Film ID: YFA 480 Video of YFA 480 Bentley Floods, Air Show, and Motorcycling 1932 BENTLEY FLOODS, AIR SHOW & MOTORCYCLING 1932 Visitor TabsDescription This film features a compilation of items including motorcycle racing, horse racing, the Bentley Floods, and take-off and landing of an Imperial Airways biplane. The film opens with motorcycle racing, mostly uphill, with spectators lined up along the sides cheering. Title - A few shots at the Stadium Grass Track Racing Title - Twister Holmes gets the cup - presented by Mrs. Fogg Title - Mr. O’Gallagher has a few words with Mr. Renolds The two men discuss the motorbike before more racing scenes. Title - Sheffield Speedway!! Small cars race at the speedway, and drivers can be seen getting in and out of the race cars. Title - The Faster Motor Club Staged This Racing possibly at Oliver's Mount, Scarborough - Motorbikes go around a sharp curve, one of which falls over. There is more racing on the road, and some if the motorcycles have sidecars. A next portion of the film briefly features Horse Racing. For this particular race, crowds of spectators have turned out for the event. (Possibly at racing track in York.) In Bentley, near Doncaster, flood waters rush though and fill the town streets. Some of the townspeople stand on a bridge which is now nearly as high as the water level in the town. Near the Town Garage, North Road Motor Co., some townspeople manage to make their way through the more shallow parts of the flood. There are a few horse and buggies which are able to pass by as well as some motor cars. One man has to abandon his carriage, though another townsperson does come by to help. Additionally, there are a few double-decker buses as well as a few people in a row boat navigating the flood waters. The final portion of the film features bi-planes from the Imperial Airways. There is a flying sequence with a three engine plane including the plane in the air as well as take-off and landing. (Bi plane reg no. GEBYW. Bi plane reg no. GABSI.) Context This film is from a collection made by amateur filmmaker Alfred Edward Arnett (known as Eddie). Alfred Arnett was born in Whitby in 1901, with the family moving to Doncaster in 1911. He did an engineering apprenticeship before joining with his older brother, Bob Arnett, in a firm which later became R&E Arnett’s Auto Engineering. The film shows Bridge Motor Co, on Marshgate during the floods, where the brothers did their apprenticeships. Alfred also worked for Carters Seeds, visiting all the farms round about Doncaster. R&E Arnett’s, which is still going, restored engines, and this was one connection with motorcycle racing. The YFA has another film of the floods and the airshow made by another filmmaker from the same time. In the 1920s Alfred bought a second hand cine camera and enthusiastically took many films of family, local events and lots of film of the TT races in the Isle of Man, where he and his brother went every year until about 1932. Most of his filming was done in the late 1920s and early 1930s, also filming horse racing, air shows and in Whitby. Later on, in the 1940s, Alfred would set up his projector and show his films, as well as commercial ones, to his family, including his young niece, Sue Clifton, who remembers well these occasions, recalling: “the frequent breaking down of the projector when the “band” came off the pulleys, and the sound of the rising pitch of noise when the captions came up and were on “pause” for a couple of seconds.” The motorcycling up the hill was at Swinton, near Mexborough, and later there is racing at the Stadium at North Road, Doncaster (now a shopping centre with PC World etc.), and Sheffield dirt track, with the riders on Douglas bikes. In fact Alfred’s own ABC scooter motor can be seen, cut down, ridden by Dennis Bragg (once a partner in the business.) Grasstrack racing became popular in the 1920s – apparently the first speedway race in Britain was at High Beech, in Epping Forest, on 19 February 1928 (although this is disputed, see British Speedway Forums, References). In the section of the film on the floods, Alfred’s father can be seen driving an Austin 7, his brother Bob in the boat with Harry Higgin’s father, and Miss Danum in a speed dinghy. Doncaster and Bentley, just two miles to the north, have a history of flooding. A timeline produced by Doncaster Local History, in the wake of the floods of June 2007, goes back to 1536 when flooding of the River Don came between the army of Henry VIII and the 30,000 rebels led by Robert Aske. It goes on to list many others, including one in 1931 and this one in 1932 (it can be seen as part of a 'flood archive' held with Doncaster Archives and Local Studies). According to this, the Racecourse was under water for the first time in living memory; many roads, including Hunt Lane, Bentley Road and ones between Shaftholme and Arksey were under 10ft of water; and 679 houses in Bentley were evacuated, the residents being temporarily housed at Bentley New Village school. Also, on Saturday 28th May Capt. Harry Armstrong from the BBC gave a broadcast based on his recent visit to Bentley, and the Bishop of Sheffield visited Bentley and distributed food and supplies, with the floods discussed in Parliament on 30th May. Also, apparently, many families found that insurance companies would not pay out for any losses they had endured. (Sources: Daily Express 24th May 1932 and Doncaster Gazette 27th May, 2nd, 9th, 16th, 23rd, and 30th June 1932). The third part of the film shows Alan Cobham’s Air Circus which had just come back from a world tour. Some of the aircraft on view have a fascinating history. The aircraft G-EBYW was registered in 1928 with Surrey Flying Services Ltd before moving to Aviation Tours Ltd in Croydon and then EG Clark/ Kummel Bay N. Wales where it was de-commissioned in 1938. The aircraft G-ABSI was the first of the pleasure flying airliners, Youth of Britain; this one first flew on 10 April 1932 from Sherburn-in-Elmet. It was followed soon after by a second aircraft and together the two aircraft carried 92,000 passengers in their first year. It had an unusual design, requested by Airspeed director Sir Alan Cobham, with a third engine mounted in the upper wing to give the pilot a better view. The aircraft G-EBTS had been owned by a well-known pilot of the time, C.D. Bernard, who flew it to Karachi in 1927 – where it had already been flown by the previous owner – with a Mr Elliot and the Duchess of Bedford. The one engine Fokker F-VII was subsequently bought by the Duchess of Bedford, Dame Mary Russell, in 1928, who renamed it from 'Princess Xenia' to ‘The Spider'. Together with C.D. Bernard as pilot, the "Flying Duchess", at the age of 64, set a number of records in the plane: in 1929 a record of seven and a half days to India and back to England; and in 1930 to Cape Town and back in 10 days. In 1930 the Spider was re-registered to Bernard and went on to tour England, giving joy rides at more than 134 stops. The Spider was sold to Sir Bossabhor Bumwandwallah in Bombay in 1934 and broken up in 1937. Mary Russell was to die flying over the North Sea – her body was never found – at the age of 71. It is thanks to amateur filmmakers like Alfred Arnett that historical artefacts and events, like those seen in this film, can be preserved in this unique way and made part of these other stories. (With special thanks to Sue Clifton and Helen R Wallder, Senior Assistant at Doncaster Archives and Local Studies) References British Speedway Forum Golden Years of Aviation FLIGHT, APRIL 15, 1932 Airspeed Ferry, Wikipedia Spider aircraft Further Information Robert Bamford & Dave Stallworthy, The Story of Grasstrack Racing 1927-49, Tempus, Stroud, 2002.