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Percy Powell’s Scrapbook Collection: Jalopy and Motorcycle racing in the Golden Valley

Place name:

Golden Valley


1950s, 1960s


There follows transcriptions of various articles in local newspapers and magazines concerning the sports of jalopy and motorcycle racing, which became popular in the Golden Valley in the nineteen fifties and sixties. The mainly undated articles, together with a collection of photographs taken at various local events, have been copied from a scrap book kept by Percy Powell of the Crossways Garage [‘Bob’s Shop’] in Newton St Margarets who was a leading light in both sports locally at the time. They are reproduced here with the kind permission of his family.
Ewyas Lacy Study Group

A New Wayof Letting off Steam

[From Farmers Weekly]
WESTWARDS towards the Welsh borders there’s a new sport flourishing down on the farm - jalopy racing. In Herefordshire, where these pictures were taken earlier this year, it is drawing thousands of spectators both male and female and many charities have benefited as a result.
It started four years ago when Mr. William Layton, a farmer at Vowchurch in the Golden Valley who is also a motor enthusiast, decided it would be a good way for the local youth to let off steam. Before long a number of farmers in the district had formed a Grass Track Committee (taking the rather more official name for the sport) and soon several other groups followed. Now meetings are regular fixtures in the Herefordshire sporting calendar and the enthusiasts who started it are constantly welcoming new drivers into their ranks.
What exactly happens? To a newcomer the sport appears very like stock-car racing, but a closer look at the rules reveals that the similarities are only superficial. In jalopy racing competitors do not bump other competitors purposely—only accidentally. In fact the sport is less dangerous than it appears and most drivers are protected by safety straps, helmets and steel reinforced cars. At this meeting an ambulance stood by in the centre of the track but wasn’t needed although there were times when it seemed almost impossible that it wouldn’t be.
The cars, some little more than wrecks, are resurrected from junk heaps and retuned to a pitch sufficient to survive the few laps tear around the field track. As you can see from the pictures some of them were minus windscreens, bonnets, mudguards and much else besides. They hurtled round an irregularly shaped track with three sharp corners where hopeful spectators gathered to see the excitement of the madly slewing cars.
Some of the cars were obvious “bitzas,” home built perhaps on a sports car chassis, although rules say that all parts must be fixed securely at least at the beginning of the race. Others were recognizable makes, once sedate family saloons perhaps, but unmistakably modified so far as short time performance went.
Well, it may not be everyone’s cup of tea but, as far of the competitors said ‘‘it’s certainly a change from the local sports day; that was getting a bit tame.” It certainly is.




With £250 taken in gate money and a entry of 50 cars, Saturdays jalopy meeting at Pontypinna, Vowchurch, proved that the appeal of this locally developing sport is still growing.
The meeting was the second this year held by Vowchurch and Tumastone Grass Tracking Committee who pioneered the sport in Sept 1960.
Since then, says the secretary, Mr Lewis, about £800 has been given to charity by the committee-for cancer research, Guide Dogs for the Blind, and the St John Ambulance, and local beneficiaries like village hall and churches.
“What we have feared is that the sport will get more and more popular with the drivers and less attractive to spectators”, he added. But there was little sign of any slackening of public support on Saturday (1963)? And cars came from as far as Cheltenham and Pontypool. A number of other meetings have been held in the area. Basically the sport consists of old cars lapping a grass track of around 600 yards marked out on a field.

Climax of Saturday’s meeting was the so called Grand Prix de Golden Valley - the first - to discover a champion driver from the prize winners in the previous races. Mr John Herdman, a 20-year-old farmers son of New House Farm Painscastle, who earlier won the over 1.200 cc scratch race, had a runaway win in the remains of a V8 engined Allard prepared, he said “by the local-blacksmith”. His only effective competition - a Consul engined B.M.W, chassis prepared by Mr Percy Powell and driven by Mr Melvin Powell of
Michaelchurch-ran off (ie pushed oft) the course, in the early laps. Earlier the same car had beaten John Herdman in the final of the over 1,200 handicap, most exciting race of the day.
Safety measures have been tightened up. Racing what was virtually a powered chassis has been stopped. “All cars now have been saloons, we check the roofs to make sure they are reasonably sound, and crash helmets are insisted on” says Mr Lewis.
At least two cars overturned on Sat and the drivers stepped out of them, shaken but unhurt.
Speeds have increased. Twin carburetors and stub exhaust are now almost standard in the old style Ford Populars which are the commonest type used in under 1.200 cc races. Oversize rear tyres and ribbed front ones-often borrowed from a farm tractor-are common.

