E. C. Gordon England

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We learn with deep regret of the death of Gordon England, who was living at the BEN home at Lynwood. Eric Gordon England was a pioneer aeroplane and glider pilot, later known for his Brooklands exploits with an ABC car. He next put the then-new Austin Seven on the map by persuading Sir Herbert Austin to let him race one, a request made by England while he was hobbling about on crutches as a result of a gliding accident. His performances from 1923 onwards in the 1,100 c.c. and later 750 c.c. class of the JCC 200-Mile Races, driving Brooklands-model Austin 7s of his own devising, are legendary and he also built his well-known flexible fabric bodies on these and other chassis.

Gordon England not only raced at Brooklands but also abroad, his Cup-model Austin 7, sold to the public, taking its name from the Le Mans 24-hour race. All this will be well known to many people. What is not so well known is that Gordon England was a test pilot of Wight float-planes before the First World War, after he had decided on aviation as a career in 1908. He used to tell the story of his maternal grandmother, who objected to such activities, saying “If God had intended Eric to fly he would have provided him with little wings.” To which the aviator would reply, “Grandmother, if God had intended you to travel by rail, He would have fitted your feet with little wheels.”

I interviewed this cheerful pioneer, on the subject of his Brooklands-model Austin 7s, a few years ago and although I knew he was at Lynwood, and, indeed, saw him taking therapeutic exercises there with customary enthusiasm only last year, his demise comes as a great shock. Not so long ago he was acting as an official at motor races, defying the cold in a light raincoat, keen and efficient as ever; less than two years ago he wrote a cheerful Foreword to an aviation book. He will be greatly missed, especially in Brooklands circles.—W.B.