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Obituaries


TRIBUTE : Peter Clark — 1931 to 2016

Peter was born on 18th January 1931 in Carshalton.

His father, known as Nobby, worked in the aviation industry making aircraft for the first world war. Then as Design Office Manager he was involved in designs for the Dambusters aircraft.

Peter had happy memories of growing up in the war years. Living on the outskirts of London his schooling was sometimes disrupted, and he spent time climbing on bomb sites and collecting shrapnel.

He was a boy scout and enjoyed making model aircraft. Being a very bright lad he benefitted from going to Ashcombe Grammar School.

He always had a strong work ethic and was taken on at Vickers doing a full apprenticeship in instrumentation engineering, obtaining a City and Guilds qualification at night school. As an apprentice when he was tasked to make a twostroke engine; his teacher said it would never run, — but it did!! This was one of his favourite stories to tell.

His time at Vickers was interrupted by National Service, where he was proud to be attached to the RAF Regiment. During this time he taught servicemen how to drive, although he himself did not have a driving licence. On leaving the RAF he took a civilian driving test — and failed at the first attempt! He also failed on another occasion while he and Mary were living in Texas, which caused great amusement in the family. Peter reckoned it was a ‘conspiracy’; - he reckoned they automatically failed ‘Brits’ first time round.

At Vickers he loved his work and was considered a “high flyer”. He was involved in flight testing of Viscount, Vanguard, and BAC 111s all around the world in various climatic conditions. These experiences generated many of Peter’s famous stories.
One of his other roles was as Sales Team Project Manager for Concorde. Another claim to fame was his decision to paint the ‘black box’ flight recorder orange, ‘it would be easier to locate’ he thought; today all ‘black boxes’ are now painted orange.

His work brought him into contact with a young lady in the managing director’s office and she was later to work on a project with Peter. That young lady was Mary who was to became the love of his life. Though it almost did not happen.

When Mary heard she was to be attached to a project run by this “High Flyer” – she said “well he’s nice enough, but I’m not working for him..!!!” But Yes, they did hit it off and after six years were finally married on 11th August 1986 at Poole in Dorset.

Eventually Peter and Mary decided to take early retirement from Vickers (now British Aerospace), by which time he had risen to Chief Project Manager. He was then head hunted by Dee Howard Company which required him to work in America.

So they upped sticks and moved home to Texas with their three cats and a dog — for a year.

On returning to the UK the couple set up their own business, Crossways Kennels and Cattery in Betchworth, Surrey. Having always enjoyed each others company they worked well together and developed a very successful business caring for up to 70 dogs and 30 cats at a time. And as Pete used to say “I’ve been in the ‘brown stuff’ most of my life and now I have to shovel it!” In 1999 the couple finally retired to their home in Kingswood, Surrey, where Peter very quickly enlarged his garage to be able to spend more time on his passion for cars.

Peter was a very proud family man. He leaves two sons, Ian and Colin, and two lovely grandchildren, Jessica and James, whom he adored. Ian was born somewhat earlier than expected, supposedly because Peter had only fitted the driver’s seat to his first kit car, a Falcon Carribean, so on the first test drive his unborn son was bounced around on the floor!! Ian has some wonderful memories working with his father on projects from an early age. He remembers being taught, along with various neighbours, how to set up and tune twin and triple SU carburettors.

Peter was very much a self taught intuitive engineer who could work out solutions to problems from first principals. Peter’s creativity also manifested itself in the many pictures he drew and painted He loved to tour the Brooklands Museum with his sons. He would take great pride in pointing out various artefacts.

Ones in which not only he, but also his father, had been involved. He also took great pride in the fact that Colin’s work in aviation also features in the museum.

His ambition was to build a boat, a car, and a plane. He achieved the first two and son Ian took up the mantle and built the plane, which Peter eventually flew. In fact he had taken flying lessons in his early days and even graduated to flying solo, but his wings were clipped when a young family took priority.

Peter’s interest and passion for cars started with his racing pedal car and, when old enough to drive, his first car was a Wolseley Hornet open sports, the first of many. He has since owned in excess of 20 cars including, Wolseley Hornet Saloon, Ford Zodiac Mk2, Triumph Vitesse, Wolseleys 6/110 and 6/80 (x2), Gogomobil Coupe (remember them ?), Hillman Minx, Ford Capris 3.0E & 2.8ltr, Ford Granada, and company Cortina and Cavalier, Jaguar XJS coupe (white), and Daimler (Jag). Finally in the garage are the Jags, the red XJS V12 coupe and XJ V8 saloon, plus his two NGs, ‘Sheen’ the white 1800 TD and ‘OJ’ the red TF-V8.

Sheen was Peter’s second kit car build in the early 80’s, and in between times he had helped many friends building various models; he was always so ready to help others.

With his particular enthusiasm and interest in the Jaguar and NG marquees he has served as Chairman of the Jaguar Enthusiast Club, Surrey Region, and has been Chairman of the NG Owners Club for 22 years. He was also the Membership Secretary of the Surrey Vintage Vehicle Society. Additionally, back in the 70’s, he was Commodore of the Byfleet Boat Club, having a yacht that he had extensively rebuilt himself.

Peter and Mary also enjoyed the social aspect of the various clubs, through which they made very good friends. The Brooklands Car Club has made a very special tribute to Peter and so he will be remembered on an annual basis.

The family describe him as dignified, and fastidious with regard to his dress. He loved a crisply ironed shirt, a sharp suit, and a pocket handkerchief. He will be remembered by most for his grace, his dapper, stylish & charming manner and his friendly character – an absolute gentleman.

He will be missed by us all — John Hoyle