December 12 2013 Latest news:
Sunday, October 13, 2013
The Duke of Gloucester was confronted with a stark contrast in modes of transport during a brief visit to Norfolk.
Waiting to greet the Queen’s cousin at the Muckleburgh Museum, on the north Norfolk coast, was a fleet of glamorous pre-war Rolls Royces – and an army of rather less stylish tanks.
The Duke took an admiring walking tour around the Rollers, but jumped inside a tank to try out the controls and took it for a spin around the museum’s track.
He was visiting the military collection at Muckleburgh, near Holt, in his capacity as president of the 20-Ghost Club, whose members all own Rolls Royces manufactured before 1940.
A party of club members had planned a weekend’s tour of Norfolk which saw 17 gleaming vintage cars purring through the county’s country lanes in wind, rain and occasional sunshine.
Based near King’s Lynn, the jaunt began with a trip to Sandringham on Friday night.
On Saturday they motored majestically down the long drive and lined up in front of the National Trust’s Blickling Hall, creating a spectacle reminiscent of a particularly grand house party at TV favourite Downton Abbey.
Among the party were club chairman Sir John Stuttard, former Lord Mayor of the City of London. His 1921 Silver Ghost was once given as a gift by an indulgent Indian father during the time of the Raj to his 18-year-old son who was attracted by its sporty split windscreen.
Bernard and Sylvia Holmes, from Brentwood, Essex, drove their 1934 Phantom 2, worth about £300,000.
“We mostly use it for long-distance touring, although I have been to Tesco’s in it,” said Mr Holmes.
“It does about five miles to the litre. It’s very comfortable and doesn’t lose its value.
“You get so used to being waved at when you’re in it that when you’re in a modern car, you wonder why people aren’t waving at you.”
Tim and Susie Forrest, from Chiddingfold, Surrey, had just returned from taking part in the 1,800 mile centenary Alpine Trials tour, which Rolls Royce won in 1913.
Their 1912 Torpedo Phaeton Tourer “coped perfectly” with the terrain, which included the formidable Stelvio Pass in Italy which has 43 hairpin bends and rises to just over 9,000 ft.
After a tour of the stately home, members headed for a similar visit to Houghton Hall, King’s Lynn.
Yesterday’s Muckleburgh stop-off and lunch was followed by visits to Holkham Hall, near Wells-next-the-Sea, and the weekend finished at Elveden Hall, near Thetford, where the Earl of Iveagh was waiting to greet them. Lord Iveagh owns a 1928 20hp Rolls Royce which one belonged to the late Alan Clark MP.
The tour was organised by club member John Redmill who left his own Rolls Royce at home in Dublin and took part in a hired Fiat.
“It’s been absolutely great,” he said. “It’s such a contrast coming to flat Norfolk as some of our members were motoring through the Alps in June – you could say from the ridiculous to the sublime. I warned the Alpine veterans to be on their guard for Norfolk’s one hill, in Kelling!”