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Peter Walker


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#1 Paul Rochdale

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Posted 03 November 2008 - 10:15

Peter Walker raced at Brooklands before WW2. In the 1950 British GP he shared a drive with Tony Rolt. He came 7th in the 1951 British GP when he drove a BRM V16. He raced a Jaguar C-type with Peter Whitehead in the 1951 Le Mans 24hr race and won. After crashing an Aston Martin in the 1956 Le Mans, he largely retired from racing. He reported died on 1 March 1984 at Newtown, Worcestershire. I have read that he fell on hard times towards the end of his life. Can anyone elaborate on that please?

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#2 LotusElise

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Posted 03 November 2008 - 21:07

This might be an odd question, but was he originally from Australia?

#3 Richard Jenkins

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Posted 04 November 2008 - 00:04

Originally posted by LotusElise
This might be an odd question, but was he originally from Australia?


Nah, a Yorkshireman. His dad was also from Yorkshire, he was a cloth merchant.



His death certificate lists his death as being down to pneumonia & an infection in his left femur. His job is listed as being a retired farmer. Doesn't say much if he fell on hard times, but he was still close to his family by the looks of it.

I know historic racing cars list this:

Sadly he ended his days an alcoholic derelict on the streets and in the shelters of the East End of London


but he had been based in Worcestershire for some years, so it would be unusual for him to be based in London, and nothing was made of any alcoholic related illness in his death.

Is there any proof to their claim? If not, I think it ought to be removed as it would seem to besmirch his name.

#4 Paul Rochdale

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Posted 04 November 2008 - 08:18

Yes, that is what I'd read Richie but I didn't want to repeat it in case it was incorrect. One reference I found was that he was a 'gentleman farmer' from Shobdon Court, Herefordshire. I'm currently searching for his funeral details.

#5 Dutchy

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Posted 04 November 2008 - 13:12

A near neighbour of mine, a gentleman farmer in south Suffolk, claims his father bought their farm soon after the war from Peter Walker's family.

#6 Paul Parker

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Posted 04 November 2008 - 14:17

"Sadly he ended his days an alcoholic derelict on the streets and in the shelters of the East End of London"

I believe he actually died in some sort of shed or wooden outbuilding in North Weald, Essex if I recall the newspaper report at the time.

The comments about his alcoholism are I think correct, and from memory he suffered nasty head injuries in his '56 Le Mans Aston shunt and was apparently never quite the same again, although he did do one more race for I think Rob Walker in 1957 at Syracuse. However I am running on memory as ever and not relying on the web for any info so any mistakes here are mine.

There was an article in Classic & Sportscars many years ago on PDCW, somebody will know the relevant issue no doubt.

#7 LotusElise

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Posted 04 November 2008 - 16:26

How sad. An ex-Brooklands racer would have been at an advanced age even in 1984. It is always sad when people get that far and find themselves with no-one.

My question earlier must relate to a different Peter Walker. He is (was) distantly associated with my family through marriage, ie a cousin or aunt-in-law to my cousin was married to him. All I know is that he was Australian, a professional racing driver, and that he committed suicide quite a long time ago. Does anyone know who he might have been?

#8 David McKinney

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Posted 04 November 2008 - 16:55

I'm sure there was never an Australian professional driver called Peter Walker
There was one called Dave Walker, but he's still with us, I believe

#9 LotusElise

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Posted 04 November 2008 - 17:17

I have looked as well, and come to similar conclusions. I did wonder whether the GP racer the OP was asking about might have been Australian originally, but evidently not.

#10 Roger Clark

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Posted 04 November 2008 - 23:27

Volume 1 of the BRM Saga says: "the once wealthy farmer/driver - would end his days s an alcoholic derelict in London streets and hostels..."

#11 jph

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Posted 05 November 2008 - 14:25

There's a brief mention in Barrie Wiiliams's biography of how Peter Walker was acquainted with Barrie's father as he (Walker) was a prolific inventor who used to come to Williams senior with ideas - but he never patented anything and eventiually lost everything. Barrie used to visit Walker after he was admitted to a care home where, in due course, he married his nurse. No dates mentioned, unfortunately, nor does it say whether Walker died in the care home.

#12 jonnyd

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Posted 18 November 2008 - 23:26

Peter Walker was married to my wife's aunt and so I can fill in a lot of background. He did indeed grow up in Yorkshire and after the war, he farmed in Suffolk or possibly Norfolk. He and his wife Patsy started rearing chickens and this was the main business. Unfortunately, a lot of the drivers of that era were heavy drinkers and Peter was one. My father-in-law, who was a fellow Yorkshireman, was a great friend and often went racing with him and he too was an alcolholic. I believe that they then moved to Worcestershire/Herefordshire but the marriage broke up. Patsy remarried a Colonel Corbett and went to live at Shobdon Court in Herefordshire and took the chicken business with her. This became Sun Valley Chickens and was sold to an American company for a great deal of money. Peter however continued to farm in Worcestershire but the drink got to him in the end and I believe that he had gone through his money when he died but he certainly wasn't on the streets of London! He had two children, Angela and Tim, who live comfortably in Herefordshire and who went to Le Mans a year or two ago to commemorate his victory. His grandaughter Joanna went out with the noted amateur driver Gregor Fisken for some time.

#13 PeterElleray

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Posted 19 November 2008 - 00:20

found a reference to Peter Walker and his 'difficulties' in Autocar, circa 1975 whilst researching something else earlier this week, which tells the story as its now been related to us here, and also sheds some light on his 'inventions' that he was hoping to patent - when i can find it again(!) i will post the salient points.

peter