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Old 24 Apr 2007, 10:05 (Ref:1899145)   #1
PratJeffley
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Looking for info about Hillclimb at Caerphilly

Does anyone have any information about the Hillclimb events held at Caerphilly, starting in 1907? I'm particularly interested in locating the course--I've seen several photos of the events, including May's Bugatti and Campbell's Sunbeam, but it's difficult to place the course, even for a local (which I am) because of the changes in the last 70 years.

Thanks...
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Old 24 Apr 2007, 13:50 (Ref:1899298)   #2
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In Chris Mason's superb book there are a lot of references to Caerphilly Hillclimb but no indication of where it was; however there are two photos of the venue both supplied by the National Motor Museum.

You could try Beaulieu's website and ask if they have any details or could supply copies of the photos from which you might be able to ascertain where the course was.

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Old 24 Apr 2007, 22:13 (Ref:1899660)   #3
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mpl pictures of Caerphilly Hillclimb

Steve,
Thanks for the pointer. I've seen the two pictures of the Caerphilly event in the mpl collection--the first is the famous image of Raymond Mays losing a wheel off his Bugatti, and the second is a view of what is claimed to be the top of Caerphilly Mountain. I've also found a third image on the SandSpeedWales web site (http://www.automotive-art.com/product.asp?id=GF0010) which shows Leopoldo Alphonso Villa and Malcolm Campbell racing a Sunbeam at the event.

All three photos are difficult to place, though I have found a reference to the race on John Davies' website (http://freespace.virgin.net/john.davies0/venues.html) which places the course on "the Mountain road". One of the principle routes to Cardiff over Caerphilly Mountain is called Mountain Road, which makes it a fair candidate. There's another bit of evidence which almost clinches it--most records agree that the course was 1194 yards. Using Google Earth, I've measured from the car park at the top of the mountain to a junction on the road just above the town, and the result of my rather crude survey was 1195 yards. Q.E.D. (ish).

My only reservation revolves around that Raymond Mays photograph. Someone has painted a version of it, and the image is somewhat larger than the photos I've seen on the web (http://www.automotive-art.com/product.asp?id=GF0010). This shows the roofs of houses on the left, which are a little difficult to locate in relation to the course. I still find the evidence of the course distance quite compelling though.
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Old 30 Apr 2007, 22:07 (Ref:1903764)   #4
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Oops. Wrong link

The eagle-eyed and sharp-fingered amongst you will have noted my incompetence in publishing the wrong link for SandSpeed Wales. The correct link is http://www.sandspeedwales.co.uk/5907.html, and the photo of Campbell and Villa in the Sunbeam is about halfway down the (rather long) page.
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Old 8 May 2007, 14:33 (Ref:1909007)   #5
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I have looked in T R Nicholson's book "Sprint" but it does not add much. For the first 1907 event it says "The Cardiff Motor Club found a fitting course on which to hold the first open hillclimb in Wales. It lay on the Mountain Road at Caephilly, was 1194 yards long, averaged 1-in-8.6 and rose to 1-in-6.2". References to later events imply it was the same course in use. For the last 1924 event it says "a surface even looser than usual added to the hill's horrors. Several tyres burst and other things broke including Raymond May's two Bugattis"
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Old 8 May 2007, 23:21 (Ref:1909461)   #6
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Thanks...

Thanks for the information. I think I've placed the course now, though there are still a few anomalies. If the course was, as published, 1 in 8.6 overall, then in 1194 yards it would rise over 400 feet. The candidate course I've plotted, which finishes at the road's highest point, rises only 350 feet, which would make the overall course gradient 1 in 10. I can't find a stretch of Mountain Road 1194 yards in length which rises by anything more than about 350 feet. To make that fit properly, it would have to have been over 1300 yards long.

Ho-hum. I'll make a trip to the local library and see if they have anything...
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Old 22 Jul 2008, 16:49 (Ref:2255981)   #7
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So, did you ever discover where the mountain road course was? If so would you care to share the discovery, I'm chewing my fingers here!
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Old 22 Jul 2008, 18:51 (Ref:2256041)   #8
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Sorry for the long silence.

I was researching the Caerphilly events for an article in a local magazine, and my best guess is that the hillclimb started at the junction of Mountain Road and Corbett's Crescent (CF83 1HP) and followed the Mountain Road to its highest point.

