Pevensey Bay lies both behind and on a vast shingle beach that stretches as far as the eye can see in either direction. Although the town is small, it is nevertheless a miniature seaside resort. The beach itself is massive and has pebbles on top of clay, making it susceptible to erosion over time. The shingle beach at Pevensey Bay provides an important defence against flooding and storm damage from the sea for a large area of low-lying land beyond. Along the shoreline are two Martello towers, constructed in 1806 as Napoleonic coastal defences. The land beyond the shingle beach is below sea level and there is a constant battle between the tides and fresh water flooding from the lowland behind the shingle beach. This is an important agricultural area which has seen many important drainage schemes since the Romans invaded in the first century 52 A.D. The Romans established a fort there in the 4th Century to counter the marauding Barbarian tribes, including the Jutes and Saxons between AD 300 and AD 340, called Anderitum. The sea washed over, what is now, Pevensey Marshes – surrounding the fort on three sides.
When the Roman army left Britain the area was more vulnerable to attack and the Roman native Britons continued to defend this island from attack, first by the Jutes and then the Saxons. Around AD 491, the Saxons began to colonise and besieged the fort over a number of years. After many exhausting years the fort was abandoned after being overrun and the survivors fled either to the north of the U.K or to Brittany in France, and the area became known as the kingdom of the South Saxons or Sussex. The fort was burned and left derelict, which is how it remained until 1042 when Harold II established a stronghold there. However, in September 1066, Harold amassed an army and marched to Yorkshire to confront an invading Norwegian army headed by Hardrada and Tostig. Although Harold defeated them at the Battle of Stamford Bridge, he had left Pevensey unguarded which allowed William of Normandy the opportunity to invade England – and the rest, they say, is history. The status quo has survived ever since and this is why we have English Lords with vast estates gifted by William the Conqueror; they still exist today and the estates are still occupied by the hereditary peers descended from those times. Nowadays, they have shifted their sphere of influence to government and we still pay taxes and still live along relative feudal lines only in a different form.
Personally I wish Harold (the one that got an arrow in his eye socket during the battle) had stayed at Pevensey fort, defeated the Normans and let the Vikings invade. However, there’s always a price to pay in the end, but if it means an IKEA in every High Street, compulsory pine furniture in every house, obligatory saunas and drinking wine from the skulls of one’s vanquished enemies, I think it would be a small price to pay.
On the subject of small prices to pay we were in March 2020 subject to another invader that didn’t care whether you were a hereditary peer or closet Viking and saw every person in the UK locked down. AROCKES members were no exception. Every single event that we had planned for were cancelled in 2020. Quite rightly so, for the health of our members and society in general, many of whom own classics and, one could argue, were indeed classics themselves.
I had discussed with our new Chair Person, David Norman, at the end of 2019 as to organising a drive out in the form of a fish and chip run. The original plan was to descend on a famous restaurant at Dungeness to eat quality fish and chips in style. You know the sort of thing – sweet tasting cod landed that day with chips and tartare sauce made on the premises. Sadly it was never to be and we entered three months of moth-balling our cars on top of the long winter. Then in June, the Government announced that we could gather in groups of six, all socially distanced, in public open spaces. That set the scene for Dave Norman to put in some recces on the south coast that could comply with these restrictions but keep everyone safe as long as members appreciated the need to socially distance.
As a result of Dave Norman’s extensive travels, the safest place, ironically, was chosen as Pevensey Bay and the site of the Norman invasion of England (the coincidence is palatable). It has vast deserted beautiful beaches, even during the height of a summer heat wave; a display area for the Alfas; a toilet; and a famous fish and chip shop that provided quality cod and chips as a takeaway. What could be more perfect? So, those that could duly assembled to defend what is an English tradition, in Italian cars that resembled the section outings that used to be with traditional English food.
