles.  Exotics included an SS 100 Jaguar, a Bentley and an HRG fitted with an American V-8 3917cc Mercury Engine.  Generally it would be difficult to imagine a more catholic gathering of vehicles.  The most up to date car present would appear to have been Ron Campbell's Jowett Javelin saloon, a Bradford-built flat four engined saloon which out-performed most of its contemporaries in the 11/2 litre class in the post war period, until financial problems closed the factory in 1953.


The event was thrown open to members of the clubs providing marshalls, but also to the 500 Club, the Midland Automobile Club (proprietors of Shelsey Walsh), S.U.N.B.A.C., the Bugatti Owner's Club (proprietors of Prescott Hill Climb) and the Bristol Light Car Club, so it is evident that by 1951 the venue had become popular and widely known.