With the death of his father in 1924, Bertram now had the means to buy new and more expensive cars. The Alvis, a byword for quality in the 1920s, adorned the drive at the family home (now in Hale, Cheshire), and at one point he was a two-Alvis car owner, while a third small car was used by my grandmother to shop or take the children to school and nursery. This was also the time chief valuation officer in Sheffield and moved to Bamford, Derbyshire.
On Christmas Eve, 1943, the blackout blinds drawn down, and the fire blazing in the hearth, my grandfather put the final full stop to his car journal. No longer did he have a car parked in the drive – the war and petrol rationing saw to that – he now relied on the 8.21am train from Bamford to Sheffield.
The automobile had transformed his life. It had initially marked out his privilege and exclusivity, liberated the family holiday and greatly eased his work as a surveyor and valuer. These unusual motoring records have given me a glimpse into my grandfather’s life and an all-consuming passion that census and baptismal records could not even begin to provide.
You can measure the rise and fall of your family through the cars they owned
is a social historian of crime, policing and protest and taught until his retirement at Edge Hill University, Lancashire
British Cars: From 1910 to the Present Day, Craig Cheetham (Amber Books, 2006)