Not wanting to repeat my six-hour drive home from the Pontmeirien Tour, and to take advantage of my starting point in North Wales, I took two days to get home with a bit of a diversion.
Just north and west of Pontmeirien lies Anglesey and Holyhead Island. Again, these are steeped in history from pre-historic times. Anglesey is a peninsula that juts into the Atlantic, with Holyhead Island at its tip. Anglesey was the breadbasket of Wales in medieval times and hotly contested by the Vikings, Saxons and Danes. It’s lovely rolling hills with excellent farm land. Holyhead was the last refuge of the Druids in the time of the Romans (200-400AD). Try as they may, the Romans never completely wiped out the Druids on Holyhead, which at that time was protected by a treacherous channel (today bridged). Eventually they conquered most of the island and built a very unusual fort. The only three-sided fort in the UK.
THE OLD ROMAN FORT WALLS, WITH LOVELY ADORNMENT
Only three sides were needed as the fourth side abutted a steep cliff which fell to the ocean. Much of the outer wall of the fort still stands and can be seen above. The unusual herringbone building technique was a typical Roman style and proved stronger than laying stone in the normal horizontal way.
Many years after the Romans departed, and the land was Christianized, the property was given to St. Cybil (not then a saint of course, but a well-regarded missionary) who established a small church and monastery which still stands and is in use.
After that two-hour detour I headed back across Anglesey on the “historic” A5, which was built over the old Roman road. Back across North Wales through some beautiful countryside and eventually into England (yeah! I can read the road signs again!) Across Shropshire and Hertfordshire to Ludlow, a lovely old market town that still hosts various markets in its large main square almost everyday (fruits and vegetables one day, flowers and plants the next and flea market the next, and so on).
I overnighted at the Dinham Hall, formerly student housing in an old merchant’s home. I had a nice little junior suite in the “Garden Cottage”. I spent the evening wandering around town and photographing some of the beautifully preserved half-timbered structures shown below. It was eerily quiet on a Wednesday night, but I suppose the weekends are busy. Originally, I planned to stay at the Feathers, shown below, but the two ensuite rooms came with a warning, “these rooms are located just above the bar and may be noisy until closing time at midnight”. Didn’t sound like a good idea. Nor did staying in one of the higher up rooms which would have required negotiating the hallways for nighttime bathroom trips.
THE FEATHERS, CIRCA 1450
The purpose of all this was the chance to visit the Morgan Factory in nearby Malvern. Malvern itself has a rich history, but I won’t bore you further. I had the 10am tour, so after an hour’s drive in more lovely countryside, I arrived.
I am sure most of you know the history of Morgan, the oldest car factory in the world under continuous ownership. For the story, you can visit their website: https://www.morgan-motor.co.uk/
Most of you also know that Morgan is famous for its high-performance sports cars that still (after over 100 years) feature wood frames under aluminum bodies and retro styling. Every car is totally hand made with traditional tools (no electric or air powered tools used anywhere). Every car is pre-sold and built to order (bespoke in “English”). The wait time, which used to be years, is now down to less than a year thanks to increased production (about 800 vehicles a year, of which nearly 200 are the iconic three wheelers).
Currently Morgan can only sell the three-wheelers in the US (under motorcycle regulations) but are very hopeful that they can resume four-wheeler sales next year due to some new legislation that exempts low volume producers from certain safety and crash test requirements.
The factory still operates on the property Morgan purchased in the 1920’s, and pretty much in the same classic old wooden buildings with wood floors. Very quaint.
MORGAN WILL RENT YOU A CAR FOR A FEW HOURS, DAYS OR A WEEK, INCLUDING THIS THREE WHEELER. I WAS SURELY TEMPTED AND MAY GO BACK YET TO DRIVE ONE
Old world craftsmanship was in evidence every as the photos show. They create wonderful and powerful cars (especially with the Ford and BMW V8’s) and it was great to see so many young workers learning the traditional skills.
THE MIGHTY BMW V8 POWERPLANT FOR A 2000 LB. CAR!
TRIMMING METAL WITH HAND SHEARS. FORMING BONNETS TOTALLY BY HAND FROM SHEET ALUMINUM
THE ONLY BENT WOOD PARTS OF A MORGAN ARE THE REAR FENDERS. THESE FORMS HAVE BEEN IN USE FOR OVER 50 YEARS
THIS IS HOW YOU “FASTEN” THINGS IN A MORGAN FACTORY
MORGAN ONLY USES ASH FROM ENGLAND, AS THEY HAVE FOUND THE WOOD SOURCED IN FRANCE AND GERMANY TO BE RIDDLED WITH SHRAPNEL FROM TWO WORLD WARS, AS ABOVE
A nice two-hour, up close and personal tour and highly recommended if you are in this part of England. More random photos below.
Well, today is the Royal Wedding (or “was” for you as you read this). Did you get up at 2AM to watch? It should be a big day here in Bledington as the King’s Head is throwing a big party (as are most of the other pubs in the county), with discounted beer and food, live simulcast on a big screen, bounce houses on the green for the kids, live music and more. The locals are mildly peeved that the wedding is being held on a Saturday, otherwise they would have gotten an extra paid holiday off.
Sunday is a big car show in Chiltern Hills (about an hour’s drive) so I must go get the Jag cleaned up.
The Jag Let Me Down (?)
On my way home from Malvern, I noticed that the brake pedal was getting a bit spongey. I still had brakes, but the pedal was low and soft. Stopping to investigate I found the reservoir empty! I topped it up (yes, I have brake fluid on board, and oil and antifreeze), but obviously I had sucked air into the system. It took 2000 miles (that’s how many miles I have on so far) to empty the reservoir, so whatever was leaking was not too bad. Shame on me for not checking it earlier. The car is running so well that I had become a bit lax in my fluid checks (no more).
Luckily, I found a classic car repair shop only five miles away! Dropped the car off at 9am Friday and they called at 4 to tell me it was ready. Seems the stainless steel covered brake hoses I had installed before the trip had “bedded in” and needed tightening. After a refill and bleed, everything is back to normal. It was nice to get the car up on a lift anyway and have everything inspected. Lesson learned, check fluids daily!
MORGAN HOSPITALITY BUS
ONE OF THREE CUSTOM BODIED MORGANS MADE IN THE 70’S
PROTOTYPE OF UPCOMING ALL ELECTRIC MORGAN