Hayes and Cooper reminiscences




I appreciated your editorial in the February 2001 issue regarding the sad losses of Walter Hayes and John Cooper, agreeing with everything you said.

I first came to know Walter soon after he joined Ford of Britain as Public Relations Manager — he very quickly changed that to Public Affairs, and also changed the works newspaper from what looked like a parish magazine to something the employees recognised and enjoyed as a newspaper. This was so typical of the man’s ability to understand people and communicate.

My small film production company had obtained backing to cover the construction (at Lola’s in Slough) and first tests and races of the Ford GT40, and with Walter’s encouragement and support, we got the film finished. Target 200 was our first production and wasn’t very good — the GT40 didn’t do very well to begin with either — but you have to start somewhere. Walter Hayes was responsible for getting many new teams and ideas under way, and I wish there were more of his like around today.

I didn’t know John Cooper, but I did have a connection with his chief designer, Owen Maddock (also recently lost to us). I had written and illustrated some short articles for Flight Magazine on the possibility of racing small hovercraft to speed up development of better control characteristics. Owen had read the articles and liked the concept, so off we went to visit various people who might be able to help us — Christopher Cockerell, Stirling Moss, Laurence Pomeroy, and Bob Adams at BP. All were interested and Owen went on to become the founder of the Hoverclub of Great Britain.


David Stevens, Woking, Surrey