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Jack Warner - Film Star and Racing Driver


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#1 RTH

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Posted 20 July 2006 - 11:17

Interesting radio programme about the life of Jack Warner best remembered as 'Dixon of Dock Green ' or in the series of 'Meet the Huggets' films and radio and TV series plus scores of wartime and post war films like' The Blue Lamp' He died in 1981 well in his eighties.

His real name was Jack Waters brother of Elsie and Doris , radio and film stars before him.

What I didn't know was that he was a great car and racing enthusiast a regular prewar visitor and driver at Brooklands and he finished 3rd in the Monte Carlo Rally. A passion that lasted all his life.

Apparently he had a period working in a car factory in Paris , tried his hand at selling cars and was even a Royal driver for the then King he also joined the RFC.

Mention of Jon Pertwee's interest in cars and racing made this story stand out .

Band leader Billy Cotton was a frequent competitor at Brooklands and is very often seen in the paddock in films made of races in the 20s and 30s I suppose mixing with show business people with friends with money enabled these perfomers to go along ang ultimately get involved themselves. there are probably more examples.
Author Dame Barbara Cartland was a frequent visitor in an upper class set at Brooklands and took part in a Ladies race at the circuit for women only in identical MG J2s in the early thirties. There is still 'a very pink ' Barbara Cartland room preserved at Brooklands.

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#2 Gary C

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Posted 20 July 2006 - 11:22

'The is still 'a very pink ' Barbara Cartland room preserved at Brooklands.'
Yes......there is. Goodness knows why though. She only took part in 1 race!!

#3 David McKinney

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Posted 20 July 2006 - 11:22

Originally posted by RTH
Barbara Cartland.....took part in a Ladies race at the circuit for women only in identical MG J2s in the early thirties

Or so she liked to claim

#4 Gary C

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Posted 20 July 2006 - 11:23

blimey David -- snap!!

#5 ian senior

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Posted 20 July 2006 - 11:30

I make no comments about Barbara C. The Jack warner stuff is interesting and it's surprising what you learn sometimes. My favourite Jack W film is Jigsaw, from about 1962 I think. As well as being a good film in its own right, it's full of early 60s nostalgia - filmed in the Brighton and Lewes areas, ther are lots of shots of road cars typical of the period, and they even crop up in the dialogue - discussions about the various shades of grey available on the Austin Cambridge of that era ( Grampian Grey? What's a Grampian?), the fact that a journalist's choice of an MG Magnette rather than a Cambridge ruled him out as a suspect, and also some nice shots of typical railway stations and garages of the time.

#6 RTH

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Posted 20 July 2006 - 17:24

Originally posted by David McKinney

Or so she liked to claim


Well there is film of them all going round but is was all a bit leisurely and looked rather too staged

Ian, my father had a Grampian Grey Austin A60 Cambridge in 1964 followed by one in Cumulus grey !
Jack Warner was also in a feature film called 'The Final Test' where he played an ageing England test Cricketer having his last match against the Australians with John Arlott, Denis Compton, Hutton, Bedser , Laker, Evans, Washbrook , etc

#7 Stoatspeed

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Posted 20 July 2006 - 17:41

Originally posted by ian senior
( Grampian Grey? What's a Grampian

Good lord, man! Did you sleep through Geography lessons?
The Grampians are the Scottish mountain range containing Ben Nevis, a rather large hill of some fame! Also the name applies to the entire region of east central Scotland. Presumably the association with grey, apart from the attractive alliteration, is the grey mist which descends over that region for months at a time!
BTW, Richard - my father was also a member of the A60 club (1966 grey and 1968 blue, both company cars) but we also had a spendid Rover 105S in the family at the time, supposedly for my mother but she hated it - it was really to give dad a car with some character to drive! The A60 was actually the first car I ever drove at the tender age of 12 or 13 on the beach at Pendine - needless to say a little less than Parry-Thomas speed!

Dave

#8 Doug Nye

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Posted 20 July 2006 - 22:06

Originally posted by RTH
Interesting radio programme about the life of Jack Warner ... he was a great car and racing enthusiast a regular prewar visitor and driver at Brooklands and he finished 3rd in the Monte Carlo Rally.


