On This Day in 1948: Naish Hillclimb Resurfacing

The cover of the June 1948 journal of Bristol Motor Club The cover of the June 1948 journal of Bristol Motor Club

Back in 1948, the war had just ended and the club was thriving.  The club was looking for venues to run events and over the next few years would run speed events and circuit races on the sea front at Weston-Super-Mare, on the runway at Lulsgate Airfield (now Bristol International Airport), Bristol Airport (part of the runway still exists in Whitchurch) and we even found time to run the first events at Castle Combe Circuit and Thruxton Circuit.  On this day in 1948, we set to work preparing Naish Hillclimb, which is visible on Google Maps today, but is now split by the M5 motorway.  Here’s how it was written in the June edition of our journal, which was soon to be named Driving Mirror….


At a recent Club meeting it had been decided to spend £50 on making a start at re-surfacing Naish Hill. The start to be made at the second corner, since this was the roughest patch. Twelve volunteers immediately came forward to offer their services as a labour corps, thus allowing the £50 to be spent entirely on materials, while John King and Tom Simmonds offered to organise the necessary transport and tools for the job, this being no small item.

Sunday, April 18 was to be D. Day, and we left Bristol at 9.45 a.m. with every promise of a fine day ahead of us. Shovels and pickaxes were collected at one of Messrs. Small’s quarries, where Miss Joan Small and her father waited upon us. It was a nice gesture on their part to turn out so early on a Sunday morning to make sure we had all the necessary tools. We left them feeling very appreciative, and in a much better frame of mind to tackle the task ahead.

Almost immediately on our arrival at Naish, the “Big Boss” Tom Simmonds started issuing orders. Jackets and pullovers were discarded and we got down to the really serious business of the day. The width of the roadway was decided upon, wooden pegs were driven into the ground on either side, and the full length of the corner marked out plainly. After about an hour things began to take shape. The pace had been fairly fast; and it was a pleasure to hear the dull rhythmical thud of Eric Storey’s pickaxe, but even this could not entirely obliterate the harmless chatter coming from Alf Morrish. Very soon Laurie Atkinson gave us an exhibition of “Strength through Joy” by stripping to the waist, but was apparently a little scared to take matters a stage further. The (Bentley Boys) Saunders and Palmer, were locking as fresh as paint when “Big Boss” sounded his whistle at 12.15 p.m., and we retired to the Local for a welcome lunch of beer and sandwiches.

Unfortunately John Bendle and Jack Weber had to leave after the morning session, but their places were taken by Bill Chandler and a friend. By 2.45 p.m. all the pick and shovel work had been accomplished, the corner was taking shape an was now ready to receive many loads of hard core and concrete. We were all sitting down wiping off the perspiration and of course admiring our handiwork, when John King who had been working like a slave all the morning, said, Surely we are not going to finish yet, how about making a start on the other corner? Reckless sort of fellow, but I think he knew we were too tired to attack him. However without a murmur we gathered up our tools, and slowly made our way to the top corner.

We had thought very little about this third bend when discussing re-surfacing and of course no money or materials had been allotted to it. Tom Simmonds made a brief survey, and decided we could improve the surface considerably although time wag now getting short. Everyone got to work with a will, and by 4.30 p.m. the place was looking tidy even if some of us were showing signs of wear. It was decided to call it a day, and after some photographs had been taken of the corner, we sat down and enjoyed our teas.

Later in the evening after a hot bath and a change of clothes, feeling nicely tired, the sort of feeling one gets only after hard physical work, I was thinking about the Club, the work we had been doing that day, and the very nice bunch of enthusiasts who had been willing to give up their Sunday to get things done. I know of other members who would have been there but for previous engagements, and some who could come on Saturday but not on Sunday. There is no need for these people to feel they have been left out, we shall need all the help we can get in future, not only on working parties. but to assist in organizing events, acting as Marshals, Observers, Timekeepers, Stewards, etc.