The Wiggins' Wartime family saloon

Cyril Wiggins' Austin 8
Rita Brown Collection

David Hurrell writes: During the course of designing and picture-researching for Robert Hallmann’s soon to be published history book, Thundersley & Daws Heath, I came across this picture in an old Wiggins’ Family photo album. I quizzed my friend Gwyneth Craze, author of “Wiggins the Builder” about its significance. She wrote back to me as follows:

…No, David, I really don’t mind you pestering me for information – it keeps my brain going! So, the car is an Austin 8 which my father (Cyril Wiggins) used during the War when petrol rationing came in, because it did not use as much as his rather larger Vauxhall car. One of my childhood passions was remembering car numbers, and so I recognised AJN 820. There was a time I could have told you the numbers of all the lorries as well.

We did not have a vehicle entrance to Chatsworth (the Wiggins’ family home in Hart Road, opposite Raymonds Farm – the pointed tower is just visible in the photo) so our cars were parked in the garages at the top of Raymonds Farm driveway. It maybe they took a picture of it because they had just acquired it.

Dad had a petrol allowance for business as well as one because he was a Minister of Religion, and we would go with him when we could for a trip out. For instance, Wiggins had an office in Romford for War damage work and in those days wages in cash had to be delivered in person by one of the Wiggins men – and there was a good market in Romford where you could buy stuff not available locally.

It was quite a while after the war before new cars were available, and the poor old Austin was not comfortable to ride in by then, the seats were worn and one at the front had a petrol can underneath it to hold it up. Fred Horner kept the mechanical parts going, sometimes manufacturing bits himself – he was a genius with anything like that.

Sorry, more information than you wanted!

No, not too much at all, Gwyneth. What a brilliant answer to my question, “Can you identify this car?”. Your response deserves to be recorded on the Community Archive – with your permission, of course.

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  • What do I know? Not much about cars, evidentially! So I’ve checked and Jeff and Barry are spot on, (of course). There is a superficial similarity (to an untrained eye), but I’ve noticed that Austin 8 doors are hinged to open from the front.

    I took the opportunity to check out the number-plate on a nifty website by C.R. Jones called “Old Classic Car” and found that it was Southend registered in August 1938.

    No-one can claim perfect recall and so I love it that we can build our history by consensus. Keep those comments coming!

    By David Hurrell (07/12/2015)
  • With all due respect, the car is a Ford Prefect, a four door development of the two door Anglia.  I believe it was introduced during the late 1930s and continued in production until the 1950s.  Post war, the front had a “facelift” with the headlights being incorporated into the wing panels.  Mine was a 1952 model (reg TNO 45).  They had a 1172 cc side valve engine and almost anything could be repaired with a piece of string or fence wire.  Those were the days …….


    By Barry Brazier (18/02/2015)
  • I believe the car in the picture may well be a 1940s Ford Prefect and not a dear old Morris 8. Both very popular cars but the wheels on the car shown are most definitely of Ford derivative. I had one of these as my first car in the early 70s and you may have seen it painted dreadfully, in British racing green around Thundersley. – Jeff

    By Jeff Rossiter (11/02/2015)

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