Attending members were – John Dray in his 4C, David & Amanda Norman in the Zoë yellow 916 spider; Colin Campbell in the lovely silver and red S4 Spider; Willie Clapperton in the Giulia 1300 Super; Graham Duplock in his 2 litre GTV; Vince Crisci in his 916 GTV Cup; Dionisis Gonos and his son Alex in a 916 GTV;Bernard Lien-Lambert and his wife in the LHD S1 Spider; Hilary Richards in the famous 916 GTV Spider; myself & Sue in the S4 Spider; and Craig Archer and Michelle in the S1 Spider; John Hufton in the new Giulia Veloce; and a mysterious SZ that turned up late and left early – the driver of which I totally failed to rugby tackle to get details from. Forgive me if I missed anyone but I always try to get round and have a chat with everyone… if I missed you please feel free to grab me and introduce yourself on the next occasion.
Anyway here are the Alfas …
John Dray and his 4C
John had added eyebrows above the grilles but I rather felt that the pure grunt of this Alfa really needed clean lines … but as always beauty is in the eye of the beholder and John will decide what appeals to him.
John Hufton presented his Giulia Veloce … (lovely car).
Dave Norman’s 916 Zoe yellow Spider is always an eye catcher and a lovely example of a Spider that was the model first to appear after the discontinued S4 that ended production in 1993.
Colin Campbell’s S4 looked amazing and has had £20K spent on it in the restoration.
Willy Claperton and his Giulia 1300 super. This man spends a lot of money keeping this beauty pristine and regularly produces a restaurant from the boot – amazing chap!
Graham Duplock and his 2 litre GTV, this man really has a good mental map of the good driving roads in the south east and wow did we get to experience amazing curves on the way down … and that’s three photos of him without an ice cream. Amazingly the GTV was bought at an auction many years ago with no previous knowledge or the marque but he has done it proud over the years.
Then we have Vince Crisci and the 916 Cup. There were only 155 of these made and his is number 72. Whenever I see one I always appreciate it when the current owner opens up the bonnet, as they are superb!
Next we have Dionisis Gonos in his 916 comparing notes with Vince Crisci…
Vince incidentally helped me out on my relay research for the S4 which I can forward on request to show the generations of relay evolution to the present day and represent a considerable cost saving over the original relays that cost an arm and a kidney these days.
Then we had a really interesting S1 Spider that you don’t see that often and has the standard canister air filter found on all of the S1’s with a 1600 engine. There were two versions of this car, the early 1600 and the Duetto 1750, made famous by Dustin Hoffman in the film The Graduate, and is owned and driven by one of our new section members Bernard Lien-Lambert and his lovely wife. I noticed that it also has a fabricated radiator. I think we are going to have a good talk to Bernard at some stage to see what this Alfa is all about as it looked good.
Next and by no means least we had Hilary Richards in the 916 Spider once owned by the actress Susan George (Google the name up as its interesting reading). I always get the name of the actress wrong and Hilary always tells me off, but you can find a little more history of this lovely and famous Alfa at https://www.arockes.org.uk/rye-country-show-17th-aug-2019/
We have yours truly and accompanied by my ultra tolerant wife Sue in the S4…
And a mystery SZ who’s owner and driver I would really love to chat to but sadly arrived late and left early and so I never got a chance to chat to …
Last but not least was Craig Archer (showing off a splendid CORVID-19 gentleman’s beard) and Michelle in the S1 Spider… the nut and bolt restoration of which is covered at: https://www.arockes.org.uk/duetto-spider-1968-the-exposition-dautomabiles-et-motors-anciennes/
The chippy that made it all happen and was the reason for the drive out.
And what I really enjoyed from there, the best fish and chips on the planet! On a deserted and fantastic beach, so don’t tell anyone whilst the Pandemic is with us. Except that seagull! … he knows !!
The next COVID-19 event is still evolving and which needs an atmosphere and a view. I’m hoping it will be Dover Eastern heights, Dover Castle or something similar. Hoping that you can make it, so until next time, stay safe.
Thanks go out to John Hufton and Craig Archer for some of the photos that make up this humble article.