Sid Armstrong's BLOG - February 7th 2013

Sid Armstrong, a proud member of the Armstrong Siddeley Car Club of Australia

This is Sid's second interview with Athol Duncan from Queensland about his lifelong association with Armstrong Siddeley Cars and the Club's activities in Queensland.

As in the first interview, Athol advises Sid that "This is all from memory so I don’t claim to be 100 per cent accurate”.

Sid: Athol, what do you recall about Armstrong Siddeley in Queensland before the Club was organised?

Athol: Well in the 1920’s Siddeleys won reliability trials in Queensland. There were a number of Armstrong Siddeley owners as far back as the late forties and fifties, who had an interest in meeting other Siddeley owners.

Sid: Do you recall some of the owners?

Athol: Yes, Jackson’s Clock House or “Synchronome” had a fleet of three 1928 14 H.P. Utilities. I ran Siddeleys from 1947, my first car being a 1929 15 H.P. side valve.

Frank Collison who sold second hand cars from premises in Main St. Kangaroo Point drove a maroon Hurricane in about 1948 and was fond of telling people “This is My Car”. Collison also had an Armstrong Siddeley new car selling agency in Toowoomba very early after the War.

Sid: Athol, who was the main importer?

Athol Duncan: Mr Lee was the main importer and had his offices at the front of the British-Australia Motors workshops in Wickham St. Fortitude Valley. These premises were originally the first Fortitude Valley swimming baths – hence the drop down into the workshop, and the exit via Wickham St. The workshop was operated by Cliff Bond who drove a 15 H.P. side valve maroon sedan of about 1936, to be followed later by a Whitley. When the Sapphires were introduced Mr Lee drove one to work; as he went up Main St. and over the Storey Bridge people would say” There goes Mr Lee in his Sapphire”.

Early on in the Qld Vintage Vehicle Association there were four members who had Siddeleys.

In the sixties a rusty Star Sapphire could occasionally be seen parked near the river at Kangaroo Point. The owner was an officer on a ship that plied between Brisbane and New Guinea and he sometimes took the car on the boat. That man was Bill Stephens, later to become a foundation member of the AS Club in Queensland.

Cliff Grice used a Siddeley Ute in his business at Bulimba. I used my Whitley to drag a trailer; and we had established a firm friendship years before the Club was organized. The Grices moved to the Toowoomba district where Cliff made contact with a number of Arm-Sid owners.

The Armstrong Siddeley Club in Queensland was established in I think 1977. Penn Bradly came to Brisbane and at a meeting at our home at Mansfield; under Penn’s guidance the Club was established. There were approximately twelve people at this meeting, not exactly Apostles of the Faith, but never the less keenly interested in the establishment of the Club.

Before long there were members on the South Coast, Beaudesert, Brisbane, the North Coast, Toogabawa, Ipswich, Toowoomba and districts. Distances of over 200 klms were often travelled by members attending club activities and meetings etc.

Some of the places where club day outs and weekends were held are – Toowoomba, Grices Merengaden, Moogera Dam, Buderim, Coolangatta, Hinze Dam, Brisbane (several places and private homes) Bridie Island, Somerset Dam, Lake Perseverance, Tentafield, Melany, Wivenhoe Dam, Pomona, Ipswich, Southport, Mt. Tamborine, Toogoolawa, Fernvale, Miles (a Safari).

Sid: Athol, you mentioned to me the Club’s early involvement in “Motoring of Yesteryear or was it “Motorfest”?

Athol: Three of our members organised a gathering of old cars and called it “Motoring of Yesteryear”. The first two meetings were at Redbank Plains, about 150 cars attended. The event was then located at Anzac Park, Toowong for two or three years; then shifted to Mt. Gravatt Showground where attendances reached over 600 cars.

At some time during the Mt. Gravatt years the RACQ became involved, but the event was still run by the AS Club, and the three club members carried the burden of organizing and running the event.

I venture to say that the Siddeley Club ran the event better than the RACQ who run it now under the name of ‘Motorfest’.

Sid: What other events have Queensland run for the ASCC Federally?

Athol: The club hosted four Federal Rallys, two at Toowoomba, one at Stanthorpe, one at Cherrabah. The Cherrabah Rally was possibly the first Federal Rally where all meals and accommodation was catered for.

Sid: How are things going for the Club at present in Queensland?

Athol: Things have been quiet with only a sprinkling of activities. However we have several new members in Qld. (although scattered) and our President is working to revitalise the club again so that there will be activities and meetings.

Sid: Athol, you have given us an interesting glimpse into Siddeleys in Queensland, thank you so much for taking some time out to chat with me.

Athol: That's OK, Sid - it was fun.