Car results were;
Champion, John Herdman, Painscastle.
Scratch, under 1.200cc lst F.R .Lloyd Glasbury, 2” M Partington Kentchurch, 3rd M.D.Powell Forest Coal Pit.

Over 1.200 cc J Herdman, 2nd L Powell Michaelchurch Eskley, J Rogers, Woolhope.
Handicap under 1.200 cc i B Williams Cwmdu, 2 H Cooke Kingsthom, 3 M Partington. Over 1.200 cc, 1 M Powell Michaelchurch, 2 J Herdman, 3 j Richards Talybont.
None-Winners, under 1.200 cc Pt J Watkins, Wonnbridge, 2ndG Roberts, Abergavenny. 3 D Wynters, Mordiford.

The success of the event owed a lot to the skill of the handicapper, Mr Jack Griffiths, Painscastle, and to Mr W Layton who gave the field. (Winner of the day below)




Driver Has Narrow Escape at Race Meeting: Jalopy Leaves The Ground and Turns Over.
Mr Percy Powell, 30 year-old proprietor, of Crossways Garage, Michaelchurch
Escley, had a narrow escape from death, at Saturday’s jalopy race meeting at Pontypinna, Vowchurch.
When challenging for second place in the third heat of the open race in a car he built
his self, he collided with another car driven by Fred Lloyd of Glasbury. He was thrown into the air. His car also left the ground and turned over in the air to fall beside him, only inches saved him.
An ambulance rushed him to the County Hospital Hereford, where he was found to be suffering from concussion and detained for observation. Percy Powell, the only son of Mr & Mrs P.P.Powell, of Llanveynoe, has shown a considerable talent for developing cars suitable for this new sport.

The meeting was the third held on the 18-acre field at Pontypinna, under the auspices of Vowchurch & Turnastone Grass-Track Committee. Mr Bill Layton who farms Pontypinna, is the chairman of the committee.
Profits went to the Red Cross Peterchurch playing fields, Lower Maescoed Chapel fund, and the Police Benevolent Fund.
The open race was won by Clive Lewis, a 22 year-old farmer of The Post Office Longtown, driving the basic essentials of the pre-war Hillman Minx.
Len Gwilliam, an Abergavenny lorry driver, at the wheel of a 2 litre SS Jaguar chassis and engine dating from the mid-1930s, was second, and Keith Bailey of Tillington in a V8 engined Ford Tourer third .Clive Lewis also won the local production car race.
The programme was completed by the motor-cycle grass track racing.

Cars,local 1st L Gwilliam, 2nd Melvin Powell, 3rd Percy Powell; OPEN. 1st Clive
Lewis, 2nd L Gwilliam, 3 Keith Bailey. PRODUCTION CARS Local 15t Clive
Lewis,2’ Godfrey Layton,3’ Fred Morris, OPEN 1St Godfrey Layton, 2nd Clive
Lewis, 3’ Tom Layton.( cutting ripped off the rest).



A split second after the top picture was taken, 31 years old local garage
proprietor Percy Powell, of Bob’s Shop, was thrown into the air, and his
car, (no 2) hurtled after him, (car no 26 is Fred Lloyd of Glasbury Garage)
The car no 2 can be seen leaving the track.
The incident took place at Vowchurch jalopy race, which was held at
Pontypinna, at which 18-stone Percy was local champion. Today (1962/63)
he is in a ward at the County Hospital Hereford with concussion.
The second picture on this page shows the scene with Percy going up
and over on the rear end of Fred Lloyd’s jalopy then, immediately after the
crash, Percy receiving attention, and the crashed car being pushed away.
Some of the people in the photo are: white coat is Clare Atkinson from
White House Turnastone, a dairy farmer, kneeling down looks like Clive
Lewis with the cap on?, clearing up the bits, big fellow? Leonard Powell,
Owen Jones, the other 4, the one standing looks like Melvin Powell but the others, don’t know.



