MEMORIES OF MURRAY BRUSH by Tony Rout, typed by Sandra Francis.
Attending the Murray Brush Memorial Trial recently reminded me of an article I wrote for the Owls Club magazine some years ago
I recall an epic journey Murray and I took in January 1963, the year of the big freeze.
It all started one evening in Brenchley Working Men’s Club, when Murray asked me if I would like to accompany him to the Allan Jefferies National trial in Worcestershire on January 10th. Of course I said yes, being young and up for anything.
Now, the snows started on Boxing Day 1962 and by New Year were four or five foot deep all over the country and still coming down. Having driven with Murray to a lot of local trials in the past, I had every faith in his driving ability to get there and didn’t give it a second thought.
7am on Saturday 9th January and we were off in his nearly new Morris Minor 1000 pickup, J.A.H. Triumph Cub in the back with about 20 gallons of petrol, riding gear, spades etc. I had an overnight bag, wellies and a thermos flask with coffee and brandy in it and £1 in my pocket.
We set off in a blizzard with about 200 miles to go, but you must remember there were no motorways, bypasses, mobile phones, or salt on the road back then. Many telephone lines were down, so you were pretty much on your own. We made good progress through Tonbridge and Sevenoaks to the A25, but remember we were heading to a little hamlet in the wilds of Worcester and the Duck Inn. I was on the map which was useless as most road signs were buried under the snow! By about 10am we had made it to a transport café somewhere near Newlands Corner for breakfast. Some lorry drivers advised us not to continue beyond Guildford as the roads were impassable. Not to Murray in his “ Morry Thou”. Pressing on to the A40 it became apparent how bad it was, on one stretch it resembled the whoops section of an area motocross, 8ft high snowdrifts, telephone poles and power lines down etc. The only good thing was that there was absolutely no other traffic on the roads to block our path, so “Mo” could “give her the get on” as he used to say.
Around 1.30pm we arrived in Swindon and stopped a pub for a pint or two and a bite to eat. The landlord was a keen motorcyclist and showed us his Manx Norton racer. He wished us well and we drove on to Cheltenham, it was almost dark by now and still snowing old boots! Two young hitch-hikers asked if we would give them a lift to Gloucester. Murray thought this a good idea as we moved the “Road Closed” signs out of the way! He told them to hop in the back of the pickup. They would be able to push if we got stuck! We made it ok, just, and they knocked on the back window and jumped out somewhere in the town.
Pushing on past Bewdley we were on a very minor road and came to steep hill after a tight right-hander over a bridge and this was the only time there or back that I had to get out and push. Soon after we arrived at our destination, The Duck Inn. It was 9pm, the bar was almost empty, and so we ordered a pint and said we had driven up from Kent for the Trial next day.
Sorry the landlord said it’s CANCELLED.
After nearly choking on our beer our next question was” can you put us up for the night?” NO! Try back in Bewdley. As it was well past 9pm and 10 degrees below zero we did not fancy sleeping in the motor, so back to Bewdley where we were lucky to find a good coaching inn. I think it was the Kings Head. The only room available had a double bed and as I had never slept away from home before it was a bit strange to me.
We woke the next morning, Sunday to find the sun shining and the snow clouds gone, though it was extremely cold. After a good full English breakfast we set off for home at about 10am. Trundling along we were still about the only vehicle on the road but conditions were much better. At about 12noon we arrived at the The Air Balloon, Birdlip in Gloucestershire, where there was a warm welcome from the Davies family. Bill Davies, the landlord had been a star sidecar trials rider and his 2 sons, Mike and Tony were National Works supported riders at the time and well known to Murray. So after a good ploughman’s, several pints and much merriment we set off for home again at kickout time, about 2.30pm on a Sunday those days.
So, on the way back we came, stopping only to fill up the Morris from Mo’s “supply” in the back. It was dark by 4pm, but luckily I spotted a fish and chip shop open in one of the towns, it helped to soak up the beer! We still had a long way to go, but the faithful pickup never missed a beat, and we arrived home in Brenchley around 10pm., just in time for a quick one in the Bull. All that way and I still had change from my pound.
Sadly Murray has gone now, but we never forgot that journey, also a big thank you to Mr Dunlop for his town and country tyres!