Boanerges

boanerges

Boanerges

Don’t be fooled by this old timer: this 1902 James and Browne town car enjoys more hands on his body than cars half his age.

Past incarnations:

Boanerges I was a 1908 Rover purchased in 1920

CURRENT:

Bo’ II is a 1902 James and Browne purchased in 1934 for £40

Owner:

City and Guilds College Union

Status:

Inviolate

Alias(es):

Bo’, Bojangles

Details and dimensions:

Bo’ (number plate AW 38) is the only known remaining 1902 James and Browne automobile produced in London from 1898 to 1910. Bo’ is highly unusual in a number of ways, including engine layout with the flywheel between the cylinders… and the fact that two people drive him! He is maintained entirely by volunteer students of the City and Guilds College Motor Club.

Made-for-telly history:

Bo’s name is taken from the Bible (Mark 3:17) and means ‘Son of Thunder’ or ‘Son of Fire’… appropriately named given the loud engine noise and bolting horses problems it caused when driven around London at the turn of the last century.

Early life was good to Boanerges. He took part in many ‘Brighton runs’ during the early 1920s, until it was determined that he was too new to participate and banned. The London to Brighton event, sponsored by the Veteran Car Club of Great Britain, is open to all motor vehicles (three wheels or more) built before January 1905.

Then came the ‘Biscuit Incident’ on 30 October 1924. Ramsay MacDonald was Prime Minister and the Rover was beyond repair. Bo’ was driven to Downing Street, emptied of petrol, and his gearboxes filled with gravel. A well-dressed, life size effigy with a biscuit in his hand was left in the passenger seat. This was a protest against the recent knighthood of a leading biscuit manufacturer chairman, or perhaps the fact Ramsay MacDonald had conveniently received a Rolls-Royce as a gift from the newly knighted biscuit company chairman, Lord MacFarlane. Apparently, the police had considerable difficulty moving the car. There is no proof but it is suspected that Guilds students knew they had proved their point and celebrated over several pints.

Onward to a new Bo’. Two students, John Garland and Dick Riddle, bought the present Bo’ from Lilleshall in Shropshire for the princely sum of £40 and towed it back to London. The car was christened Boanerges Mk II on 26 November 1925 — with a bottle of beer. Being seven years older, the new Bo’ could again participate in the London-Brighton runs and, even better, he could reach greater speed: 23 mph.

It should be noted that the first Bo’, ‘old Bo’’, was eventually towed away from Downing Street. (No record remains of the Prime Minister’s shouts of abuse). Old Bo’ was purchased by (presumed) student Peter Maxwell in 1936. Old Bo’ was garaged at the Crystal Palace race track and used as a track marshal’s car in 1939–40 until the army requisitioned the track. With no other garaging available and his owner at war, Bo’ found himself flying the skies – through the Ministry of Aircraft Production’s scrap collection programme.

First and last violated:

Never! With age and value considerations Bo’s public appearances are extremely limited.

Rumours:

A mysterious letter delivered to ‘X’ occurred on 9 July 2002. You see, to celebrate his 100th birthday Boanerges celebrated by being driven along the back roads of France from Boulogne to Paris. He made it to Paris in six days thanks in part to a back-up team needed to rebuild the engine. A letter from the Rector, Sir Richard Sykes, was delivered conveying greetings to ‘X… a.k.a. École Polytechnique. The letter is said to have conveyed polite greetings… but who can say with certainty?

Tradition

Although Bo can now be driven by only one person, the tradition of a co-driver is unlikely to disappear. Each year Bo’s new driver is chosen by the previous year’s driver. Bo’s driver is in control of the steering, brakes and gear changes, and the co-driver controls the throttle and ignition.

Trivia:

Bo’ is said to be one of only two James and Browne automobiles left in the world — the other being the newer 1904 model.

Sources:

Is Bo’ more popular than other other Imperial mascots? Share your comments below.

Spanner

spanner

Spanner

Debate remains over who prefers the ‘heavy’ Spanner or ‘slim’ Spanner… but one thing is certain: both do the job after dark.

