Home ... Herne Bay ... Rare photos of 1924 motor speed trials held in town

Rare photos of 1924 motor speed trials held in town

The racing cars fined up outside the Pier Theatre on the seafront
The racing cars lined up outside the Pier Theatre on the seafront

Ninety years ago, the sound of roaring racing car engines echoed along Herne Bay seafront as the town geared up for motor speed trials. Now the spirit of those thrilling days of automotive daring will be rekindled at the town’s classic motor show on Sunday when it is hoped racing cars from the era will be on display. Up to 300 classic cars of all eras and styles are also expected to be on show, including Del Boy’s van, as well as retro markets, children’s entertainers and rides. These rare photographs taken of the event in 1924, loaned by a private collector, reveal the glamour of the day. Curator of Herne Bay Historical Records Society, Mike Bundock has been researching the speed trials in the town. He said:

Root and Clarke were the official suppliers of motor parts
Root and Clarke were the official suppliers of motor parts

“It was arranged by the Kent Automobile Club, which had some eminent members, including Sir David Salomons, the pioneering Kent motorist responsible for some early motor shows at Tunbridge Wells. Motor speed trials were popular events staged at several seaside locations including Ramsgate, Brighton, Bexhill and Southend. It was reported to have been a sunny day in Herne Bay, ideal for the speed trials. The assembly area for the race meeting was in front of the Pier Theatre, effectively forming a square that served as a temporary paddock where drivers and mechanics could tend to their cars. The idea was that cars would travel as fast as they could along a measured distance of approximately half a mile along the seafront. The start line was marked on the road between the pier and Lane End and proceeded in a westerly direction along the front towards Hampton with the gentle rising gradient providing a good test for competitors.

A big crowd gathered at the start
A big crowd gathered at the start

There were 17 race classes and a large number of the entries, including Bugattis, were drawn from motor clubs as far away as Essex and Hampshire. Notable drivers included Count Louis Zborowski, the grand prix driver who lived at Higham Park, Bridge, who was killed in the October of that year while competing in the Italian Grand Prix. Zborowski was well known for his large engine motors and drove two that day, a six-litre Hispano Suiza and a 12.5 litre Mercedes. But the list of competitors was graced by at least three ladies, Ivy Cummings, Cynthia Turner and A Dawes, each of who had competed in races at the well-known Brooklands circuit and other prominent motor venues. It seems that the day was a great success, so much so that the organisers were able to repeat the event with an equally warm reception in 1925.”

Herne Bay Gazette, June 19th 2014

Check Also

Albion Rovers, and why I fell out with Cameron

There are now just two weeks until the general election, and political parties have began …