A site for the news and history of the RCSMC and their pride and joy Jezebel

Author: Jack Swires


Members of the Royal College of Science and Imperial College (past and present) are invited to the RCSMC & RCSA Dinner on the 23rd of March 2024 at the London Museum of Water and Steam. The event promises to be a fantastic evening; With after-hours museum access, steaming engines, a wonderful dinner, plenty of speeches, and excellent company, its an event not to be missed. Tickets are on sale now! For more information and to purchase your tickets, use the link below:

November Brighton Run 2023

Jez and Clem lined up within viewing distance of the start line at Hyde Park.

All the way back in early November last year (sorry for the delay) we took on our usual role supporting Bo’ and all the other very old vehicles, with our slightly newer ones, at the VCC London to Brighton Run. 

With a cloudy forecast ahead of us, the day promised to be an enjoyable outing (or at least more dry than last year). Jez had spent the night camping outside the garage due to a faulty door, and so having untarped her, done the usual checks, and ensured everyone was present we set off early to see Bo’ across the line. Some last minute checking ensued while Hyde Park corner was enveloped in various exhaust gases from the old vehicles. And with that the run began. 

A bunch of slow, old cars turns out to be a great opportunity for a photo on the Mall.

It was fortunately fairly uneventful for us. The weather stayed mostly clear and we managed to stay on route with no (major) detours. Our only challenge, upon hearing our usual food and drink spot ‘The Jolly Tanners’ was closed for refurbishment, was to locate an adequate pub in good time; Fortunately Team Bo’ were on hand to recommend one to us. With food and drink sorted we were left to enjoy the run.

We took our time this year, sticking fairly close to Bo’ for the whole run. Whether this was due to overly-long refreshment stops, a reluctantly admitted admiration for Bo’s effort, or a certain driver stalling on a hill while showing off Fourth gear (*cough* Knifey letting Bo overtake us on a hill *cough*) is still up for debate. No matter the reason, it was a great opportunity to watch Bo’ on his triumphant drive to Brighton. The run finished with Bo’ passing over the finish line just in time, with a crowd of support on Madeira Drive. Unfortunately, we soon remembered that Jez and Clem did not have the luxury of being trailered home by a Volvo like Bo’ did, and we quickly realised we ought to set off back to London.

The drive home was mostly just cold and dark – so nothing extraordinary. Clem took a “known detour” which ended up being more adequately described as a slightly terrifying run down a horribly uneven country road with very low branches. After this Clem was able to speed back to London with those needing to catch trains home, while Jez was left to fend for radiator water from whatever tap she could find.

The evening was finished with Jez being put away in the garage, to be shut in there until estates decided to repair our door.

Freshers fortnight 2023

With some of our older student members deciding to do something responsible and go and get jobs, the garages were short of a few people to administer Brasso in large quantities. It was time to begin recruitment for this academic year. The RCSU banner was hung, floorboards Jeizered, brass polished, and the Risk assessment which was submitted weeks in advance finally got last minute approval. We first attended welcome fair where we saw a great amount of engagement from students. All four vehicles made it there (50% under their own power) and lined up for an excellent display on campus.

All four Vehicles lined up at welcome fair.

That same evening Jez was taken round to Eastside to give incoming students rides around the local area. Clem, Bo and Derrick were all also in attendance but were unfortunately not in a suitable condition to give students lifts. After a couple introductory garage sessions involving plenty of grease cap filling and a brief ride to the pub Jez had a bit of respite before we went to Hyde Park for our first pumping trip. It was the usual regurgitating-of-high-velocity-water related fun everyone can enjoy and saw a fresher turnout outnumbering pre-existing members. One pedalboat was successfully (but I must say accidentally) sprayed and Jez did not sink into the floor as Hyde Park seemed to think she might.

Said pedalboat after getting soaked. While they intended to go under the arch the revs were accidentally dropped partway through.

After this Jez spent an entire day outside the Royal Albert Hall for commemoration day but it was remarkably wet and remarkably uneventful so I’ll move on. Jez rounded up her eventful start to the year with the RCSU pub crawl. The students where given their pub crawl related merch, the Kangela was unenthusiastically chanted, and with that Jez made her way off to begin the pub crawl. The weather was again dreadful but many students enjoyed a drive around South Kensington all the same.

With all the events finally over we were able to complete some much needed maintenance. We completed a yearly inspection (which hadn’t been done since 2019) of the rear wheels and brakes. It was a long day but a good chance for students new and old to learn how to do an important job. With that Jez was practically ready for Brighton Run a couple of weeks later.