Did he really???

DCN

#9 RTH

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Posted 21 July 2006 - 04:59

Originally posted by Doug Nye


Did he really???

DCN


That is what was said, It was a radio 4 programme yesterday by Peter Byrne who played 'Andy Crawford' in Dixon of Dock Green and knew Jack Warner probably as well as anyone from 1950 until his death.
I was surprised , I had no idea of any of it before, hence the thread, reseach on radio 4 is usually good. No details were given. No doubt at the time he was known only by his real name, not the stage name he adopted apparently so as not to draw attention away from his well known sisters' double act.

#10 Geoff E

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Posted 21 July 2006 - 07:33

Originally posted by RTH

His real name was Jack Walters brother of Elsie and Doris , radio and film stars before him.


Was it not Waters?

Re Brooklands:
http://www.eastlondo...jack warner.htm

and http://www.railwaycu...oks_sixteen.htm

The radio programme will be repeated on Mon 24th July http://www.bbc.co.uk...arts/pip/9r37y/

#11 ian senior

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Posted 21 July 2006 - 07:38

Originally posted by RTH


Jack Warner was also in a feature film called 'The Final Test' where he played an ageing England test Cricketer having his last match against the Australians with John Arlott, Denis Compton, Hutton, Bedser , Laker, Evans, Washbrook , etc


A splendid film. Didn't some of the cricketers have speaking parts - I recall Len Hutton at least saying a few words. It also featured the excellent Robert Morley as a somewhat pretentious poet who nevertheless had a predeliction for fast cars. I can't remember what type of car he drove in a frantic dash to see Jack Warner play in his last match.

And yes, Dave , I know what a Grampian is, but the scriptwriters didn't! Farina Grey was the other colour they were puzzling over. God, don't we wander off topic on here? My next move will be to start a new thread asking why you can't buy Pan Yan Pickle any more.

#12 KJJ

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Posted 21 July 2006 - 09:08

This Jack Warner stuff seems pretty sketchy to say the least, perhaps there is some more detail in his autobiography, has anyone read that? The Barbara Cartland episode was seemingly just a glorified publicity stunt and exposed as such at the time in, I think, the Motor - the book Fast Women retells the tale.

#13 kayemod

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Posted 21 July 2006 - 12:22

Originally posted by Geoff E
Was it not Waters?


Yes, you're right it was indeed. It seemed a small point that I wasn't going to bother about until someone mentioned that Jack drove in the Monte Carlo Rally. Now here's a (small) coincidence. My late auntie bought a seaside bungalow in North Yorkshire from the very same Elsie and Doris Waters, and she was friendly with all three of them. Auntie's father was a director of the old Rover company, and as well as owning one of the very few Marauders built, she drove semi works Rovers several times in the Monte Carlo Rally under her maiden name of Margaret Jennings. Could all this be connected in some way? What did Jack Warner drive in the Monte?

#14 275 GTB-4

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Posted 21 July 2006 - 12:31

Originally posted by kayemod
Yes, you're right it was indeed. It seemed a small point that I wasn't going to bother about until someone mentioned that Jack drove in the Monte Carlo Rally. Now here's a (small) coincidence. My late auntie bought a seaside bungalow in North Yorkshire from the very same Elsie and Doris Waters, and she was friendly with all three of them. Auntie's father was a director of the old Rover company, and as well as owning one of the very few Marauders built, she drove semi works Rovers several times in the Monte Carlo Rally under her maiden name of Margaret Jennings. Could all this be connected in some way? What did Jack Warner drive in the Monte?


Ewwwwwwwhh......the suspense is killing me!! sounds like you are on to something kayemod...best of luck
:up: :)

#15 David McKinney

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Posted 21 July 2006 - 12:38

Margaret Jennings, Margaret Jennings...
Married to someone big in Motor Sport?
Or am I thinking of someone else?

#16 KJJ

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Posted 21 July 2006 - 12:56

Originally posted by David McKinney
Margaret Jennings, Margaret Jennings...
Married to someone big in Motor Sport?
Or am I thinking of someone else?