Reply to Comments on Television
In a letter to the Editor, the director of the Herefords branch of the Britsh Red Cross Society, Crd D Lampen, DSO, OBE, draws attention to the recent BBC Television programme “Tonight” when a local jalopy meeting was featured.
Some of your readers may have seen on the “Tonight” programme on Wednesday 27th September 1963/64?, a report on the jalopy meeting at Vowchurch, in which the commentator made two adverse comments on the efficiency of the Red Cross Ambulance Team, which was present. These were that the ambulance took 6 minutes to reach the scene of the accident, and that the driver of the ambulance, did not known his way out of the ground, “May I give the true story”. When the accident occurred the first-aid attendant went at once to the accident, when he saw the condition of the man thrown from his car, he at once called the ambulance. Aa racing was still in progress, to take the ambulance at once on to the course before it was found to be necessary, might have caused further collisions. When the ambulance was leaving the ground it was called by loud speaker to go round by the secretary’s office.. This the driver did - hence the appearance of the drivers not knowing his way.
“I would like to point out that the drivers and attendants are voluntary workers and give up their time both for training and to be attend such meetings, or in fact any meetings or gatherings where accidents may occur”

Vowchurch and Turnastone show a great success..
For the third consecutive year, Pontypinna, Vowchurch, home of Mr & Mrs Bill Layton, was transformed into a miniature race circuit on Saturday as jalopy car and motor cycles sped around a grass track.
The occasion was Vowchurch and Turnastone Show, officials of which introduced jalopy racing to the country three years ago 1960 (which started up on the aerodrome at Coed-Poeth).
Once again a thrill-a-second was given to the hundreds of spectators
During its brief history, the sport has grown tremendously in Herefordshire and the border counties, and the a group of enthusiasts in Monmouthshire are now trying to build jalopy racing into a rival of Aintree.
Mr E.L.Lewis (show secretary) said he thought the popularity of the jalopy racing was because it was catering for everyone.
It attracted young competitors because of the danger, it provided a thrilling spectacle for onlookers and was a very good way of raising money for a good cause.
Many thrilling moments
To cater for the 40 competitors who descended on Pontypinna from as far afield as Cheltenham, Pontypool and Cwmbran, it was necessary to stage up to 7 heats in one event before the final could be held.
As the drivers raced, braked, and swerved around the course, the cars, which resembled the contents of a local scrap yard, gave spectators many thrilling moments.
Materially worth about £5, but priceless to their owners, the cars came in shape and sizes. They included imposing black funeral hearses.
A number of cars overturned and on one occasion a vehicle out of control careered towards the crowed ringside, before it was halted by a wooden post. In spite of all the thrills and spills, there were no serious accidents and members of St John Ambulance Brigade (Ross Group), who attended the show had a quiet day.
The show, opened by the president Mr V. Lloyd Cothill, Turnastone, raised about £150.00 for Turnastone Church, Vowchurch Church, Vowchurch School and Vowchurch Memorial Hall.
The Results
Cars 12 .h.p..and under, 1st P Ingram, 2nd G Beston, 3rd Fred Lloyd
Handicap 1st Fred Lloyd, 2nd B Williams, 3rd H Price,
Over 12 h.p. 1st A.J.Tudor, 2” Clive Lewis, 3rd Melvin Powell.
Handicap 1st Godfrey Layton, 2”” Clive Lewis, 3’’ Melvin Powell.
Any h.p. open, 1st Clive Lewis,2nd Fred Lloyd, 3rd Godfrey Layton.
non — prize winners, 1st J.E.Homer, 2nd C. Symonds, 3rd B Powell.
(Copies) of Photos & writing out of my 1962/63 scrapbooks, Grace Davies July 2014)


