All in a days Barn find: MG-TA 0655

by David Irwin


  These stories always happen to someone else. A barn find MG; an almost forgotten car, in a farm landscape near a village hardly anyone has heard of. But for once, and probably only ever once, it has happened to me: A short story on the discovery of an MG TA in a barn in northern Derbyshire England. In the early summer of 2004, fellow MG TCer and list member Tim Jackson was moving home from the south coast of England to the Scottish borders. Rather than move his two TCs at the same time as his household belongings, I offered storage for his TCs in my otherwise empty barn. He agreed. Some few months later time had come that he was ready to recover one of his TCs. A plan was hatched for Tim to travel down from the Scottish boarders by train and drive back the following day. Tim arrived at my house in Kirdford, West Sussex in the afternoon of July 17th. We spent a few hours checking over his TC1202; some tuning, some tweaking:  
  We then enjoyed an evening and meal at the "Half Moon" pub in the village with my wife Charlotte, and awaited the weather of Sunday with some trepidation as it was forecast to be wet. However Sunday morning was fair, and Tim and I readied TC1202 for its trip. The journey would take him three days and two nights. The route was pre-planned on computer for the avoidance motorways, but a focus on scenic drives through the Peak district, Yorkshire Dales and the Northumberland forests. Tim was determined to enjoy this trip! At 9:30am off Tim went with good luck and a wave from Charlotte and I. Later the first day Tim collected a colleague, Bob Angier, in Oxfordshire to act as his navigator and travel companion. A few days later I received a telephone call from Tim en-route, somewhere in Derbyshire. There is a tale of a TA in a barn, and it was for sale. Its discovery though, is stuff of stories, or good fortune but really pure luck. On the second day, Tim and Bob were on the outskirts of a village called Grindleford, Derbyshire. Located approximately 12 miles south west of Sheffield, a once thriving industrial town of northern England famous for its steel wares and knives. This is also a farming area with sheep in the hills and cattle in the dales. Beautiful green scenery that is so unique to England. On their drive near this village, they stopped on a country lane beside a dry stone wall for a cup of coffee from a thermos flask they carried. During this refreshment stop, a Land Rover stopped and reversed up. A farmer stepped out and bid them hello and said that 'he had a car like that in his barn'. As one might imagine, whilst ones interest was raised, there is really little chance that a TC would exist in a farmer's barn. Further, this fellow explained that it was in fact an MG TA that once belonged to his late great uncle. This explanation was now far too specific to be in error so Tim and Bob were too interested to let him get away without further investigation. They followed the farmer to where the barn is located. After they entered the barn, and removed a car cover, this is what they found:  
  Sure enough, an early (narrow wings) TA amongst assorted shambles. Tim and Bob discussed whether this might be a car for Bob to get into the MG collectors world, but on reflection decided another pair of hands might be best. Hence this is where I enter the story. Tim phoned me and we discussed the car. He took the farmer's phone number and said we would be in touch. After Tim sent me a few e-photos. I then telephoned the farmer and arranged a date for me to pop up to view it. Being a good five hour drive I wanted to ensure that we could arrange sufficient time for me to examine the car thoroughly. Time for another person to get involved - in the guise of Alan Webster; in my view one of the leading TA owners in the UK. I was very pleased that Alan accepted my invitation to come with me on my trip up on July 21st. I passed by Sutton Coalfield in the West Midlands to collect Alan before arriving some hours later in Grindleford. The rendezvous was at the Sir William pub, in Grindleford. After introductions, we were taken to the remote farm house and barn where the TA was located. A detailed inspection then took place, with Alan and I looking over and under and in all the usual places. Some more details of what we found:  
It reminded Alan of a 'time capsule'; much had been added over the years (windscreen washers, indicator lights, etc) but nothing significant had been removed. It is easier to list the two things found missing; an inlet manifold and the rear shocks had been replaced with Hartford friction shocks. After some discussion with the farmer (who as executor of his late uncle's Will was the TA's vendor) it was also clear that the original 'log book' or a continuation book was also available. This was a coop, as whilst the documents had modest financial value, they complete the history all the previous owners (all 3 of them) since 1938.

  The post-war petrol rationing information was also included on the right side of the log book. After agreeing a 'gentleman's' agreement to sell to me (he would not accept a deposit) we left to organise the transport and funds. The vendor was also to take a week holiday, which left me unsettled in the interim. However, a second visit to collect the car was arranged for August 5th, and Alan was again able to accompany me. Time for another friend to get involved; it was my good fortune that Mike Card (my TC mentor, when I was rebuilding TC 6132) was able to spare a midweek day to come along as well. Both these gentlemen provided the experience I lack and a fine set of muscles to man-handle the car from the garage and into the trailer! We drove up and arrived at the barn (after my getting lost for 40 minutes in Grindleford village and surrounding area) and met the vendor. After pumping up a few soft tyres, we rolled her out of the garage and into the sunlight:  


Whilst I was in the farmhouse taking care of the financial details, the chaps had the TA aligned with the trailer, gave the MPJG a hand crank to check compression, and onto the trailer! They rightfully accused me of shirking whilst the workers did the job, despite my best to argue otherwise! The precious cargo was lashed to the trailer, and off we clattered along a bumpy and very long driveway towards the road. Alan also collected some TA spare parts from another barn further down the road, and then rejoined us for our careful drive southward. This return trip proved more challenging that expected; with the English summer throwing as much as it could at us. Having dropped off Alan in Sutton Coalfield, and Mike in East Horsley, I made it back home to Kirdford just before midnight. The following day, Mike very kindly dropped by and helped me offload the TA from the trailer and into my barn, to sit alongside my TC6132 and Tim Jackson's TC0999. I am in no hurry to start the rebuild. It will take five years, and I may start in 2005. A thoroughly successful adventure.

DAI, Sept 2004.