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70th Anniversary, 19-21 May 2023

Our weekend to celebrate 70 years since the Z Magnette launch was fittingly based in the Abingdon area, with the house and grounds of Milton Manor providing a stunning backdrop for the first day. It started early for some participants, with a Friday evening pub meal in Milton, then the organizers gathered on the following morning to prepare for the arrival of about 25 cars expected.

In contrast to the thunderstorm of the previous night, by 10am it was already warm and sunny, and after collecting their bags with souvenir mugs, t-shirts and rally plates, most participants were happy to sit and talk or admire the assembled line-up. Claiming equal honours for distance travelled - although not in their Magnettes - were David & Kerri Halliday on a return visit from Melbourne, and Luis & Imelda from Mexico, taking in the MG 100 event on the following weekend

Around midday we were invited to a private tour of the house, which has been in the same family since the 18th century, and features two wings added to the original building (thought to date from 1660) a private Catholic chapel and some very rare and well-preserved Chinese wallpaper

Following the tour, a picnic lunch was served and chairman Paul Batho unveiled the auto-gymkhana he had set up in the field behind the house. Although apparently a regular fixture in Register weekends up to the early 2000s, many of us had not taken part in this sort of challenge, testing manoeuvring accuracy and cooperation between driver and passenger rather than outright speed. So there were few advance entries, but once the format had been demonstrated enthusiasm increased and eventually 10 drivers completed the course

Proceedings concluded about 4pm with the cutting of the 70th birthday cake by Celia Palmer, daughter of Magnette designer Gerald Palmer and Register President. The cake was a remarkably accurate model of a ZA made by The Cake Shop in Oxford, with all chrome trim correctly reproduced in icing  - and it tasted very good too !

The day finished with an evening pub meal, with guest speaker MGCC President John Day, himself a former Magnette owner. On Sunday morning we had a fairly relaxed start, assembling at Kimber House for coffee and more of the special cake. Paul Batho presented the NTG Concours trophy to Bob Williamson for his ZB which had previously been owned by Mark and Claire Bacchus

A scenic drive from Abingdon then took us through picture-postcard villages, passing the Barley Mow inn which featured in MG sales brochure photos, arriving at Dorchester-on-Thames just in time for lunch at the George Hotel. This was followed by a further drive to Nuffield Place, home of William Morris and now preserved by the National Trust.

After viewing the house and gardens, those who hadn't already eaten enough could enjoy more tea and cake before heading for home. The organizers Paul Batho, John & Cynthia Harris, Stephen Tickell and Clive Webb were pleased and relieved at the success of the weekend, which had admittedly been somewhat weather dependent, and comments from others suggested it was an enjoyable way to mark the anniversary

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