A date at the docks…

Slightly different type of post but it does contain old boats…

Last year, after the 100th Anniversary of the Battle of Jutland, I discovered that my Great Grandfather had been one of the Victims on the Queen Mary. Shortly after, on one of our regular trips to Southsea, we went to the Navy Memorial on the front and found his name – Edward Coombes.  It was quite strange, as at the time, about a month after the anniversary there was just one tribute at the memorial and it must have been someone he would have known, as Edward Coombes was a Chief Stoker on the Queen Mary. Ever since then we have been planning to go to the Historic Dockyard and visit the new museum telling the story of the 36 hours of Jutland. We finally managed to get there a couple of weeks ago.

36 hours: Jutland 1916 was very interesting and I learnt a lot about what happened. The Battle, which has been controversial over the years, with both sides claiming victory, was actually quite pivotal in the war and although the battle wasn’t a great success as such with huge loss of life and ships, the resulting containment of the German Fleet and blocking of the trade channels helped us to win WWI.

I found my Great Grandfather on the interactive system, I now need to get my Mum to find a photo of him to upload. The Battle on May 31/June 1st 1916 was the largest naval battle of the first World War and took place in the North Sea off the coast of Denmark.

The first shots of the battle were fired at 14.28 and the Queen Mary was one of the early victims of the battle being hit at 16.25. Both forward magazines exploded and she sunk immediately with the loss of all but nine of her 1275 man crew. It was very strange but moving to see all this and know that a family member had been killed but quite comforting to know that as a stoker in the engine room he would certainly have known nothing of what happened. There was very little left or recovered from the wreck and in the whole exhibition the only exhibit from the ship was just a solitary bolt, which in the force of the explosion had landed on the deck of another boat.

Edward Coombes was lost 17 years before my Mother was born and so I have heard very little about him. In total 9823 (6784 British) men lost their lives at Jutland. There is an amazing memorial underway using granite slabs representing the hulls of ships all positioned to make a map of the battle and eventually, they will be surrounded by 9823 stone figures to represent every man lost. This will be on my wish list of places to visit in the future – maybe a Scandinavian holiday in Regie!

We bought annual passes to the dockland and so we also took the opportunity to visit the Boathouse 4. The boathouse is one of the few surviving examples of 1930s military architecture in the UK. It was originally the workshop for building and repairing a large fleet of small boats used by the Navy including many landing craft which took part in D-Day. Today it is used for restoration projects and boatbuilding skills training. There were some interesting small boats on display including this steam boat. This was a tender used by Queen Victoria on the Isle of WightThe launch James Bond used to escape Spectre assassins in From Russia With LoveCockleshell Heroes canoes – used in Operation Frankton a commando raid on shipping in WW2, the plan was for canoes to paddle by night to occupied Bordeaux and attach limpet mines to cargo ships. Only 2 out of 10 men survived but Churchill said that the mission shortened the war by 6 months
Boathouse 4 also has a lovely new restaurant and bar so we thought it rude not to sample a special edition HMS Victory Navy Strength Gin, distilled on the Isle of Wight.

We’ll be making trips back over the year to visit the other attractions and probably sample some more Gin!


A fabulous weekend… Part 1 Saturday

Firstly apologies for the lack of updates over the Revival weekend, a combination of lack of WiFi and being so busy but we’ll try and rectify this now with some great pics from the most brilliant weekend of the year.

Saturday was a glorious day, clear skies, sunshine and all the sights, sounds and smells of historic racing and vintage fashion. Being part of the GRTC (Goodwood Revival Transport Corps) is great fun but very hard work, we are basically ‘on duty’ from 7.30am until the event finishes for the day and often beyond. Our remit is to keep the event running smoothly and transport, drivers, ViPs, staff, press, members etc around the circuit and between the house, hotel, Kennels and circuit, this all helps add to the feel of the event and is essential within the circuit where no post 66 vehicles are allowed. Of course we have to be in period dress and Mario’s ‘human’ Jane has the perfect excuse for a wardrobe of beautiful 50’s clothes and ever more flamboyant hats – Saturday was ladies day and the new essemble was rolled out including this fabulous rose hat recently acquired from Crinoline Lady on ebay. Jane’s outfits are of course put together to match Mario perfectly!

