Morris Minor 1953 – John Love

Following the recent post about Richard Beer’s frog-eyed Austin Healy Sprite, John Love has sent us a few words about his 1953 Morris Minor

John Love – Morris Minor 1953

Reading recent posts about old cars reminded me of my first car B a 1953 918cc. side valve Morris Minor which I purchased early in 1966, a month or so before I was due to take my driving test in midMarch. At that time I belonged to two diving clubs, the Bromley branch of the British Sub Aqua Club and the Swanley Sub Aqua Club and both clubs were going away diving over Easter B Bromley down to Brixham and Swanley, a couple of weeks later, to Swanage. I was going to drive myself down to both venues (the thought that I could fail my test never entered my mind!) and I was going to be taking some of the Swanley club’s equipment down to Swanage. Panic, panic!! –  my test was cancelled due to the examiner being ill and the test was re-booked for a week before I was going down to  Brixham. Fortunately, my confidence did not take a bit of a knock B I passed, but then I had to contend with my parents questioning whether it was sensible to drive all the way down to Devon when I had only just passed my test. Whilst I had no qualms about doing so, I did think I needed a bit more practice and so I drove from Sidcup up to New Cross, Peckham, over Vauxhall Bridge and then up to Hyde Park and Marble Arch, which I hit at the start of the rush hour and then back home again. Imagine doing that nowadays when you just passed your test!!

Anyway, with a few hours solo driving ‘under my belt’ a few days later I set off for Brixham B quite an epic journey with no motorway and virtually no dual carriageways. As my journey proceeded I started to feel that perhaps my car was not pulling as well as she had previously and this was confirmed when I arrived at the caravan site we were staying at. The site was on quite a steep hillside overlooking the bay and my car would simply not drive up the hill, even in first gear B it just stalled and after a while there was the smell of a burning clutch plate. I remembered that reverse gear was much lower than first gear and so I turned around and managed to reverse up the hill and there the car stayed for the rest of the week. Being a little concerned about my homeward journey I contacted the RAC (those were the days when the patrolmen would salute you!!) and they diagnosed a blown piston, but as I said I had to drive home, they gave me a route which would avoid hills of any consequence!! 

Eventually, I arrived home, after a long journey with frequent stops to top up with oil, and then my thoughts turned to my journey the following week down to Swanage with my girlfriend and diving equipment on board. As it was impossible to sort out the problem in time a friend suggested that I could try putting some Holts Piston Seal in the engine, amazing stuff! After driving around for an hour or so there was no longer a blue haze following me and it was unquestionably pulling better. Fast forward a few days and we were on our way down to Swanage and even my girlfriend commented that it seemed to be going better as the journey progressed.

Well, Swanage came and went and it was not until midsummer that I finally had time to sort out the engine.  When I stripped it down I discovered there a hole blown right down one side of one of the pistons and the piston rings had disappeared, but amazingly, both the hole and the piston ring grooves were completely filled with a solid carbon-like material. The piston seal had worked!

A complete rebuild with new pistons and oil control rings, plus big end shells whilst I was about it and it served me well for another couple of years before I swapped it for a Hillman Imp.  


Bidding for the set of 11 ROOKS now £10.59


Beer and a Sprite?


No, this is not the recipe for a nice refreshing glass of lemonade shandy but today we heard from longtime ‘Gold Star’ contributor Richard Beer who tells us about his frog-eyed Sprite!

My Frog-Eye – by Richard Beer

After 46 years loitering in various garages and seemingly unloved, my 1958
Austin Healey (Frogeye) Sprite Mk1 has finally been resurrected following a
5-year programme of complete demolition and nut-and-bolt rebuilding.

I bought the car in 1969 in Orpington for the grand sum of £145, we used it
for about three years travelling to work from New Ash Green to London
suburbs every day until company cars and children arrived. Last on the road
in 1972 it has been home to mice, cats, household junk and young boys with
driving ambitions.

All the major body panels have been replaced, the engine, gearbox,
suspension and steering all rebuilt/restored professionally. Last week she
went on the rolling road at Sanspeed in Bexleyheath and after fine tuning we
achieved an impressive 47bhp @ 5000rpm (the factory spec expects 43bhp!).

It is painted the original BMC colour “Dark Green GN12” just as it left the
factory on 23rd September 1958. So on Sunday week the birthday bubbly will
be opened.

Thanks to the patience of Messrs Gale, Parsons and Hawkins my lovely little
vice has played an important part in the restoration of this little car. We
are now enjoying the last of the summer sunshine with trips around the leafy
lanes in Kent. Perhaps my vice can now get a lick of paint after its
valuable service?



