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From Ford Anglia to Austins - how I loved my cars in years gone by

PUBLISHED: 07:00 14 July 2019

Deep puddle? No, the river in Yarmouth in 1964 being crossed by one of the aqua-cars being developed. Coincidentally, it bore a Yarmouth-style index plate, AEX 3B.

Deep puddle? No, the river in Yarmouth in 1964 being crossed by one of the aqua-cars being developed. Coincidentally, it bore a Yarmouth-style index plate, AEX 3B.

Archant

One day, when I have a spare half-hour, I intend to jot down the cars I have driven since joyfully abandoning L-plates in the mid-1950s.

Leach's hardware shop on Great Yarmouth Market Place in 1962. In the early years of motoring it sold fuel for cars.Leach's hardware shop on Great Yarmouth Market Place in 1962. In the early years of motoring it sold fuel for cars.

Undoubtedly, the exercise will prove a memory-jogger for Mrs Peggotty and me as we recall which car we were in for this holiday or that down the decades, the destinations, major incidents on route...

The list began with a company black Austin A30 (HCL191) elsewhere in Norfolk which my employers traded in, replacing it with one of five swish identical blue-and-cream new Ford Anglias with that revolutionary inward-sloping rear window.

I was surprised years later when HCL191 turned up in Gorleston, mentioned in this column at the time. Seeing it on the Albion public house car park on Lowestoft Road was like meeting an old chum I assumed had long-since been consigned to the scrap heap.

We Peggottys had a big car when we were towing a caravan but medium or small ones otherwise, including our journeys to the south of France and also down through Spain to the Costa del Sol and Gibraltar.

EX1938, a 1927 Yarmouth-registered Austin Windsor, was seen in a Christmas 2014 episode of TV favourite Downton Abbey.EX1938, a 1927 Yarmouth-registered Austin Windsor, was seen in a Christmas 2014 episode of TV favourite Downton Abbey.

We were very surprised once to encounter a blizzard in central Madrid, obscuring directions on overhead gantries.

Nowadays our small car seldom, if ever, goes beyond Norwich but suits our needs.

In truth, I cannot remember now if any of those in my early driving years had Yarmouth EX registrations, but I hope some of them did...

As for original EX-plated cars, subject of a recent column, photographer Paul Godfrey recalls that a few years ago he trawled on-line through an 1899 motoring journal and found Yarmouth references - for example, a list of suppliers of Pratt's Motor Spirit which included J Leach, of the Market Place.

"It now seems odd to think that petrol was sold in shops before the days of garages and petrol pumps," Paul says. "Motor Car Journal readers were advised to contact the suppliers by postcard to ensure supplies were available for their journeys.

"In the same edition Bertie Miller's case of 'furious driving' was reported."

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Bertie was, as I wrote recently, the first person in Yarmouth to be fined (and banned) for speeding.

That Leach hardware shop where Pratt's Motor Spirit was stocked was founded in 1868 by two brothers but was badly damaged by fire only two years later. It traded until 1995.

In 1903 legislation required motor vehicles to be registered with local authorities, resulting in the EX prefix being used by Great Yarmouth County Borough Council.

Magazine readers were encouraged to send their names and vehicle registration numbers for publication, continues Paul.

"It appears that EX1 was owned by Mr Harold Chamberlain and was listed in the journal's December 26 1903 edition. It was interesting to read in the Peggotty column recently that Mr Chamberlain's car was a three-cylinder Brooke because Brooke Cars were made by JW Brooke, of Lowestoft!"

EX2 was a Crossley owned by Mr Bloomfield.

As reported here recently, Alfred Overill - late grandfather of Caister resident Anthony Overill - regularly drove EX1 and EX2 as chauffeur for those two prominent Yarmouthians.

Other EX registrations in that old magazine were WJ Bartram, of Norwich, who owned EX6; Fred Flanders, of Regent Road, Yarmouth (EX7) and CE Shalders, of Northgate Street, Yarmouth (EX8).

According to Paul, a 1904 edition reported the second meeting of the Yarmouth, Lowestoft and Beccles section of the Norfolk Automobile Club at Potter Heigham's Bridge Hotel.

Those present included Mr and Mrs AE Lark, of Yarmouth, driving a 12hp Brooke - Paul reckons this was possibly Albert Ernest Lark, a senior partner in Yarmouth accountants Lovewell Blake.

Also there were Mr and Mrs E Estcourt, of Wroxham, driving a 14hp Brooke;

Mr E King and Mrs Bradley, of Yarmouth, in an 8hp Daimler; Mr and Mrs Mayer, of Gorleston, in a 10hp Swift; and Mr and Mrs Addison Williamson (Yarmouth) in a 5hp Locomobile.

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