We met up with our friends from Deryshire who come every year dressed as James Bond and the evil villains complete with the most impressive picnic in a wheeled hamper complete with ‘lazy susan’ which could only have been designed by Q.We share the taxi rank with the Glam Cabs from the Carry on Movie, the attractive girls create a great deal of attention but they and the Cortina’s are set dressing and it is the rest of the cars which do the work. A mixture of traditional old style London taxi’s, Vauxhalls and other pre 66 vehicles. One of our group got given a great tip this year…First thing it is always busy collecting guests from the hotel but there is generally a lull mid morning and we took the opportunity for an hour or so off to look round the infield. We’d timed our visit to perfection meeting Jean Alesi in the paddock, he appeared very interested in Mario and kept his card so who knows he may be reading this…


Next we saw the cars leave the paddock for the Settrington Cup – this newly introduced ‘race’ was for A40 Pedelcars driven by 5-10 year olds who all looked so cute.

We then head off to have a look round the Freddie March Spirit of Aviation concours for planes, there were some beautiful and usual entries including a great flying boat with an amazing bubble cabin. While wandering around the Spitfires took off for one of their displays so we had the perfect view.

On the way back to the taxi’s we spotted the St Mary’s paddock and a 4cv – Mario was delighted to see this racing version of his ‘brother Regie’ and even more impressed that it was called ‘Little Regie’ we will be able to see it on the track on Sunday.

After our interlude it was back to work, lots of runs up to the Kennels for lunch, out to Lavant which always gives a good opportunity to catch a little track action and back to the hotel. We meet such a lot of lovely people and hear all about the weekend from so many different viewpoints, it’s always fascinating to hear how the day has gone for the drivers.

Saturday always finishes a little early as all the teams and sponsors are off to the ball. It’s a bit manic for us as everybody wants to get back quickly to change into their costumes – this year the theme was Dr Zhivago, lots of fur and cossacks, we didn’t get to go this year but apparently there was lots of snow, pretty amazing in an aircraft hanger in Sussex! Finishing a bit early gave us the chance to see what was going on ‘Over the Road’, new for this year entertainment went on into the evening and the period fairground looked pretty in the dark. We popped into see the Haslemere Wardrobe who are our vintage partners in the Haslemere Classic Car Show that we organise. They’d been having a great weekend and introduced us to a lovely couple who had just got engaged in a De Havilland Dragon Rapide while flying above the circuit, how romantic is that? The pic shows John, Kate and others from Haslemere Wardrobe pointing at the ring.

Well that’s Saturday over, Mario had completed nearly 200km by now and used 19 litres of fuel so he was ready for a rest and the humans off for a much needed supper. Report on Sunday to follow…





A bit more posing!

Mario doesn’t like to ‘show off’ but he does get to meet so many interesting people in the course of his ‘job’, so here are a few more you might recognise…

Sir Jackie Stewart was delighted to pose by Mario although he got a lift in the AC

Amanda Stretton was filming in the hair salon – we thought she matched Mario rather well.

Adrian Newey was lucky to catch us just as we were leaving the circuit during a Monsoon on Saturday evening, we ran him back to the hotel. Adrian is a big fan of Mario and has been for a ride on several occasions, he likes to chat about the design features and how advanced they were for the time – maybe he’ll take some inspiration for the Red Bull although I don’t think they need anymore help this year, they could clinch the drivers title as early as this weekend in Singapore.

Last but not least some of Mario’s old friends – 007 with the ‘Bond Villians’. These great guys from Derbyshire do the Revival every year complete with pussy, golf clubs and an awesome picnic hamper designed by ‘Q’ – amazingly they can all fit in the Multipla!