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Lou Shorten Tribute Weekend 5-6 Oct 2019

This season the rain gods decided they did not like our beloved Magnettes – consider the evidence:
MG Live was cancelled so that the track could be resurfaced – local TV news film showed the machines under cover due to flooding where they were supposed to be working – poetic justice.

Your committee met at the Shelsley Hill Climb for an informal meeting which we held standing under umbrellas.

At the 2 day meeting at Kop Hill the weather flattered to deceive as Saturday was dry and bright but breezy. A glorious Sunday morning was followed by monsoon like rain which stopped the event for 2 hours, while the Register gazebo proved a very popular refuge until play was resumed.

What happened at Norwich? – well, just read on.


This year 41 members arrived from 10.30 onwards and started by drinking many litres of tea and coffee served by Jenny & Ed (Lou's daughter and son-in-law). What a wonderful job they did – thank you. From 12.30 the buffet provided by John Shorten, (many thanks, John) became a Natter & Nosh as members were forgetting to eat while talking, all being too well bred to talk with their mouth's full. During the afternoon the event gathered pace as Mike Laflin gave a talk on his ZA and Mk IV Farina, both of which are very interesting cars. The ZA features a supercharger and an electric fan which is fitted behind the radiator thanks to a cunning modification to the water pump to keep the fan belt in its original position. Disc brakes are now used to stop this projectile. The MkIV Farina is an historic car, having been previously owned and used by John Thornley. The interior is still immaculate but look under the bonnet where an HRG Derrington alloy cross-flow head is fitted together with larger S.U. carburettors (a Weber would not fit due to insufficient space). However Mike did find space for a Ford 5-speed gear box.

Two truly inspirational cars. This talk was scheduled for last year but rain stopped play. This year the sun shone.

Mike was followed by Mac Pile and Peter Martin who explained how to improve speedometer Lighting. The filter which creates a green hue tends to blacken with age but Mac explained how to strip the instrument and replace the filter with a new one provided by Peter. This filter is curved plastic which Peter has had re-manufactured with material of the correct specification and dimensions.

While the boys were playing with their toys Jackie Pile was amusing the ladies by explaining how to wrap presents without sellotape. The answer is to use good quality paper which can be folded like origami. Many ideas were swapped amid much hilarity.

In the evening 32 members gathered at the Wensum Valley Hotel for dinner at 6.30. The meal was quickly served, and with three circular tables the atmosphere was convivial and conversation flowed freely. After the meal it was time for the prizes to be presented by our President Celia Palmer, the M.C. for the evening being our Chairman Paul Batho.

  • NTG Trophy Colin & Ella Goldsworthy
  • Concours at Main Event Alan & Julia Cleobury
  • David Johnson Award Barrie & Sheila Hope
  • Best Home Restoration Ian Williams
  • California Cup Not awarded as this is for the fastest Magnette in the MG Live auto test and MG Live was not held in 2019

As members adjourned for the evening, one topic of conversation was the pessimistic weather forecast for Sunday. Awaking on Sunday, all our worst fears were realised as a dull, wet picture greeted us. But, we had plans to visit Bressingham Gardens & Steam Museum and 20 brave souls decided to risk it. With floods developing and spray from the traffic on major roads, the heavy rain created horrendous driving conditions.

On arrival at Bressingham we congregated in the reception area until most had arrived and then made a quick dash to the Dad's Army museum, fortunately under cover. The café was also a welcome haven from the relentless rain as was the locomotive and rolling stock exhibition. The steam trains were running punctually to time and provided sights of the Bressingham Estate. Fortunately the carriages had roofs and although open sided the wind was almost non-existent and so the rain did not create too many problems. The little train through the formal gardens had open carriages but as we approached the guard appeared with squeegee and cloth to dry the seats before we sat down. The gardens must be a magnificent sight in the dry. The gallopers were also running whenever a customer appeared, the horses on the outside edge being covered.

All the attractions closed early to allow the staff (all volunteers) and visitors a chance to return home following radio warnings of closed roads due to floods. Those of us who returned to the hotel all had tales to tell of the circuitous routes followed, after all, 2 inches of rain in 12 hours is a lot to drain away.

So ended a memorable season.

Text by John Harris, photos by Cynthia Harris and Anthony White

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