Hawthorn Museum visit, August 2014

21 September 2014

Section treasurer Barry Daborn writes:

I recall back in the 1950s when I was a boy, being struck by a particular racing driver whose fair hair and bow tie seemed to strike a chord. That driver was of course Mike Hawthorn and last year at one of our Section meetings someone mentioned there was a private museum devoted to him.

An internet search revealed their website and I duly got in touch to see if I could arrange a Club visit. We were eventually given the date of August 31 when Carole and I in our SZ along with son Alex, Grant Richardson, Nick Suiter, Kevin Rascher and Alex Jupe in an impressive trio of 3.0 V6 75s travelled down in convoy to join some 30+ Alfas in fine sunshine and enjoy a great day out.

The Museum, owned by Nigel Webb, is well laid out with a dozen or so Jaguars, many pictures and other memorabilia plus a large screen showing film and TV programmes about the life of Mike Hawthorn.

Probably the stars of the show were the D-type driven by Mike Hawthorn and the Mk1, a replica of the car in which Hawthorn crashed and died. During a conversation, Nigel told us the story of how he had gone to Jaguar to record specific details of the crashed car and the willing help he received from specialists when they discovered the nature of his project. There was also an interesting story behind how he came by the actual badges that had been on Hawthorn’s car and which now adorned the badge bar on the front of the replica car. Apparently they were retrieved a few days after the accident by a policeman attending the scene.

Outside stood a robust looking MkVII with a massive sump guard, which had been used by Nigel to compete in a Peking-Paris rally, while at the other end of the garages stood an elegant maroon XJ220. The original twin-turbo engine of this car had been replaced by a Jaguar V12 unit and very splendid it looked. Later in the afternoon Nigel treated us to an aural delight when he fired up the engine and ran it a while.

The AROC Surrey Section was one of a small number of car clubs in attendance on the day and come lunchtime a large pond in the grounds provided an ideal spot to gather for a relaxing picnic in the warm sun and chat about the many exhibits. It also gave Grant and myself a welcome chance to meet some familiar and not-so-familiar faces of Section members who had come along, some of whom we’d previously only known as names at the bottom of emails!

Thanks to Nigel Webb for opening up his wonderful collection to us and to everyone who came along to make it such a wonderful day out.

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