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Homepage. This page: A route book produced on behalf of the Austin Motor Company in the early 1930s.

"Seeing Britain & the Continent from an Austin".

Maps published with the endorsement of major motor car companies were not unusual, and still turn up today quite frequently. Examples of early maps can be found on this page. I'd not seen a copy of this touring publication before though, prior to stumbling across the example featured below in a box of random old books recently. Titled "Seeing Britain & the Continent from an Austin", it dates to the early 1930s and was compiled on behalf of the Austin Motor Company by Ed. J. Burrow & Co. Ltd, authored by Alison D. Murray, a seasoned travel writer of the day.
Austin car book
Inside the cover is an illustrated map showing Wales, and the midlands down to the south of Great Britain, with various towns, cities and other places of note given a mention. Within the rear is a similar drawing showing the north and Scotland. Ireland too is covered within this aged book.
Map of England & Wales
As more and more people invested in a private car for the first time during the 1920s and 1930s, interest in destinations within a comfortable day's driving distance increased. More adventurous souls would plan a motoring holiday that took in much of the UK, or one that involved a lengthy road trip to distant lands that required a basic grasp of a foreign language. With this in mind, the clever people at Austin came up with "Seeing Britain & the Continent from an Austin".
Motoring organisations such as the Automobile Association (AA) and the Royal Automobile Club (RAC) would also provide their respective members with specific route itinaries on request. An example issued by the Michelin tyre company in the 1920s can be found here, while an RAC publication from the 1930s that describes a route in North Wales is on this page. In the days before the internet, motorists keen to explore the country relied upon services such as this, and advice given in print magazines and books. Nowadays everyone has the information at their fingertips, but do many people just go out for a drive, just for the sake of exploring the country?

Introduction from Sir Herbert Austin KBE.

Owner and founder of the company, Sir (later Lord) Herbert Austin, provided an introduction to his company's book:
"The following pages in this little book have been written with a definite purpose: firstly, to create an interest in "spying out" the thousands of beauty spots in our native land; secondly, to arrange an up-to-date series of short tours and journeys within defined areas; and thirdly, to attempt to create a feeling of confidence between the reader and the manufacturers of a car whose products can be relied upon to give thorough and complete satisfaction."
"In spite of the fact that numerous books have been written on the subject of the places and objects worth seeing in Britain, the number of interesting spots is so large, and approachable from so many angles, that there is still room for others, and I am sure the charming manner in which Mr Alison D. Murray has dealt with the subject will prove of interest and lead to many enjoyable trips in what is often, and rightly so, called "God's Own Country".
"After having followed the suggested journeys shown on the maps in each of the districts, new impressions and pleasures can be obtained by changing the direction at the start or crossing over at various points en route. It makes all the difference to see the country with the sun at one's back. Just try the experiment of going out to the west in the morning, especially on a sunny day, and coming back home eastwards in the afternoon or evening. The colours and beauty of the trees and the landscape are altogether different and more wonderful."
"And then as to the car, it is only a means of conveyance, of course, but in exploring some of the out-of-the-way spots, far from the "madding crowd", it makes the pleasure of the tour complete to be able to feel that "sense of security" which can only come from the possession of a car built with the definite purpose that it shall be thoroughly reliable. The power to climb with ease any hill you may meet, to stop with security on the steepest incline, and give you all the speed you can reasonably need, are bound up with many other advantages in the possession of an Austin car."
Austin car ofthe 1930s

Words by the publisher, Edward J. Burrow FRGS.

