Articles from the VMC Bulletin, our Club magazine scroll down to read about: - Round Australia in a 1925 Oldsmobile Six, in 1925! - The 1927 Royal Tour Crossleys - The FIVA Charter of TurinStrategy for the Future of Historic Vehicles
Round Australia in a 1925 Oldsmobile Six, in 1925!
We vintage car drivers are, by contemporary reckoning, a pretty hardy bunch, out in all weathers in our less than dry and warm or cool and dust-free cars, but we wouldn’t have it any other way. Perhaps we then are best placed among drivers in this day and age to really appreciate the skill, daring and perhaps even naivety and audacity of those adventurous early motorists who took off to drive round Australia in the vintage years.
Among those pioneering motorists Mrs Marion Bell of Fremantle, W.A., was the first woman, and the third person to drive around Australia by car.
In October 1925 Mrs Bell and her 11 year old daughter left Perth in an Oldsmobile Six and travelled via Darwin, Brisbane, Sydney, Melbourne and Adelaide. More on Mrs Bell’s round Australia trip in a future VMC Bulletin.
While newspaper reports of the time made many gender typical comments and much fuss about Mrs Bell as a women driver tackling the vast continental unknown, they usually missed mentioning that she was a most competent driver and mechanic.
In fact Marion Bell was also notable for establishing Fremantle’s ambulance service and Fremantle to Perth taxi services in the 1920s to 1940s, as well as a bus run in the early 1920s. New vehicle registrations and transfers for Mrs Bell in the 1920s include makes such as Federal and a 1928 Hudson bus. She was the first woman to obtain a taxi license in Perth and she was still driving taxis during WW2.
In 1935 the The Daily News (Perth, WA) reported - 'Mrs. Bell is probably the most experienced woman motorist in Australia. So far as is known she is the only woman in Australia to hold an omnibus driver's licence. She was one of the pioneers of the Perth-Fremantle omnibus service, and for some years drove an omnibus on that route. For three and a half years she drove a taxi on the Perth- Fremantle run, and this was at a time when a taxi-driver had to be a good one to secure a share of patrons. After selling out her omnibus business...she established a taxi business' at Fremantle. She now has four taxis in commission and has her own service station and headquarters. For the past six years she has, by arrangement with the Fremantle centre of the St. John Ambulance, conducted the ambulance service at the port. On numerous occasions she has driven the ambulance to accident calls. Besides her active association with the taxi business, Mrs. Bell has taught many men and women to drive’.
JF, July, 2012. Copyright, for permission to use these articles contact the authors via the Vintage Motor Club
THE 1927 ROYAL TOUR CROSSLEYS
Twelve Crossleys were lent to the Australian Government for use during the Royal Visit by Crossley England, the factory specially fitting out and shipping the vehicles to the antipodes. Supplied were six 7-seater tourers, four enclosed limousines and two landaulettes, all maroon and decorated with the royal seal on the rear doors were used by the Duke and Duchess and staff.
The Enclosed Limousine supplied for the personal use of the Duke and Duchess in Australia was painted maroon with maroon leather upholstery. Fitted with a spot light and the side lamps fitted with a red light, the car was readily distinguished at night as the Royal’s vehicle. There were additional extra fittings including cigar lighter, dictaphone, cushions, footrest and ladies and gentlemans companion sets..
Three of the cars carried a metal plaque in front of the radiator with the white rose of York emblem and emblazoned with the Royal motto -' Honi soit qui mal y pense’. All the cars were supplied with Dunlop balloon tyres “to give the greatest possible riding comfort” while the suspension was supplemented with Houdaille hydraulic shock absorbers front and rear.
Another 7 similar Crossleys was shipped to New Zealand for that leg of the Royal Tour. One of these was subsequently used by the New Zealand Prime Minister John Coates.
The cars were accompanied by Crossley mechanics from the UK for the duration of the tours, and in Australia the chauffeurs were all qualified drivers from the Royal Australian Air Force at Point Cook, Victoria.
The cars were well travelled, being used variously in NSW, Queensland, Victoria, ACT, South Australia, Tasmania [8 of the cars were shipped over to Hobart from Sydney on the SS Riverina] and finally Western Australia. On the day of the opening of the new Parliament House in Canberra, 9 May 1927, the Duke and Duchess actually began their journey from Government House by Crossley, however near National Circuit they changed into the more traditional open horse drawn carriage for last part of the journey to Parliament House.
When the Australian Royal Tour concluded the Crossleys were returned to the company’s Australian representatives for sale locally, contemporary newspaper reports suggest that 9 were sold in the Eastern states.
