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Eric Longden


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#1 Marticelli

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Posted 02 June 2010 - 09:58

I am trying to find out more about the exploits of an Australian steeplechase jockey by the name of Eric Longden who raced cars at Brooklands and elsewhere in the early twenties. Prior to this he raced DOT motorcycles at Brooklands and in the TT, and ran a theatrical agency in Charing Cross Road, where he started making the cars bearing his name. They had V twin JAP engines at first, and then a small proprietary four cylinder watercooled engine, and most attractive ash-framed alloy bodywork.

According to Boddy, he raced at Brooklands with some success in 1922 and 1923 and the picture below shows the car at the Southsea Speed Trials in 1923. Motorsport published an article under their occasional 'Fragments on Forgotten Makes' series in April 1972. This was penned by one Brian Finglass, who as a lad was apprenticed to the Longden Car Co, but whose name no longer appears in any of the membership lists I possess, so presumably if he had any heirs and successors they are not similarly afflicted!!

I started collecting bits for a reconstruction project nearly twenty years ago and now have the bones of a car, but wondered if any TNF'r could assist with a back axle, radiator or any other parts lurking in a shed somewhere, or just any other information relating to this interesting fellow...

Marticelli

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#2 Marticelli

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Posted 05 June 2010 - 21:46

Surprised no-one has responded re Eric Longden and his fine cyclecar. Here is a rear view of the car taken at Brooklands in 1922, in case this jogs a memory for some elderly TNF'r...! Shows clearly the rear axle I am looking for... Mine was pinched for a P3 recreation!!

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#3 Vitesse2

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Posted 06 June 2010 - 00:12

I did have a hunt around on this, but couldn't find much, apart from the perhaps surprising fact that Eric Longden is seemingly one of those double-barrelled but non-hyphenated surnames like Gordon England.

#4 David Manson

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Posted 06 June 2010 - 00:53

Cannot help. alas!, with parts or sources, but I'm interested by the statement that its creator was an"Australian steeplechase jockey," and would like to know more. In my ignorance, I think steeplechase racing was rare in Oz, except in South Australia. Any information welcome.

David Manson, Sydney.


#5 john medley

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Posted 06 June 2010 - 01:14

I like David Manson cannot help with parts etc, nor was I aware that EL was allegedly Australian -- though I was aware that he ran in the 200 Mile Race of 1922, mentioned in various sources including Boddy(various) and Karslake's "Racing Voiturettes" which says(P299) " this car was the prototype of the future 10hp standard model manufactured by theAir Navigation and Engineering Company of Applestone, Surrey...."

#6 ReWind

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Posted 06 June 2010 - 08:44

Wikipedia

Maybe the jockey link is a mix-up?

Edited by ReWind, 06 June 2010 - 08:53.


#7 Vitesse2

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Posted 06 June 2010 - 09:48

Yes, I'd found that as well, Reinhard. I also had a hunt through the National Library of Australia newspaper archive and found references to him riding in Australia in the late 1940s, which aren't mentioned in Wiki.

The "theatrical impresario" bit is mysterious too. If that was the case I'd expect to find some reference to him in The Times, but in the whole of the period 1900-85 there are just 18 references to "Eric Longden". One can be ignored as it refers to a Mancunian involved in an Alpine climbing accident in 1962 and thirteen of the remainder refer to the cars in advertisements. There is one Motor Show reference and three Brooklands reports: in all three of those, the Eric Longden car is stated to have been driven by Eric Longden and he is always referred to as the entrant as well.

Anyone familiar with Brooklands results will know that drivers were normally listed only by initials, but as a driver "Eric Longden" always appears just as "Eric Longden": no other initial. In one result he is listed alongside "HK Moir" - who would normally be shown as "H Kensington Moir" and in another with the aforesaid Gordon England - who is shown as "EC Gordon England".

I think this may point to "Eric Longden" actually being a nom de course for someone connected with the Air Navigation and Engineering Company. (Not sure if it's your typo or Karslake's, John, but that should be Addlestone!)

Edited by Vitesse2, 06 June 2010 - 10:04.


#8 Marticelli

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Posted 06 June 2010 - 13:40

The information about Eric Longden being a steeplechase jockey comes from Brian Finglass's article in April 1972 Motorsport, and as he was apprenticed to EL as a lad, one can only assume its correct, as he was there!! The story goes that he had had a bad fall and he was left lame so riding horses competitively was no longer an option.

The car manufacture started at his theatrical agency premises which was on a cul de sac off Charing Cross Road where Foyles Bookshop is now located, which was a two storey building not exactly ideal for making cars. The finished vehicles had to be lowered to the ground on a winched platform, and at least one finished car fell off en route to the ground, its intending owner looking on in dismay! At least so the story goes!! It would be hard to make up such a story...

