V-E-V miscellany, February 1983, February 1983

In view of the interesting article about the late R. R. Jackson, who ran the “Robinery” tuning establishment at Brooklands Track, that was a feature of the last 1982 issue of The Brooklands Society Gazette, it is opportune to mention that last year W.B. and D.S.J. were taken out to lunch, at W.B.’s suggestion, by Mr. Zillwood (“Sinbad”) Milledge, who was a close friend of Robin Jackson’s and who worked at the “Robinery”. Milledge was, as is well known, responsible for many famous motor-racing projects, such as the development work on the remarkable engine of the Appleton Special, which gave a very reliable 183 b.h.p. from 1,100 c.c., the bodywork for the Bentley-Jackson and Hugh Hunter’s Alta, and he was associated with the Jackson conversion of the notorious Bimotore Alfa Romeo run by Austin Dobson into the single water Alfa-Aitken, etc. He was also the creator of special con.-rods for racing engines, motorcycle and car, for which he became very famous, as an article in an earlier issue of The Brooklands Society Gazette testifies.

Milledge was really a scientific instrument designer (during WW2 he reverted to this profession, and was responsible for remotely-controlled tools for dealing with the defusing of mines, etc.). He was first taken to Brooklands in about 1923 / 4 by Rollo Martin. Milledge was soon running a 1921 GN which he tuned himself, and later an 11.4 h.p. Citroen with an English-built two-seater body, the leather hood of which had a very small slit tor a window, so that his friends alleged that it was made from a complete elephant’s bottom . . . He was a frequent visitor to Brooklands and, in fact, was in the Clerk-of-the-Course’s office when the sad news came through that Parry Thomas had been killed.

He was called in to do odd design jobs for Jackson there after the tuning establishment had been set up in the Paddock, around 1932, one of his first assignments beings sort out a terrible front-axle tramp which Folland was experiencing on his single-seater Shelsley Frazer Nash just when it was deemed sufficiently fast to go for the 1-1/2-litre lap-record. After much stress work the fault was seen to lie in the incorrect length of the radius arms locating the tubular front axle. Incidentally, Milledge had memories of such cars, having known the Asprey brothers when they were running a fast Frazer Nash, around 1927, and he passengered Robin Jackson in the speed trials of that time in the latter’s rapid Morgan three-wheelers. When joining R. R. Jackson’s. staff Milledge moved from Old Coulsdon to Weybridge, sharing “digs” with Jackson, until the latter married and built a house on St. George’s Hill. “Sinbad” claims to have been about the last person to have driven fast on Brooklands, which he found very slippery over the camouflage paint that it was then unfortunately covered with, in the Alta. . . 

Seeing a reference to the Brooklands Zenith rider, Jack Baldwin, in these columns recently, Tony Carlisle, who drives that charming 9 / 15 h.p. Renault in VSCC Light Car events, kindly sent us an extract from his local History Society’s Journal that contained some very interesting information about the Baldwin family. Jack Baldwin’s father, Louis Napoleon Baldwin, moved into the exciting new business of motor-cars in the 1890s, setting up a garage in Twyford (Berkshire) High Street, next door to the “Bull Inn”, later moving to the rear of Seymour’s Cottage, with premises also over a shop that is now a confectioner’s. Jack helped his father and drove the garage hire-cars, which included a Panhard-Levassor, Mercedes, and bull-nose Morris, of which photographs still exist. Napoleon Baldwin died in 1922 — the photograph of him shows him outside his garages in ,which can just be seen an early touring GN (Reg. No. AP 824). Jack Baldwin joined up in 1914, along with his sister Molly, who had been taught to drive on an old Hupmobile in 1917, obtaining her driving licence at the age of 16, and four other members of the family were in the Forces. Jack joined the RASC, transferred to the Garrison Artillery, and then to the RFC. As an Acting Captain in the RAF he is said to have shot down 13 enemy aeroplanes, while with 93 Squadron, earning the DFC. Jack Baldwin then turned to motorcycle racing, with the well-known successes on Matchless-MAG, Indian and Zenith machines, but he lost his life, not motorcycle racing, but — steeplechasing. He was killed in a fall during the Cheltenham Gold Cup, in 1942.

A reader who owns a 1932 Crossley Ten with the rare tourer body by Holbrook & Taylor Wolverhampton, of which only four were apparently made, is anxious to discover whether his, or one of the other Quicksilver Crossleys, ran in the 1932 RAC Rally. The RAC has been unable to check this, but letters can be forwarded to our correspondent. The Leicester Mercury had a picture last year of the first petrol pump to be used in Leicester, where it was installed Stonygate, near the old tram depot, in 1925, supplying Shell spirit that had formerly been delivered in two-gallon cans. A Bullnose Morris two-seater shown in their photograph has identified by the Bullnose Morris Club as a 1925 / 26 model, and the pump belonged to Horace Grimley. who also had a garage at Lancaster Street, Leicester. — W.B.