Nottingham Classic Tour – July 18th 2021

We’d always intended to visit Papplewick Pumping Station but had never managed to. Carlton & District Motor Club’s 120 mile Nottingham Classic Tour started and finished at this Victorian ‘cathedral to steam’ power, one of the finest in the country. It’s now so highly regarded and popular as an event venue that weddings are held there.

Inside the engine room (an Ashley Dace photo)

Papplewick is just 20 miles from home so no overnight accommodation was needed, the first car wasn’t due to depart until 8:45 and we were car 9, sandwiched between groups of ’60s Austin Healey, Jaguar and Triumph sportscars. An unhurried start to the day I thought but the gates opened at 7:30 and Gael likes to be there early…

Covid restrictions meant that everything was done at arm’s length and social distancing was required: queuing for breakfast, collecting drinks, handing in signing-on forms, visiting the loo, even chatting to other crews.

The route, starting so close to home, included stretches of road we’d travelled before and both rest halts were at locations we’d previously visited: Pleasley Pit Country Park and Mining Museum and the Dukeries Garden Centre near Worksop. No matter, we’d enjoy the ‘unknowns’ and there were plenty of those.
This was the 22nd running of the event which Carlton & District Motor Club manages to route entirely within the county of Nottinghamshire.

We set off under a sunny sky, heading north-west, squeezing our way past Mansfield and skirting the ‘in-Ashfields’ (Kirkby and Sutton). Round Hardwick Park, a quick hop along the A617 and in no time we’re at Pleasley Pit Mining Museum. The pit produced coal until 1983 but both headstocks and the engine house remain; the site is now a scheduled Ancient Monument and it’s a fascinating insight into the area’s industrial past.

After ‘elevenses’ (actually ten-twenty-fives) and a wander round the car park for photos we sat in the shade for a bit, people watching, before joining the re-start queue for the second leg. Leg two took us north towards Bolsover, skirting the town to the east before making a huge circle through Clumber Park to miss (just) Worksop to head south on the A60 to the lunch halt at the garden centre.

We’d worked up a bit of a hunger and having arrived earlier than anticipated had over 90 minutes to kill so we headed for the cafeteria and tucked into a ham salad – with chips. It was an unfortunate mistake, you’ll find out why later.

Lunch halt at the Dukeries Garden Centre

We had a further 54.9 miles to drive, virtually half the overall distance. The route took us east then along the Great North Road for a few miles south of Retford before heading towards the River Trent. We meandered south, past the now defunct High Marnham Power Station. The most southerly of three along the Trent, it was once the largest in Europe and powered by coal from 17 collieries, its gargantuan appetite consumed 10,000 tonnes of coal a day before closure in 2003.

Just outside Southwell we turned west through the villages of Kirklington, Edingley and Farnsfield then rattled our way over the Blidworth speed bumps back to Papplewick and the finish. It had been another very enjoyable day with a well thought out route – talking to other drivers we all appreciated the fast sections to ‘blow out the cobwebs’ and pass slower cars, not often possible on narrow, twisty country lanes.

Carlton & District Motor Club’s entry pack included not only a route book and rally plate but also a commemorative gift of a ‘campaign medal’ with year bar. Oh yes, the lunchtime mistake… The entry fee included a meal at the finish of chicken and chips. It would have been impolite to refuse so by the time we arrived home we were rather full…