Thursday, 31 December 2009

James Brown Lifelong Ambition.

Notices Jim's name plate on the Rocker cover ! Excellent.

Jim Brown regretted selling his Austin Cooper S so much that he decided to build the perfect replica. Martin Vincent reports. September 1996.
Jim Brown, a tall, quiet-spoken motor mechanic from Birmingham, is perhaps the archetypal Mini enthusiast. Jim has worked on Minis from the days when he started his apprenticship as a 16-year old at a small local garage--and has owned one for most of the years since. These days, Jim is just as enamoured with the charm of the Mini as ever, a fact that's clearly evident from the Cooper S replica featured here. To the casual observer, this is a particular well cared-for Austin Cooper S Mk1, though the keen eye will spot from the giveaway clues of the later-type concealed door hinges and wind-down windows that this one is actually a replica. Replica or not, Jim's beautifully details Mini, the culmination of 18 years of ownership, is a stunning example. Jim initially acquired PHA 151F back in 1977 on behalf of a friend who was looking for a Mini. It was a 1968 Austin Mk11 998cc, originally painted beige, but by that time it wore metallic blue paint with an oyester roof. The friend drove around in it for a while, but soon found the need for more power. "I had a a Mk1 Cooper at that time," explains Jim, "and i was becoming a bit disillusioned with it, for a number of reasons. Anyway, I was persuaded to part with my Cooper in exchange for PHA 151F plus some cash, and ran it for nine months or so, gradually realising how stupid I'd been to let the Cooper go. Soon, I came round to the idea of recreating in PHA 151F what I once had, and in so doing I was able to realise a lifelong abition - to build my own car." And so it was that the tail end of 1978 saw Jim seeking out various Cooper and Cooper S components in preparation for the rebuild. A solid base for the rebuild was found when a colleaque who was planning a similar project was persuaded to sell his prepared and painted Mk111 shell for £400. "It was finished in Ford colour called Jupiter Red, and I liked it I decided to keep it the same colour," says Jim. The shell, together with a spare 998cc Cooper engine that Jim already owned, made a fine starting point for the creation of his dream Mini. In the mean-time, various new and used Cooper bits were being added to the pool of resources, including a set of Cooper S dics and driveshafts. The S callipers were actually brand new, obtained from a neighbour who thought they were MGB items, while the Italian-made 10 in Minilite-style wheels were a birthday present from Jim's wife Jean. They're a little bit proud of the body-work, but not so much as to necessiate the fitting of wheelarches, which Jim dislikes anyway. Now shod with Yokohama A-008 rubber, they complement the classic lines of the car perfectly. The Cooper project was all beginning to come together nicely, but then a house moved put a stop to progress for a year or two and Jim's renovations switched to those of a bricks-and-mortar kind. So it was not until autumn 1982 that PHA 151F finally emerged onto Birmingham's streets, resplendent in its wine-red paint and with all-new red-piped, grey leather-look interior trim. And that's how it stayed for the next few years, apart from the addition of a black-painted roof with vinyl Britax sunroof. A new lease of life for Jim's Cooper replica began to take shape when he was invited to join the Birmingham Mini Owner's Club back in 1988. He began regularly to visit the Mini shows, and as the paintwork on the car was by this time beginning to deteriorate, Jim began the painstaking task of stripping all the paint back to bare metal in preparation for a top-class re-spray. Close examination for rust then followed, and the doors, boot and bonnet were replaced, as were the A-panels. Reward for all this work came in 1989 when the car was chosen as one of the group of Minis used for the Mini 30 photorgraph in the anniversary celebrations, and also for the filming sessions for the BBC documentary on the Mini. All this attention convinced Jim that perhaps he should lay the car up for the winters and save it as a show car used for fun, rather than drive it on an every day basis. But Jim still wasn't quite satisfied with his creation. It needed more power, a state of affairs that was soon changed when Jim came across a genuine Cooper S 1275 engine and gearbox. It needed a new crank and a rebuild, but it had a Stage 2 head. It was just what was needed. Being a mechanic, Jim carried out the engine build himself, but the block was bored to give a capacity of 1293cc and installed a Kent 626 cam. Other than the fitting of a Janspeed long centre branch exhaust and an alternator in place of the dynamo, it's standard right down to the twin 1.25 in SU carbs. This engine sounds and runs as sweet as a nut, a factor that Jim attributes partly to the dynamic balancing job carried out by Trevor Wilkinson of Halesowen. A flavour of originality has been enchanced by the use of the dark green finish for the block and head. It's actually a cellulose paint, applied by brush. Believe it or not, it hasn't needed repainting since the engine was fitted in 1989. It was soon after this that Jim took the plunge and entered his car for concours competitions. A couple of second placings gave encouragement to do more work on the detailing, and before long Jim was well and truly hooked. Scrutinise the car as it is now and the attention to detail has to be seen to be believed. Even those hidden away parts such as the chrome-plated driveshafts and ultra-slim wheel spacers don't escape Jim's attentions. In fact, all the suspension, brake and under-bonnet parts are either polished, chromed or epoxy powder-coated. No detail is too insignificant to be ignored. Many of the bolts, for example, have now been replaced by allen-head bolts with blue-anodised covers. The alloy castings for the Cooper S distributor and alternator are burnished to perfection, as are the stainless steel brake pipes and the custom-made brass Austin Cooper nameplate atop the rocker cover. Much of the brightwork adorning the nose of the car has been replaced, some with replica items, such as the Austin Cooper S Mk1 grille and badges. Those old-style Lucas PL headlamps are also retro items. This Delightful brew of old and new parts adds up to a particularly desirable Cooper S replica with a distinct stamp of character about it. Jim has spent many hours creating the car of his dreams. I reckon that the results prove that all that time and effort has paid off.