Past incarnations:

Spanner I (1937), Spanner II (1961)

Current version:

Spanner III (1964)

Owner:

City and Guilds College Union

Status:

Violate

Alias(es):

Wooden Spanner (inviolate)

Details and dimensions:

Spanner III is a 64lb brass spanner manufactured to perfectly fit the bolts on London Bridge. A recently surfaced, lighter Doppelgänger is constructed of wood.

Made-for-telly history:

Exactly what job after dark is Spanner said to accomplish? Unhinging London Bridge, of course! Although unscrewing the spans of London Bridge today is strongly ill-advised (thanks, MI6) you cannot help but admire the slightly subversive nature of the students who created Spanner in the early 1960s.

Heavy, hefty Spanner is meant to convey one thing: don’t mess with the brass!

Will any alumni from the turbulent 1960s step forward to discuss how and why they made a spanner their mascot?

That all changed in 1974. The first female Guilds President, Jenny Jones, was elected to office. Petite Jenny was unable to lift 68lb Spanner over her head during CGCU’s chant “Boomalaka!”.

(“Boomalaka, boomalaka, boomalaka!” goes the chant for minutes on end. Frankly, not all of CGCU’s men could pump heavy Spanner up and down over their heads for the duration of the chant, either.)

It was decided that a wooden replica would be made.

Brass Spanner was taken to student Philip Northey’s hometown of Plymouth. There he set about measuring and cutting a replica Spanner out of wood. He painted it so that both versions were identical.

“From a distance, it was difficult to tell [them] apart. However a look at the person holding the Spanner would quickly reveal which one was which. (The one hoisting the brass one usually sweating, shaking and with bulging veins on the temples!)” says alumnus, Philip Northey

Today, Wooden Spanner is inviolate, which means it would be considered theft if stolen… so better to pinch the real thing (if you can manage to capture it) if you’re planning a caper after dark.

First violated:

1960-something – anyone out there know? If so, please tell us in the comments.

Last violated:

2010

Rumours:

None that are fit to print. Really.

Tradition

Thanks to Mr Northey paving the way, replica Spanners marking 30 years after graduation were expected. In 2011, CGCU looked forward to the next Spanner incarnation courtesy the class of 1981. Was it be knitted of leggings and discarded tapes? (Note: ‘tapes’ were a form of music transfer commonly used between ‘records’ and ‘CDs’. Ask a history student.) Is there any news about Spanner 2011?

Trivia:

The ‘new’ wooden Spanner was collected from alumnus Mr Northey’s home by then CGCU President He-in Cheong on 12 September 2010.

Sources:

Live! 23 September 2010

Do you prefer ‘real’ Spanner or Wooden Spanner, and why? Share your comments below.

Bolt

bolt

Bolt

Bolt is a 68lb wheel nut said to fit his best friend, the CGCU mascot Spanner. They literally fit together.

Past incarnations:

None I

Current version:

Bolt

Owner:

City and Guilds College Union

Status:

violate

Alias(es):

none known

Details and dimensions:

Bolt is a steel shackle with a chrome bolt passing through him, mounted on concrete, and is about a foot long. He was manufactured in 1968 and weighs 68lbs.

Made-for-telly history:

In 2000 Spanner and Bolt were declared ‘violate’ when CGSU’s other two older mascots, Bo and Derrick, were declared inviolate.

Step up and into the spotlight, lads.

Bolt and his ever present pal, Spanner, were purposely constructed to be heavy to deter others from capturing them and holding the mascots ransom. While a lighter Spanner (Wooden Spanner) was eventually made to accommodate College functions, Bolt remains steadfastly heavy.

Bolt was the central focus by “certain vigilante/illegal organisations such as the ‘Black Hole’ and ‘Trojan Horse'”, according to Council documents unearthed from 2005. These groups carried Bolt into controversy when they took part in mascotry without mascots of their own, thereby breaking the rules of mascotry.

All was resolved by calm, diplomatic negotiations between CGCU and RSM until…

Bolt made news in 2009 when he went on a skip.

This is highly unusual because, obviously, he isn’t so mobile. It was later learned that Bolt and Spanner were kidnapped and held for ransom. The anonymous ransom note was sent by email:

“As we told you some time ago, the mascots are safe,” said the correspondence sent to Live! It continued: “they are in trusted hands”.

Those holding Spanner and Bolt assured Live! that the two antique mascots would be returned to the CGCU at the Freshers’ Bar Night at Archangel, on Kensington High Street on 15 October.