The Vice!



Anyone else own a Sprite?


Here’s mine from 1968/69, outside 88 Lancing Road Orpington.





Downsize and De-clutter




At ‘our’ age many of us are downsizing to homes which now better suit our situation. I have always been an advocate of de-cluttering and keeping things simple but I am now in the process of going as ‘paperless’ as possible. Earlier this year I had 6 filing cabinet drawers full of paperwork – I now have two. The scanner has become my friend and the documents are now backed up in so many places nothing short of a nuclear attack will lose them (and even then they may still be on a server somewhere around what is left of the globe).

My next task is to reduce my paperwork records to just one drawer and that includes 11 copies of the School magazine – The Rook. The years are: 55 56, 57, 59, 61, 62, 63, 64, 65, 69 and 75. We already have the complete set in the archives in Bromley but if there is anyone who would like to become a custodian perhaps you would kindly let me know. If you feel you would like to contribute towards the maintenance of our website and blog by making an offer for the Rooks then, of course, that would be welcomed. They will go to the highest bidder (although I doubt anyone will be fighting over them). I shall put them on an eBay auction and see what happens! Could be yours for just 99p.



All proceeds to help maintain the website and blog


Your help still needed in 2018


Please help us to keep the website and blog online


The Cray Valley site is 17 years old in November. I think most of you will agree that we have achieved quite a lot in that time. We now have well over nearly 2000 archive images online, we have made available the whole set of Rooks that were ever published and we have reunited hundreds of old boys with their former schoolmates.

Unfortunately every year I have to make the occasional appeal to you all, ‘cap in hand’ and ask you to be generous and kindly make your Voluntary Annual Contribution to help towards the cost of hosting and maintaining the website. The annual hosting package is due for renewal very soon so this is the time I normally ask for your continued help. If you haven’t yet made your contribution for 2018 could I please ask you kindly to do so now? Your help is just a couple of clicks away!  Thank you in anticipation.

Colin Cadle

Torquay, Devon

Please make your contribution HERE


Peter Woodward – Parkinson’s Appeal – Results


The results of last Sunday’s bicycle ride resulted in Peter Woodward’s son Guy raising a magnificent £1,730 for Parkinson’s UK in memory his father which included donations from several old Cray Vallians.

The details of his epic ride are at:-


Guy says:

‘….a MASSIVE THANKS to all who have sponsored us. From friends and family who have always backed us….to clients and colleagues finding out for the first time that we have a penchant for lycra…..and to those with connections to CVTHS who don’t know us personally but have dug deep because we are riding in honour of a man who may have taught them music 50+ years ago. Remarkable! To you all, we salute you!!’


The Old School Cap & Tie


Do you still have your old school cap or tie? Adrian Appley does and here he is telling listeners to Radio London about it. Cray Valley even gets a quick mention!



In Memory of Peter Woodward – Parkinson’s Appeal

I did say a while back there will be no further appeals on behalf of charities on the CVTHS blog, however, this one is an exception as a promise was made to Peter Woodward (music master) before he passed away that efforts would be made to raise money for Parkinson’s disease on his behalf. His son Guy, through the courtesy of Graham Mitchell now makes this appeal. In the words of Guy:




Guy dons the Lycra – again


My Dad was better than me at everything he turned his hand to – with the notable exception of playing the drums, calculating GMPs (don’t ask) and cycling.

With the latter in mind, when he finally lost his battle with the horrible disease that is Parkinson’s late last year, I somewhat rashly promised to do a long charity bike ride in his honour.

So next Sunday 29 July, my coach (Lindsey!) will be joining me to take part in the Ride London 100 mile charity event. It’s at least twice as far as I’ve ever cycled before and it looks like it’s going to be a very warm day.

But it’s for a great cause. We are raising money for Parkinson’s UK to enable them to develop more research projects and deliver a revolutionary new treatment for Parkinson’s.  As I know all too well, the existing drugs aren’t good enough and only mask the symptoms for a time.

It would be great if you would click on the below link to our fundraising page. As an added bonus, I promise not to badger you for sponsorship ever again!

Details on Parkinson’s

The all-important sponsorship page

Thank you so much,

Guy Woodward

PS We are setting off at 8.45 am from Olympic Park & finishing in The Mall probably around 5.30pm via most of Surrey. If anyone wants to come and shout abuse at us to keep going, feel free!!

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