That would be the Scottish racing driver Margaret Allan, who married Christopher Jennings, editor of Motor.

#17 kayemod

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Posted 21 July 2006 - 12:58

A small clarification, by 'All three of them' I meant Elsie & Doris Waters and their brother Jack, or PC Dixon as most of us fondly remember him, and Auntie's Monte exploits were probably pre-WW2, sadly no surviving family members to check the details with. Sorry for rambling, but I never liked Auntie's Marauder much, though she loved it to bits, I was something under 10 and always had to ride in the dickey seat, which I hated. What impressed me far more was the registration number, LTL1. The number itself was no big deal back then, high prices for numbers is a fairly recent phenomenon, but Auntie was continually refusing big money offers for it from one Terry Hall, who she dismissed as "A dreadfully common little man". For those to whom all this is a complete mystery, Terry used to earn a very good living with his hand up a ventriloquist's dummy called L enny T he L ion, and the epithet 'common' really meant something in those days.

#18 kayemod

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Posted 21 July 2006 - 13:04

Originally posted by KJJ
That would be the Scottish racing driver Margaret Allan, who married Christopher Jennings, editor of Motor.


Sadly not. Auntie married someone 'unsuitable' who was after her very considerable assets and income. Definitely no connection of any kind with motor racing, as I remember being devastated to discover that the name Stirling Moss meant absolutely nothing to her. I think I cried for days. On the Monte thing, is it possible to access entry lists from the 1930s?

#19 David McKinney

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Posted 21 July 2006 - 14:10

Originally posted by KJJ


That would be the Scottish racing driver Margaret Allan, who married Christopher Jennings, editor of Motor.

Thanks KJ :up:

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#20 Cirrus

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Posted 21 July 2006 - 22:16

Seeing Billy Cotton mentioned above, and finding myself in The Plough Inn in Byfleet recently, I was rather taken by this picture of BC on the wall, amongst several other Brooklands pictures. Apologies for the poor cameraphone quality.

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#21 RTH

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Posted 22 July 2006 - 06:17

Geoff E quote from www.eastlondonhistory.com makes interesting reading ;-





" Jack Warner born in Bow
The local GP tucked away his stethoscope, looked at the sickly six-week-old baby and said ‘Poor wee mite, there’s nothing I can do for him. You’d better have him baptised while there’s time.’Within the hour, the local vicar had performed the christening of Horace John Waters, murmured some words of solace to the distraught parents and left.

But far from being the final chapter in young Horace’s story, that day in 1894 was just the beginning of a varied career, culminating in a 21-year run as Britain’s favourite copper.

Elsie and Doris Waters, Bromley by Bow
The Waters family lived in Rounton Road, Bromley by Bow, where father Edward ran a successful business. As children, Jack and his siblings would take the tube from Bromley to Bow Road especially to see the huge sign ‘EW Waters, Undertakers Warehouseman’ standing proudly at the back of the family home, and backing onto the tracks.

Young Horace soon dumped his loathed first name, becoming John then Jack. And, when he took to the stage, he tweaked his surname too. Sisters Elsie and Doris Waters had already carved out a successful career in the music halls by the late twenties, and Jack didn’t want to appear to be cashing in on their fame. He adopted the stage name Jack Warner … though stage success was longer in coming.

Jack Warner, Jeff Darnell and Brooklands
Jack served in World War I, became an expert motor mechanic, raced cars at Brooklands, and finally became a motor car salesman – all the while pursuing a successful double act with Jeff Darnell. Singing, comedy and comic monologues made up the routine, which the duo toured around the UK. "

#22 KJJ

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Posted 22 July 2006 - 08:41

Originally posted by RTH

became an expert motor mechanic, raced cars at Brooklands, and finally became a motor car salesman –


I think we need some meat on these bones. The Times news report of his death is very similar "he raced at Brooklands and took part in the Monte Carlo Rally, started motor salesmanship...." However, his obituary in the same paper mentions none of this.