Heaven and Earth

Of pure ablution round earth's shores
The moving waters at their priest like task
Gazing on the new soft green mask
Or snow upon the new mountains and moors
Stars in velvet black sky enveloped the day
Till it is time to eat and pray
Until the passed day is ready to shine.

The day delight in sweet remembering
Live tapestries woven and completing
The sight of beauty form my eyes
Warm breaths, whispers and sweet voices
Man asks the world for grace
Thou art alive with fate
Am frightened with hateful thoughts
Of man's dark misdeed to do wrong
And to wreck havoc and destruction
For one's own good to change the world
To terror and evil darkness unknown.

Only for heavenly progenies
To restore our visions of the future
With calm, love, hope and peace
Open face of heaven to breathe
When from the heavens I saw
My heart took fire with pleasure
To feel forever the sweet unrest
It is heaven we rejoice
Warmth, whiteness and paradise
Our citadel timeless and full of light
And sweet godly victory to bind.

Written by Mrs Linda Breeze nee Evans.

Tuesday, 8 December 2009

Another 'Lost & Found' !

I has received an E-mail last month from an old classmate Linda Evans, it was a great surprise !
Class of 1967-1968. Linda sitting at left.

An Autobiography by Ex Needwood old scholar Mrs Linda Breeze 'nee Evans'.

I attended Donnington Lodge, Newbury at the age of three, then went to Belle Vue Primary School when my family moved to Shrewsbury. Ian Turner and Helen Collins were in the same class as me (also Needwoodians). I was twelve when o attended Needwood School. Year 1963 to 1968. I remember a lot of teachers, Mr Overend, Mr Jones, Mr Redmond, Mr Silver, Mr Dalziel, Mr Williams, Mr Howells, Mr Armstrong, Mr Read, Mr Thomas, Mr Tucker, Mr Powell, Brother Richards, Mr Leese, Mr Bulkeley-Kirkham and finally Headmasters Mr Richard Barrett and Mr Eric Brown. The female teachers were Mrs Bulkeley-Kirkham, Miss Bombroff, Miss Aldred, Miss Allen, Miss Blythe, Miss Myall, Miss Waite, Miss Woodward, Miss Clarke and i can't think of anyone else and the Housemothers were Miss Bailey, Miss Dolman and Miss Hodgekiss. When i left school i went to work in a Silhouette Factory as a sewing machinist. Then at a Metal Factory as a piece worker (Ian Turner and his Dad worked there on night shifts). I left home for good (my father has been working at GKN in Wellington during the day time to start with, then did a lot of night shifts. He had been there for so many years until he died). I then became a Postulant at the St Francis of Assissi Convent near Yeovil before moving to the convent of Sisters of Charity in Bristol until i became a novice. As i had no where to live when i left, so worked as a chambermaid at Linton Lodge Hotel in Oxford before moving to work at the Savoy looking after the famous Celebrities's Suites and meeting them. Among them were Rita Hayworth, Bianca Jagger and her daughter Jade, Muhammed Ali, Rock Hudson and Louis Jordan. I left the Savoy to get married to a porter who worked there. I have had several jobs like being a Housekeeper then Medical Records Clerk at the Radcliffe Infirmary in Oxford before i finally became Secretary to a group of Lecturers and Professors in the Department of Statistics in Reading University. I met someone else and had two children and have been a home maker since. I now live in Newcastle upon Tyne having been on my own for a number of years with my son Emery aged 15 years. I am now 58 years young and remember so many pupils including Moray Seni, Shelia Price and Jean Caddick. My favourite friends were Jane Tasker and Helen MacCallum who i stayed with for a few weekends while at school. I stayed with Helen Collins and played with her before i attended Needwood. We have not spoken to each other since. I would like to have contact with all those who knew me at Needwood especially Kay Norman. Linda Evans.

Mrs Ruth Bulkeley-Kirkham write in 'The Derbyshire Magazine' Bygones.
Many thanks to Mrs Kay Callow for E-mailing the newspaper cutting to me.
Autumn Song
By Katherine Mansfield (1888-1923).
Now's the time when children's noses,
all become as red as roses.
And the colour of their faces,
makes me think of orchard places.
Where the juicy apples grow,
and tomatoes in a row.
And to-day the hardened sinner,
never could be late for dinner.
But will jump up to the table,
just as soon as he is able.
Ask for three times hot roast mutton-
oh ! the shocking little glutton.
Come then. find your ball and racket,
pop into your winter jacket.
With the lovely bear-skins lining,
while the sun is brightly shining.
Let us run and play together,
and just love the autumn weather.

I Who All The Winter Through.
By Robert Louis Stevenson (1850-1895).
I who all the winter through
cherished other loves than you,
And kept hands with hoary policy in marriage-bed and pew;
now i know the false and true,
For the earnest sun looks through,
and my old love comes to meet me in the dawning and the dew.
Now the hedged meads renew
rustic odour, smiling hue.
And the clean air shines and tinkles as the world goes wheeling through
And my heart springs up anew
bright and confident and true.
And my old love comes to meet me in the dawning and the hue.

White Hart.

White Hart

In the bent and broken grasses where the frost has starched the trees.

Something white and spectral passes through the December days.

With a sun all rouged and lazy as an actor drunk on stage.

Hardly designs to make the daylight now the old year turns the page.

White Hart, captured in a clearing watchful in the forest fern.

With the winter soistice nearing searching for the sons of Herne.

For the moment, nothing's stirring in a birless, silent sky.

Just a breathless camera whirring while the creature passes by.

Vanishing beyond the trees in December days like these.

About Me

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Halifax, West Yorkshire, United Kingdom