Car Meet at the Catherine Wheel, 1939

Nick recently bought the card with a very good clear photo of The Catherine Wheel in the late 1930s hosting a local Car Club Run – some of the cars and fashions are quite fun. The picture is a scan of the photo, which appears to be a later (1960s) ‘home-made’ postcard from the original negative.

It needed some detective work to find out where it was as all he had was ‘The Catherine Wheel’ and ‘Ush… Trowb….. Al..’ Luckily it wasn’t too hard to work out it was probably ‘Usher’s Trowbridge Ales’ and then find a ‘Catherine Wheel’ hostelry in the area. Being a Norfolk boy Nick is not that familiar with Wiltshire, apart from Stonehenge and Wilton Mill, and remembers some very beautiful rolling countryside from driving through en route to RNAS Yeovilton.

Car Meet in Shrewton 1939

The reason Nick bought the card was that his father had owned a Humber Tourer – like the one in the foreground of the picture – in the late 50s, unfortunately a few years before Nick came on the scene. It was a very rare car then and it is thought that only two or three still exist.

The photo was probably taken around 1939 because many of the cars present were introduced for the 1938/39 season. The registration letters ‘BOW’ were introduced in June 1938 and ‘OW’ was issued by the Borough of Southampton.  So what is going on? A ‘trial’ of all the latest English cars? All the cars have a printed identification number in their windscreens. A ‘final run out’ for a local car club before petrol rationing was introduced perhaps? There is a new Ford 7Y 8hp (centre left) and and the 1939 Ford 10 Prefect (far right) may be the newest car at the gathering; there’s a 1938 Standard Flying 10 on the far left and beside that a big tourer which another car buff confirmed as an Alvis Firefly: it’s probably the oldest car present. The handsome tourer being topped up by the young lad in the foreground is a Humber 16 from 1933 (centre right). Behind the Humber with its back to the camera is a 1937 Austin 14 Goodwood saloon and beside that a 1935 Wolseley Wasp. Behind the Wolseley is a Singer and, next to that, polish gleaming, another 8hp Ford.

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