However, this left Guilds without their mascots during Freshers Week, a vital time for the Faculty of Engineering union to attract the attention of the new intake of Imperial engineers.

The move raised eyebrows because a ransom note had not been sent earlier, leading some to wonder if Bolt had been carted off for good.

Bolt is heavy but violate, which means crafty, muscular teams might be able to steal him for ransom…

First violated:

Not known

Last violated:

Spanner and Bolt were kidnapped and returned in 2009.

Rumours:

Bolt continues to be a pawn in upstart student organisations eager to participate in mascotry.

Tradition

Trojan Horse Society, a.k.a. the Wooden Horse Organisation, is the team of Guildsmen which recovers the mascots when they are stolen, and attempts to liberate other mascots. Members were once considered outsiders but are now an accepted part of the game to raise funds for charity.

Trivia:

Spanner and Bolt bearers are usually elected at the end of the academic year. This gives mascot bearers the entire year to build upper-body strength suitable for hoisting Bolt overhead.

Sources:

CGCU website June 2012
Live! 2 October 2009
Live! 22 Sept 2009
Council Agenda, 24 November 2005
Live! 6 March 2000

Why does Bolt rally the attention of vigilante mascotry groups? Share your comments below.

Derrick

derrick

Derrick

Derrick is a 1926 Ner-a-Car motorcycle.

Past incarnations:

None

Current version:

Derrick

Owner

City and Guilds College Union

Status:

Inviolate

Alias(es):

None

Details and Dimensions:

Derrick is a classic Ner-a-Car motorcycle, built in 1926, the last year of
its production and he is the ‘little brother’ to Bo’.

Made-for-telly history:

Derrick is the result of a sultry affair – or at least commercial union – of British and American ingenuity in 1926.

Our Derrick was produced in Kingston-upon-Thames, one of just 6,500 built by Sheffield-Simplex car manufacturer. Sheffield-Simplex licensed a name and designs from the American Near-a-Car Corporation. All production moved to the UK from 1919–26.

Derrick is powered by a 350 cc Blackburne side valve engine driving through a Sturmey-Archer three speed gearbox. True to his English roots, Derrick’s Sturmey-Archer gearbox was manufactured in Nottingham.

Reported The Clarion at the time: “In the model ‘C, Ner-a-Car, the Sheffield Simplex Company have produced something which will give all the speed a sane man can desire, plus the riding comfort and safety which make the Ner-a-Car famous. The new Blackburne engined Ner-a-Car is probably the finest example of two wheeled comfort in the world.”.

The motorbike was marketed to the upper classes. Riders included the Earl of Haddington, the Earl Fitzwilliam, the Earl of Bective and the Duchess of Marlborough.

What happened to Derrick between the time of his birth, er, manufacture, and his eventual acquisition by the Union in 1980 is left largely to the mysterious pages of history…

We do know, however, that he was a gracious gift of a (now retired) Aeronautics teaching professor, Roger Serpell, who was also Head of the Imperial College Red Cross Service. Roger had intended to restore Derrick but never found the time, so he gave Derrick to Guilds.

Reported Felix on 3 October 1980:

“GUILDS finally got a round to naming Ner-a-Car at the Freshers’ UGM on Tuesday. It was decided that the name chose had to compliment ‘Bo’. Suggestions ranged from the purile (‘peep’ and ‘geste’) to the brilliant (‘LLOCKS’). In the end it came down to a chioce of the two, the already mentioned ‘LLOCKS’ and ‘Derrick’ After a show of hands and a count ‘Derrick’ was declared the winner and the name is now official.”

Yes, that also meant the mascot duo would be referred to as ‘Bo Derrick’, in homage to popular Hollywood star Bo Derek. (Ha!)

Derrick remains in good health and makes frequent outings in Kensington thanks to maintenance by a group of volunteers. Derrick may be old but in some ways ahead is remains part of new trends in motorcycle design. Derrick is a very early example of a ‘feet forward’ motorcycle. This is a class of motorcycles ridden with the feet forward, as in a car, instead of below or astride. This class of vehicle differs from a scooter and designs are still evolving to give riders the performance and handling of a motorcycle with the comfort of a car as a transportation alternative.

