Cars in books, April 1987

Browse pages
Current page

1

Current page

2

Current page

3

Current page

4

Current page

5

Current page

6

Current page

7

Current page

8

Current page

9

Current page

10

Current page

11

Current page

12

Current page

13

Current page

14

Current page

15

Current page

16

Current page

17

Current page

18

Current page

19

Current page

20

Current page

21

Current page

22

Current page

23

Current page

24

Current page

25

Current page

26

Current page

27

Current page

28

Current page

29

Current page

30

Current page

31

Current page

32

Current page

33

Current page

34

Current page

35

Current page

36

Current page

37

Current page

38

Current page

39

Current page

40

Current page

41

Current page

42

Current page

43

Current page

44

Current page

45

Current page

46

Current page

47

Current page

48

Current page

49

Current page

50

Current page

51

Current page

52

Current page

53

Current page

54

Current page

55

Current page

56

Current page

57

Current page

58

Current page

59

Current page

60

Current page

61

Current page

62

Current page

63

Current page

64

Current page

65

Current page

66

Current page

67

Current page

68

Current page

69

Current page

70

Current page

71

Current page

72

Current page

73

Current page

74

Current page

75

Current page

76

Current page

77

Current page

78

Current page

79

Current page

80

Current page

81

Current page

82

Current page

83

Current page

84

Current page

85

Current page

86

Current page

87

Current page

88

Current page

89

Current page

90

Current page

91

Current page

92

Current page

93

Current page

94

Current page

95

Current page

96

Current page

97

Current page

98

Current page

99

Current page

100

Current page

101

Current page

102

Current page

103

Current page

104

Current page

105

Current page

106

Current page

107

Current page

108

Current page

109

Current page

110

Current page

111

Current page

112

Current page

113

Current page

114

Current page

115

Current page

116

Current page

117

Current page

118

Current page

119

Current page

120

Current page

121

Current page

122

Current page

123

Current page

124

Current page

125

Current page

126

Current page

127

Current page

128

Current page

129

Current page

130

Current page

131

Current page

132

There is a rather surprising number of motoring references, many of special interest to Rolls-Royce enthusiasts, in Bendor—The Golden Duke of Westminster by Leslie Field, (Weidenfeld & Nicholson, 1983),a biography of the fabled richest man in England.

We learn that the Duke’s first car was a Mercedes, which he appears to have used in 1901 or 1902, being described as a skilful and daring driver. When the Prince and Princess of Wales stayed at Eaton Hall, the Duke’s Cheshire seat, to inaugurate a war memorial at Wrexham, the Prince afterwards motored to the Chester races in the Duke’s car.

Although the Duke of Westminster is reported as never actually having raced at Brooklands, where the authoress knew about the drivers in those days wearing jockeys’ colours, he is said to have supported motoring events and placed land at Eaton Hall at the organisers’ disposal — presumably for speed-trials. He was a committee member of the BARC when Brooklands was opened, along with many other gentlemen high in society, such as Churchill, Lord Essex and the Earl of Dudley, which indicates the influence of its builder, HF Locke King.

Indeed, some of those BARC committee members, such as Prince Francis of Teck, figure in the book. That the Duke was a serious user of cars as early as 1903 is indicated by a 30-mile drive in pouring rain along dangerous and narrow roads, for the fishing at Lochmore. The Duke is said to have driven round Brooklands on the opening day, and been frequently stopped for speeding in subsequent years — his defence on one of these occasions being that his car was a very powerful one!

He also took in motor-boat racing, competing at Palermo in 1908 and returning to England in time to take delivery of a Wolseley-Siddeley-powered boat capable of 30 knots. That year he persuaded Maurice Farman (Farnam in the book) to take him up in his aeroplane. Later, he raced his boat at Cannes, to the consternation of his family.

The Duke’s Mercedes would await him in the private courtyard in Upper Grosvenor Street when he was in London, and when abroad the Duke and Duchess would take chauffeurs with them. There is a further reference to royal motoring when, in December 1909, King Edward and Queen Alexandra were staying at Eaton Hall and His Majesty insisted on accompanying Princess Pless by car to visit her grandmother at Brynedwyn.

Clearly a lover of speed, the Duke of Westminster was apprehended for driving at 19mph (what an exact estimate!) in Richmond Park, and in 1910 he ordered a new 40ft racing boat from Saunders for £3,500, said to have the most powerful engines yet fitted in a boat, but it sank on its first test. He had intended to race it in America.

In the latter part of this 292-page book there is much material relating to the Duke’s formation of Rolls-Royce Armoured Car Divisions in the 1914-18 war, and he is described as the first Englishman to lead such a squadron into action. In 1917 he provided Churchill with a Rolls-Royce, and a chauffeur called Patterson who had been driving at the front since 1914, for a tour of the liberated battle area. Incidentally, does the R-R EC know what became of the silver casket, topped with a model of the Rolls-Royce which rescued them from the Tara, presented by the survivors to the Duke in 1919?

In post-World War Two years, the Duke was a great Rolls-Royce user and it is said that six of them met his guests from Biarritz to Cannes. Some of the stories about them may be apochryphal, but the book should be read by those interested not only in the remarkable life and loves of the Duke of Westminster, but in Rolls-Royces, and yachts such as his famous Cutty Sark.

Apart from the Rolls-Royces, the Duke drove himself in a Ford V8 and his game department driver used an Armstrong Siddeley with a trailer able to take dogs and equipment. WB