Another great night down at Valley Gas.
Building on the success of last year’s inaugural get-together, Jimmy, Ellie & the team threw the doors open again to prove the onset of the British Winter doesn’t mean we all have to go into hibernation till the Spring. A traditional hotrod shop is the perfect venue for a party.
Valley Gas Speed Shop occupies some of the old Stirling Cables factory buildings in the Hambridge Road industrial area of Newbury, Berkshire –I can remember the factory when it was still in operation & have several mates who served apprenticeships there. The cable making machinery’s long since gone though & the old red brick walls now house all sorts of interesting vintage automobilia, as well as an array of current customers’ cars. An Aladdin’s Cave of cool stuff to peruse; some freshly built, some dating back 50 years or more.
Torrential rain for most of the evening didn’t deter the rodding fraternity from turning out in force & the dark & stormy night outside only served to create a warm & cosy party atmosphere inside. During the day the shop hosted an exhibition of photography, courtesy of Neal of Retro Photo & Paul Barrow, as well as a display of retro burlesque lingerie from "What Katie Did". As darkness fell though, the rods began to roll in & it was party time down in the factory yard.
By the time we arrived, the shop was already filling up & it was standing room only among the part built rods. The retro look is big amongst the British custom crowd now & there were plenty of car coats, quiffs & cool hotrod gals –a curious mix of styles from the 40s right through to the present day. Traditional, with a modern twist.
The trad’ theme continued with 2 stonking sets by rockabilly favourites Jack Rabbit Slim, back again after rocking the joint at last year’s party. Presumably named after the restaurant John Travolta & Uma Thurman danced in, in Tarrantino’s Pulp Fiction, Bob Butfoy & the boys went down a storm again. They’re billed as rockabilly/garage so the speed shop’s the perfect venue for them. When the guys weren’t doing their thing the girls took over. A makeshift stage, set up on one of the car lifts, provided a platform above the crowd for a pair of burlesque dancers, a new addition since last year’s do. Misses Slinky Sparkles & Trixie Malicious twirled & strutted their way through several costume changes. Burlesque is a mix of tasteful striptease & performance art, inspired by the 40s/50s pin-up girl look &, again, has become part of the British hotrodding scene in recent years. The ladies certainly seemed to be much appreciated by the Valley Gas audience.
Copious supplies of free tea & coffee kept the November shivers at bay, with visitors bringing their own alcohol if they wanted it. Jimmy & Ellie also provided several large tureens of hot chilli & rice to feed the masses. With a long drive home ahead of us, we slipped away into the night at around 11.00, leaving the party in full swing. We had a great time. A cool venue, welcoming hosts, lots of familiar faces & a few new ones, great cars to admire & an inspired choice of entertainment. Thanks Ellie & Jimmy.
Of course we’ll be back next year.