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Classical Gas is an independent web site and is not affiliated to any of the clubs or organisers of the events featured. Words and Pictures by Michael unless attributed otherwise. Michael is a proud member of the MCC, ACTC, Dellow Register and Falcon amongst others, but does not represent their views nor the views of any other organisers or clubs.

Classical Gas - October '97 - Part 2


JENKINS CHAPEL TO CORKSCREW


One of the hills in this years Edinburgh is listed as Corkscrew. If you look through the magazines you may think this a relatively recent addition, dating from 1993, but it has a much longer history. The hill was originally known as Jenkins Chapel and was first used in the 1930’s.

Super Dud on Jenkins

Dudley Sterry rounds the famous hairpin on Corkscrew in his "MG J2" on a recent Edinburgh. You can read more about this fascinating machine later in Classical Gas (Picture by Mike Furse).

mg on jenkins

The undergrowth had not appeared when Lewis Welch rounded the same bend in his MG Magnette during the 1935 MCC One Day Sporting Trial. In those days the hill was called Jenkins Chapel.
The hill continued to be used under this name, pre war and post war, for many years, but fell out of use for several interesting reasons. There was a problem with the neighbouring farmers who were conducting a feud. One was strongly in favour of the trial so his neighbour objected as a matter of principal. PR is especially important with this hill as the access road has a rather peculiar status. A plate at the bottom saying that the local council has closed it to all but visitors to the house at the bottom and the MCC! These days there is also a gate across the bottom to inhibit access by the cowboys.
The section itself is not very smooth! There are two hairpins followed by some nasty steps. They are not particularly steep but are pretty rough, and it would be very easy to damage the car if you went to quickly. There have been problems on Jenkins over the years, even though the famous right hand hairpin is said to be nothing like as severe as it was in the 30’s. One dry autumn a Fiat 600 (fitted with two litres of Uncle Henrys V4) jumped out of gear and caught fire in the gully. The walls were so close the occupants couldn’t get out at first and it was quite scary for a while, although it ended up all right, and they eventually emerged unscathed.

ron horton

Ron Horton storms Jenkins Chapel in the '30's in his Morgan three wheeler.

20 June 1999 - All may not be as it seems. I have received a couple of E-Mails that throw doubt on the authenticity of the old photograph's.

Andrew Brown says "Re: Your page on Jenkins Chapel.

"Although I'm familiar with the picture that you show of the MG (and I too have seen it categorically captioned as being taken on Jenkins Chapel), I've never been entirely sure that this is correct. I've never been to the hill except when competing, and one never has time to look at the view from that point(!), but my recollection of waiting at the start line is that the backdrop (now of trees) is much lower and further away than shown in the MG picture. Any comments?

Jonathan Toulmin and I have a whole 'catalogue' of mis-captioned or un-captioned photographs in various books but I haven't tackled him on this one - I'm still on a 'mission' to track down the various 'Kinetons' and 'Guitings' used in 1930s before venturing further afield."

Tony Branson adds

"Reference Andrew Brown's letter about Jenkins Chapel/Corkscrew, I share his doubts that the old picture of the MG is really this hill. I too have spent some time with Jonathan Toulmin poring over old trials photos trying to recognise which section they are. It's amazing how much the landscape changes over the years, trees move and cottages sprout or lose chimneys.

After the 1993 Edinburgh Jonathan, Pat, Derek and I walked the section and I bemoaned the fact that class 3 didn't get a shot at it. I have since gone up it twice in the Marlin and my propshaft tunnel has the scars to prove it. I attach 4 photos I took that day. The first shows the section from across the valley, The second the infamous first corner with Derek having a little trouble on the restart and the other two the rocky steps in the upper reaches. Hope they are of interest."

jenkins1.jpg (21622 bytes) jenkins2.jpg (36816 bytes)
jenkins3.jpg (29628 bytes) jenkins4.jpg (27295 bytes)

 


DUDLEY STERRY’S MG "J2"

The picture of Dudley’s car on Corkscrew set me thinking about this larger than life character and his amazing little car. My first recollection of seeing it was in the 1971 Falcon Guy Fawkes, when we still ran it as a road going classic event. According to my entry list number 20 was Roy Newton MG s/c and 21 Dudley Sterry MG s/c. I remembered this when I saw Dudley still doing his stuff when I started driving the Classics myself in the early 90’s. (Before this I was a PCT man in a Mini!).
Super Dud on 97 Litton dudsblow.jpg (23810 bytes)

Dudley cresting the summit of Litton on the 97 Edinburgh. Note the absence of weather protection and dig that blower man!

I started to marvel at the amazing exploits of car and driver, competing, and often beating, the Trolls and Cannons that mostly travelled to and from events on trailers. No such namby pamby stuff for Dudley. He always drives his trials car to and from events, rain or shine, with no hood, toneau cover or even a proper windscreen. Now clearly something was a little non-standard about this machine. For a start it says 1,466 cc’s on the entry list. Now all my books on MG history say that the J2 was 847cc and had a two bearing crankshaft! Then there is the enormous belt driven blower sticking out the side. MG did produce a few blown J3’s, but the Powerplus supercharger was mounted under the front apron and driven direct from the crankshaft.
All this set me thinking and I wanted to know more about this fascinating car. But "super-Dud" is not the sort of person the likes of me slide up to, poke a tape recorder under his nose, and ask all about his motor for Classical Gas. The solution came when Brian Butler gave me a bundle of "Wheelspin" magazines. In the April ’87 edition I found an article about Dudley and his car by our own David Alderson. From this I learned that Dudley acquired his car as a box of bits in 1964. When he put them together he had an MG J2 with an 1172 sidevalve Ford engine! Anyway Dudley started trialling his machine, gaining his first triple in 1968.
Then the car was involved in a road accident near Carlisle on the Edinburgh. (Yes I did say Carlisle, the Edinburgh actually went to Edinburgh in those days). Dudley rebuilt the car on a new chassis and it emerged with a 1250cc T series engine. Over the years Dudley developed his car, acquiring first a supercharger, then a 1466cc block from a TF in the late 1970’s. These days the "J2" is a very special machine, but mostly uses MG parts, including an axle from an MGB an a self made four planet diff.
Now the purists may be appalled at this "bastard" machine, but don’t blame Dudley, it wasn’t a proper MG J2 when he bought his box of bits all those years ago.