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My First Car: School cook’s 1933 Austin 7 came to the boil, leaving 200 hungry mouths!

PUBLISHED: 10:15 03 September 2018 | UPDATED: 10:15 03 September 2018

Eileen Kittell’s paid £21 for her 1933 Austin 7 in the early Sixties, selling it two years later for £19. Picture: Eileen Kittell

Eileen Kittell’s paid £21 for her 1933 Austin 7 in the early Sixties, selling it two years later for £19. Picture: Eileen Kittell

Eileen Kittell

Eileen Kittell has fond memories of fun and laughter travelling with friends in her 1933 Austin 7, including cooking for 200 boys on a summer camp while she was on half-pay as a school cook.

In the early Sixties I bought my first car for £21 – a 1933 Austin 7, registration ALR 43.

It had retread tyres which were cut by hand – no MOT then – and a radiator thermometer on the front.

The road was visible at the base of the long gearstick which was acceptable during dry weather. However, when it rained, water shot up through the gap, soaking the legs and feet of front passengers.

It was a good old vehicle, transporting me daily from East Runton, near Cromer, to North Walsham where I worked as a school cook.

Great fun was had when taking friends to various venues in Norwich. Climbing the hill out of Cromer, the ‘old girl’ needed two or three gear changes, especially when fully loaded with passengers. As we started up the hill, I remember asking all the passengers to lean forward to enable the car an easier climb. Everyone complied and, with great laughter and all leaning forward, we made it up the hill! I’m not quite sure whether it helped but we all enjoyed a good laugh.

One adventure I had with the car was a trip from East Runton to Skegness, in Lincolnshire, one summer. My friend, Ann Griffin, and I were school cooks and, at the beginning of the summer holidays, we were only given half pay, the other half being paid on our return to work in September. So we had to supplement our half pay by cooking for various charities and organisations. These groups needed cooks for their holiday venues in various parts of England. One of these was cooking for 200 Church Campaigner boys under canvas in Skegness.

We headed for Skegness, loading the Austin 7 with chopping boards, cookery knives, wooden spoons, whisks, large scales for weighing ingredients, cooks’ white aprons and camps beds with sleeping bags. Mr Griffin, Ann’s father, loaned us an enamel bucket to boil our aprons in as we needed a fresh, clean apron daily.

Having no room inside the car, we tied the bucket to the spare wheel on the back of the Austin 7. You can picture the scene, driving along with a white bucket swinging on the back of the car. Halfway there, just before Boston, the radiator temperature gauge read boiling so we stopped to cool the car down – remembering what my dad had said about not removing the cap while the radiator was hot. After the car had cooled, I topped it up with water, adding Radweld to the mix – that’s what my dad used to do!

We eventually arrived at the campsite in Skegness where 200 hungry boys, and their leaders, were waiting for the cooks to arrive. We quickly set up our gear and opened several large A10 tins of baked beans. After a fortnight, we made the return journey home which proved uneventful.

Two years of fun and laughter went by driving the 1933 Austin 7, with many happy memories of the early Sixties.

I then sold it for £19, losing £2 on the deal and buying a Lambretta scooter in its place.

I have driven a few scooters and many different cars and still enjoy many adventures driving.

Tell people about your first car – email your memories with a picture to motoring@archant.co.uk or post it to Andy Russell, Archant motoring editor, Prospect House, Rouen Road, Norwich, NR1 1RE.

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