Over 2.000 at successful Eskleyside Event.
Although there was no accidents or up-turned vehicles, some 2.000 spectators found plenty of excitement at Eskleyside Agriculture Society car and motor-cycle races on Saturday (1962/63 ?).
The car races took the form of jalopy racing - a sport which has become increasingly popular since it was introduced in the county last year. The cars stripped of all but their bare essentials, battled round the 600- yard circuit which, because of rain the previous evening, became cut-up after the first few heats
This all helped to increase excitement, especially on the corners, which a number of drivers managed to negotiate on 2 wheels at the same time jostling other cars which ventured to close.
This event was a departure from the traditional annual sports and horticulture show. After the past 2 years when financially they had been unsuccessful it was decided that jalopy and motor-cycle races would prove a bigger attraction.
The meeting was held at Bridge Farm Michaelchurch Eskley, by invitation of Mr Michael Hunter, and all proceeds will go towards the organisation of the society’ s annual events of shearing, ploughing and hedging competitions.
Results were;
Cars under 1.200 c.c Open F Lloyd,2’ M Parkington, 3rd M Powell.
Handicap, 1st M Parkington, 2rd F Lloyd, 3rd R Beaton.
Non- prize Winners, 1st P Powell, 2nd R Evens, 3’’ T Layton.
Over 1.200 c.c Open lstG Layton, 2 M.W.Powell, 3’ C Lewis.
Handicap, 1st M Powell, 2nd L Powell, 31( G Layton.
Non-prizewinners, 1st F Rawlins, 2’ T Wilson.
Motor-cycles, Open. 1st C Lewis,2’ J Buscombe,3r K Smith.
Handicap, 1st C Lewis, 2m1 D Gibbons, 3’ J Buscombe.


