I always look forward to the two Autumn gatherings of the NE Mercedes-Benz Club – at Whitley Bay and at Beamish Museum.
The Whitley Bay Classic Car Show started four years ago and at each one we have seen the area being transformed thanks to the North Tyneside Council’s regeneration scheme for the town. The refurbished toilets at Watts Slope definitely have the wow factor.
The area to the south of those toilets has dramatically changed for the better with a wide promenade by the sea and the new Premier Inn. We did enjoy the view from our bedroom window (pictured above) at that hotel but were sad to find that we could not open the window and so let in the sea breeze.
We are looking forward to next year when the promenade beside The Links where the car show is held will be open again after refurbishment. The biggest attraction, however, will be the Spanish City with its splendid white dome and statues of dancing ladies back once more atop the re-instated cupolas.
The restoration of this historic feature of Whitley Bay could well make the town as popular as it was when Charles Elderton brought his dancing troop, the Toreadors, to the town in the 1900s and then had the Spanish City built.
Before going to Whitely Bay I did quite a lot of research on the internet to find a restaurant that would cater for a vegetarian, those with severe allergies and food intolerances, and children. The result was that, after the car show, we went with Giles and Elaine Brown and their two children to The Astley Arms at Seaton Sluice. The carvery there provided a superb meal for each of us.
The car show, organised by North Tyneside Council, was once again a great success with over 500 cars dating from the mid 1930s to more recent models. The success is largely due to admission being free both for those entering cars and for the public. Then there’s that great location which gets better each year. It always helps, of course, if the sun shines as it did during the morning at this year’s show.
We enjoyed meeting friends, catching up on club news, and browsing among the vintage and classic cars.
Above: some of the members’ cars at Beamish – click on this picture to see more photos of the gatherings at Whitley Bay and Beamish.
A week later we met club members again, this time at Beamish for the Classic Car Day organised by NECPWA North.
This is a very special location with so much to do and see. We went on tram rides while others explored the 1900s Town, the 1940s Farm and the 1900s Pit Village. Most of us took picnics because we knew that there would be long queues at the fish and chip shop and the bakery.
Among the friends who we met both at Whitley Bay and at Beamish were Bill Reid and Kate Workman. It was so sad to hear that they had died in a suspected carbon monoxide incident at their home in High Seaton near Workington on October 22.
They organised events for the Cumbria Mercedes Benz Club for many years. When they stepped down the NE Club took over and we met them at events in Cumbria, and they began attending gatherings in the North East. We will miss them.
Details of how they died from carbon monoxide poisoning due to Bill reversing their Mercedes Benz into a large plastic bag were published in April 2019 following an inquest into their deaths.
Members of the North East and Cumbria Mercedes-Benz Clubs attended classic car rallies at Whitley Bay and Beamish in September 2016. For me the most enjoyable aspects of these events are meeting our friends in the Mercedes-Benz Clubs, and the eclectic and egalitarian character of these classic car rallies. Everyone is welcome and all mixed up together no matter what the original value of the car, its age, or even the stage or the cost of the renovation. (Above: at Beamish. Click on this to see more photos taken at Whitley Bay and at Beamish. Below: an eclectic mix at Whitley Bay)
Our day at Whitley Bay was especially memorable thanks to the warm, sunny weather. What a perfect day to be beside the seaside! It was not surprising that thousands took the opportunity to visit the car rally. And we were so impressed by the way the old toilets at Watts Slope had been refurbished. We look forward to attending the classic car rally next year to see how the rest of the promenade area has been transformed. This year, however, there was fencing between the car rally site and the beach due to that work being in progress.
Good food and drinks were easily available at Whitley Bay, but for the classic car rally at Beamish it was better to take a picnic. From experience we knew there would be long queues at any food outlets at the Beamish Museum. For most of the time we had good weather at Beamish – except at lunch time. Then, in the best of British style, it rained, and everyone ran for cover.
There’s so much to see at Beamish besides looking at all those cars dating back to the 1920s. It is a great day out and another favourite in the Mercedes-Benz Club calendar. Below: low tide at Whitley Bay meant there was a quiet place to sit and enjoy the seaside.
The club’s events began with the Aysgarth Run in April and continued with an outing in the Lake District with Cumbria members in June. Both on this trip and that in August we stayed at The Royal in Dockray. The August visit included attending the Cumbria Classic Car Rally at Dalemain House organised by the Wigton Motor Club. In September N E Mercedes-Benz Club members attended two events: the Whitley Bay Classic Car Show, and NECPWA ‘s classic car day at Beamish Museum. During the year pub meets were held at Burtree Inn, Burtree Gate off the A68 near Darlington each month.