Isle of Wight 2023

All the vehicles (and people) lined up for one last photo at the end of the show. Left to right the vehicles are: Jezebel, Betty, Boanerges, Derrick, Big Nose, The vehicle formally mistakenly known as Penny Marsh (now sometimes known as Anne), and Clementine.

A year for the RCSMC would not be complete without our annual summer trip to the Isle of Wight Steam Railway to attend their Steam Festival. The event always promises to deliver plenty of interesting old vehicles, palatable ales and questionable meals made by alumni, and this year was no different.

Like basically all of our events, we started by actually driving there. It was an early start (for students at least) as all the vehicles made their way south before a quick stop for breakfast. You would think that after so many years of travelling to the Island, at least one person on each vehicle would be familiar with the route and you’d of course be wrong, everyone got lost. While Clem struggled up a hill that was far too steep for her recently rebuilt engine, Jez decided to avoid the terrifying A3 by taking a poorly thought through detour around a quaint vineyard and golf club. She crawled her way along a track the DVLA promised wasn’t a through road and tackled oversized speed bumps before finally being thwarted by a delivery van that refused to move for 10 minutes.

The truck in question… Oh well at least it gave us enough time to fill the radiator up again!

After a main road was finally found again everyone regrouped at Midhurst where much bread, cheese and pastries were purchased for the ferry ride. It was around this time the weather took a turn for the worst and absolutely everyone regretted picking the vehicles without a roof. We managed to make the ferry crossing on time in order to enjoy putting our tents up which was promptly finished upon finding out the beer tent was open.

Having established our camp (and more importantly where the beer was purchased) the fair could begin. As usual Jez and Clem stole the show in the various showcases while Bo and Derek were broken. Jez also got to participate in her first and final “Man and Machine” of this year before she was unfortunately grounded by poor weather. One welcome addition at this year’s fair was Jez’s newly acquired reservoir allowing her to pump into the nearby trees without any need for a large body of water. Now all we needed was a ludicrously long hose and continuous water supply! Irrespective of the questionable setup we used, the pumping was a spectacle for many to enjoy.

Students using our new pumping setup to put on a show for the public.

All the vehicles also enjoyed a Road-Run out to freshwater bay where a previous Bo Driver kindly offered to show us around Fort Redoubt, his converted Palmerston Fort, which had plenty for us to explore. After learning much about its history we retired to the nearest beer vendor for an unfortunately short amount of time before we had to rush back for mystery stoo. This year’s additions included, but were by no means limited to, big chunks of lemon and fig rolls. No matter what it contained, it was undoubtedly better than the homogenous rice served only two days prior.

To spare anyone seeing what the rice looked like on IoW here’s a much more pleasant photo of an owl that decided to perch on Jez’s bonnet before realising the brass was much too slippery.

The final night was spent in a local pub where everyone enjoyed great food and company. Jez just about made it after stealing some fuel from another vehicle in order to dart to the nearest petrol station. We were up early for the ferry the next day. Fortunately, breakfast had already been sorted for that morning, however, it did consist entirely of hard-boiled eggs. After eating a frankly alarming number of them, we set off back home on what was a helpfully uneventful drive. All vehicles arrived back at the garages mostly in one piece as Clem now appeared to have a slightly wonky wheel. At least it’s something to keep people busy before fresher’s start turning up!

Summer Pumping in Richmond

As the good weather and availability of students post-exams finally aligned it was time to engage in one of the club’s yearly pumping sessions. This involved the somewhat pointless task of pumping up water from the nearest body of water before almost immediately depositing it back in again, but now with some added velocity. Irrespective of how little we may have achieved the event was great fun for new students and experienced ones alike while also giving the public something to look at, and the paddleboarders something to evade.

We started at around midday with the usual servicing and pre-flight checks before heading of to our choice of waterfronts, in this case The White Cross pub in Richmond. The drive was fortunately uneventful until Google maps decided to take us down a street barely wide enough for Jez requiring some rather careful driving. Upon arrival the hoses were laid out, branches unloaded and (probably out of date) sun cream lathered on. After the usual safety briefing the Anaconda was lowered and the pumping began.

While many paddleboards and rowing boats were targeted by our jet streams, I must unfortunately report none were forced to scuttle. The general public gathered around Jez and asked the usual handful of questions just as “Big Bertha,” the affectionately named largest branch held on Jez, was brought out for a final show of the pump’s power.

Big Bertha on Display as students answer the question of what happens when you touch the big powerful stream of water.

Despite her affinity to water, we were not keen to see Jez attempt to float in the Thames so swiftly moved her before the tide did it for us. The ride home was filled with the exciting politics of an online AGM for the RCC, at which Jez’s impromptu dash cam stole the show before being rudely kicked off the screen in favour of a boring PowerPoint. It was then back to the garage for some much-needed rest.