September 30th, 2016

Bromsgrove photographer to return to Chateau

A BROMSGROVE photographer who was a teenage snapping sensation will be returning to the Chateau, where he first made a name for himself.

Former Bromsgrove County High School pupil Hugh Miller has revealed a number of unpublished images which were taken of the Chateau Impney’s Hill Climb almost 50 years ago, in 1963.

Hugh, who is now retired and lives in Nottingham, said it all started when he and his schoolfriend Roy Cottrill wrote to Autosport magazine about their love of motorsport and photography, convincing its editorial team to commission them as photographers to cover the sprint events.

Armed with an Autosport-issued press pass and only basic single lens reflex cameras they went on to capture the action at the Chateau Impney sprint events in 1963 and 1964.

Hugh and Roy’s days as Autosport’s roving photographers were unfortunately short-lived when, one morning in 1964, the magazine’s then editor Mike Kettlewell called Hugh’s house to discuss their next assignment.

But his mum answered the phone and informed the editor her son was at school, inadvertently revealing their true age and putting an end to their work for the magazine.

While Hugh submitted some images to the magazine, the vast majority of the pictures he took were never published and have remained in his private collection ever since.

Still a keen amateur photographer, in recent years he added the images to his online portfolio which allowed the hill climb organisers to discover the pictures when researching into the original sprint events which ran between 1957 and 1967.

Hugh said: “Chateau Impney was always great fun as there was an open paddock at both the top and the bottom of the course. Roy and I used to run to the top of the hill and ask the drivers to give us a lift back down.

“I particularly remember one trip perched in the small passenger seat of a Grand Prix Bugatti with one foot on the gearbox, as well as a ride in the one-off seven-litre Chapman Mercury racing car.”

Hugh, who is a retired psychology lecturer, said he was hoping to recapture some childhood magic when he returned to Chateau Impney in July as a guest photographer for the hill climb.

He will even have the opportunity to see the Chapman Mercury again as it is being driven at this year’s event by the grandson of the original owner Phil Chapman.

“I’m very keen to see it all again on the new course but I don’t think I’ll be asking for a lift down the hill this time,” Hugh added.

Rod Spollon, chairman of the Chateau Impney Hill Climb Club, said: “We were thrilled to discover Hugh’s photos of the original sprint event in period as they provide such a fascinating insight into the history of motorsport at Chateau Impney.”

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