The Way We Were
We’re off to Mid-Wales, where market day seems to have attracted a lot of cars and a fair few buses as well
July 1972, Newtown
Well, it’s all going on in Newtown, isn’t it? Despite threatening clouds bubbling up overhead, this Welsh town looks rather enticing on this still-sunny summer’s day in 1972. It’s presumably market day, judging by the stalls in the background, and the presence of the pop-up traders – as some might refer to them these days – has obviously pulled in the punters. They’ve arrived on foot, by car and by bus, creating the sort of congestion that you’d expect more from the 21st century. We’re not sure quite where this is in Newtown – our virtual Google Streetview amble around the town was in vain – so if anybody can enlighten us, please do.
Despite this shot being snapped in 1972, it’s very 1960s in flavour. Nearly every car here could have been from that decade. Only two have definitely come from the 1970s – the fake wood trim-endowed white Mini Clubman estate by the stalls was only launched in 1969 and there’s a 1970-born Vauxhall Viva HC in among the mix as well. In the case of a couple of the coaches, their origins go back much, much further.
Let’s check the buses out first of all – they stand out (almost) more than any other vehicle here. All four are in the blue and cream/white colours of Mid-Wales Motorways, whose HQ was in Newtown and operated some routes over the border into England. They’re all Bedfords, with the two more antiquated-looking long-nose examples being OBs, built from 19391951. The closest looks to have a Duple Vista body, but its companion boasts B29F coachwork from the same manufacturer. They’re accompanied by their successors – 1960s Bedford SB3 buses sporting much more up-to-date Yeates Europa streamlined shapes. The obscured red-roofed coach behind probably belongs to Worthern Motors, another local operator.
But enough about the buses – there’s a wonderful selection of cars to be relished, too. The car that leaps out the most is the maroon Citroën DS or ID. Even though we can only see half of it, it looks svelte and enormous compared to what’s around it. It’s right-hand drive and has a UK tax disc, so isn’t an overseas visitor, perhaps making a pilgrimage to the nearby birthplace of social reformer and utopian socialist visionary, Robert Owen. Thus it was quite probably built at Citroën’s Slough factory, which operated between 1926 and 1965, as it has the post- September 1962 optional auxiliary driving lights but pre-dates the 1967 Robert Opron-designed shark-like nose.
Surrounding it are a grey Morris Minor Traveller – a pre-1961 example, because we can see trafficators behind the front doors – and a black saloon variant. There are also two Hillman Hunters in alternative shades of blue, neatly sandwiching a 1962-1967 Ford Anglia 123E Super, in the popular colour scheme of two-tone Lime Green and Ermine White. There’s a green Mini to the right of the Citroën and a dark blue Mini MkI beyond – we think it’s a basic model that has, at some point, received some bright sill and wheelarch finishers to vamp it up a bit. Next to this is a Vauxhall Viva HC, which is probably the newest vehicle here, certainly in terms of design, if not actual age. It’s accompanied by a Ford Cortina fourdoor MkII, after which it all goes a bit vague.
Fords predominate on the other side of the road, along with the Bedfords. There are two Anglias, for starters – one a van, perhaps the transport of a market trader – and a D-series truck, which might belong to another trader who has an even bigger stall.
The round-up of vehicles here is finished by the 1963 Morris Minor saloon following the bus out of the car park, with an HB Viva beyond and then the Mini Clubman estate mentioned at the beginning. Which brings us, rather neatly, full circle.
Joined Classic Car Weeky in 2000. Now freelance, but has always maintained his connection with the newspaper that started his career. ‘Despite this being 1972, it’s very 1960s in flavour. Nearly every car here could have been from that decade’ OLD-SCHOOL CHARMERS