The Air Navigation and Engineering Co of Addlestone also made the Bleriot Whippet, and I suspect took over the manufacture of the EL car when EL found his manufacturing arrangements impractical (understatement!!). The show edition of Light Car and Cyclecar dated November 2, 1923 lists them as being on one stand, whereas the earlier roadtests in both LC&C and The Auto Motor Journal (both published in August 1922) make no mention of such a tie-up.

Marticelli

Edited by Marticelli, 28 April 2011 - 20:44.


#9 Marticelli

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Posted 11 November 2010 - 20:56

Just a quick update on the Eric Longden. As a result of this forum and some other investigations I have made, it now appears that he went out to Ceylon as a tea planter. Jeremy Wood sent me a quote from Light Car magazine ‘People and Things’ dated 25th November 1939.

‘Then there was the Eric Longden - pretty snappy affair with an all aluminium body. Longden raced it at Brooklands, but making cyclecars didn’t pay. The last I heard of him was that he was tea planting in Ceylon.’

I know it is a long shot but there can’t have been many Australians growing tea in Ceylon before the war and it may be another lead to tracing his family.

Does this ring any bells with TNFrs??

Marticelli

#10 Marticelli

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Posted 10 January 2011 - 21:49

A further snippet about the Eric Longden saga is that respected engineer Stuart Tresilian owned and competed with an Eric Longden whilst a student at Cambridge between 1922 and 1925. There is an excellent CV for him on the web here. I have tried to track down his heirs and successors through the Rolls Royce Heritage organisation so far without success but am still pursuing this avenue.

Maybe TNFrs might fill in some gaps as he competed with a Type 35 Bugatti in the 30s and also owned a Type 55, and also helped ERA with engine development. He was Chief Engineers for WO Bentley's V12 Lagonda, and although he ended his days back in aero engines, he considered himself a car man first and foremost.

I imagine some descendent cherishes an old album containing pictures of Tresilian's racing exploits which would make a worthy discovery for TNF!!

Marticelli, ever the optimist!

#11 Marticelli

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Posted 10 March 2012 - 23:01

'Marticelli, ever the optimist!' I said more than a year ago. Well I now have good scans of three pictures of the late Stewart Tresilian competing with his Eric Londgen whilst he was studying engineering at Cambridge in the early twenties, prior to a fairly illustrious career as already detailed elsewhere on this thread. Nick Tresilian has scanned three pages from the family album, and the pictures are helpful to my project.

I may get permission to show them here, but in the meantime, the captions on two of the images raise further queries. One says 'ST - Eric Longden - Acceleration Trials Six Mile Bottom'. What can TNFrs tell me about this venue? Being only a few miles east of Cambridge, it cannot be described as a hillclimb as there is no hill just a gentle incline as far as one can see.

The second says 'ST + EL, Whiteley, April 1924'. Google has Whiteley just north of the present M27, north of Titchfield. Apparently D-Day troops sheltered in the woods around Whiteley but I can find no reference to a motorsport venue there. The land rises gently so again not much of a hillclimb as far as one can judge. Suggestions anyone?

I remain an optimist!

Marticelli

Edited by Marticelli, 11 March 2012 - 23:00.


#12 Marticelli

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Posted 15 March 2012 - 13:10

I am still hoping that someone here may be able to tell me more about motorsport events at either Six Mile Bottom near Cambridge or Whiteley in Hampshire...

As I said earlier, ever the optimist!

Marticelli

Edited by Marticelli, 15 March 2012 - 13:11.


#13 Marticelli

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Posted 16 March 2012 - 11:06

Happy to report that Nick Tresilian has agreed that the images of his late father should be displayed here for the attention of TNFrs..

Maybe the grey matter will be stimulated enough for someone out there to tell us more about these venues... Ever the optimist!!

ST and EL at Whiteley...
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ST and EL again, venue unknown... Note front shock absorbers and bonnet strap not fitted above, also hat and horn!
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ST and EL at Six Mile Bottom
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Marticelli

Edited by Marticelli, 16 March 2012 - 12:44.


#14 Option1

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Posted 16 March 2012 - 14:21

Marticelli, I have nothing to add, but thank you for the pictures and for the fascinating snippets of information. I certainly hope your latest post does manage to ferret out some additional history.

Neil

#15 Geoff E

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Posted 16 March 2012 - 16:13

The "theatrical impresario" bit is mysterious too.


