Friday, 12 November 1999

Photo's of Old Trials Hills (posted on behalf of Pat Toulmin)

With regard to the debates about trials hills and photographs and, in particular, Roger Thomas' book and the criticism it may be getting, I would like to say three things:
1. Roger wrote that book in a very short timescale in order to have it ready for the 1995 Works MG Trials Re-Union at Rodborough Common.This may have comprised the accuracy at times. Although, as a librarian, I realise that this is not an excuse. The Cowborne book takes an opposite approach - unless he was 100% (or maybe 110%)certain of a hill Donald did not publish the name. To people like yourself, Jonathan, Tony Branson and Andrew Brown this is extremely frustrating, as many of the photos he published are easily recognised but not named. One day Jonathan & I hope to write a book about works MG Trials cars ourselves (and have started the research) and I hope that we will be as accurate as possible, but will indicate where there is a doubt.
2. It is extremely difficult to verify 1930s photos even when you have first hand evidence. For example we have a photo of a particular hill and Maurice wrote on the back that it was hill A (sorry can't remember which actual one) and John Jones, Jonah Jones' son has the same picture of his father in the second team car on the same event and he calls it hill B! (also written on the back in his hand). Which do you believe? Obviously it might be sorted by research and visits, if possible, etc, but many authors take the easy route.
3. Every MG book we look at that mentions trials has mistakes, some more than others. The favourite ones are where it is so wrong - the wrong car etc etc. It is also interesting when we can dispute it by family evidence. Jonathan's mother only died last September (unfortunately Maurice died in 1958 at the age of 52) and had wonderful memories and stories of being Maurice's bouncer during the 1938 season and there are published photos and stories  that, because of this, we know are wrong.
We have a lot of photos that have never been published before and are specially saving them for our book............


  1. Personally I don't think the comments made about any of the books are really criticisms. I think all of us are really appreciative that Roger Thomas etc took the trouble to write the books that give us so much pleasure.Also I think the "debates" themselves are quite fun. In the case of the "Jenkins" one I believe that bringing all the "evidence" together in the way it happened will help researchers in their future projects. It looks as if New Mill is on the way to doing the same. I havn't ever actually met or spoken to Andrew Brown (hope to change that soon) but I'm sure he feels the same, as with Mike Furse et al.Now a book written by Pat and Jonathan. If it's only half the standard of the events and publications that you are associated with it will still be in a class of it's own. You can have my cheque now !!Michael  

  2. My personal view on this is that we were long overdue a Trials book and no longer do we just hear about the bible "Wheelspin", but also the excellent MG Trials Cars book of Rogers and Donald Cowbourne's. All of which will contain inaccuracys, however well researched.

    All we can do is use the evidence we have. The Jenkins one for instance is a difficult one because a few publications of the time mis-name the hill which dos'nt help.