Tuesday, February 27, 2007

A Few Words About

Ivy Leona Cummings was born in London 27th October 1900, the daughter of car dealer Sydney Cummings. She achieved some early celebrity when she lapped the Brooklands track at aged twelve after sneaking onto the circuit in her father's car. After the Great War Cummings raced at Brooklands, on the sand at Skegness and in France. You can see some early film of her in 1921, winning a race in France follow this link and click on view the story. In 1926 the Cummings Bugatti led the Grand Prix de Boulogne for the first three laps before overturning in a ditch on lap four - the three laps accounted for a quarter of the 448 kilometer race. Cummings married a radiologist Dr Henry Warren-Collins who persuaded her to give up the track. She died in London 4th December 1971.

Friday, February 23, 2007

More Memorabilia

Here's an interesting item, currently on sale at ebay.

The seller states "This example was believed to have belonged to former F1 Lotus driver - the late Innes Ireland. It is thought that he modified the standard mounting bracket to allow the badge to be fitted through the radiator grille of his vintage 3 litre Bentley." That would explain why there is no identifying detail such as a name or membership number - which is usually to be found on the mounting bracket.

The price at the moment is a paltry £28.50, about 100 times less than the price paid for a "Jim Clark" badge a few months ago. The word is that the BRDC retain ownership of these badges although I don't know if they actually take any steps to get their property back. Who knows, they might, after all Innes was the BRDC president back in the early 90s.

Update: The badge finally sold for £125. A pre-war Ivy Cummings badge, and as a woman she would only have been an honorary member, sold on ebay for £511 a couple of months ago. I guess the poor condition and lack of provenance counted against this item.

Tuesday, February 20, 2007

Auction Watch

This piece of Ireland memorabilia is coming up for auction at next week's Cheltenham racecourse sale. The goblet was awarded for fifth place in the 1964 Austrian Grand Prix - with his usual luck Innes was headed for a podium finish before a broken tappet saw him having to nurse the BRP home in a race won by Lorenzo Bandini's Ferrari.

The goblet was sold for £276 in the rather overheated Sotheby's sale of March 1997. At Cheltenham H&H are estimating between £50 and £80.

Sunday, February 18, 2007

White pages

Great fun, looking through the Radnorshire phonebook for 1922. What a go ahead place Llandod was with 146 numbers listed, Builth had a respectable 40, with Knighton (16), Presteigne (12) and Rhayader (10) lagging behind. The villages are hardly represented at all with four numbers listed for both Newbridge and New Radnor. I'll post some interesting snippets another time, just one motor racing connection for now: The family of the famous pre-war racer Tim Rose-Richards are listed. They lived at Caer Beris in Builth from 1918 to 1923.

Tuesday, February 13, 2007

Radnorshire Bardic Poems, 29

In the fifteenth century Ieuan ap Philip rebuilt a part of Cefnllys Castle. In this praise poem Lewis Glyn Cothi describes the rebuilding. At the end of the poem some of the lines are lost.

No. 171, Praise of Ieuan ap Philip

The famous man of the dominion
Within the yard of Cefnllys,
Ieuan, his frownless body,
The son of Philip, a fond sight.
Truly in his black face
The dignity of Philip Dorddu.
The blessing of Ifor ap Maredudd,
Ieuan, placed on his cheek.
Ieuan is, by my life,
The right-hand of the world's knowledge.
As for face, he allows no folly,
Auburn black with a wise tongue.

For the land he builds a court,
Like an earl's house from a three court mould.
Turning three into one house,
A tower of Tewdwr's five sons.
It, too, grew together,
A close of shields, so very snug.
Three woodlands of pale oak
Have been jointed together.
As wide as the house of Llyr Llediaith,
His work is a moon of lime like an altar.
An architect with a line fashioned
A grove of trees within a white napkin.
A yard like the church of Oswallt,
A crown of obligation above the slope of the river cliff,
An enclosure of planks,
For Ieuan it is Corfran's citadel.

The lion has made in Cefnllys
A hundred high lofts above a single court;
The axe of Rhosier ab Owain
Has hewn them in a bondwood.
He's made a new hall for a wage
Second to the hall of Arthur;
For Ieuan, on a night of feasting,
It is an Ehangwen in Maelienydd.
Everyone comes there to a Dewi,
Across the three seas at Whitsun,
And the Dewi is Ieuan;
And his fortified court on the bank's edge,
By the hand of Curig, is like
The stone building of St David's Menevia.
The fair court is the same colour as a relic,
A holy Enlli is Cefnllys.
It was an improvement on the others,
An altar for the grandsons of Ifor.
This wood yard shines,
A college like the church of St Mary,
A light like the church of St John,
All is bright atop a bank.

