Pablo's Armchair Treasure Hunt

Armchair Treasure Hunt 2003

Title: Driven
Setter: Stephen Lees
Themes: Sports Cars, Humphrey Spender

Stephen Lees writes...

Some Notes on the Hunt

The idea originated with the collage of cars on page three, all different makes and models but with one common factor- the same engine. During the 70's, Ford Motor Companies Power Products Division was selling the "V6 Essex" unit to small independent sports car manufacturers. The most well known of these were makes Scimitar, Marcos and TVR. At a high level this gets you in the right county.

On the same theme, the motor industry of Essex is pretty much Ford Motor Company. I wanted to look beyond that and searched around for other car manufacturers with business in Essex, which would be interesting to research for hunters and I.

Two came to light- Ginetta, conveniently, used the V6 Essex Engine at one point and another Danbury Conversions which although small holds a significant part in Camper Van history.

The Essex connections for these two companies were Witham and Danbury, neither of which I felt would make a good treasure location. Ginetta also had a factory location in Maldon at one point. The original idea therefore was to have the treasure exactly in the middle of the three points. On further research I only ever found links to Ginetta in Maldon in one very unclear reference in a book, which had a small print run and was hard to get hold of. This reference did not point out the exact location of the factory either so I decided against it.

Instead of a triangular method I reverted to a linear one and looked to see what was approximately in between Witham and Danbury. Geographically, Ulting was a good fit and having been there before I could think of plenty of good locations.

I wanted to add another element to the Armchair Treasure Hunt, however - cars are not everyone's cup of tea and part of the fun of the Armchair Treasure Hunt (IMO) is researching a variety of new, interesting (and usually obscure) topics. Anything that would add another element, would also give it a depth that would appeal to potential hunters. Thus fortunately Humphrey Spender came to my rescue. A web search revealed he lived in Ulting and had a very interesting family, background and house! So this provided the "real" theme of the hunt.

I intentionally made the 2003 Armchair Treasure Hunt appear on the surface of it to be all about cars, but behind all that were three additional themes; Humphrey Spender, Stephen Spender (Humphrey's brother) and Richard Rogers (the designer of Humphrey Spenders house). That there were hidden themes was explained in the text on the last page (this text doubled as a clue - see answers).

In the end, there were two theoretical routes to Ulting:

  1. Figure out the Essex theme, establish the Essex home of Ginetta and the former Danbury Conversions factory. Work out the clues that tell the hunter to look for the treasure between these points and connect this with the clues about the Canal in Ulting.
  2. Find the Richard Rogers references, find the Stephen Spender references, establish what links these 2 people. Research on Humphrey Spender should then establish where he lives and that it ties in with the Essex/Canal theme and the Humphrey Spender clues.

A combination of the above methods in combination with various other smaller clues was the practised method of getting to the treasure site. Once you knew it was in Ulting there were further codes to work out to lead you to the exact site, although some teams used the tried and tested method of walking about for hours looking for familiar landmarks until finding it by chance.

The key to the actual treasure location was the eleven red and black numbers (scattered on every page) and the "kitten/iron" code.

The red and black numbers after deciphering were a phone number which, when dialled, revealed an answer phone message stating the start point for the directions and further instructions.

The kitten quiz was intended to be extremely tough as it was the final clue to the treasure site - this revealed the directions from the start point to the treasure.

I am very glad so many people took the time and trouble to have a go at my hunt, and especially glad that everyone has enjoyed themselves. I have had an enjoyable year setting, running and marking the hunt. Especially buzzing round the southeast, taking photographs and doing research in a Tailgate Martin!