The 1911 census has-
34 Cowbridge Road, Cardiff
Eric LONGDEN 27 Music Hall Manager (Palace Theatre), born Melbourne Victoria
also living there was a widowed "cousin"
Margaret Grant WELSH 25 born Glasgow

#16 Geoff E

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Posted 16 March 2012 - 16:19

1901 census
31 Nightingale Lane, Streatham
Edward W LONGDEN 44 Mining Engineer, Melbourne
FlorenceM 40 Tasmania
Eric E 17 Melbourne
Vera A 16 Melbourne
Mervyn I 11 Geelong
Arthur J ROYD 26 Actor Vocalist, Melbourne

By the time of 1911 census, Vera was married to

Robert George LEE 35 Motor Engineer (Gramophone Manufacturer), Paddington
living at "Brooklands", Darley Road, Harlington, Middx

The LONGDEN family were at a boarding house in Hove in 1891 census, father Edward was a Mine Proprietor.

Edited by Geoff E, 16 March 2012 - 19:26.


#17 austinharris

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Posted 26 March 2012 - 15:02

Surprised no-one has responded re Eric Longden and his fine cyclecar. Here is a rear view of the car taken at Brooklands in 1922, in case this jogs a memory for some elderly TNF'r...! Shows clearly the rear axle I am looking for... Mine was pinched for a P3 recreation!!

Marticelli
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I have the same photo at a much better resolution over here.

It's actually from the 1923 JCC 200 Mile Race.

Some more of his cars here.

Good luck with the car!


#18 Vitesse2

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Posted 30 September 2012 - 14:47

Digging through wartime copies of Motor Sport, I came across a reference to Eric Longden which apparently adds another twist to the story.

On page 188 of the September 1944 issue, in an article called "War-Time Motoring in Three Continents" there is a passing reference to the author having seen a "3½ litre Bentley owned by Eric Longden, a Johannesburg businessman who took part in British events in the 1920s". This appears to have been in late 1942 or early 1943. Perhaps tea planting in Ceylon didn't work out?

#19 Marticelli

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Posted 30 September 2012 - 15:09

Thanks for that little nugget, and this discovery proves that having more folk looking for something increases the chances of finding it, especially if one such is Vitesse2. His discoveries in respect of my ex-Sir Sidney Kidman Thornycroft were remarkable, and now this regarding Eric Longden.

I used to think that delegating a research task to others would only reveal a narrow field of information, as serendipity sometimes strikes when researching one subject and another crops up. But Vitesse2 has proved his serendipititiousness (is this a word?) knows few bounds...!

Marticelli

PS For those with an interest in such things, steady progress is being made with both projects, helped greatly by the construction of a new large timber garage and the recent discovery of a huge cache of BSF and Whit fasteners new old stock from a local motor factors business which is being redeveloped...

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#20 Tony Kaye

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Posted 01 October 2012 - 23:04

At the risk of duplicating what William Boddy wrote in the MotorSport article, this is how he described the car in his book ‘The 200 Mile Race’.

“The Eric-Longden was the car Longden used for Brooklands short handicaps, and a standard job. The engine, a water-cooled push-rod o.h.v. J.A.P., was set across the chassis and had an Amal carburetter and M.L. magneto. The centrally-controlled 3-speed gearbox was throroughly run-in before being fitted, and various back-axle ratios were experimented with. Home-devised shock absorbers, looking like Hartfords, were used and the wire wheels had most ingenious locking hub caps. The radiator had a slightly V aspect, the body was very simple, and the rims carried 28 in. by 3 in. studded Hutchinson tyres.”

I rarely refer to that book these days, so it was a pleasure to have a reason to revisit it. I bought it as a schoolboy in the early fifties from a second-hand bookshop. It was one of my first motor racing books, so I treasure it above most others in my collection. I paid the princely sum of 2/6d for it, that’s 12½p to anyone who has the misfortune to have been born after 1971. I’ve never really got the hang of this new-fangled funny-money with 100 pees to the pound. Really, a HUNDRED! Life was so simple when there were a mere 24 farthings to a tanner, just 5 tanners to a half crown and only 8 half crowns to a quid. For proctologists and people who ran B & Bs it was even better, just 21 bob to a guinea.

Pity Jenson Button. In comparison Eric Longden had it easy.


#21 Marticelli

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Posted 02 October 2012 - 00:03

Thanks for that, Tony - every little helps! As a result I have just purchased a copy of the Boddy 200 mile race book which I didn't have, although I suspect its contents are subsumed within his larger Brooklands history which has been in my library for many years. Cost me more than 2/6d, but not so much as to make one wince!