I'm not entirely convinced, though... The information I have (from http://www.silhouet.com/motorsport/t...tml#caerphilly) indicates that the course was 1,194 yards, with an average gradient of 1 in 8.6. That would put the total climb at 416 feet, give or take 6". The elevation at the start, according to Google Earth, is 452', so that would put the elevation at the finish at 868'. Google Earth puts the highest point on the road at 804', some 60' short.

My problem is that I can't find another route which would match these figures--There's another potential start point--junction of King Edward Ave with Mountain Road (CF83 1HE) the elevation of which is 388', which works for the 416' climb, but the length of the course increases by another 420 yards. Without clearer evidence, I can't be sure of the race's location.

It seems to be clear that the races took place along Mountain Road at some point--the event was cancelled after 1924, when a similar event at Box Hill, Tring ended in near tragedy, and Parliament outlawed events on public roads; Mountain Road is the steepest public road in the area, and it is named (though ambiguously) in some of the reports.

Jury's still out, then. If I get more concrete information, I'll post it here...
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Old 23 Jul 2008, 16:45 (Ref:2256667)   #9
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You need to remember that organisers often did not give specific information about the course for legal reasons.

It isn't quite right to say"when a similar event at Box Hill, Tring ended in near tragedy, and Parliament outlawed events on public roads".

There was no change of law. What happened was that the RAC stopped issuing Licences for such events. The problem was, and still is, that neither the Local Authority or the Police have the powers to suspend the Road Traffic Act. So a competitor could be liable for proscecution for speeding (in the '20s there was a blank 20 mph limit) and could be liable for civil damages if they injured someone. The RAC feared that they too could be included in a damages case as the had Licenced the event.

In the early days the risks were small as cars chugged up the hills but by the 1920s speeds had risen significantly and with them the dangers as evidenced by the accident at Kop (not Box) Hill.

Anyway, you can see why organisers might be vague or misleading so that a zealous Policeman couldn't calculate the winner's average speed..

As regards heights - have you studied the O.S maps -that what they would have had at the time. I imagine calcuations were made from contour lines.
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Old 24 Jul 2008, 00:42 (Ref:2256890)   #10
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Originally Posted by RAP

As regards heights - have you studied the O.S maps -that what they would have had at the time. I imagine calcuations were made from contour lines.
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Pretty much what I was going to post. As this was presumably a comparatively rural area, the organisers would probably have used 2 inch (or even 1 inch) maps to make their calculations: even using the largest available (probably 6 inch) would leave quite a margin of error, especially when calculating distance between two points at different heights - unless one or both were trig points there cannot be an accurate measure.

Chances are that they'd have actually used a simple measuring wheel, starting at point A and finishing at point B. On the ground. Much more accurate than trying to calculate it with a map ....
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Old 26 Jul 2008, 20:21 (Ref:2258235)   #11
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Thanks for the update. (I was hoping to have a shufti while I was passing on the M4 on Thursday or Saturday, but unfortunately I couldn't go rambling and delay my passengers). I've got to go up to the Map Room at the British Library in the next couple of weeks. I'll add it to the list of things I want to check at large scale. I'll report back any findings.
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Old 22 Apr 2012, 12:09 (Ref:3063576)   #12
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Caerphilly Hillclimb

My grandfather, J.H.England ,who lived at Pentre Gwilym on Thornhill (now a restaurant/steakhouse, I believe) came second in the September 12th 1907 Caerphilly hillclimb in a 40.H.P Talbot .I have a photo of him sitting at the wheel of what Ithink is the car-number 43- and registered as W-935.There are some buildings in the photo I have not yet identified but will post as soon as my computer skills allow .
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Old 22 Apr 2012, 12:18 (Ref:3063579)   #13
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Grandfather J.H.England in 1907 Caerphilly hillclimb

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Old 11 Sep 2017, 18:29 (Ref:3766115)   #14
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Finally found evidence of the location of the Caerphilly Hill Climb - see http://www.vintagebike.co.uk/pictures/caerphilly-hill-climb-1914/#.WbbFiHrTWhA

This picture is undoubtedly from Mountain Road close to the junction with Corbett Crescent, and places the start fairly exactly 1194 yards from the mountain summit. The garage with the circular window in this image still exists, as do the gable ends of the houses on the right of the picture.
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