The Argory: 20th May 2023
Our former member, the late Wesley Lamont, on the occasion of our first visit up North and when concluding business for the day, expressed his delight with the large attendance of Austin Seven vehicles and extended a wholesome invitation for a return visit the following year. Time passes quickly and already too soon we were back again, but alas without our friend of membership number 38. It was a joyous occasion nonetheless with an exhibition of three of Wesley’s vehicles at centre stage.
Whilst the most informative souvenir programme listed an entry of 64 pre war vehicles, the number count for Austin Sevens was 27 with just 5 hailing from down South. Clearly the stronghold is in Ulster and it was wonderful to see such an array of finely presented cars and commercials with as many separate colours as in a rainbow on display for us all to inspect and admire.
It was an unusual static show, thankfully free of untrained youngsters and careless parents. On the contrary it was a special occasion where old acquaintance and new friendships were quickly reignited in the delightful setting of The Argory. For those of us not familiar with The National Trust, The Argory was built in the 1820s by the Dublin architects Arthur and John Williamson for the McGeough Bond family.
It is a Greek revival villa surrounded by wooded riverside gardens. The service wing was gutted by fire in 1898 and rebuilt in a truncated form. Added to by successive generations, it still contains much of its original George IV furniture, and is shown as Mr Bond left it when he donated it to the National Trust in 1979. The interiors include marbled walls, ornate metalwork, and polished brass balusters on the sweeping cantilever staircase. The Argory was lit by acetylene gas from 1906 to 1979 and is one of the most complete acetylene lighting systems to survive in the British Isles.
Photos by Nuala Grogan
There was a very good attendance of people, drivers, family and others who came along to admire and chat. Overall the presentation was very good as was the weather which no doubt made it a fitting occasion for all. We acknowledge the hard work put into the project after months of planning, sourcing and positioning everything into ship shape. The presence of vendors of Austin Seven parts and lubricants was appreciated; at least those in search, have a home to go to for seeking knowledge and sourcing important items.
The two outdoor catering facilities as well as the indoor coffee/cake restaurant truly met the needs of visitors and a further opportunity to socialise and exchange pleasantries. The sponsors for the souvenir programme together with the modest entry fee all adding up to almost £4,000 will be applied to MyelomaUK, a worthy cause for which Wesley had always supported.
In wrapping up this article, the pictures tell the story of a bunch of happy pre-war enthusiasts enjoying each other’s company in a wonderful setting on a fine sunny May Saturday. With grateful thanks to Chairman Keith Moore and his hard-working committee of Ulster Pre-War Austin Club. We surely will return.