The Way We Were

This bay-win­dowed bit of London is awash with all man­ner of clas­sics, in­clud­ing cars, vans – and sev­eral buses. No prizes for guess­ing who chose this im­age, then…

Classic Car Weekly (UK) - - News -

Hanover Square, London

Swing­ing London doesn’t seem to have even started to wob­ble, never mind take over this part of May­fair, London in the sum­mer of 1964.

Hanover Square had re­mained highly fashionable since its con­struc­tion be­gan in 1817. No chirpy cock­neys spilling pie, mash and brown beer down their fronts while do­ing the Lam­beth Walk around here, thanks very much.

It’s all the more sur­pris­ing, then, that, with a cou­ple of ex­cep­tions, most of the ve­hi­cles in this won­der­fully colour­ful im­age aren’t ac­tu­ally all that up­mar­ket.

On the sunny side of the street, we even dare be­gin with a pre-Aeroflow Ford Cortina MkI, a Deluxe at most, which could have got a bit stuffy with its vinyl seats – they won’t have been great to sit on in hot weather!

There won’t be any of those prob­lems with ar­guably what is the highlight of this line-up; the bright red ‘Big’ Austin-Healey, com­plete with wire wheels, an ex­tra spotlight and the hood firmly down. Maybe it be­longs to a mono­syl­labic play­boy fash­ion pho­tog­ra­pher who spends his days snap­ping his way through reels of Il­ford black and white film as he ca­joles a string of mis­er­ablelook­ing waifs in flo­ral dresses to smile or look sul­try.

The Hum­ber Hawk be­hind is a four-cylin­der brother to the six­cylin­der Su­per Snipe. We reckon that the Sur­rey CPF 8 reg­is­tra­tion num­ber was an early per­son­alised plate – I once had a 1953 Wolse­ley 6/80, reg­is­tered SPF 426.

We haven’t been able to trace NIG, owner of the rather mys­te­ri­ous turquoise van in the pic­ture. There is an in­surer by that name – but it’s un­likely it used this ma­chine as a sort of mobile shop.

We thought the Mini­van be­hind that was D-reg­is­tered, but it’s ob­vi­ously not! The lady in very 1950s ap­parel is ob­vi­ously com­pletely out­shone by the grey Austin A55 Cam­bridge Fa­rina, be­hind which we can just see a Ford Ze­phyr MkIII. To the left of that are the rears of a Bed­ford CA and Austin A30/35 vans plus a Ford Con­sul MkII.

Across the street by the park­ing me­ters are a Tri­umph Herald with a York­shire reg­is­tra­tion num­ber, a Mini Trav­eller, an Austin A40 Fa­rina MkII and a Hillman Husky.

The mag­nif­i­cent om­nibus ac­tion stars six AEC RTs, which were in ser­vice around London from 1939-1979, gang­ing up on a soli­tary Routemas­ter, pro­claim­ing that ‘Se­nior Ser­vice Cig­a­rettes Sat­isfy’.

Routemas­ters ran on the 13 route (at the time go­ing from Ald­wych to Gold­ers Green) un­til Oc­to­ber 2005, and as such was one of the last routes to lose these leg­endary buses.

Note the pre-Euro-ised road signs. Sur­vey­ing the scene from his lofty perch (at least in statue form) is Bri­tain’s youngest ever Prime Min­is­ter, Wil­liam Pitt The Younger, a mere 24 when he took over. He was also Chan­cel­lor of the Ex­che­quer and be­came Prime Min­is­ter for a sec­ond time in 1804.

He was as well qual­i­fied as his dad; Wil­liam Pitt the El­der had pre­vi­ously as­sumed the po­si­tion. Ju­nior en­joyed a good scrap – par­tic­u­larly with the French – and was not a big fan of rad­i­cals.

We bet that Mr Pitt would be turn­ing on his plinth in fu­ri­ous anger over some­thing that we can con­fi­dently say would unite all the dis­parate mo­torists here in mu­tual loathing – park­ing me­ters, which made their London de­but in 1960.

‘The mag­nif­i­cent om­nibus ac­tion stars six AEC RTs, which were in ser­vice around London from 1939-1979, gang­ing up on a soli­tary Routemas­ter’ LONDON BUS PAR­ADISE IN 1964

Nick Larkin is a le­gend in his own bus timetable. He’s writ­ten for Pop­u­lar Clas­sics, Prac­ti­calClas­sics, and the first is­sue of CCW, May 1990. NICK LARKIN

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