Derrick makes the annual London-Brighton run alongside Boanerges. Aeronautical Engineering undergraduate Mateusz ‘Mat’ Gocek had the honour of riding Derrick in 2011–12 year.

Reports Mat about the experience:

“Derrick is extremely reliable and virtually maintenance free, when compared with Bo’. In fact, I only realised I actually was supposed to give it some pre-run service on the day before Brighton, which involved hardly anything else than topping up the fluids and greasing the wheel hubs — not at all bad for an almost century-old vehicle!

This odd-looking thing gathering dust between the lathe and the engine hoist in the corner of the garage caught my attention as soon as I joined the Club in 2010, mostly due to the three factors: the forward-foot sitting position, the readily visible valve pushrods and the absolutely archetypical sound the 350cc Blackbourne engine makes (you can tell I’m an engineer!). Ah, and the idiosyncratic looks…

The day of the run was crazy. Apart from Derrick, Bo’ was also supposed to be accompanied by another Imperial mascot, the 1916 fire engine called Jezebel. As the cruising speed of Jez is somewhat closer to that of Derrick, we have decided that the motorbike should more or less follow Jez, which is the usual practice. It’s just that Derrick doesn’t seem extremely happy at the medium second/low third gear, and also feels a bit unstable even at Bo’s top speed, which is somewhere around 28mph – speed testing to be performed in the near future!

And so there I was, right outside the Jez garage, well before the dawn. I’ve put the Derrick coat on top of my usual motorcycling clothes, which turned out to be quite an involving task that took some trial and error during the run in spite of the advice given to me by some of the older Jez people who remembered the times when such outfits were in regular use. I learned about the suit on the day, not before — I saw it in the garage before, but never figured out its actual use.

Never in my life had I experienced any problems with starting Derrick – apart from that one morning. Bo’ had already left for the Hyde Park, and Jez and I were supposed to wave him off after the official start and then make our way to Brighton in our own time, adjusting our route according to our needs and abilities. I had the engine running just before Jez got ready to go, yet I’ve somehow managed to get the engine flooded the moment she set off. Oh well, a typical bump starting procedure solved all the issues – this thing is older than my Grandma after all.

The ride to Hyde Park was short and filled with engine stalls, missing Jez at traffic lights and watching all the odd-looking vehicles around. We left Jez and Derrick outside the park, as for obvious reasons only the vehicles actually participating in the Brighton run were allowed in. After Bo’ set off, I got lost as I walked back towards Derrick. I saw Jez waiting for me on the other side of the road, but as I knew it would take me some time to actually get going, I just texted them with an instruction not to wait for me, and took my time getting back to the motorbike. From now on I went on my own. Oh well, improvising is my thing after all…

The actual run wasn’t as scary as I initially thought. I was riding at my own speed, the entire navigation based on the file of more-than-hundred-year-old vehicles, appreciating the variety of the motor cars before a standard, well-proven, optimised and somewhat boring set of automotive solutions has been established. I caught up with Bo’ at some point, which was an extremely pleasant experience, before shooting off in search for Jez (which I didn’t manage to see during the entire run). In the meantime I have managed to find and pick up a massive brass gear broken in half (goodness knows what happened to the poor vehicle that once utilised it – we’ve given it to the organisers as someone will be missing it!) skid a bit – quite an achievement in Derrick, who despite having two rear brakes isn’t terribly easy to stop, and finally experienced the horrors of his top speed, estimated at some 55mph on the final stretch of A23. After getting to Brighton an hour before Bo’ and spending all that time constantly getting lost and figuring my way towards the shore, we’ve loaded Bo’ on his trailer, stacked Derrick in the back of the Land Rover towing it, and made our way towards the pier with intentions of getting on with the Brighton tradition by having a few well-earned pints.”

First violated

Never.

Last violated:

Never, and you’d be a fool to try!

Rumours:

Derrick is said to be the favourite mascot of couples comprised of one Brit and one Yank.

Tradition

Derrick rides along with Bo’ on the annual Brighton run.

Trivia:

Less than a dozen Ner-a-Cars are believed to exist in the UK today. Four are model C, and only one of these four (Derrick) is running.

Sources:

Is Derrick your favourite Imperial vintage vehicle? Share your comments below