'My' Eric Longden has an aircooled Blackburne sidevalve engine (an option favoured by some including the Bleriot Whippet, its sister car) and 26" x 2 1/2" beaded edge tyres, like the ones fitted to the Tresilian car pictured in post #13 above. The larger 28" x 3" tyres seem to have been fitted to Chunky Chunky at first but later replaced with the smaller tyres, one suspects to lower the height of the car and improve stability in turns. The sales literature lists the 11HP Coventry Simplex-engined EL as having 26" x 3", and the Super Sports 9HP V twin JAP engined car as having Palmer Racing Cord 29" x 3 1/2" tyres but none of the photos I have seen appear to show these.

Marticelli

#22 Tony Kaye

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Posted 02 October 2012 - 20:30

You are going to have a job finding authentic Hutchinson tyres!

#23 D-Type

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Posted 03 October 2012 - 21:38

You are going to have a job finding authentic Hutchinson tyres!

Not really - painting "Hutchinson" in authentic script on anything black and round of about the right size will fool most of the people most of the time. :cool: And if you're really clever you could grind or cut off the real maker's name and fool all of them most of the time (or should that be most of them all of the time)

Anyway, I hope the reconstruction continues to go well.

#24 Tony Kaye

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Posted 04 October 2012 - 22:20

There are several inconsistencies in the information that has been assembled about Eric Longden. Take his career as a steeplechase jockey……….

Geoff’s census research implies that Eric Longden was born in Melbourne in 1884. Vitesse2 “had a hunt through the National Library of Australia newspaper archive and found references to him riding in Australia in the late 1940s”. He would have been in his sixties at that time, which, although not impossible, seems rather unlikely.

In the 1972 MotorSport article, Brian Finglass wrote that “My father was a close friend of.…Eric Langden who was, at one time, a well-known steeplechase jockey….and had sustained a bad fall whilst racing in Australia, which left him with a permanent limp and…finished his career as a jockey.”

Brian Finglass only knew Longden for a year or so in the early twenties and it is clear from his text that the incident took place prior to their meeting, i.e. before 1921. Also, the comment that the fall finished his career as a jockey means that he could not have made a come-back in the 1940s.

Returning to Geoff’s British census data, in 1901 Eric’s younger brother Mervyn was 11 having been born in Geelong, Australia in 1890. It follows that the family must have left Australia between 1890 and 1900, when Eric was between 6 and 16 years of age. So, before the age of 16, it seems that he had become “a well-known steeplechase jockey….and had sustained a bad fall whilst racing in Australia.”

In summary, Eric Langden must have had his fall when he was either in his sixties or in his early teens. Neither seems to make sense. So what’s wrong?


#25 Tony Kaye

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Posted 04 October 2012 - 23:07

Then there’s Eric’s dad, Edward Longden.

Some time in the 1890s the family, which had probably been living in Geelong, pulled up their roots and left Australia, where they had all been born, and set off for a new life in England. In the 1901 census Edward described himself as a “mining engineer”. So where did he choose to find work? In Hove, Sussex, of all places.

Ten years later he had presumably realised his mistake and moved to Streatham , the Ruhrgebiet of South London. However he was now no longer a mere engineer, but had become a ‘Mine Proprietor’.

Perhaps, as the owner of the mine he no longer had to live in close proximity to it in Hove.

All very strange.


#26 Tony Kaye

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Posted 05 October 2012 - 00:01

How did Eric Longden become interested in racing? None of the posts touched upon this, but there is a hint in Geoff’s census data.

By 1911 Eric’s sister Vera had become married to Robert Lee and the pair were living in Harlington Middlesex. Robert was 35 years of age and Eric was 27, so the two brothers-in-law may have been friends.

Locke-King’s track at Weybridge had opened to great fanfares in 1907, so what did Robert choose to call his house for its postal designation? “Brooklands”, of course. Now it’s possible that the name was derived from a small stream which happened to run past the house, but I think that’s a long shot. Instead, we can assume that Robert was a racing enthusiast and named his property accordingly.

Besides, Harlington is only 10 miles from Weybridge, so it would have been easy for him to visit the track by car or even on a bicycle as the area is completely flat. And we can further conjecture that Eric Longden accompanied him on some of these visits and that’s what kindled his interest in racing.

However there is a problem with this. Eric was living in Cardiff at the time!


#27 Vitesse2

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Posted 05 October 2012 - 08:09

Returning to Geoff’s British census data, in 1901 Eric’s younger brother Mervyn was 11 having been born in Geelong, Australia in 1890. It follows that the family must have left Australia between 1890 and 1900, when Eric was between 6 and 16 years of age. So, before the age of 16, it seems that he had become “a well-known steeplechase jockey….and had sustained a bad fall whilst racing in Australia.”

