AUSTIN SEVEN “Chummy” 4 Seater Tourer. 1930
This car was first registered on February 4th 1926 and its first owner was Miss Diana Gilbey. The Gilbeys were wine and spirit merchants (Gilbey’s Gin) and Diana who was 17 lived at Folly Farm in Berkshire, a splendid mansion designed by Edwin Lutyens in his famous “Arts and Crafts “ style.
Having learned to drive, Miss Gilbey soon moved on to bigger cars and in May 1928 Rhoda Edwards, a nurse saw the Chummy for sale at Hewens Garage in Reading. Rhoda became the second owner of the car and christened her “Jumbo” as she had family in Africa and the car was “Elephant Grey”. Hewens were large Morris dealers and gave Rhoda a complimentary Morris Owner’s diary and handbook which she kept in the car and recorded services and other maintenance.
In December 1965 Rhoda sent the diary with a long letter to Mrs Walker, Jumbo’s new owner who bought her in March. Rhoda apologises that “I am afraid this little diary is rather muddled and untidy – I was so very busy bringing babies into the world and cheering up the lonely wives whose men were fighting in France”.
Indeed the diary reveals that in the 37 years that she owned Jumbo, Rhoda clocked up at least 20,000 miles and also had her resprayed by Hewens with a Lavender body and Peacock Blue wings. The last entry in the diary is in August 1956 when 2 gallons of petrol are recorded as costing 7 shillings and one penny (around 4p per litre).
Jumbo was taken off the road in 1966 and it was to be another 55 years before she returned to active duty. In 2017, she was purchased by Austin Seven expert Nick Turley and after a four year restoration, she took pride of place in Chapter One of The Great British Car Journey. Nick is a Director of GBCJ and a long term friend of Richard Usher who put the collection together.