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Somerset Tour 3-4 July

Somerset – the rural English county famous for its cheese, cider and cars. Cars? Well, it's a little known fact that when Mr Richard Stephens established Clevedon Motor Cars in Clevedon, Somerset, in 1897 he became arguably the first motor manufacturer in Britain. Then, nearly 90 years later John Haynes, who had made his fortune publishing the eponymous Workshop Manuals, opened the Haynes International Motor Museum in Sparkford to create what is now a collection of over 400 historic cars. So yes, Somerset truly a county with a great motoring tradition and it also offers some memorable touring routes


In the morning of the first Saturday in July, 13 Magnettes and an MGA plus their 29 occupants met at the Haynes Museum to commence the Magnette Tour of Somerset, an event originally planned for April 2020. Most of the participants had not seen each other for at least 18 months, and it was also lovely to welcome some new Magnetteers. Kent and Deb Edlund were all the way from Wyoming (via 30 years in Bournemouth) while Tony and Glendyr Saward had more recently arrived in Lincolnshire from South Africa. Others had travelled from all points of England, and all were pleased to catch up with the Register president, Celia Palmer, who had travelled from Oxford to join us for the weekend. This meant that most people spent a good hour chatting in the Magnette area of the car park before being tempted by the spectacular attractions of the museum, not the least of which was a very original, low-mileage Magnette ZA in the 'Morris Story' display.

After lunch we were off to Montacute House, an almost unaltered Elizabethan mansion built around 1598 by Sir Edward Phelips and owned by his descendants until 1931 when it was bought by the National Trust. A truly magnificent place which served excellent teas.....though many Magnette owners also spent much time in the car park! Here we were unexpectedly joined by Adrian and Pat Tomlinson, late of Abingdon and now Somerset residents, who have been restoring their Magnette for quite a few years. They arrived in a splendid Triumph 2000 Estate, but being back amongst Magnettes will surely have hastened completion of the restoration!

Rosie Jones had organised dinner in the Old Tannery in her home town of Glastonbury, where conversation occasionally had to compete with heavy downpours pounding the roof and cheers from the neighbouring bar as England scored their 4 goals against Ukraine! Rosie had brought along her magnificent Magnette ZB Varitone on almost its first outing after completion of a lengthy restoration started by her late husband, Trevor. The finished car is a huge tribute to Trevor's restoration skills and to the determination of Rosie and their son Andrew to complete the work that Trevor began. He would have been very proud of the result.

After a short tour of Glastonbury the following morning it was off to the nearby city of Wells with its beautiful Gothic cathedral next to the moated bishop's palace, in the grounds of which another Magnette tour had finished a few years ago. But this being a tour, all too soon we were back on the road and heading for Cheddar, and a winding climb up the limestone gorge to the top of the Mendip Hills. By 1:00 we had all assembled in the Castle of Comfort inn in East Harptree, whose strange name apparently derives from it being the final stop for prisoners on their way to be hanged at Gibbetts Brow nearby. No such morbid outcome for us, though – we were there to dine!

After lunch it was time for farewells and general agreement about how good it had been to get back together and do something after such a long period of enforced inactivity! It had been a great tour - long may the much-awaited return to normality continue.

Text by Paul Batho

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