In 1928, the launch of the new model of the Morris Minor saloon car was backed up by a series of publicity photographs produced on a tour round Norfolk. These photos included pictures of the car in front of the windmill at Paston (Stow Mill), and the windpump at Horsey Mere, both at the time working mills, shown with shuttered sails.
To commemorate this trip, the Vintage Minor Register (the Owners club for Morris Minor cars dating from 1928-1931) decided to make their inaugural rally in August 2001 a Windmill Tour.
The tour met at The Royal Oak, Barrington, Cambridgeshire - a very pleasant place for a pub lunch. By coincidence, the same location had also been chosen for a gathering of vintage motorcycles, and a number of other classic cars simply out that day for a drive.
Eleven vintage Morris cars lined up on the green opposite the pub - an impressive achievement, given that there are only about 250 known survivors worldwide. These included a range of models, including both soft and hard topped Minors.
The cars then headed off at a sedate pace, towards Bourn, the first location. Whilst the organiser had provided detailed directions to the mill, the convoy of cars managed to take a wrong turn at one point. The mistake was soon rectified by doubling back down the other side of the village green, in the process providing much amusement to a number of the classic motorcycles who had by this time joined the convoy, but who took the correct shorter route.
Bourn mill is unfortunately closed at the moment due to the unsafe nature of the sails, but thanks to the owners of the adjacent house, the vintage cars had access to the driveway to take photos in front of the mill.
At this point, the joke was now on the motorcyclists, as they realised that the cars were not heading for the same destination as they were - lacking adequate directions of their own, they had assumed that all the classic vehicles at the pub had been aiming for the same target!
Vintage Morris Minor at Bourn mill, August 2001
Vintage Bullnose Morris at Bourn mill, August 2001
The second mill on the tour was Great Gransden, whose convenient location at the side of the road made for a second photographic opportunity.
Vintage Morris Minor at Great Gransden mill, August 2001
The tour then passed the less well preserved windmill remains of Saunderson's mill at Steeple Morden, and Hook's Mill at Guilden Morden, before heading on for the final destination of Old Warden Aerodrome.
At Old Warden, the Morris rally joined up with a meeting of the Vintage Sports Car Club, to amass an impressive collection of cars.
The aerodrome is home to the Shuttleworth Collection of vintage aircraft, and as the day drew on, a number of the collection took to the air to put on an impressive Sunset Air Display. Highlights of the display included 4 biplanes in formation, a Spitfire, a Hurricane, plus contributions from some modern planes in the form of a pair of acrobatic gliders, and a powered acrobatic plane. Unfortunately the wind was too strong to risk flying some of the oldest and most fragile items in the collection.
I apologise if this report has had less "mills" content than readers may have liked, but I hope it was still of interest. You may like to consider the parallels between the organisations involved - the SPAB Mills Section, the car clubs, and the Shuttleworth Collection are all concerned with keeping alive parts of our heritage, all believing that these machines are for use and enjoyment, not simply museum pieces to be looked at in isolation.
As a further item of interest, the extensive rally directions, (which included historical details of the mills to be visited) noted that SPAB and the Morris car company both had founders named William Morris.
Further details may be found at:
|Last updated 03/03/2017||Text and images © Mark Berry, 1997-2017 -|