Postcard of Broad Street in Builth Wells

Surprise!

Postcard of Broad Street in Builth Wells

Surprise! That’s what that cheeky Rover 2000 (P6) seems to be saying to his big brother, the Rover 3 litre (P5), as it pops out behind him. Boo!

When I buy a postcard I like it to have been posted and there to be a message on the back. For me this adds to the interest. The date and place of the postmark (not always the same place as depicted on the card) and the message provide a glimpse into someone else’s life in a bygone day. Sometimes the messages are banal, sometimes intriguingly romantic, other times sad. And the address connects the card with another person and place and gives the card a life, a journey, sometimes quite long, the destination quite distant.

Other people buy old postcards for the historical interest in the photograph. Some people want the card to be in mint condition, unused. Others aren’t interested in the photograph at all but are looking for rare or unfranked stamps. Other people don’t care about any of that and are seeking genealogical connections that can fill in gaps in family trees. But me, I like an interesting car on one side, incidental to the scene, and a message, address and franked stamp on the other.

So it’s a surprise I like this one.

My particular postcard has never been posted. It was bought to be posted by my mother in about 1966. However, when she got home and sat down to write it, she noticed that in the photograph she could see her in-laws. What a surprise! They’re the couple in the foreground walking away from the camera. Unmistakable even from behind. What’s more, my parents remember the exact day when the photo was taken. They lived in Builth Wells at the time and my grandparents were visiting from London, where they lived. My mother remembers the day as though it was yesterday, the clothes they were wearing and even where she and my father were when my father’s parents were snapped accidentally by the photographer. They were just behind them.

That is why my mother did not post the card to my Aunty Jean, but instead wrote something else on the back and kept the card safe.

Chance Find! written on the back of a postcard

It’s been a family story ever since. But the card was mislaid. Not lost. My mother keeps everything, but never quite to hand.  I had never seen the card but had, of course, heard the story many times when conversation turned to coincidences and chance finds. Imagine my surprise then when my mother found it last week and on showing it to me I discover that there’s a car in it! Not only a car but two related cars. Father and son. A story!

An old, staid, frumpy, heavy looking and heavy weighing P5, Rover 3 litre, and the all new, slim, technologically advanced, very modern looking P6 Rover 2000. It’s surprising that anyone bought a P5 after the P6 came out, but surprisingly they did, and for three more years until it was discontinued in 1967. The 3.5 litre V8 P5B actually went on until 1973. Different market segments I suppose.

Anyway, I take the famous postcard from my mother, photograph it and begin writing a blog post around it. I’ve done this many times. This in fact is post #153.

Then it occurs to me that for the first time ever in this blog I can know when the photo was taken because that was on the day my parents took my grandparents to Builth Wells. So when was that, Mum? I ask.  My mother says she is’t exactly sure, but that we lived in Builth from June 1960 until August 1962 and Henry and Janet visited several times, but it must have been before August 1961 because that’s when Janet died.  And she said she bought the card some time after 1965.

Now that presents us with a problem. The Rover 2000 wasn’t launched until 9 October 1963 at the Earls Court Motor Show.

Rover did have some prototypes on the road before the launch, it’s true, but only from the spring of ’63 not in 1961.

But it’s a family story. It’s been told so many times. I’m surprised. My mother’s surprised too.

My wife says her mother-in-law buying a postcard and finding that her in-laws, who had been dead for some years, are in the photo is a great story and has become one of her stories. She’s told it hundreds of times and she’s not going to stop telling it now just because I know when a Rover Pee something or other was launched. That’s no surprise to me.

One thought on “Surprise!

  1. What a fascinating story, and it ought to be told unchanged many more times, regardless of what Pee-something ever.
    At first sight I thought the car in front of the Volkswagen Beetle was another Rover 2000. But no. It must be a Ford Zephyr Mk III (1962-1966). Or at least a test mission performing prototype.

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