Accident Near Miss

Jottings Index

My father used to make regular deliveries to the "Big house" at Upham and when I was fifteen, he used to let me drive (illegally) up the hill from the Warren. It was a very narrow road and one day, ahead of us, a lady was pushing a pram up the hill.

She heard us coming and pushed the pram onto the grass verge, there was a strong East wind and the pram toppled over, and the baby rolled into the road. 

That was my first real crash stop, and mercifully, the baby was unharmed.

A few weeks later we were doing another delivery and were laughing about the incident when, at the very same point on the hill, there was a sudden loud grating noise from the engine. My second crash stop! The engine was ticking over and the noise continued.

On lifting the bonnet, it was plain to see what had caused the awful noise which continued although we had ground to a halt.

My dad had filled the radiator with hot water, as we often did on cold winter mornings, and had left the radiator cap on top of the radiator. Going up the hill the cap slid off and fell onto the fan causing it buckle and gouge into the back of the radiator. Luckily the radiator, although badly scored, never leaked, and after straightening the fan blades, we were able to continue.

It was often my task to fill the radiator, but thankfully that particular morning, dad did it!

Before antifreeze was readily available and before cars had sealed cooling systems, it was quite normal to fill radiators with hot water during extreme cold weather. Who still remembers when cars had starting handles?