Sunday, 14 August 2011

Round Britain Rally 2010 (Part 2)

There appears to be a WWII theme going on at the moment, so I will continue on with the next landmark. Our clue for this landmark was ‘Guinea Pig Club plaque, South Rauceby’. Nothing too difficult here then, ho hum. Having convinced Ian that this was nothing to do with little furry meals for myself, research started. The Guinea Pig Club is a group of servicemen, predominately from the Allied air forces that were treated for burns during WWII. They were the first group of people to be experimented on for plastic surgery, hence the name Guinea Pig. Early research showed that there was a mental hospital situated nearby that was transformed into a burns unit for the war period, however the building had been left to decay and had been set ablaze by various people. It has now been demolished and in its place is a housing estate.

Our journey to the landmark was entertaining as the Guzzi decided to cut out at a set of traffic lights in Grantham. There were several changes of relays and fuses before she fired up again.

Reaching South Rauceby Ian rode through the village, out the other side, turned round and did the same again. He then stopped, switched off the Guzzi’s engine, checked paperwork and tried starting the motor again. Nothing. Once more fuses and relays were exchanged, but to no avail. A slow push up a slight gradient followed, ending outside The Bustard Inn. Across the road there was a public telephone box, from where Ian phoned Carole Nash Insurance for breakdown assistance. There was nothing else to do except grab a bite to eat and a pint until help arrived.

Food ordered and beer poured, Ian enquired about the Guinea Pig Club plaque. A local customer knew exactly where it was and gave us directions. It was still early on in the year’s event and we were the fifth to ask for advice!

When the recovery van arrived, the driver offered to take the stubborn Guzzi to the landmark but Ian declined it. Ian decided to phone a friend, Italia, who would look at the stricken Guzzi between jobs, so off to Lincoln we travel.

At Italia, Steve and Phil tried several things before changing a crank sensor. This appeared to do the trick and the Guzzi was wheeled out of the workshop and onto the street. Ian got ready for a quick test ride. Nothing. Back into the workshop.

‘How did the road test go, Ian?’ asked Phil.

‘It hasn’t’ was the reply.

Eventually the problem was solved. The previous year the oil pipe taking oil from the crankcase to the tappets burst, pumping the engines blood all over the motorcycle. Although Ian had thoroughly washed the motorcycle a small amount had got into an electrical connector, shorting pot the throttle sensor! Phil got some cleaning spray and we had had no problems since. Having never come across a problem like this before, Phil was pleased to have solved it. The time taken? Two and a half hours. Cost? Nothing! When you have a good relationship with a shop, loyalty is repaid in kind and we have had excellent service over the last 16 years.

Returning to South Rauceby, we found the plaque, in the centre of a developing housing estate on the outside of an NHS building.

An eventful day for us but at least the problem was sorted before we went on our travels abroad last year.


Affer said...

How interesting! I was brought up in a village near East Grinstead, where Sir Archibald McIndoe performed his miracles. Even a few years after the war, it was not unusual to see patients and former patients around the town. And, with the events of the last few years, it probably still is..........

bikerted said...

South Rauceby was an excellent location for such a pioneering venture. With bases like Cranwell, Fulbeck, East Kirkby and Coningsby nearby, a specialist hospital was certainly required.
If I am correct in remembering, Sqn Ldr Braithwaite remained in South Rauceby after WWII.
Simon Weston, although not a member of the Guinea Pig Club, certainly is indebted to the groundbreaking surgeons. He is certainly the most famous modern day serviceman to have been helped with the treatments learned.

Brady said...


How did those first experiments turn out? Guinea Pig makes me a little scared for the boys who went through it - hopefully it was better than what they would have had otherwise.

As for the mechanical problems, I got very lucky to have a Kawasaki dealer with an honest, hardworking shop. Can you believe it? I barely could - trusting a motorcycle mechanic is not like a auto mechanic. If you install a wheel wrong on a bike it's curtains.

Behind Bars - Motorcycles and Life

bikerted said...

Hi Brady, sorry for the delay in replying.

There was an artivle in an English newspaper sometime ago, interviewing some of the Guinea Pigs. Try this link:,,1945108,00.html

There must be many cosmetically enhanced women that owe their youthful looks to these brave men!