In summary, Eric Langden must have had his fall when he was either in his sixties or in his early teens. Neither seems to make sense. So what’s wrong?

I'd been musing on that too, Tony. In fact, the entire Longden family appears on the 1891 census as well. In Hove, where they are all listed as "boarders" at the establishment of John Darbyshire at 1 Wilbury Rd. So young Eric left Australia some time shortly after the birth of his brother Mervyn Irvine Longden in 1890.

The name Longden seems to be not unknown in Geelong, since in 1875 there was a trial involving a Captain Duncan Longden - possibly Eric's grandfather? - regarding a forged promissory note for £110: he was acquitted. However, Eric's father Edward seems to have operated his gold mining business out of Melbourne and had been to Britain at least once before - there's a record of Mr & Mrs Longden and family returning from Plymouth in October 1888.

Eric's brother Mervyn served in the Royal West Kent regiment in the Great War, rising to the rank of captain. There's a note on his army records from about 1920 that all correspondence should be sent c/o Standard Bank of South Africa at Potchefstroom. So we perhaps have another (or the same? ;) ) South African - and gold mining? - connection ...

As for Eric's father - he filed for bankruptcy in London in June 1902.

So I supect the "jockey" story is - frankly - hogwash. Probably not intentional, but - to quote The Bard slightly out of context:

"Old men forget: yet all shall be forgot,
But he'll remember with advantages ..."

#28 Marticelli

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Posted 06 October 2012 - 10:46

I never realised when I started this thread what an interesting tale would emerge... Of course it was the EL car that aroused my initial interest but the EL man seems to be more interesting than the car, and indeed this thread seems to have stirred up a bit of a genealogical hornet's nest! On such matters, I generally defer to my oldest brother who is the custodian of our family tree, and has advised me well over the many years I have been pursuing men of vehicular notability, so I asked him to comment on this thread.

His answer was succinct. "Briefly, people seem to be forgetting the limitations of census "data" - heads of household were (are) responsible for supplying info about themselves and the people in their families, and it's unsurprising that an Australian who might have had a dubious past holed up in a Hove boarding house would describe himself as a mining engineer." He also pointed out that census data is essentially a snapshot of one day in a life, so visitors to a house are recorded as such and might appear to be somewhere they were only at for that one night!

He has ended by offering to take a look at the data himself, so I await his considered view with interest and will report back in due course, while the car itself is really starting to become nearer a reality, albeit a replica, but a fairly faithful one with luck and a following wind.

Marticelli

#29 Vitesse2

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Posted 06 October 2012 - 11:30

I think Tony's use of irony may have been overlooked ;) I particularly liked his description of Streatham as the Ruhrgebiet of South London: having lived there the only mines I recall were the "treacle mines" on Conyer's Road :lol:

More seriously, my "gold mining" references came from the Australian Trove newspaper archive - Eric's father seems to have been a man of some substance and standing in Melbourne in the 1880s.

#30 Tony Kaye

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Posted 06 October 2012 - 16:10

[quote name='Vitesse2' date='Oct 4 2012, 20:09' post='5954251']

"I supect the "jockey" story is - frankly - hogwash."

I completely agree. He couldn't possibly have been a well-known steeplechase jockey in Australia before the family moved to England. He was simply too young.

No doubt Eric Longden did have a limp. One can easily imagine him kidding a young and impressionable apprentice, Brian Finglass, that it was the result of a fall during a race. Much more heroic than saying he'd had it since birth or that it was the result of falling of a ladder in Penge.

This story was repeated by Michael Worthington-Williams in an article in The Automobile of May 1996. This is not meant as a criticism of M W-W, it is simply proof that prior to this thread, Finglass was almost the only source of information about Longden. And even that only dealt with a small fragment of Longden's life. Finglass moved to France after the 200 mile race, which spelled the end of their relationship, which had probably lasted no more than a year and a half.

We know so little about the rest of his life, which is why the census data provided by Geoff and the diligent research of Richard are so important.

Marticell's comments about the limitations of census data are completely valid. Yes, the family might have been on holiday at that boarding house in Hove on the day of the Census. But without the Census data, we would still believe that Eric Longden was a well-known steeplechase jockey.

As we try to piece together the life of Eric Longden, we have to use whatever information is availble. While accepting the limitations of census data, it is still a vital part of the overall picture.




#31 Geoff E

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Posted 06 October 2012 - 17:59

Yes, the family might have been on holiday at that boarding house in Hove on the day of the Census


... and they liked the town so much they were still there in 1901 ... or they took another holiday at the end of March, this time renting a whole house.

