West Midland life can be hard if you are an outgoing person without a car. Herefordshire and Worcestershire are sparsely populated and you need your own transport to get to many interesting places. Birmingham has an excellent public transport system but the further you are based from Birmingham, the worse it gets. At Vanadian Avenue, we are constantly keeping our eyes and ears open in search for some local things to do, yet we are not able to get to all events, just because there is no decent bus connection. Luckily, sometimes we can get a lift and we enjoy a fantastic day out.
We learnt about Bromyard Speed Festival by accident. An unconfirmed internet rumor that Jeremy Clarkson has been booked to open the first edition spread quickly like Californian forest fire causing great excitement among locals. We were a bit skeptical as he is currently filming the equivalent of “Top Gear” for Amazon Prime, but tempted to see him in real life, we decided to give it a go.
The event was to take place on Sunday, 3rd of April so exactly at 11:00 am, we arrived in Bromyard and we set ourselves up on the main street waiting for the vintage car show to start.
For those of you who know very little about Bromyard, we need to say few words about it. It is a medieval market town located in Herefordshire, placed exactly halfway between Hereford (22 miles) and Worcester (20 miles). According to Bromyard and Winslow Parish Council statistics, it has nearly 4,500 inhabitants, several pubs (including two traditional half-timber “black and white” buildings), one local library, one theatre (The Conquest Theatre) small S-F Museum, two hotels and St. Peter’s Church dating back to Norman times. Bromyard may seem like a quiet place but it has several very active clubs and societies organizing nationally known events such as Bromyard Gala, Nozstock Festival of Performing Arts or Folk Festival among others. It also has a strong claim to motoring fame – Morgan Cars were originally set up in Bromyard before moving to Malvern and The Chairmen of the Austin, Bean and Morgan motor companies lived inside or close to town for many years. You can learn more about Bromyard motoring history on festival’s official website: http://www.bromyardspeedfestival.co.uk/history.html
By 11 o’clock, the town was already packed and several vintage cars were driving through the town centre forming a small parade. At first, we thought that we have missed the formal opening and Jeremy Clarkson’s speech but soon we found out that that Mr Clarkson’s appearance was not confirmed at all and it was probably an April 1st joke, a clever publicity stunt or a local gossip. To be very honest, the entire event was very well organized and there was no need for any special guests. Rita is not a big fan of the pompous presenter so she wasn’t bother by the fact he wasn’t there. At least nobody got beaten up when the food stand ran out of burgers around midday!
First editions of any events are usually plagued with many unfortunate incidents so Speed Festival organizers should be praised for a nearly flawless delivery. Each point of interest has been clearly marked on maps, volunteers were helpful and well informed and guests were directed to the right places. The organizers took serious security measures and the visitors were separated from the car parade by proper fencing. We had 3 emergency ambulances points, West Mercia police stand in Co-op car park and two emergency vehicle access points. The only thing we could complain about was the prices. Although the event was generally admission free, you had to pay 3 pounds to access The Paddock situated by The Conquest Theatre and another 3 pounds for the flyers or the event plan. We didn’t mind paying for the access to Paddocks as we had a chance to see the famous Blue Bird, but paying the same amount of money for a single leaflet seems a bit too much. Other than that – we are truly impressed. Overall, the Bromyard Festival of Speed attracted more than 3000 people, so hopefully it will become another annual attraction for the picturesque town.
