Lord Montagu of Beaulieu
Edward John-Scott-Montagu, who has died aged 88, was a pioneer of the open-door stately home movement, an instigator of music festivals, president of the Historic Houses Association, a countryside and wildlife campaigner, a museum and tourism champion and an entrepreneur who turned around the fortunes of his ancestral estate.
During the 1950s a prosecution for homosexual offences brought him notoriety that even 60 years later headed his national obituaries.
But in our world Lord Montagu was a central figure, assembling the Montagu Motor Museum, founding the Trust which oversaw a tailor-made building for what became the National Motor Museum and its important archive, campaigning for motorists, writing many books on historic vehicles, and furthering the cause of motoring history.
Though he inherited his title aged two, it was not until he was 25, in 1951, that Montagu took over the financially perilous estate alongside a successful PR career. In an era when hundreds of stately homes were demolished, he made Beaulieu self-supporting, centering on a collection of old cars in honour of his father, an early automobile visionary who before WWI conceived a motorway complete with flyovers. That collection grew into the focus of the estate, while Montagu tirelessly promoted the old car hobby, frequently driving in the London to Brighton and often with Motor Sport’s Bill Boddy alongside.
As well as a maritime museum and marina, Montagu started Vintage Tyre Supplies, while also promoting English tourism and speaking on motoring in the House of Lords. He was proud to have coined the word ‘autojumble’.
Eric Thompson, who has died at the age of 95, retired from racing 60 years ago but was well remembered as a stalwart of the Aston Martin works sports car team, with a third at Le Mans, a second in the TT and victory in the Goodwood Nine Hours to his score.
He first raced in a private HRG, entering the first post-war Le Mans in 1949, and was then signed up by John Wyer for Aston Martin. Over the next four years he drove the Feltham cars at La Sarthe, placing third with Lance Macklin in a DB2 in 1952.
Thompson also competed in Cooper, Bugatti, ERA and ERA-Delage among others, while in single-seater Connaughts he took victories in F2 and finished fifth in the 1952 British GP. Owing to the demands of his insurance profession he stopped racing in 1955, after retiring his ALSR Connaught at Le Mans and placing 16th in the Goodwood Nine Hours. A ready raconteur, from the 1980s he became a respected dealer in motor racing history books.