#32 Vitesse2

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Posted 06 October 2012 - 18:21

Another South African connection: an Eric Longden is recorded as arriving from Durban at Southampton in December 1930 on the "Ceramic". Address in the UK "Braeside", St Leonards, Ringwood. However, this chap claimed to be 41 at the time: he also arrived at London in July 1933 on the "City of Exeter", now travelling to SW15, and again at Southampton on the "Arundel Castle" in October 1935, this time for an address in Glasgow. In 1930, described as an electrical engineer, in 1933 and 1935 just an engineer. UK citizen, country of permanent residence South Africa. Always travelled first class too.

Digging into BT phone books reveals two Eric Longdens at 122 Shaftesbury Avenue from 1919 to 1922 and also at Walter House, Strand from 1919 to 1921. Possibly one and the same - he's also at the Shaftesbury Avenue address in the 1922 electoral roll, along with several other people including a Walter Bentley (not WO!) who features in a dissolved theatrical agency partnership from that address in 1923. So this would seem to be our man.

There is also a Mrs Eric Longden in Paignton in 1928 only.

An Eric Longden also features in the Manchester phone book between 1977 and 1982, but there are several Eric Longdens in Lancashire marriage records.

What strikes me as odd is that Mervyn Longden never apparently returned to the UK from South Africa. However, we have an Eric Longden returning at least three times in six years - but this chap is actually Mervyn's age. So did Mervyn somehow acquire Eric's identity while retaining his own birth date? Does this explain how a theatrical agent suddenly becomes an engineer and racing driver? Looking again at Mervyn's army record he served first in the Army Service Corps before transferring to the Kents.

#33 Vitesse2

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Posted 06 October 2012 - 19:36

More grist for the mill from the London Gazette - Eric Longden Cars Ltd was struck off and dissolved in 1928.

Another company - Eric Longden and Hussey Ltd - was dissolved in 1931. Longden & Hussey, described as automobile engineers, are in the phone book at Empire House, Thurloe Place, SW7. But only in 1926.

#34 Tony Kaye

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Posted 06 October 2012 - 22:45

Vitesse2: “Does this explain how a theatrical agent suddenly becomes an engineer and racing driver?”

This is pehaps the most perplexing part of the story. In 1911 Eric Longden was the Music Hall Manager of the Palace Theatre in Cardiff and ten years later he had progressed to running a Theatrical Agency in London’s Theatre district. Then suddenly, apparently out of the blue, he started manufacturing cars under his own name. Not only that, but the ‘factory’ was in in one of the most unlikely places imagineable. Just off Charing Cross Road. What a strange and amazing turn of events.

But there are two known links between the Theatrical Agent and the Car Manufacturer The first is that his brother-in-law went so far as to name his house “Brooklands” and the second is Brian Finglass’ statement that Eric Longden “started racing Dot motorcycles and spent a great deal of time at Brooklands.” It can be of no coincidence that the Eric-Longden cyclecars had as much in common with motorbikes as they did with regular cars.

So it seems reasonable to conclude that an interest in motorbikes, the lure of Brooklands and probably an aptitude for engineering, which he may have inherited from his father, facilitated the transition from theatrical agent to car manufacturer.

It is clear where his heart lay, for as Richard has discovered, his theatrical business was dissolved in 1923, only two years after he began to produce cars.


#35 Vitesse2

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Posted 06 October 2012 - 23:12

It is clear where his heart lay, for as Richard has discovered, his theatrical business was dissolved in 1923, only two years after he began to produce cars.

I think you've misinterpreted what I wrote, Tony. The dissolved partnership was between a Mr Bentley, a Mr Hatter and a Mr Rolls (you couldn't really make these coincidences up, could you?) There seem to have been several businesses at 122 Shaftesbury Avenue, including an accountant. But being in the heart of Theatreland, I suspect most of the rest were something to do with the stage.

http://www.london-ga...s/8869/page.pdf

#36 Vitesse2

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Posted 06 October 2012 - 23:42

I'd also like to once more raise the point about "Eric Longden" in Brooklands results.

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Why is "Eric Longden" the only driver name given in full? :confused:

#37 Catalina Park

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Posted 07 October 2012 - 00:16

I just did a quick newspaper search and discovered a jockey wanting to ride in Australia in 1950 and he was an American called John Eric Longden.


#38 Geoff E

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Posted 07 October 2012 - 15:14

I just did a quick newspaper search and discovered a jockey wanting to ride in Australia in 1950 and he was an American called John Eric Longden.