This was our last Aysgarth Run. This event, organised by David Pointon, had usually heralded the start of each year’s programme of events for members of the North East and Cumbria Mercedes-Benz Club.
In 2015 the convoy of cars from Scotch Corner drove via Richmond, Leyburn and Middleham to Coverdale. Quentin and Trish travelled the furthest as they came from just across the Scottish border.
The destination was the Saddle Room restaurant beside the Forbidden Corner at Tupgill Park. Several members said how much they enjoyed this venue – and the magnificent view across the dale from where we were allowed to park. The cars there included an AMG, Pagodas, 107s, 124s, an SLK, a Smart Roadster and a ‘Smarty cab’.
David and his “double” outside the Forbidden Corner in January 2015. That was our first visit to the Saddle Room restaurant – and our first of three very enjoyable meals there.
LAKE DISTRICT OUTING
It was a day to go topless -if you owned a convertible as several North East and Cumbria Mercedes-Benz club members did on the outing to the Lake District on Sunday, June 7. Out of the ten cars seven were cabriolets – including David Pointon’s Smart Diesel. For more photos of that trip click on the picture above – of the line of cars at The Royal at Dockray.
Paul Jobling organised this outing which began at a car park in Penrith. From there he led us on a tour around Bassenthwaite Lake, first along the A66 and then back via the A591. This scenic route provided us with many glorious views of the lake.
We then headed for The Royal at Dockray where Tyrone Castles was waiting for us. Although we were hungry several, including Paul and David, took time to inspect Tyrone’s Bubblecar – a BMW Isetta. Below: A “Mini Roundup at The Royal at Dockray, with David’s Smart car on the right, and Tyrone Castles’s original style Fiat, BMW Isetta and Morris Minor.
The dining room was beautifully prepared for us and David and I certainly enjoyed our meals. We heard lots of other good comments as well.
As I was due to be on duty as a community first responder at 6pm David and I left at 4.15pm. Following Paul’s advice we took the scenic route from Dockray to Penrith – along the side of Ullswater on the A592.
Our big mistake that evening was to use the A66 and we got caught in the heavy congestion following Appleby Fair. When we finally got clear of that and I had sent a message to say I would be late for duty, David decided to take the high road home.
So from Brough we went to Kaber and Barras and then up to Tan Hill. The views across emerald green fields to the northern part of the Lake District were magnificent in the late afternoon sun.
We didn’t reach Wensleydale until 7pm! After a relaxing day and a light supper all I wanted was a peaceful night’s sleep. Instead the emergency phone rang just before 11pm and off I went on a “shout”. It was not a difficult situation, however, and I was soon able to leave the patient in the capable hands of a paramedic. Thankfully there were no more shouts that night.
Many thanks to Paul and to Tyrone for a great day out.
CUMBRIA CLASSIC WEEKEND
I have two special memories of the club’s weekend in the Lake District at the end of August. The first was that the sun shone! And the second was the the warm hospitality and great food at the Royal Hotel, Dockray. This year Mercedes-Benz was one of the three featured marques at the Cumbria Classic Weekend at Dalemain House so well organised by the Wigton Motor Club.
This enjoyable weekend began for David and I with the scenic route through Upper Wensleydale and the Eden Valley and then along the east bank of Ullswater to reach Dockray. At The Royal it was good to meet up with old friends and with Tyrone Castles, the landlord. Some had travelled a long way to join those of us from the North East and Cumbria including from the Isle of Man and Scotland.
Our room was pleasant and comfortable – even if David had to duck to get into the bathroom. The staff were very friendly and helpful and had beautifully prepared the restaurant for us. I was delighted with the honey and mint sauce that Radek, the chief chef, especially made for me to go with lamb shank.
Tyrone went early to the Classic car rally on the Sunday as he was on duty as a steward. He packed his wellies as we were all so used to the field being wet and soggy. He drove his left-hand drive Fiat 500 and Radek was in charge of Tyrone’s well-polished Mercedes R107 SL. Meanwhile some of the club members were busy mopping the water off of their cars for it had rained very hard overnight.
It wasn’t long afterwards when a convoy of Mercedes left the hotel for the short drive to Dalemain House. Slowly but surely we realised that we didn’t need fleeces and sweaters but rather began to seek shelter from the sun! The one person who did dress beautifully and most appropriately for the weather was Cornelia Downham.
