One weekend a couple of months ago I spotted a group of unknown men with cameras wandering around the garages behind our house. I was a bit anxious about what they might be doing. Were they a developer's spies hunting for yet more back areas to cram new flats into? I went out and spoke to them, and they turned out be an entirely peaceful expedition from Club Lotus France on a pilgrimage to the sites where the earliest Lotuses were built by Colin Chapman and the Allen brothers, in garages on Alexandra Park Road, and Valance Road, and later at the works they set up next to Hornsey station, at what is now Jewson's depot. They kindly set me straight over conflicting accounts I had heard of where exactly the first car was built (Alexandra Park Road, not Valance Road - though I believe that which car really was the first Lotus may remain contestable).

Gilles, who acted as the very diplomatic spokesman, has written a nice and interesting article on their visit in the Club's house magazine, and has sent a scan. Here it is - a bit shrunken to fit this post. The French conversation group might like it for homework. If anyone would like the full-size images, let me know, with e-mail, and I'll send it.

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  • Please send me a copy to juleshm @ My 88 year old French neighbour may well find it useful for the conversation class he runs. Hoping he'll be impressed I grew up in the next road!
  • This is fascinating, Alex. I'm so glad the expedition from France bumped into you.

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