Old photos

While current Alvis photos profilerate thanks to the smart phone, finding a good period shot by a professional is something archivists enjoy. Even better is when someone sends us one. We can often identify the car but it isn’t always the case, especially if there is no registration number. In the last few days five such photos have come our way and the first came from the great grand daughter of the 1921 owner of a 10/30 who is researching the family history.

This one hundred year old photo of a 10/30 at the Thundersley Hill Climb in Essex comes from https://www.hadleighhistory.org.uk – chassis 6152 registration HJ 16 described in The Vintage Alvis on page 59.

I’m looking for an Alvis that was owned by my great grandfather. It was used in several speed trials and hill climbs in 1921. I know it’s probably long gone but I’d love to see if someone still loves it. His name was Captain GDF Keddie. he was a very keen racing driver. He also had a Silver Hawk (one of maybe a dozen made) which actually beat Raymond Mays’ Cordon Rouge Bugatti at the Southend Speed Trial of 1922. I’m also hunting down the chap who owns one of the only Silver Hawks left as I’d love to see the car in the flesh.

The other four photos were sent by Tom Clarke, Rolls-Royce historian. They come from the Jack Barclay Collection and as JB was not an Alvis dealer, are of cars which we assume to have been sold secondhand. Two have registration numbers and the first, although now long gone, has an interesting history.

From the registration BHX 129 this is chassis 11941, a Cross & Ellis Speed 20 SC tourer

This car was mentioned in The Registrar’s Column, ‘Gilding the Lily’ in AOC Bulletin 521 Page 31.
“The car had first belonged to a Miss B. J. M. Streather, of Hendon, Middlesex. This was evidently not Miss Streather’s first Alvis. She had competed with a Speed Twenty SA in the 1933 RAC Rally, gaining a 3rd Class award and finishing 74 of 94. By the 1935 RAC Rally she had acquired the SC tourer, obtaining a 3rd Class award, and better still in 1936, with a 2nd Class award.

Alvis Works records tell us that Dr. Grocott acquired the car by November 1938 and kept it throughout the War, and certainly into the fifties.

No matter how perfect and iconic Alvis cars are and will continue to be, there have always been those who have modified particular examples with varying degrees of success. Examples abound of this practice, but perhaps none are more interesting than the modifications carried out on two Alvis cars by Dr. John Grocott of Hartshill, Stoke-on-Trent. Grocott was by account a distinguished surgeon, and indeed his applications in the metal show such attention to detail as would have been required in the operating theatre. At some stage Grocott evidently decided to dispense with the Cross and Ellis tourer body and designed a semi-aerodynamic fixed head coupe body of his own, after the pattern of the Embiricos Bentley. Past President Ernest Shenton tells me that there were two other people instrumental in this car’s construction, these being Tom Byatt, of Trentham, together with Bob Bullard. Unfortunately no details have survived of the exact construction methods used, but the machine was certainly spectacular, as the photograph shows.

11941 Speed 20 SC special BHX 1292-7-4

The detailing around the P 100 headlights – not the easiest component to streamline at the best of times.

The other Alvis to receive the Grocott individual attention also had an RAC Rally provenance, being the VdP short chassis tourer chassis 14328 registered ELK 366, which had been entered by one R.A. Robertson in the 1938 event, finishing 19th of 38 in its Class.”

The second Jack Barclay photo looks like a Charlesworth drophead and shows registration number KV 9281 but we have no record of it.

This 1932 Speed 20 SA Vanden Plas saloon is not identified but is similar to Chassis 9414.
Another unidentified 1934 Speed 20 from the Jack Barclay collection

The photographer was A E Nelson of 12A George Street, Hanover Square W.1

Chris Heyer also sent in some photos from the Freddy Lincoln Collection:

26976 at Effingham Park circa 1980 -WEE 2 was its original Grimsby registration, now on Mike Baker’s TF21 Dhc
27449 TF21 Dhc at Effingham Park circa 1980
25110 TA21 Tickford Dhc at Effingham Park, circa 1980
11887 Speed 20 SC Cross & Ellis tourer BLL 105 owned by Freddy Lincoln

Author: alvisarchive

Driving Alvis cars since 1964 and the website since 2012

5 thoughts on “Old photos”

  1. Greetings from NZ,
    Whilst visiting the UK in 1998, along with the late UK member Alan Firth, we called on Ernest and Marjorie Shenton. Alan and two cobbers had competed in the 1996 NZ International rally, during which we negotiated the purchase of a basket case 1937 Speed 25 he had rescued.
    Apart from friendship, the purpose of the visit the the Shentons was to discuss with Ernest the [supercharger, with fabricated air box, which Ernest had acquired from John Grocott], and which now resided in NZ along with the basket case.
    Ernest, while chatting, mentioned the 20 which John had rebodied, describing it as “razor edged”, which he then apparently pulled apart.
    Such was the warmth of our reception by Ernest and Marjorie, one is prompted to add, that they, like Ronnie Barker should never be allowed to die. Indeed in our hearts, they never do.
    [Photos of the 25 and blower to come.]
    Michael Lavender

  2. From Nick Simpson. 28/06/2021.

    SA Speed Twenty saloon.

    By a process of elimination the 6th illustration down is thought to be SA Speed Twenty Chassis 9447/Car 14283 Registered GX4729, VDP saloon No 1781. This was the second Follett Vanden Plas saloon and the first owner was Lady Dumfries from Cumnock, Ayrshire; she was married to the 10th Earl of Dumfries who was also the 5th Marquis of Bute.

    The first two SA20 VDP saloons (Chassis 9414 was the first) had a rather attractive ‘bustle’ tail. According to the VDP book, 9414 was the prototype completed in 7½ weeks and the body price was £205. Following these two the later saloons were known as the ‘Straight-Back’ type with the single curvature rear panelling, priced at £195, less expensive without the multiple curves to be wheeled! Records show that there were 29 VDP saloons.

    Whereas 9414 survived until 1945, 9447 has so far never been heard of from new. It would be interesting to know the date of the photograph. The Jack Barclay picture, when enlarged, shows multiple paint chips on the wheel rims, scruffy wheel nuts and one or two minor blemishes on the running boards. It is possible it had been part-exchanged and photographed for resale, presumably re-sold, but where? Is there any further information available from the Jack Barclay archive?

    Nick Simpson.
    Technical Advisor.

    1. Our copy of VDP records show Mrs Walter Payne as owning 9447/1781 and Lady Dumfries owning 9801/1777. Design 759 for 1775 is not amongst the drawings we have.

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