There were over 30 Mercedes in our group with 70 members and their partners. There was a great selection of SLs and SLKs from 1970 to this year, with the SLs being the featured model in the Mercedes marque. Other models included David’s E320 Cabriolet and John Collier’s CLK240.
As usual members had brought so much food for the Dutch picnic that there wasn’t enough space on the tables inside the club’s tent. There was even two very special “Mercedes” cake thanks to Chrissie Evans. One was cut but the other was raffled with the money going to charity.
After the al fresco lunch nine Mercedes cars were driven into the main ring and the drivers were interviewed by Paul Jobling. Click on the photo below to see more pictures.
Later Paul fulfilled his final duty as a NE Mercedes-Benz club official by presenting the fun concourse prizes following voting within our group. These went to Brian Green for the Best SL and to Howard Graham for “best of show” with his Gullwing SLS.
Paul has now moved down South and so won’t be assisting Giles Brown and David any more. He was warmly thanked for all he had done for the club by David.
For us the year endedin style with a grand selection of vehicles at the Whitley Bay Classic Car Show on Sunday, September 20 and at the Beamish Museum on September 27. The show at Whitley is organised by the events team of North Tyneside Council and that at Beamish by NECPWA.
Above: Topless at the seaside! Bernie Surtees’ SL500 was one of the last cars to leave Whitley Bay after the Classic Car Show. Click on that photo to see more photos from these two events.
These are two special venues for very different reasons. The show at Whitley Bay at The Links is right by the seashore and not surprisingly on a sunny if breezy afternoon thousands of visitors took the opportunity to browse among the cars as well as enjoy the view across the bay to the lighthouse.
“I loved walking around that show. I find it encouraging because there are no barriers – and its organised by the council,” David said. This means that all those visitors had easy access to the cars, could ask questions, and get a quite a comprehensive glimpse of the history of motoring.
Over 20 Mercedes-Benz club members were there with the cars in our section ranging from Albert Gurteen’s 1964 SL230 to some of the latest SL350s as well as the new E63 AMG V8 BiTurbo brought along by Giles Brown (NE Mercedes Benz club official) thanks to Mercedes Benz of Newcastle.
There was plenty of space between the lines of cars for members to socialise, put seats out for their picnics, and to entertain family as Albert did with John Binks. This event does give us the opportunity to meet with club members and also go sightseeing ourselves. David reminisced about all the cars he had owned in the past and admired some he had never driven – such as the very rare 1935 drop head Railton coupe – a “massive eight cylinder four litre 100 brake horse power petrol guzzling behemoth” as it has been described.
He chatted with Tony Franklin about his 1937 Armstrong Siddeley 12 hp coach built saloon before swapping stories with Derek Cansfield. Derek had brought his Daimler DB18 Tickford all weather cabriolet which was registered in December 1940. This was one of four tourer bodies built by Tickford that year and three were destroyed when the Daimler works were bombed.
It was good to see more food stalls this year but we were surprised to find that there were no veggie burgers nor an ingredients list for the bread rolls so I couldn’t be sure they were milk-free. But David did enjoy his chip butty. He didn’t get one of those the following Sunday at Beamish as he didn’t join those who queued for up to an hour at Davy’s very popular fried fish shop.
We had had the privilege of following Ken Nicholas in his 1989 Lenham GTO Spridget from Wensleydale to Beamish and it was so warm at 9.30am that both cars were topless for the journey.
Derek Cansfield, as the NECPWA chairman organising the event, must have been delighted as over 790 vehicles had been booked in and many of the thousands of visitors took time to come and see them. NECPWA is often affectionately known as the “Nearly Everywhere Club for Pretty Well Anything” and it lived up to that at Beamish with an amazing selection of cars. Again there were about 20 Mercedes which were lined up together thanks to Giles’ careful organisation. Below: Giles, with his son Christopher, keeping watch… An ambulance was called during the afternoon but thankfully the member who was taken ill was able to go home that evening.
There’s so much to do at Beamish that we didn’t see as much of the other club members as we did at Whitely Bay. Ken and Pat went on a tour of the museum before us but returned in time for a picnic in the sun beside David’s 1995 E Class. Yet again we admired the carved wooden stick that Albert Gurteen used to prop up the car boot while having lunch.
As we have been to classic car shows at Beamish several times there wasn’t much that we hadn’t done there. This time we enjoyed the short train ride but wished it could have been longer and visited the Sun Inn again for a drink. It wasn’t until we got into the 1900s Town and wanted to catch a tram that we realised just how busy the museum was that day.
