Sunday, January 29, 2006

Welsh Racing Drivers

It's easy to forget that in its pre-First World War heyday the South Wales coalfield was the power house of the modern world. Great fortunes were made there, which by the inter-war years had passed down to a class of loafers with the money to indulge a passion for racing cars. Many of the leading Brooklands racers sprang from this class.

Clifton Penn-Hughes was the son of W. Walter Hughes (originally from Llanelli), chairman of the Hackbridge Electric Construction Company and the Hewittic Electric Company. Incidently Penn-Hughes married Judy Guinness the Olympic fencer, silver medalist at Los Angeles in 1932.

Tim Rose-Richards' father Thomas Picton Rose-Richards was a leading light in the Swanea Coal exporting trade.

Charles Martin's parents lived at "The Hill" Abergavenney, his father was killed in the Great War and his mother was a Hanbury, industrialist family from Pontypool. Grandfather Edward Pritchard Martin was manager of the ironworks at Blaenavon and then Dowlais and a vice chairman of Guest, Keen and Nettlefolds.

Owen Saunders-Davies who co-drove Rose-Richard's third placed car in the 1931 Le Mans race was somewhat different, a member of the Saunders-Davies family of Pentre, Pembrokeshire. An old landed gentry family.

Dudley Folland, son of a tin-plate manufacturer from Glanaman, was something of a Corinthian. He played rugby on the wing for Swansea and London Welsh, indeed was a Welsh trialist; he was also a Cambridge soccer blue and a pretty good amateur golfer. He raced pre-war under the name Tim D. Davies.

Lindsey Eccles was a director and later managing director of the Briton Ferry Steel Company, he was born in Neath (14th May 1908) and died in Swansea in 1991. His brother was Roy Eccles born in 1900 in Neath, the son of a manufacturer Herbert Eccles.

That old fascist Donald Marendaz was born in Margam in 1897 where his Welsh-speaking father was a merchant.

Interesting people, both as individuals and as representatives of a class.

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