The Perth Sunday Times of June 1927 reported that 3 of the cars were sold by the Perth agents, Coventry Motor Co Ltd., to “Mr J.A.T. Mortlock, a well known pastoralist of South Australia............. One of the open tourers found favor with a keen motorist in Mr. Leonard Lobrman, solicitor of Perth, while the remaining tourer has been purchased by Mrs A. Grant of South Perth.”
The Horsham Times, June 1927 [Vic] reported another Royal Crossley was sold by Messrs Skurric Bros. to Mr Angus McDonald of Mount Ararat, Victoria.
One of the Royal Tour landaulettes survives at the National Museum in Canberra. This vehicle is believed to be the only one of the Tour vehicles still with its original matching engine and chassis numbers and one of only 5 surviving “Canberra” model limousines. The landaulettes were designated “Canberra” by Crossley following their success on the Royal Tour. The Museum’s Crossley was acquired by the Commonwealth from Mr Victor D. Alberts, Sydney, who owned the car from 1964 to1976.
The Royal Tour of 1927 followed official transport procedures established when in 1920 the Australian Commonwealth government found it necessary, for the first time, to organise, provide and manage a fleet of motor vehicles suitable for distinguished visitors and ceremonial events. For the Royal Tour of Edward, Prince of Wales, Major-General C.B.B. White was appointed in charge of arrangements and he organised for 3 new Crossley limousines to be acquired in England and shipped out the Australia, just in time for the Prince of Wales tour.
The Perth Times in January 1927 noted that “The Crossley car has a very remarkable record in connection with Royal tours. It will be remembered that they were the only official cars used by HRH the Prince of Wales during his series of Dominion tours. A fleet carried the Prince and suite throughout his Australian tour in 1919-1920, during his great Indian tour 1920-21, and again through South Africa 1924-25.”
By my reckoning that’s at least 15 Crossleys of 1920 to 1927 vintage that were used for Regal and Commonwealth service in Australia, I wonder what became of them all.
JF, May 2012 Copyright, for permission to use these articles contact the authors via the Vintage Motor Club
From the “Fédération Internationale des Véhicules Anciens”- FIVA The FIVA Charter of TurinStrategy for the Future of Historic Vehicles Seeks International Cultural Heritage Status for Historic Vehicles The purpose of the Turin Charter is to protect historic vehicles against restrictions world-wide. The Turin Charter unites guiding principles for the use, upkeep, conservation, restoration, and repair of historic vehicles in active use. As defined in the Charter, historic vehicles include automobiles, motorcycles, utility vehicles, trailers, bicycles and other mechanically operated vehicles as well as non-rail land vehicles powered by steam, electricity, petrol, or muscle power. The scope of this Charter may also include buildings and infrastructures primarily related to historic vehicles and their period operation, such as factories, fuel stations or special roads and tracks. Furthermore we aim at preserving the special knowledge and skills historically related to the manufacture and operation of such vehicles. In order to obtain the privilege of comprehensive protection for vehicles as part of our mobile heritage, we need clear definitions and binding criteria [as written in] the Turin Charter. The acceptance and application of a set of UNESCO Cultural Heritage criteria adapted for the requirements of our "mobile heritage" will separate the wheat from the chaff and make the whole system of "historic vehicles" more transparent. Fakes or vehicles that suffered extensive changes to their engineering and appearance such that their historic reference is lost would not stand any chance of being registered as historic vehicles. From the Fed. British Historic Vehicle Clubs - The Charter is a positive step towards recognition of historic vehicles as part of our heritageand it is a very useful political tool. It will redress the balance – other forms of transport (rail, water and air) already have their charters. It is important to show that it is not just buildings that are worthy of heritage status and international recognition. This Charter of Turin will be a document for FIVA [and historic car clubs, federations and councils] to use when dealing with politicians and heritage organisations throughout the world. Without a specific definition of our vehicles we would not be able to ask for specific concessions. The Federation continues to support and encourage everyone to use, enjoy, and even modify, their historic vehicles without hindrance. We have found the EU and UK governments to be generally very supportive of the historic movement. They are supportive because they know that when giving concessions to us for our vehicles they are not promoting the use of unsafe and unroadworthy vehicles – and we must distance ourselves from these vehicles and retain the movement’s good name as responsible guardians of motoring heritage. Extracts from: http://www.prewarcar.com/magazine/press-releases/charter-of-turin-015311.html and http://fbhvc.co.uk/2011/12/05/newsletter-no-6-december-2011/
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