The book's publisher then gives his thoughts on the subject, and sums up the aims of the book in more detail. The opportunity to further the virtues of Austin motor-cars isn't missed:
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"The Freedom of the Open Road - what a glorious prospect is bound up in that simple phrase and all that it means to the lover of adventure! the freedom that means release from the cares and worries of ordinary life, the broadening of the horizon until the distant purple hills become near neighbours and the white ribbon of the winding road is the pathway to green forest glades, past brimming rivers and through the crowded market-places of quaint old towns, where the crumbling towers of mediaeval castles and cathedrals look down in drowsy contempt on motors drawn up in their long shadows."
"This freedom too, with an Austin for company, means an added zest to life in the sense of unaccustomed power - the power which uncannily swings its load of mechanism and human beings blithely up a steep hill without any apparent effort and yet is docile enough to crawl along at walking pace in traffic or where caution is needed. In some mysterious way the power of the sturdy Austin engine links up with the power of the human driver; and nothing is more bracing to the nerves or psychologically inspiring than this sense of being able to annihilate distance and flout the laws of gravity with an ease that is little short of a miracle."
"A Wider Circle of Acquaintances
The Austin owner, who had taken up motoring for the first time, finds, too, that his circle of acquaintances and his visiting list widen enormously. In the days of Shanks' pony it was impossible to pay visits for more than a mile or so; the bicycle expanded the radius eight or ten miles; but the Austin brings the whole of the country within easy reach of one's door, and laughs at the hills and valleys that lie between us and our once distant friends. A 25-mile run after tea, a round of golf, or a little tennis, or a quiet talk and home again before dark, is an easy venture in the long summer evenings of our English method of cheating the clock - the greatest boon that motorists, who are engaged in making a living during the day, have ever enjoyed."
"The Austin as a Domestic Aid
Then how many thousands of the fair sex bless their car as they make their daily round of shopping at the nearest convenient market town in their neat little Austin 7, or in the more elegant and roomy 12. As I take my rides abroad I am more and more impressed with the immense difference the small car has made to the busy housewife by bringing her shopping right up to her doorstep; and this is all to the good, for no good domestic manager wishes to shop by telephone if she can avoid it. With the trusty little car she can go to market and personally select her purchases with so little expenditure of time that she will have a good half of the day quite free for the many social engagements of a modern woman's life. So here is a remarkable sidelight of a far-reaching effect on British home life by the use of the convenient Austin."
"The Picnic by the Roadside
I am inclined to believe that one of the greatest joys of the average small-car owner today is to take wife and family, food, and thermos flasks full of hot tea and coffee, and sally forth for a day's picnic.
The Malvern Hills, or the Punch Bowl at Haslemere, and dozens of other similar places are evidence of this natural and healthy desire to get out into the sunshine, amongst the gorse and heather, or in a shady corner of a wood, and, for the n*nce, to revert to the nature-loving habits of our ancestors. Not everyone can afford the time or expense of a tour; but the man or woman who possesses no car misses a great deal of enjoyment, and little realizes how jolly and happy a thing is this weekend run to a convenient spot where the children can romp in the long grass, and father and mother forget for a while the little worries and trials of ordinary life, amidst the hum of bees and the sighing of the breeze."
"Touring with an Austin for Company
But, apart from these joys of the freedom that comes with the possession of the care-free and foolproof Austin, the true delight of motoring, at least to the owner-driver, is in the carrying-out of a properly arranged tour through the shires of the Old Country, and it is on this aspect that Mr Alison D. Murray has focussed his attention in the present volume. Nothing can excel the delight of planning the tour, with the aid of a good map, such as the Dunlop Atlas or Bartholomew's two miles to the inch.
In anticipation one thrills with the expectation of new sensations - the sensations of speed, of effortless power, of the spice of adventure in finding one's way in far-off counties, of the delight that comes from the exploration of one's native land, and actually visiting places one has so often seen in illustrations or even on poster hoardings.
For 20 years I have made motor touring my chief hobby, and I can, therefore, give some hints to the novice which will be useful."
"Hints to the Novice
Firstly, it is best to take the tour in easy stages. If many places of interest are to be inspected, as this should be, it will be best to commence with about 80 miles per day, at about 25 miles per hour, and to gradually increase this as one gets more used to the effort of driving, which a beginner notices a good deal, an old hand not at all. Then it is usually best to base one's stopping places on ascertained comfortable hotels: scenery does not make up for an uncomfortable bed and inferior food: the RAC and AA and the Dunlop Guide all give complete lists of recommended hotels of various grades. Each day at midday a wire should go forward booking up accommodation for the evening, or you may be crowded out.
Generally speaking it is best to take the midday meal in the car or by the roadside: this saves time, and motoring does not call for three heavy meals.
As to equipment, all supplies can be obtained on the road, but it is not advisable to start a tour with badly worn tyres; if possible, leave these at home for spares, and take new covers, or you may be asking for trouble.
In any case be sure you carry your licence with you, and see that your insurance policy covers everything that is necessary.
As to the luggage required, and the best way of carrying it - the cases which enclose two or three small trunks, and travel on the luggage grid, are very handy, and keep the dust out of ladies' garments, but it is advisable to see that the hot exhaust does not blow on to, or about, the contents of the grid, as this is apt to seriously affect delicate material."
"The Best of Company
Now, I will leave you to experience the joy of the open road, with an Austin for company. I envy you the delightful sensation you will experience when, the last strap having been adjusted on the luggage grid, and a final look at the map, the starter rushes the engine into life, the friends standing at the door of the old home wave a cheery good-bye, and the Austin moves out through the gateway into the venture-land of castles and mountains, and placid flowing rivers, lakes, waterfalls, swelling moorlands - to the exploration of dear Old England, our native land.
Then, indeed, care-free in the remotest and wildest districts, you will come to appreciate what it means to drive a car that will never fail you, and will bring you back safe and sound in good time, full of gratitude to the Longbridge magicians, who, by their inventive skill, have given you the Austin."
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The book itself then reveals a good number of worthy destinations, either as suitable excursions for the day-tripper, or the holidaying motorist in search of sites worth visiting as part of a more thorough motor tour. Interesting facts are given, historical and current, along with tips on the routes best chosen to maximise the pleasure of one's visit. Eye-catching landmarks, such as West Gate in Winchester, and the Devil's Chimney near Cheltenham, are just two of the sights to discover.
The sights and delights of Ireland are presented in Chapter XXII, this is then followed by an introduction to continental Europe for the Austin-owning reader, with a smattering of destinations given due consideration in one particular route that begins in Calais, then wends its way down through France culminating in Brindisi, Italy.
After reading just a few paragraphs of this glovebox-sized book, I can sense the excitement that 1930's motorist must have felt when, with a new Austin tucked away in his or her motorhouse, real consideration was being given to the touring opportunities that their motor-car now offered.
More items of paperwork relating to motoring can be found in the Motoring Collectables section.

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