Wye Valley Trial

R. B. Young (490 Norton) and P. Wraith (497 Ariel sc),
Solo and Sidecar Whiners Respectively

LAST Saturday’s national Wye Valley Trial was run on similar lines to those introduced last year. That is to say, the event embraced a combination of rough, I.S.D.T.-type going against a tight time schedule, there were observed sections—notably severe ones—in the early afternoon, and to end the trial competitors had to cover 12 laps (25 miles) of the Madley airfield circuit, maintaining for the distance schedule speeds laid down by the Wye Valley Club. These innovations were introduced to meet the criticisms current last year that trials were on the wrong lines and not nearly severe enough.
The majority of the competitors last year welcomed the changes and applauded them, classing the event as one of the best in the calendar. Yet the total entry for this year’s event was 55—a remarkably small number for a national trial. Some maintained that the entry would have been bigger had it not been for the fact that the start of the Scottish was only a week ahead. Others were heard to remark that had there been anything else on they “wouldn’t have come down here.” All of which goes to show that where unpredictability is concerned women have nothing on motor cyclists.
Stiff Time Section
Last Saturday’s trial started from Hereford at 10.30 a.m. Throughout the day a benign sun beamed on the county of Herefordshire. Five miles from the start, there were three observed sections at Twyford Common, but they were very easy and caused all but no loss of marks. The time section lay between Garway Common and Longtown, by way of Pontrilas, a distance of 12 miles. The schedule was well calculated, and the taps had to be kept wide if marks were not to be lost. F. H. Whittle, the Panther sidecar exponent, had trouble here; his clutch cable broke and the replacement when in position did not fit. At Longtown, there was a lunch check—or so it was said. But unless riders were carrying their own sandwiches, they went hungry because the refreshment van failed to appear.
Between the lunch check and the speed test there lay 35 tough miles embracing eleven main observed sections. First of all there was Trelanden, which caused 25 minutes’ delay among the solos and defeated completely every one of the ten sidecars. Then came Trewern, Turnant, Darkie and the famous rock-stepped Middle Cwm. One of the rock steps, met during a brisk piece of motoring by J. H. C. Daniels’ Triumph sidecar outfit, split the outer gear-box case, effectively putting the machine into the retired list. The rocks on Middle Cwm were covered in green moss that gave them a surface providing about as much wheel grip as does polished ice. Solos, generally, were in trouble all the way. P. F. Hammond (498 Triumph) dropped his machine; the most spirited and most successful climb among the early numbers was by H. Vale (498 Triumph).
Difficult Rock Steps
The next section was Tymawr and then Hermit’s Lane, so called because of the old hermit who lived thereabouts until she died last year. As usual, the rocks in the top section, though dry on Saturday, caused endless bother. Rider after rider tackled the steps, taking them square and with a blip of throttle in the approved manner, only to meet failure or to have to foot vigorously, P. F. Hammond was the first to achieve success which he did by making lightning, chamois-like leaps up the right-hand bank, thereby avoiding the highest steps altogether. Later there were Pumkins, Old Tay, Castle Hill and Fine Street. The section used here was lower than last year’s, and just as severe, the rocky stream proving just as rough and unnegotiable. There were four sections. Of the first 30-odd riders through only H. C. Fowler (348 B.S.A.), R. B. Young (490 Norton) and F. P. Minter (490 Norton) were clean, in the first section. There were rather more cleans in the second section, none at all in the third, though W. Young (490 Norton) required only one dab. B. W. Martin (122 Francis-Barnett) was clean in the fourth section and made the best showing among all those seen.
Then to Madley, where many engines sounded the worse for wear—though some were surprisingly lively - and one or two riders were seen to be tiding round the circuit with both tyres flat!
Wye Valley Cup (best solo performance).—R. B. Young (490 Norton). marks lost. 19.
Wye Valley Cup (best sIdecar performance).—P. Wraith (497 Ariel Sc, 29.
Stewart Team Trophy (best team ot three).—Wye Valley Auto Club ‘A’ Team (N. J, Crwn (498 Triumph). T. H. Mitchell (490 Norton), A. Sbutt (348 B.S.A.).
“Tiddlers” Trophy (best under l25.cc) - B. W. MartIn (122 Francls—Barnett). 24.
Watson Cup (best 125-250 cc.). W. E. Jackson (248 TrIumph), 90.
Indrupro Challenge Cup (best 350 c.c,),—P. Powell (348 ArieI), 22.
“The Motor Cycle” Trophy (best over 350 c.c.>. P. P. Hammond (496 Triumph), 21,
Nulsec Cup (best sidecar under 350 c,c.).—F. E. Woodwurd (347 Matchless). 54,
Wye Valley Auto Club Cup (best sidecar over 350 o.c.).—CJ, L. BUCK (497 Ariel Sc). .90.
Zimmerman Cup (best Western Centre Club Team).—Gloucester and Cotswolds: W. H. Jackson (248 TrIumph) R.G. Jackson (123 B.S.A.). H. KIng (490 Norton)
Howard Cup (best Wye Valley member resident in Hereford).—K. L. Jones (135 B.S.A.) 87.
First Class Awards.—H. Vale (498 Triumph). 21; W. Young (490 Norton). 21; H. King (490 Norton), 21; A. Shutt (348 B.S.A.). 24; F. P. Minter (490 Norton), 35; It. 0. Jackson (121 B.S.A.), 37; A. J. Humphrlea (490 Norton so), 36; T. H. Aahcroft (490 Norton so), 39.