One of the most famous jockeys - Johnny Longden - I'd no idea his middle name was Eric though. http://en.wikipedia..../Johnny_Longden

He was never a steeplechase jockey.


#39 ReWind

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Posted 07 October 2012 - 15:43

Johnny Longden - I'd no idea his middle name was Eric though.

So you haven't followed the link in post # 6...


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#40 Geoff E

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Posted 07 October 2012 - 17:00

So you haven't followed the link in post # 6...


I rather think I dismissed him immediately (as he was too young) and gave him no further thought. :well:

Although JEL had just turned 4 at the time of the 1911 census, his father said he was aged 5.

Edited by Geoff E, 07 October 2012 - 17:04.


#41 Tony Kaye

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Posted 07 October 2012 - 22:32

[quote 'Vitesse2'] "Why is "Eric Longden" the only driver name given in full?"

It certainly can’t have been to prevent confusion between Eric Longden the man and Eric-Longden the car.

Maybe it was his way of publicising his cars. Of course the Brooklands authorities would have charged him an arm and a leg for the priviledge.

No, that can’t be right, Bernie wasn’t around in those days.

If the use of his first name was connected in some way with his car, there is a way of testing the hypothesis.

In each of the three cuttings supplied by Richard he was driving an Eric-Longden. However, at the 1921 Easter meeting on March 28, Eric Longden drove a Morgan in the Easter Cyclecar Handicap finishing second. On that occasion did the newspapers refer to him as E.Longden or Eric Longden. He also took part in a number of motorcycle races at Brooklands, where the same question would apply.

Did they only use his first name when he drove a car of the same name?

[quote Catalina Park] " I just did a quick newspaper search and discovered a jockey wanting to ride in Australia in 1950 and he was an American called John Eric Longden."

If he was the same Eric Longden as our hero, he would have been 66 years of age!

It seems unlikely, but again there is a means of testing the hypothesis.

Did he have a limp??? :)




#42 Vitesse2

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Posted 08 October 2012 - 06:42

Unfortunately, The Times did not report the full results of the 1921 Easter meeting, being more concerned with the first appearance of "mystery car" Chitty-Bang-Bang and Major Empson's near-drowning. This was on the news pages, rather than the sports pages.

Other Brooklands results:

Bemsee meeting Apr 10 1920: Mrs E Longden, riding J Emerson's ABC, won the Victory Handicap.
Bemsee meeting Nov 5 1921: E Longden, riding a Coulson, second in a 500cc handicap
JCC meeting Apr 29 1922: Eric Longden as posted above
Bemsee meeting May 6 1922: "E Longden crashed badly from his machine after it caught fire and had to be removed to hospital."
BARC meeting Apr 2 1923: Eric Longden as posted above.
BARC meeting May 21 1923: Eric Longden as posted above.

In the preview for the 1920 Junior TT "E Longden" is listed as riding a Dot. I have an old TT history book which records only that a Dot was in the entry list: no rider or result given. However, on the Official TT website we can find E Longden in three Junior TTs:

1914 on a Douglas (DNF)
1920 on a DOT (5th)
1921 on a Coulson (DNF)

http://www.iomtt.com...amp;ride_id=278

So maybe he got the limp falling from his "fiery steed" on May 6th 1922?

#43 Graham Clayton

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Posted 08 October 2012 - 06:45

It seems Robert O'Brien has finally got some competition!

#44 Tony Kaye

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Posted 08 October 2012 - 16:07

I had hoped that more references to Eric Longden’s racing career would reveal a pattern in the E v Eric affair. Sadly, Richard’s latest research produces just the opposite.

a. He was referred to by his initial when he rode bikes. Yes, up to 1920, but after that he was sometimes ‘E’, sometimes Eric.
b. He was referred to as Eric once he started to race his own car, the Eric-Longden. Mostly, but not always. In May 1922 they reverted to ‘E’.

It would still be interesting to see what they called him in his Morgan race in March 1921 – does anyone have access to the Motor, Light Car or Autocar? – but I fear that we have to accept a lack of consistency on the part of the Brooklands officials. And still no obvious reason why he alone was referred to by his first name.

The reference to Mrs Eric Longden is interesting. It simply can’t be a coincidence that a Mrs Eric Longden was racing a motorbike at Brooklands at the same time that a Mr Eric Longden was doing the same thing. They must have been husband and wife. I wonder if she was Margaret Walsh, the mysterious young widowed ‘cousin’ he was ‘living with’ in Cardiff in 1911. Maybe Geoff can shed some further light on this from later census data.


#45 Vitesse2

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Posted 08 October 2012 - 17:06

Another observation: in his Brooklands tome, WB refers almost exclusively to the man as Eric Longden, distinguishing him from the car with the addition of a hyphen: Eric-Longden.

