Approx. 80pp ms. on both sides of oblong folio leaves, written in a neat legible hand in black ink, illustrated throughout with black-and-white photographs. Oblong 4to. "The jolliest tour..." Contemporary half maroon morocco album, brown morocco-grained cloth boards Item #307594
An entertaining manuscript journal of a bicycle tour in Devon and Cornwall taken during the summer of 1904. Compiled by the otherwise unnamed G.A.C. (‘My unworthy self’), whose companions for the trip are named as Sydney G. How (‘Syd’) and Robert W. Mace (‘Jim’), the journal forms a fascinating commentary on rural and coastal life in the two most south-westerly English counties.
The excursion begins with an overnight train from Paddington to Teignmouth, in a compartment as comfortable ‘as a 3rd Class G.W.R. carriage would allow’. The intrepid cyclists then take in a leisurely tour of the Devon coast, visiting Maidencombe, Torquay, Paignton (‘a little disappointing’) and Brixham, before heading inland on a steamer up the river Dart, to Totnes, Buckfast Abbey, and Dartmoor. From Dartmoor they head west through Princetown, home of the infamous Dartmoor Prison, to the banks of the Tamar River, where the party crosses into Cornwall. Several days are spent meandering the Cornwall-Devon borders, before heading back up the North Devon coast to to Lytham, Lymington, Barnstaple (via the now defunct narrow-guage Lynton & Barnstaple Railway) and Ilfracombe. Several interesting events occur over the course of the trip. In Clovelly, for example, the author notes, ‘we have discovered that Earl Russell was staying in the village,... and later we saw his motor A.1. the first registered car in London...’. On the Ilfracombe stretch of their journey they reach ‘the little seaside village - made famous by Marie Corelli - Coombe Martin’. G.A.C. notes, ‘At “The Dolphin” we put up for lunch and lunched in the room where the famous authoress wrote the greater part of “The Mighty Atom”’. Many of the observations are of a topographical nature, and often accompanied by relevant photographs taken by members of the group. Syd, Jim and G.A.C. feature in many of the snapshots, always impeccably attired in their tweed cycling attire and boater hats. The tour ends on the 18th of August, with the party retracing their steps and returning to Paddington. The author concludes, ‘we had the jolliest tour of our lives (to this statement we all agree) in the famous West Country’.
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