Talking about the car parade – it was a very impressive sight. More than 130 vintage and classic cars took part in it, driving slowly in circles from Rowberry Road, passing the Council Corner, turning into The Cut then into the Broad Street, and finally arriving on High Street and Rowberry Road again. The cars were touring in groups of 20-30 cars at 20 minutes intervals. You could see the very impressive Royce-Royce Bentley MK VI Special (produced between 1946 and 1952) limousines in motion carrying up to 5 people, a lot of classic Morgan cars (Plus 4 Coupe from 1954, Morgan Super Sports from 1933 or Family 3 Wheeler from 1935), superb vintage cars (previously unknown to us SunBeams, Diatto Targa Florio, Riley Brooklands and Railton Straight Eight) or fan favourites Hill Climb Cars (including Porsche Cayman SV-R, Caterham Seven or Jensen Healey). Hillclimbing motorsport is a fascinating thing and maybe one day we will write more about it. You can read a short description about it here: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Hillclimbing
Younger visitors were also mesmerized by a large collection of classic racing bikes and rally cars. We have to say, we are not interested in motoring or racing cars but some models were simply stunning. It was hard not to fall in love with them. Rita was especially pleased to spot a classic Ferrari and Mal was happy to discover that one of the vintage cars took part in The Mdina Grand Prix Classic Car Event in 2015.
We have mentioned the Blue Bird above but it needs to be explained why this car was the biggest attraction of the festival. We have never heard of the Blue Bird before but it has a fantastic history worth of a blockbuster movie. It was designed by brilliant French automobile engineer Louis Hervé Coatalen in 1920 for Sunbeam, a marque registered by John Marston Co. Ltd of Wolverhampton. It was officially known as Sunbeam 350HP and was equipped with a modified aero engine. Considered to be the fastest car in the world, it was tested by famous aviation pioneer and pilot, Harry Hawker. In 1922, it was purchased by Sir Malcolm Campbell, who had it repainted blue and nicknamed it the “Blue Bird”. The rest, as they say is history. The Blue Bird won several land speeding records and Sir Campbell became a true motor racing legend. The car has been recently renovated and is visiting motoring festivals all over the country. It is also on permanent display in the National Motor Museum at Beaulieu, Hampshire. If you’d like to support the restoration of this fantastic machine, please see the links below. The museum needs to collect nearly £30,000 for a new gear box.
The Blue Bird links:
National Motor Museum links:
It would be very unfair, if we missed another very old and very unique Sunbeam model that was displayed right next to the Blue Bird. The other Sunbeam known professionally as Sunbeam 16/20 Sports is even older as it has been made in 1911 and is in private hands (owned by Hicky Hickling). This 4 cylinder, 4300cc vintage monster of a racing machine can go at 100 m/h at the top of its speed and is the oldest surviving competition Sunbeam in the world. The car has won numerous racing competitions and held hill record at the Shelsley Walsh racing in 1912, the oldest motorsport events in the world running continuously from 1905 until today. Restored in mid-1990, it also travels around the UK being admired by new generations of speed racing fans.
We would love to write about each car or motorbike we have seen but it is simply impossible. Please take a look at our pictures and if we are missing any vital information about any of the models, please contact us and we will try to add them. Thank you kindly for your assistance!
Bromyard Festival of Speed:
Points of interest:
- The Paddocks – located near the Conquest Theatre. Large vintage car display including the Blue Bird and Sunbeam 16/20 Sports
- Prestige Car Display – located near the Old Road
- Autojumble and Trade Stands – located near Sheep Close and on Pump Street
- Motorcycle display – two locations, first one close to “Rose and Lion” pub near Little Hereford Pub and second on New Road.
- Morgan Display – located near The Cut
Official website: http://www.bromyardspeedfestival.co.uk
Phone: 01885 555010
Post: Bromyard Speed Festival, c/o Holden Vintage and Classic Ltd, Linton Trading Estate, Bromyard, Herefordshire, HR7 4QT
BBC News: http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/uk-england-hereford-worcester-35953755
Hereford Times: http://www.herefordtimes.com/news/14401961.Crowds_flock_to_Bromyard_Speed_Festival/ http://www.herefordtimes.com/sport/14306797.New_motoring_event_to_take_place_in_Bromyard/
Classic Cars for Sale: http://www.classiccarsforsale.co.uk/news/event-news/1603/blue-bird-to-appear-at-bromyard-speed-festival/
Bromyard Info: http://www.bromyard.info/index.php/78-news/1716-bromyard-speed-festival-to-take-place-on-april-3.html
As usual, thank you kindly for reading and we hopefully will see you very, very soon!
Have a lovely day,
Rita and Malicia Dabrowicz