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Rootes, Roots and Routes – the 2019 Autumn Seminar weekend

We start with the car in our main picture.  It is a 1938 Atalanta with a 4·3-litre V-12 Lincoln-Zephyr engine, fresh out of restoration and brought to the Sir Henry Royce Memorial Foundation in Paulerspury to accompany Alan Shattock’s talk on the postwar cars.

The Foundation once again welcomed us as we held our 2019 SAHB Autumn Seminar, AGM and Motoring Literature Fair on Sunday 27th October 2019.  This followed an excellent informal dinner the evening before at the Villiers Hotel in Buckingham.

We also took the opportunity to present the SAHB’s Michael Sedgwick Award for the best motoring book on an aspect of British motoring, and the Malcolm Jeal Award for the best motoring article written in the English language.  That report is in the News section.

But first, a small group of us had a fascinating and most rewarding visit on the Saturday, to the Rootes Archive Centre Trust in Wroxton near Banbury in Oxfordshire.

Full reports on the visit and the seminar will appear in the next issue of the SAHB Times, but here is a flavour of the two events that made for an excellent weekend.


Saturday: Rootes Archive Centre Trust

Nine SAHB members were welcomed by Andy Bye and James Spencer and saw some truly historic documents, rare drawings and important research resources.  As with many archives of this type, it is a story of dedication, a vigorous and endless search for funding, and on the other hand some wonderful tales of generous donations, from descendants of people who worked at the Rootes factories, and from the current Lord Rootes himself.  The pictures below give just a small idea of what we found there.  We are most grateful to Anders Clausager for arranging the visit and to Andy and James for a wonderful visit.

Here are just a few pictures from the visit:


Fascinating resources at the Rootes Archive Centre Trust



Just one page from Pressed Steel’s estimate submission for the Sunbeam Alpine project


Commer TS4 prototype opposed-piston diesel engine – a rare survivor


Priceless original drawings saved by the efforts of the Trust’s members


Sunday: The Autumn Seminar

After the literature fair, the AGM and the Micheal Sedgwick and Malcolm Jeal Awards presentations, we were regaled with four superb talks:

  • Alan Shattock: G. Shattock and his RGS Atalanta cars – a personal insight into the development of these influential sports cars in racing and on the road
  • David Welch: One Sphinx and one hundred years – a journey through the history of Armstrong Siddeley – beautifully recounted and finely illustrated
  • Nigel Shepherd: Violet Cordery and her Invicta – the amazing story of this famous racing driver and her round-the-world tour with Nigel’s grandmother, told with panache and illustrated with pictures from  the original scrapbook
  • Malcolm Bobbitt: Two horses – seventy years – celebration of the 70th anniversary of the world-famous Citroën 2CV, with the deep knowledge, surprising facts and humour that Malcolm always brings to his talks.

Our thanks are due to all those organisers from the SAHB, the Rootes Archive and The Sir Henry Royce Memorial Foundation who made this another weekend to remember with great pleasure.

And we leave you with just two pictures of the lovely cars in the car park:

1955 Jensen 541


Austin Allegro – proof that love for old cars doesn’t have to be expensive!

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