Opening chapter for Shelsley Walsh Hill Climb

While browsing through a local secondhand bookshop a couple of weeks ago I came across a little gem.  

I was delighted to discover Seventy Years of Shelsley Walsh, edited by Harold Hastings and published by the Midland Automobile Club in 1976.

This is a fascinating history of the oldest motor sport event in the world. 

The book details how a search through the Midlands for a suitable venue with a private road led to the first hill climb being held at Shelsley on August 12, 1905. 

Leslie 'Shelsley' Wilson, secretary of the MAC in those days, made the two-hour trip from Birmingham in a 16hp Humber and was most impressed with the spread of food laid out, which included piping hot beef steak puddings two feet six in diameter.

The fastest time of the day was set by E Instone whose 35hp Daimler climbed the hill in 77.6 secs. 

The progress of the cars along the course was heralded by the ringing of handbells by policemen, with a large ship's bell at the exit of the Esses. 

The slowest time of the day was set by W Guilding in a 10hp De Dion. He took 394.4 secs to reach the top - compared with current fastest times of below 30 secs!

A nice surprise awaited when I turned the pages of a chapter written by Raymond Mays, who had 20 best times to his credit. 

Beneath a picture of him driving an ERA he has signed the book with the inscription 'Graham - best wishes - Raymond Mays'. Wonder who Graham was . . .

The contents of the book made the recent Shelsley Walsh Nostalgia weekend an even more enjoyable occasion, and it is a valuable addition to my motor sport library.

Published by The Mike Hayward Collection on