Again, this is a notable thing, since WB doesn't otherwise normally deal in first names - or even initials. For example:

The 1,100cc event eventually attracted a field of 15 cars and drivers comprised of Nash, Godfrey and Pickett (GN); Benoist, Devaux and Bueno (Salmson); Ware, Martin and Hawkes (Morgan); Taylor (AV); Eric Longden (Eric-Longden); Peaty (Bleriot-Whippet); Tollady and Pressland (Crouch); and Marchant (KRC).


But he does always talk about Gordon England and Kensington Moir. In general he only uses a first name or initial where he feels there might be confusion - between the various Bruces for example.

Incidentally, Longden also apparently raced a "very sedate" near-standard Fiat Eight at least twice in 1926 - in the JCC 200 and at the August meeting.

#46 Tony Kaye

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Posted 16 October 2012 - 20:59

Apart from more Census data, we seem to have exhausted the available information about Eric Longden.

As a result a complete change of direction is needed. The spotlight has to be switched from Eric Longden to a different subject, Eric-Longden.

Even prior to the move to Addlestone, production of V-twins may have given way to 4-cylinder side valve engines, the cars having a wheelbase of just over 8 feet and a toal length of 10’6”. The various writers on the subject agree that no further V-twins were made after the move.

The original Charing Cross Road premises would have been more suitable for a bookstore than for manufacturing cars. In comparison, the Air Navigation & Engineering factory must have seemed immense. It had cost £75,000 to build, which was a very large sum of money in those days, and the equipment which it contained probably cost as much again. The absorption of Eric-Longden production was of benefit to everyone concerned. The plant had surplus capacity with its Bleriot Whippets and Eric badly needed single-storey premises.

Paraphrasing Michael Worthington-Williams, Coventry-Simplex engines of 1,272 cc powered the 11hp standard Sports Touring and 2/3 seater saloon. Alpha engines rated at 9hp and with a capacity of 1,088cc powered the Super Sports model. This car was rather special, as it was fitted with an Amac racing carburretor, Palmer racing cord tyres, a special camshaft, a rev counter, Hartford shock absorbers and a speedometer, but no self starter (in the interests of weight reduction). It was guaranteed to do 75mph. The whole body was finished in turned aluminium.

A Frenchman, Norbert Chereau, was the manager of the whole plant and it is not clear how much day-to-day influence was exerted by Eric Longden. Sadly, the Air, Navigation & Engineering company went into liqidation in 1927, following which production of both Bleriot and Eric-Longden cars ceased and the factory was sold for a small proportion of its original cost. Bill Boddy said that it was still in existence in 1963. Is it still there?


#47 Vitesse2

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Posted 16 October 2012 - 21:42

We'd have to wait about another nine years for the census data, Tony. :)

Longden was described as "Mr E Longden" at that Easter meeting, in both the entry list and the results.

I have some scans of other Longden-related stuff, but you'll have to wait a couple of days for it.

#48 Marticelli

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Posted 17 October 2012 - 20:49

The Air Navigation & Engineering factory must have seemed immense. It had cost £75,000 to build, which was a very large sum of money in those days, and the equipment which it contained probably cost as much again.

I Googled Addlestone today and of course its just up the road from Brooklands, more or less due north. I spoke to the proprietor of Addlestone Garage, which has had premises in the middle of the village for a long time but not as far back as we are dealing with here. He said the largest factory site in the are was south towards Brooklands, and was occupied by the Weymann coachbuilding business. This of course originated in Paris, but the company really got into its stride in the late 20s, so maybe they occupied the building which had been originally ANEC's factory. I can see no trace of any such building in the area today, but maybe there is a TNFr out there who knows the area and can confirm this... I am as I have said before, an eternal optimist!!

Incidentally the engine of the Eric Longden is now 6" from where I am typing this...
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Marticelli

#49 Vitesse2

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Posted 17 October 2012 - 21:25

Easter meeting entry list:

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Eric-Longden article from The Motor Nov 7th 1945:

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From the Motor Show issues of The Motor and The Autocar. Even more addresses!

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Thinkpad T61 Martin?


#50 Marticelli

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Posted 17 October 2012 - 21:57

Thinkpad T61 Martin?

T61 as in Birdcage? A humble T60 I'm afraid... They didn't seem to do a T37A, T51 or T59 either! Still running good ol' XP which I can understand...

And surely shome mishtake, this Eric-Cambell stuff??... IMHO, the E-C is as ugly as the E-L is pretty, which is after all where this all started...

Marticelli