It is close to 11 PM as I start to write this on 30 October, Tuesday. Of course I have tried to keep track of the devastating events back home with hurricane Sandy, and not having heard from David will assume they are about to land in Boston. Yes, at the worst I will post this on Halloween – your “treat” (not trick) from me.
Sunday Lisa and Alex did not stir until about noon, and we then headed to the Natural History Museum, but had lunch at a small crepe restaurant before joining the queue at the entrance. A recommendation – don’t do London activities (especially those appealing to youngsters) on a weekend, or as we learned just before a school term break. But once we got in the crowds were not bad except for the queue to see the dinosaur exhibit. Mari and David were scheduled to be done about 4, so we called them closer to 5 and the plan was to meet back at the hotel. We got the kids settled with some pizza we brought in, and then found via Trip-Advisor (I actually knew of an App that David did not know about) the absolute best small family run Indian restaurant he had ever been, and just a short walk away. A friend joined us, and the cuisine was phenomenal.
Monday I was on the Tube heading to Heathrow to get my car by ten, and was “on the road” again about 11:40 heading towards the Heritage Motor Centre in Gaydon at the grounds of the former RAF Gaydon. Why you ask? Well, it is a “mecca” for British Car enthusiasts and the repository for the archives of most of the build records for British Car
production. Shortly after I bought Black Beauty I purchased by mail my “Heritage Certificate” providing all the details of when she came off the line and with what features and accessories. For her I also know what ship she arrived on in the states and the dealer she was delivered to in NYC. So Ray thought, “wouldn’t it be great to see if I could get Blue Belle’s build record (let me call it “Birth Certificate”) in person. I arrived at the museum about 1 PM, and my first stop (well, after the WC) was the archive room. Yes, Steve, John, Butch and David C. at Sports Car Services in West-West, I had my chassis number and motor numbers with me. I went in and handed my numbers to the researcher there and he went back to some rolling stacks. After pushing a few he selected a large black metal binder and brought it over to the counter and started flipping pages in front of me. The left hand column was the chassis numbers, and the columns to the right had codes for paint color, interior, wheels, heater, etc., along with rubber stamps indicating the date of assembly, completion, and leaving the factory. But for MGs the shipping records were not kept. He said he would be happy to prepare my certificate if I was going to be there a few hours at least. “That is the plan,” I replied, and he collected my 40 pounds, and off I went to eat and then tour the museum. Now I will admit, I had the parochial viewpoint that I was going to see nothing but sports cars, like one of every Triumph and MG made. Not the case, the sports cars were in just one smaller second level area (I have lots of pictures for Sports Car Services and anyone else interested).
Having learned around the world that guided tours can be a plus I joined with about 5 others a tour at 2:15 that lasted about an hour and a half, getting much more out of the exhibits as a result and a few tidbits like “dashboard” coming from buggy days. And that one early paving method for roads was a clay that some found could be used for making good cooking pots. Out in the countryside near a farmhouse drivers usually came to holes in the road. It seems as though the farmers would dig up some clay, form it into a pot and fire it. The result in the road was a “pot hole.” Well, it was a fun four hours and near closing time when I went back to the archive room to get my certificate. When first there I was so thrilled to see the actual notation in the book I took out my camera to take a picture only to be told that I could not – they did not want to have the data on a page copied. So, on returning I asked, “could I take a picture of you pulling the binder off the shelf?” The archivist replied, “let me take your picture looking at the book.” So here I am pointing to the line in the book, and to my right (your left) is my British Motor Industry Heritage Trust Certified Copy of a Factory Record – “build record” or for me Blue Belle’s “birth certificate.” She was built 1-7 October 1959 – Date of Despatch 7 October 1959 – her birthday as a 1960 model.
I just realized that I will never be able to adequately tell you tonight about my journey today to Ironbridge, and the thought came to end now, and maybe post again tomorrow about Ironbridge, and my planned trip on the 31st to the National Waterways Museum. Yes, I still need to know more about narrow boats and England’s canals so I can hopefully get a group together to leisurely narrow boat together.
So, I hope you are safe and unharmed, and good night, as always, yours, RAY