Ieuan from his hall
Shares his rent with every grade.
Ieuan is good and carefree,
He holds two lordships.
He is twice as good..........
Black his fac........
He provides the weak with alms,
God is Ieuan's guardian.

Monday, February 12, 2007

Book of the Month

This self-published book by Joe Saward details the lives of the famous racers Grover-Williams, Robert Benoist and Jean-Pierre Wimille. Although it covers the driving careers, the main thrust of the book is concerned with their activities in the French Resistance and with the Special Operations Executive. Benoist was executed at Buchenwald in 1944, Williams survived at Sachsenhausen until March 1945 while Wimille - perhaps the leading driver in the years immediately before the World Drivers Championship came into being in 1950 - was killed during practice for the Buenos Aries Grand Prix of 1949.

The book claims that Benoist's arrest was the result of information obtained by the Germans from SOE heroine Violette Szabo. This is a controversial claim and I would like to read some reviews of Saward's evidence from experts in this field, at present the only reviews I have seen come from the motor racing side. Saward quotes a conclusion by SOE historian Michael Foot which to my uninformed eyes seems very unfair to Szabo "the ghastly story of Violette Szabo's suffering is so far as I can ascertain completely fictitious". I have read that Foot's SOE history was written purely from documents held by the SOE and that he conducted no interviews with surviving agents. Subsequently Foot was successfully sued by SOE agent Peter Churchill and also by R. J. Minney, the author of the book about Szabo "Carve Her Name With Pride". Far from Szabo's suffering being "completely fictitious" her cellmate at Limoges reports that Violette was raped by her interrogators. By the time he wrote his Dictionary of National Biography entry on Szabo, Foot seems to have revised his opinion of Szabo's treatment, he writes "brutal interrogations got nothing out of her but contempt." None of this is mentioned by Saward.

Grand Prix Saboteurs has Szabo betraying the Paris safehouse where Benoist was arrested. The evidence for this were German documents seen by Benoist and others while under arrest and interrogation at the Gestapo's Avenue Foch headquarters. Why did the Germans allow these documents to be read? A second question, how do we know that Benoist was able to see these documents? The source is Benoist's son-in-law Andre Garnier, who seems to have been able to speak to Benoist at the Avenue Foch. I find this all unconvincing.

Joe Saward has done motor racing history a service by detailing the heroic lives of Grover-Williams and Benoist. I look forward to reading some informed reviews of this book.

Radnorshire Bardic Poems, 28

Here’s an ode by Lewis Glyn Cothi praising the family of Phelpod ap Rhys of Brilley.

No 145, Praise to the four sons of Phelpod ap Rhys

Four entangled oak roots to Cynon,
Who maintainer four courts,
Four lambs of St Peter,
Four earls of Phelpod ap Rhys.
Four who speak as one, so that some would not
Dare to venture a finger’s step from them,
Are they not four fair girdles
From the stout house of Phelpod ap Rhys?
Four corners for the land like the four fingers of a hand,
Four lions from the same court,
Are they not fair like four guiding heads,
The golden tapers of Phelpod ap Rhys.
The grandsons of Rhys share one design
With Phelpod ap Rhys of the land of the Isle of Honey,
To welcome the poets and storytellers,
To desire for knotted gold and song.
In the summer I have Dafydd’s gold freely,
The gold of Rhys I’ve had upon my clothes,
The gold of Sion, in gifts, given eagerly,
The white-hot gold of Tomas of the same temper.
The mead of Dafydd was had, like the Teme,
The mead of Rhys, to my waist, like the water of Egwad,
The mead of Sion, an ocean to my eyes,
The blue mead of Tomas, such as his father made.
What better four under the moon?
Best the four who share a single love.
Four angels of God set amongst us,
Four sons of Phelpod, supreme lions,
Four gospel books, their feast is not denied,
Four sons of Phelpod of one exaltation,
Four waters of Paradise of one content,
Four lances of Phelpod between four lands,
Four corners of the earth, of one appearance,
Four stags of Phelpod between four battles,
Four gifts of mankind, they fight as one,
Four notes of Phelpod, from his seed and stock,
Four prime feats, a lamp for all the country,
Four arms of Phelpod against four treasons,
Four main winds, let there be four experiences,
Four sons of Phelpod in reconciliation,
For Maels of Elfael, from brow to pate,
For Mays of Brilley where all are treated,
Four beryl stones who would greet me,
From four beryl stones let there be seed and progeny.
Let there be seed like that from a young salmon,
From four knowledgeable lions,
From four marvellous brothers,
From four saplings of the oak of Rhys