Our homeward journey was again “topless” on what was more like a warm summer’s evening than the beginning of autumn.
Members of the North East Mercedes-Benz club enjoyed several events in 2014: the Aysgarth Run; Classics in Corbridge; Wigton Motor Club’s annual classic car show at Dalemain; Whitley Bay Classic Car Show; andthe NECPWA end of season rally at Beamish open-air museum
The Dalemain weekend included a stay at Best Western Shap Wells Hotel and an opportunity to watch red squirrels.
Aysgarth Run proved to be a big hit this year as it attracted many from the York area as well as friends from as far north as Berwick. And so 47 people in 24 cars converged on the Aysgarth Falls Hotel for Sunday lunch on April 6.
Steve Swann, who runs the hotel with his wife Heather, assisted with car parking but the wet conditions in the field led to him closing the access. The organiser of the event, David Pointon (in the red shirt) ended up with muddy trousers before we even got into the hotel. And as Brian Green’s photos show, he and others had some pushing to do to get one car on the move again after dinner. All that, plus the quiz provided by David, made this a memorable start to this year’s season of club events.
Brian said afterwards: “Many thanks for today. Pauline and I had a great time – and good weather too.” And another member commented on the Mercedes-Benz club forum: “Can I say thank you for a good day out. Lunch was excellent too. And a special thank you to all those who helped push my car out of the mud.” (click on the photo above to see more pictures)
On Sunday, July 6, 2014, club members made their first visit to Northumbria MG club’s Classics in Corbridge– and were very impressed.
Besides the live music, dog shows and also an exhibition of the Hornpipe there was a fine display of vintage, veteran and class vehicles of all makes – and a great variety of modern cars as well. The informality made it even more enjoyable.
Our club was allotted ample space on the edge of the event which made it possible for members to relax, enjoy the sunshine, and amble around the other vehicles as and when they wanted to. And many came to visit us.
The oldest cars in our line-up were two Pagodas dating back to the late 1960s (above). Quite a few of those who visited our group of cars commented that they had not seen an E320 cabriolet before. David Pointon, the owner, explained that only 500 were built with right-hand drive. (below)
Malcolm Young from Seaburn, Sunderland rode to us on a Coventry Tricycle that he built several years ago. This is a replica of the model built in the 1880s. Malcolm explained that he had started by building some replica Penny Farthing bikes and then took on the challenge of constructing the tricycle. He finds the latter a lot more comfortable to ride!
It was good to see how many local charities had benefitted from the fundraising at this annual event.
The Cumbria Classic Car weekend in mid August provided another great opportunity for some members from the North East and Cumbria to enjoy a night at the Best Western Shap Wells Hotel before swelling the ranks of those at Dalemain on the Sunday.
At the hotel I took time off from greeting members to see if the red squirrels would deign to put in appearance for me. After 40 minutes two finally attended my camera-shoot and I was so grateful then to return the warmth and comfort of the hotel. (click on the squirrel to see more photos)
In the bar we had a great time catching up with old friends and making new ones. The hotel staff took very good care of us especially during supper time when most of our group praised the food. Sometime I would love to return to that hotel just to enjoy the walks in Cumbrian Fells.
Next morning after a good breakfast we were off to Dalemain and soon were part of a cavalcade of interesting cars, ancient and modern, on their way to the annual classic car show so well organised by Wigton Motor Club.
It turned out to be a day of sunshine and showers. Sometimes the 30 Mercedes-Benz members were sheltering from the rain in the marquee provided by our club and at other times they were sunbathing! As usual club members provided a feast of food for the bring and share lunch.
Left: David Pointon sheltering from the rain outside the Mercedes-Benz club marquee. Click on this to see more photos.
Our attempts to visit the other cars at the show without getting wet were not always successful. The carefully polished cars provided very different photo opportunities to those expected!
Many visited the Mercedes-Benz display with cars ranging from David Gray’s 230SL Pagoda to Howard Graham’s SLS AMG Gullwing. David Gray won the trophy for the Mercedes-Benz club member whose car gained the most votes from other club members.
Our thanks to Paul Jobling for organising such an enjoyable weekend for members of the Mercedes-Benz club.
Whitley Bay and Beamish
Club members attended two very enjoyable if very different events in late September, the first being the Whitley Bay Classic Car Show and then the NECPWA end of season rally at Beamish open-air museum near Stanley, Co Durham.