G. J. Draper (490 Norton) and F. H. Whittle (598 panther sc), the Solo and Sidecar Winners

THE Motor Cycle, 1 MAY 1952

FOLLOWING his success in -the Travers .L Trophy Trial of a week before, John Draper (490 Norton) made best performance in last Saturday’s national Wye Valley Traders’ Cups Trial after a tie on observation with the very promising young rider from Stroud, E. King, who was also riding a 490 c.c. Norton; the destination of the premier award was decided by one-fifth of a second on the very short stop-and- restart test. Best in the poprly supported sidecar class was veteran F. H. Whittle, whose 598 cc. Panther outfit carried him around the rocky 67-mile course with a loss of 30 marks.
The first competitor, Rex Young (490 Norton)—last year’s winner—was dispatched promptly at 10.31 a.m. from the Sale Yard at Peterchurch. Within a couple- of miles came the stop-and restart test, followed by nearly 40 miles of interesting second- and third-class road (much of it familiar to I.S.D.T. riders) which had to be covered at an average of 20 m.p.h. So simple a task was this, however, that competitors reached the rime check at Longtown with anything up to 50 minutes in hand, and many were heard to express the opinion that more rough. stuff would have been an improvement during the morning’s run. -
During the afternoon there was no such deficiency I Within a few minutes of Longtown there was the first observed section, rocky Trelanden, where little more than half a dozen solos were clean. For sidecars the situation was hopeless; the rock steps were altogether too high and too awkwardly placed. Somewhat similar was Turnant, though here it was an easy matter to avoid the worst of the rocks if unencumbered by a third wheel.
An invigorating ride along the eastern escarpment of the Black Mountains brought competitors to Darkie, a rocky ascent which, so rumour has it, still remains to be conquered. John Draper came mighty near to achieving this ambition but had to indulge in one steadying prod.
Next - on the’ list was Cwm Steps, without which no Wye Valley Trial would be complete. Like a flight of stone stairs, the hill was in fine condition on Saturday; there were six unpenalized ascents on the top half and only half that number on the lower reaches. Draper was one of the three, and shared this distinction with two B.S,A. Bantam riders.—G. E. Fisher and L. Wyer.
Hermit’s Lane was another serious stumbling block, and it cost Draper a stop. - Fine Street, too, took a heavy toll of marks; nobody completed .the three sub-sections without penalty. It is ,no more or less than a rocky river bed, and one of the outstanding performanes was that of the brilliant local rider, P. Powell, who, on his ancient girder- fork Ariel won the 350 c.c. class cup for the second year in succession.
Only one more obstacle remained—known as Barley Knapp—before competitors found themselves back In Peterchurch after nearly 70 miles of arduous going.

Best Solo.—G. J. Draper (490 Norton). 18 marks lost
Best Sidecar— F.H. Whittle (598 Panther sc) 30 marks lost.
125 Cup.—G. K. Fisher (123 B.S..A.). 21.
250 Cup.—A. Shutt (197 Francis-Barnett), - 28.
350 Cup.—P. Powell (348 Ariel). 21.
500 Cup.—E, KIng (490 Norton). 28.
350 Sidecar Cup—K. U. Holoway (348 Panther sc) 51.
500 SIdesar Cup.— P. Wraith (497 Ariel sc) 33.
Western Centre Cup. —W. A. Jackson (249 Triumph)’ 35.
Wye Valley Cup.—W. A. Parker (197 Dot). 55
Team Prize.—Norton: G. J. Draper. R. B. Young, J. V Smith. 96
First Class AWards.—D. S. - Evans (144 Royal Enfleld) 22; E. W. Smith (122 Francls-Barnett). 23; L. Wyer (123 B.S.A.), 32; A. H. Frost (197 D.M.W.)34; R B. Young (490 Norton), 35; T. J. crump (498 Triumph). 58; H. O. Anderson (498 Triumph), 38; T. H. Ashcroft (490 Norton, Sc). 43.



Percy Powell in his jalopy

The accident

Melvin Powell in the ditch [allegedly put there by Leonard Powell]

Jalopy race

Crowds at the Vowchurch and Turnastone show jalopy race

Melvin Powell’s jalopy at the Vowchurch and Turnastone show

More jalopy race competitors


Jalopy racing at Pontypinna

Jalopy racing - on the aerodrome at Michaelchurch?

Jalopy racing at Turnastone and Vowchurch show

Ewyas Harold Jalopy races

In the ‘pits’ before a jalopy race

Percy Powell competing in a motorcycle trial

Wye Valley Motorcycle trial

Wye Valley Motorcycle trial

Wye Valley Motorcycle trial





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