Blak­eney, Nor­folk, 1959

Practical Classics (UK) - - MEMORY LANE -

This charm­ing pic­ture could be repli­cated to­day as the north Nor­folk vil­lage of Blak­eney, some 11 miles west of Cromer, hasn’t al­tered all that much. It was once an ac­tive port but since the River Glaven slowly silted up more than a cen­tury ago, only small craft have made it in to the quay. We’re just down­stream from there, look­ing over the large car park by the river­side.

At the front is a mossy green Bed­ford CA, most likely a Martin-wal­ter Utili­brake. This ver­sa­tile ve­hi­cle could act as peo­ple car­rier, es­tate car, works van and even camper, though to en­joy all the mod cons you needed the fully-kit­ted Dor­mo­bile. Be­hind it is a GP 14 sail­ing dinghy, a clas­sic 1949 John Holt de­sign, and then comes prob­a­bly the new­est car here, a Hill­man Minx of Se­ries I or II ‘Au­dax’ va­ri­ety, and a De Luxe. Be­hind that is an Arm­strong-sid­de­ley Lan­caster with sun­roof and win­dows down. Closer to the river and just be­yond the lit­tle clinker-built row­ing boat is a Ford E493A Pre­fect, then the first of two E-se­ries Vaux­halls, this one prob­a­bly a Wyvern (miss­ing a rear spat) and a much jazz­ier two-tone Velox or Cresta be­yond the Mor­ris Mi­nor, wear­ing white-wall tyres. Be­yond that is a re­ally in­ter­est­ing Woodie we can’t pin down – an Austin 16, but not the usual Pap­worth body? Or a big Ford? Please put us right, if you know. Fur­ther be­yond is an­other Mi­nor, per­haps an Austin 10, a baby-blue Jaguar MKVII and a lit­tle old drop­head-coupé with pram irons. Fac­ing us, with one door open, is a black Austin A70 Here­ford.

Per­fect Pre­fect 1

It’s hard to imag­ine that any car park in Fifties Bri­tain didn’t fea­ture a de­scen­dent of the pre-war Ford Ten. These side­valve chug­gers may have been ba­sic, but they were at least avail­able and af­ford­able.

It’s a bomber! 2

The Lan­caster was the first post-war car from A-S and one of the only new mod­els in Bri­tain in 1945. In­de­pen­dent front sus­pen­sion by tor­sion bars was ad­vanced, but just 70-75bhp meant this Lanc was never a flier.

Shoot to thrill 3

The shoot­ing brake started life as a means to give toffs a lift to the grouse moor, but post-war steel ra­tioning and pur­chase tax rules (com­mer­cial ve­hi­cles were ex­empt) made them sud­denly pop­u­lar.

‘The north Nor­folk vil­lage of Blak­eney hasn’t change much in 59 years’

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