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A Vintage Excursion

Written by Ryan Goodyear.

Ryan Goodyear - or Suits & Cylinders on Instagram - joined Stanley Biggs for a weekend jaunt in the Derbyshire countryside for a 1930s inspired road trip.

I had a journey ahead of me, not a long one, but when driving in a 1933 Singer, a two hour journey can turn into a four hour journey, not because of speed, but when motoring in a pre-war car, the world around you slows down, and the traffic speeds up!

Therefore, it is always a good idea to take the scenic, and longer, route to your destination. However you are rewarded with some great roads, scenery and quite possibly a nice country pub along the way.

My journey took me from central Lincolnshire, through Nottinghamshire, and into the Peak District of Derbyshire where my campsite awaited me. I was well prepared, and it only took me four hours to pack for a four day stint, packing light too! However, with all the waterproofs, spare shirts, trousers and hats, what I didn’t have, was any all rounder clothing, jumpers for example, which I could wear in the car, on a walk or around the campfire, and of course was made from good quality British wool, which in today's economy of throw away fashion, is rare to find.

So, I knew where my first stop would be, and that was Stanley Biggs Clothiers in Jacksdale, Nottingham, which incidentally is on the door step of the Peak District.

I set off on my journey, tent, tyres and Talisker all aboard!

I had no hiccups from the car thankfully, but there may have been from myself, if I had stopped at the many pubs I passed on the way. Two hours passed, as did the rolling Lincolnshire and Nottinghamshire countryside, when I eventually rolled up to a glass fronted shop, with its windows filled with beautifully dressed mannequins and the most amazing signage, a real time capsule and a sight to behold; Stanley Biggs Clothiers nonetheless.

I was filled with eagerness to step through the door and browse the wares. What I was mostly eager about was looking for clothing that would have a purpose on my trip, and not just to look good.

Sometimes it is easy to walk into a shop and pick something purely because you like the look of it, but here I knew I wanted something that could both look good and have a purpose on my adventure.

I was greeted by a small lady, no more than 4ft! At first I thought I had entered a Lord of the Rings gift shop with live actors, but no! It was of course the very talented, and enthusiastic Sophie Bainbridge, the owner and the brains behind the brand. I let her know of my plans, and what I was looking for, and although I could have bought one of each item as from the trousers, shirts and to the hats, they would have all had a welcome place in my wardrobe.

I settled on The Sydney Cap & The Austen Jumper. Both great versatile items and whilst I was wearing Harris Tweed trousers in teal and only a shirt, the spring sun was starting to fade, and with another hour still to go on my journey, the new jumper swiftly became an extra layer to my skin, which I didn’t remove until three days later! The joys of vintage camping! As for the hat, well, one can never have enough hats, especially period correct herringbone ones.

I was suited and booted (Biggs also sells great period boots too) and as I thought two nights in the Peaks on my own, would be a little lonely, I also invited Sophie, and her other half Gary along for the rest of the journey.

Off we went, we three, and my purchases, crossing the countyside and into Derbyshire, where hills be, and in stark contrast to the nearly flat countryside of Lincolnshire (its not all flat) I knew the Singer would be put through its paces. Through Crich, Ambergate and across to Middleton, with a few stops to take in the amazing scenery of the Peak District.

The light was dimming, and headlights were switched on. The temperature also dropped too, but I was well equipped and the Austen Jumper certainly kept the cold at bay, even in an open top car doing 50mph.

Just as I approached Middleton, I spotted a rather large industrial Chimney that stood out amongst the treetops. I decided to have a last minute wonder, what I didn’t anticipate was the rather steep incline of which I had to walk to reach the said chimney, however once ahead the Austen jumper proved not only to be an item of clothing to keep the elements at bay, but it also proved to be breathable when the body temperature stared to rise.

The chimney turned out to be The Middleton Top Engine House, which housed large burners to power a winding engine, to allow for wagons to be pulled up and down the said incline, mainly from the industrial era of the mid 1800’s.

The benefit of this location, was not the structure itself but also the views it presented me with, a pub called The Rising Sun, which conveniently was next to the campsite where I intended to pitch up for the evening.

That is when it struck me, I only had limited light left to erect my tent! Thankfully it was only a small two man, but it seems I had more difficulty with mine than Gary & Sophie had with theirs, however that might have been down to the whisky I had poured myself once the car was parked up for the weekend.

Thirty minutes later and camp was set, and the pub beckoned, alas, it would have to wait another night, as the call for a campfire was louder. Sunset became night time, a whisky became five, a jumper became a new staple, and with that songs were sung.

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