Norfolk memories

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

60 years ago in June, Britain lost one of its most dashing heroes. ‘Tim’ Birkin, debonair baronet, flamboyant racing driver, pilot, crack shot, sailor and sportsman, died, not as he and many others expected, in a lurid smash on the track, but in a nursing home in London. True, it was a racing injury — septicaemia following a burn on the arm as he leant over the exhaust pipe of his Maserati — but it was an undramatic end to a life of action and fame — and some notoriety.

To celebrate this bright, short life, David Ward, Chairman of the Federation of the Motor Industry, backed by the Bentley Drivers Club, organised a two-day Memorial Rally based on Blakeney, the Norfolk town Birkin loved and where he lies buried. It was not a competitive event, but a relaxed gathering where the participants formed part of the spectacle: around 100 sporting cars which drove to Gresham’s School and the spectacular Blickling Hall on Saturday, and, after a Sunday outing on the North Norfolk Railway (once part of the GNR to which W Bentley was apprenticed) reconvened at Blakeney Village Hall for the public display. Here there was an excellent lunch for invited guests who included Sir John Birkin (second cousin — Tim left no sons), Wolf Bamato’s daughter Diana, Billy Rockell (Birkin’s mechanic), Wally Hassan (whose chauffeur for the day was Jack Fairman), Lord Buxton (Birkin’s son-in-law), and many others connected with the family, Bentleys or the sport. Sir John, himself a television director, is now filming a 50-minute drama of Tim’s life starring Rowan Atkinson, which will be shown on BBC in the New Year. I also met Tim and Eileen Measures, who are restoring ‘Ida’, a svelte 30ft racing launch which Birkin often used in Norfolk waters, powered by a 6-cylinder Sunbeam. After lunch, there was a memorial service by Birkin’s grave, with the Bentleys assembled close by.

It was unfortunate that the event clashed with the BRDC’s unveiling of the Birkin plaque at Brooklands, or we might have seen the single-seater there; but there were several Birkin cars, including his first Bentley, a 1925 3-litre Speed Model, his brother Archie’s 3-litre, Stanley Mann’s ’27 team 3-litre (Mann had sprinted up from the Brooklands do the day before), and Jack Sears brought his Paget team supercharged 4 1/2 with which Birkin took the lap record at Le Mans in 1929. And even rarer, and much modified since Birkin’s time, the ABC which Tim bought from his brother Archie in 1921. All of this was recorded in a splendid 40-page souvenir programme, and copies are still available for £2.50 post-free from the FMI, 71 Morston Road, Blakeney, Holt, Norfolk NR25 7BD. Proceeds go to BEN, the Motor Trade charity. G C