That at Whitley Bay was memorable for being so open to the general public. It was great to see so many families enjoying a Sunday afternoon stroll among about 300 cars of various ‘vintages’. Below: from left – event organiser Malcolm Henderson, and N E Mercedes-club members Giles Brown and Bernie Surtees. To see more photos of the cars at the show click on this picture.
The youngest car there would most certainly have been the Mercedes 363 AMG loaned by Newcastle Dealership and driven very carefully to the show by N E Mercedes-Benz club official, Giles Brown.
I’m not sure which would have been the oldest but those dating back to the 1930s included a 1931 Lanchester 10, a 17 HP 1935 Siddeley Armstrong and Tony Windler’s “Freda” – a 1938 Austin Big 7 of which only 20 are still on the road. And Ray Storey rode in on an even older classic – a 1929 bicycle which he had restored.
In the Mercedes line-up alongside that AMG was Abraham Samuel’s Ponton, Bill Weatherspoon’s 1972 350SL and Albert Gurteen’s Pagoda. There were a few other Mercedes hidden among Austins, Morris Minors, Lancias, Jaguars and Corvettes – and a 1969 Daimler DS420 Limousine.
This was the first time the event has been held on the Links overlooking the sea and the entertainment included free rides on classic buses and live music. We were certainly pleased that the N E Mercedes-Benz club had been invited by North Tyneside Council – and plan to return next year.
The following Sunday over 34 club members gathered at the annual NECPWA (North of England Classic and Pre War Automobiles) rally at the Beamish museum. This is becoming a very popular event not just for club members but also for those visiting the museum with many more taking time to visit the car rally.
This year our friends Pat and Ken accompanied us to the rally and had a great time at the museum. David’s objective this time was to visit the Waggonway and the Georgian House (Pockerley Old Hall)- plus riding on those lovely trams.
The Old Hall, built in the 1700s, was interesting but I was even more fascinated by the strong house to which it was attached. That was built in the 1440s with 1.5 m walls to provide protection from the groups of Reivers who were raiding and pillaging along the Anglo-Scottish border at that time, or from the armies involved in the Anglo-Scottish wars. Left – lantern light in the strong house.
From the well-kept gardens of the Old Hall we could look across the fields to the newly ‘installed’ church of St Helen’s which has been saved from demolition at Eston in Teesside and to the Waggonway and Puffing Billy.
The volunteers at the Waggonway that day were happy to explain how the engine (a replica of that built by Willian Hedley in 1813) worked – and carefully locked us in the carriages so that we wouldn’t fall out during the very short ride.
We then took the tram to Beamish village, bought some traditional sweets, and headed back to David’s car which was, by then, very much on its lonesome for most of the other club members had gone home.
Our last event of the year was the club’s Christmas dinner.
A sad ending for a very special lady! On Sunday, July 17, David and I were on our way to the classic car rally at Newby Hall and looking forward to meeting our Mercedes-Benz club friends when we were hit by another car. Thankfully David, who is an observer/trainer with the Northallerton branch of the Institute of Advanced Motorists, had spotted the danger and taken evasive action otherwise we, and the other driver, would have been very badly hurt. Even so we were very badly battered and bruised and both cars have been written off.
The Mercedes 280SL had been David’s pride and joy for many years and been a very enjoyable car to drive, especially in summer with the top down. We are very grateful to those who helped us that Sunday – including the doctor who came with the Great North Air Ambulance who even gave Raq, David’s elderly blind dog, a check up before handing him over to the capable hands of our friend Margaret. Our thanks also to the staff of Lowes Breakdown and Recovery Ltd at Brompton on Swale who were so helpful whenever we visited their storage yard to collect items from the SL afterwards. Below: That lovely lady before July 17.
Comments after the “crash”: “What a pity for the old lady but she was clearly made of stern stuff and saved you from far worse!” and “Gosh – what a good advert for the strength of Mercedes cars!” Below: The crash created an interesting piece of wheel sculpture!
Before the crash David had two Mercedes – the 280SL and 300SE. Afterwards he went to Gasoline Alley at Bingley – a place we had spotted when on our canal holiday in October 2010 – and traded in the 300SE for a Mercedes 124 320E Cabriolet. He does love convertibles but didn’t feel he could ever replace the 280SL he had lost. So we went to the RAF Leeming Families Day on July 30 in the Cabriolet. For two battered and bruised people it was a very comfortable car. And it was great to meet up with many of the friends we had missed seeing on July 17.