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The Herts. County Open Speed Trails 1911
From the NMLHS Archives
Marian Benton - Archivist

‘The motor cycle section of the Herts County A.C. owe a deep debt of gratitude to Mr. H. L. Gaussen, the kind owner of Brookmans Park, who threw open his grounds to the members of club and their friends on Saturday last. The park is one of exceptional beauty, and is magnificently timbered.

The course starts from Bell Bar (southern entrance of the grounds), and the actual point of departure was just inside the gates. The road descended a gradient of about 1 in 16, and then entered a wood. Half-way through just Where the road was level there was a small hump at a bridge, and then the course took a not very severe bend, and rose steadily for the remainder of its length, culminating in a gradient of about 1 in 16-17.

A Rough Surface for Racing

The road was smooth in the sense that there were no bumps or pot-hoes, but the actual surface was terribly rough and loose, becoming worse towards the end of the competition. Some of the bad places had been treated with tar, but insufficient attention had been given in this respect. As the club has the use of the road whenever it is needed, a suggestion has been put forward that it should be put into proper order at the club’s expense.

Mr C. C. Cooke deserves the warmest congratulations on his efforts, as the organisation was excellent on the whole. No one except a few officials was allowed on the course previous to the start: competitors entered at Bell Bar, and spectators at the entrance near the 17th milestone on the Great North Road, arriving at the finish. Policemen and boy scouts provided with red and white flags were stationed along the course, and everything that was possible was done to render the meeting a success. The only point at which criticism may be leveled was the delay in starting both divisions. The weather conditions were absolutely perfect, and the sun shone brilliantly all the time and a light breeze blew across the course. The length of the timed distance, at each end of which Messrs D. K. Hall and F. Straight officiated, was four - fifths of a mile.’

Comment:- The reporter obviously confused his locations. The ‘southern entrance’ was Folly Arch in Hawkeshead Lane, and the ‘spectators’ entrance was at Bell Bar. Mr C.C.Cooke must have been the husband of Mrs Cooke the headmistress of Water End School from 1902 until 1920. Both were members of a small group of pioneer motorcyclists and I quote from the book - ‘North Mymms Parish and People’, by the late Dorothy ColvilIe:- In a letter dated May 1953 Mr Harold Karslake, then librarian of the Association of Pioneer Motor Cyclists, wrote: "I knew Mr and Mrs Cooke very well from 1908 to 1914 and was on visiting terms at their house at North Mymms. Mrs Cooke was an exceptionally skilled rider and competed in a number of road trials, but not in hill climbs or racing. She also contributed a number of articles to the motor-cycle press."

From the County Press, Tuesday, October 14, 1851:-

William Gilbert, aged 30, labourer, North Mymms, pleaded guilty to the stealing, on Sunday, the 8th June, last, four ducks and two hens, the property of Mr Joseph Singny, at North Mymms. He also pleaded guilty of having twice been previously convicted. Sentenced to be transported for one and a half years.’

Comment:- Neither of these men can be found on the enumerators schedule for the Census of North Mymm, 1851. However there were two other Gilberts’ recorded in Roestock, both ‘bricklayers labourers’, Joseph aged 23 and Benjamin aged 20.

Extracts from ‘North Mimms in the County of Hertlord:

140 years of local history 1762—1901 by H. M. Alderman

From the Churchwardens’ Accounts: - In 1763 the Church was repaired and under date June 22nd we read:

‘Workmen to drink at ye Church by Consent vestry. Under one of the Acts of Parliament concerning the Lord’s Day Observance, Churchwardens were, (and perhaps still are,) responsible for clearing the alehouses during the hours of public worship and there exists the following receipt:31st August 1841. ‘Received of Mr Glddings. Church Warden or North Mimms - the sum of one Pound for Clearing the Public and Beer Houses on Sundays.’

2nd April 1847 ‘Paid to Persons engaged in the recovery of the bodies drowned at Water End and to John Massey for refreshment. £ 3 17 9d.

On February 16th of that year a man, his wife and two children were crossing frozen ford with a horse and cart, when the ice gave way; the man was saved but woman and children were drowned. It was seven days ere the bodies were recovered. the amount paid, 18s. 5d. was for refreshments supplied by Massey, landlord of Maypole. The names of those engaged on the rescue work were Malbrow, Groom and Gower.

A special meeting was held at the Vicarage on September 10th 1886 ‘for the purpose of taking into consideration the best means of preventing the disturbances of the bed of the torrent at the entrance of the Church Avenue before it injures the foundations of the Bridge …Agreed - that our Road Surveyor (Mr T. Nash) be empowered to do all that is necessary.

Marian Benton - Archivist

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