The Shuttleworth Veteran Aeroplane Society volunteers have been back in the heart of Buckinghamshire at the Kop Hill Climb again this year. This year’s team once again included Richard Martin and myself, as seasoned attendees, with Josh Firby and Martin Oldham joining us for the first time (though I doubt it will be their last time).
The event started in 1910 but was closed following a series of accidents on the hill, but not before it had become a major event on the sports car and motorcycle calendar; thus attracting the likes of Malcolm Campbell in his 12hp Talbot Blue Bird and Count Zborowski in the 8 cylinder Ballot, recording the fastest time in the aero-engined motor with a time of 26.8 for the competitive section. The motorcycles of the day were also included and fared somewhat better on the hill, with Freddie Dixon recording a competitive section time of 22.8 on a 736cc Douglas – an amazing 81mph
A final accident in 1925, involved a spectator being hit by an inexperienced driver and ending up with a broken leg. An RAC Steward stopped the meeting and a week later a statement was issued by the Auto-Cycle Union revoking the event permit
The Kop Hill Climb re-opened in 2009 as a non-competitive, fund raising event and has become internationally renowned, seeing in excess of 15,000 attendees and around £240,000 being donated to local charities and community projects. The main aim is to recreate Kop Hill’s glory days of the 1920/30’s and enable drivers and riders to experience the thrill of the hill.
As the Vehicle Sections motorcycle specialist, it is hardly surprising Richard has his own vehicles and he selected a 1929 Scott Flying Squirrel motorcycle with its 500cc twin-cylinder engine to tackle the hill. In addition, he took along the Collection’s 1904 Aurora and 1919 Stafford Mobile Pup as static exhibits; the quirkiness of both generating significant interest from visitors and other participants.
Josh was also fortunate enough to ride up the hill, not once but twice. The first time on a 1928 Scott Flying Squirrel owned by Bob Woodman, and the second on a Velocette KTP 350cc own by John Buckingham; another regular at the climb and also the person behind the Sunbeam Owners Club.
The reasons SVAS volunteers attend at external affairs like this is to both support events with a common theme and also to encourage a more diverse range of visitors to come and visit The Shuttleworth Collection. All 4 of us spent the majority of our time talking to visitors at the stand, advising on the exhibits but also encouraging them to come to Old Warden and experience not only the history of flight and the many unique aviation exhibits, but also to see the wider range of vehicles from vintage bicycles and carriages, family exhibits and vehicles that Richard Shuttleworth has taken on the prestigious London to Brighton Car Run. We further promoted how much visiting an airshow has become a family event, with the opportunity to view the Shuttleworth’s family home and Swiss Gardens. As the timing of the Kop Hill event was during the lead up to The Spirit of Shuttleworth Race Day on the 1st October, we were also able to encourage some of the Kop Hill drivers and riders to register for the sprint down the runway at our own event to be held two weeks later and was great to see familiar faces enjoying our event in spite of the weather.
Thanks once again go to Richard for organising our participation in this event. It’s a fairly small but very friendly affair and one of my favourites on the calendar. Thanks also to Martin and Josh for giving up their time through the weekend to put Shuttleworth at the forefront of another motoring classic.
Happy Trails – Debbie