Antonia Francis (below) was one of the stars of the 2017 Southborough Family Fun Day as she vividly discussed with curious onlookers her days on the road with her beautifully preserved Austin Seven Ruby Classic Car.
She explained how she had twice driven from Land’s End to John o’Groats in the car – a distance of 874 miles. The Austin Seven is the same age as her, having been built in 1935.
Antonia also drove round Ireland in 1994, where her only problem was a puncture, which was mended by a Irishman who never stopped talking, clearly excited by having never mended a spoke wheel before. She said she often slept in the car on her tours, removing the passenger seat and putting in a plank of wood resting on the back seat and adding some foam and a sleeping bag.
The car has no indicators or hazard lights, which makes it somewhat unsuitable for motorways. But there is no car tax payable on classic cars and Antonia pays just £42 a year in insurance, fully comprehensive.
She says 1935 cars were built to withstand rust much better than later models in the 1960s and 1970s. Many other classic cars were also on display at the event. (see below)
The Fun Day, which is held every year on the Ridgewaye Field in aid of funds for the local Sea Cadets, was blessed with warm sunshine and hundreds of people attended. Southborough Town Council provide the use of the field and other facilities free of charge for the event.
Also on display was a Ferret armoured car (above), also called the Ferret scout car, which is a British reconnaissance vehicle produced between 1952 and 1971. It is currently used by the Tunbridge Wells Girls Grammar School Cadet Force.
There was also a selection of classic pumping engines (see above) with one cleverly linked to a tap gushing water that appeared to be suspended in midair without support.
Plus there was a marching band and other music which was heard throughout much of the Town.
The event was presided over by the Southborough mayor (below) Cllr David Elliot who scooted from one side of the field to the other on his electric bike.