By the way there's an interesting item on ebay at the moment, a vistors book from some Chichester Hotel signed by various celebrities of the 50s and 60s, including many from motor sport. Here's the page (1 of 12 shown on ebay) with Jack Warner's signature amongst others:

http://cgi.ebay.co.u...bayphotohosting

#23 kayemod

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Posted 22 July 2006 - 08:49

Originally posted by KJJ
By the way there's an interesting item on ebay at the moment, a vistors book from some Chichester Hotel signed by various celebrities of the 50s and 60s, including many from motor sport. Here's the page (1 of 12 shown on ebay) with Jack Warner's signature amongst others:

http://cgi.ebay.co.u...bayphotohosting


Barry Appleby!! That's the signature I'd want the visitors' book for.

#24 Vitesse2

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Posted 22 July 2006 - 09:29

Originally posted by KJJ


I think we need some meat on these bones. The Times news report of his death is very similar "he raced at Brooklands and took part in the Monte Carlo Rally, started motor salesmanship...." However, his obituary in the same paper mentions none of this.


Bill Boddy's Brooklands book (p155) has a J Waters racing "Miss Lister's oddly-bodied sv Aston Martin" in the 1924 BARC Autumn meeting - he does not seem to have troubled the lap charters ....

There's also mention of a Warner (no initial, and probably unlikely as he presumably hadn't yet changed his name) racing an Alvis at the same BARC Autumn meeting in 1926. Again without success.

#25 David McKinney

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Posted 22 July 2006 - 13:22

I'm sure he was mentioned in one or other of Rivers Fetcher's books, though possibly only in a social context. Can't access my copies at the moment

#26 humphries

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Posted 22 July 2006 - 15:14

J.Waters drove the Aston Martin entered by Miss H.M.Lister in the XXXI 75 MPH Short Handicap and the XXXI 75 MPH Long Handicap at Brooklands on 13 September, 1924. but he did not feature in the results or even get a mention in either of the reports in "The Motor" or "The Autocar".

J.Waters was entered by Miss Lister for the Essex Junior 50 Miles Handicap on 4 October, 1924 but the car was driven by J.A.Hall instead and Hall finished third.

On 2 May 1925 H.J.Waters was again in Miss Lister's car for the Essex MC's 100 Mile Handicap but did not feature in the results.

Henrietta Mabel Lister, of Bathurst Mews, Hyde Park, London raced Aston Martins for the next few years but on occasions was possibly credited with drives when actually she was not at the wheel. For instance she was reported as finishing 4th in the 50 Mile Handicap organised by the Middlesex CAC on 29 May, 1926 but the car was driven by an unidentified "mechanic". Who prepared her cars?

As for the Alvis driver competing at Brooklands on 11 September, 1926 is it was J.W.Warner; interesting initials! Just when did Waters adopt the stage name Warner?

John

#27 RTH

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Posted 23 July 2006 - 09:49

Amazing research unearthing all that information John, well done.

It does rather sound as if Jack Warner nee - (Horace) John Waters worked as a mechanic and car salesman after service in WW1 for clearly very wealthy clients in west London and as a result at a guess, earned himself some drives, not an uncommon practice.

Would be interesting to learn about the Monte Carlo Rally connection , in all probability a similar arrangement , maybe as co-driver which in practice may have been 'riding mechanic'. His father had a successful east London Undertakers business , but not one imagines sufficient to fund motor racing in the early 1920s In 1924 Jack Warner would have been 30, his stage success was half a dozen or more years in the future. Seems the change of both names somewhat concealed his motoring past

#28 Geoff E

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Posted 23 July 2006 - 10:12

Interesting to note that most sources give his birth as October 1896 and some as 1894; in fact, his birth was registered in the last quarter of 1895.

#29 Mark A

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Posted 23 July 2006 - 11:19

Had a look at the results of the Monte in the Maurice Louche books and there is no mention of a Warner or Waters in the results.

However a lot of the 30's results are just single names so he could have been a 2nd driver or mechanic for someone.

#30 Vitesse2

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Posted 09 October 2006 - 23:44

Originally posted by David McKinney
I'm sure he was mentioned in one or other of Rivers Fetcher's books, though possibly only in a social context. Can't access my copies at the moment

Page 46 of "More Motor Racing":

Another motor racing enthusiast who came to the "Rembrandts" was ... Jack Warner. He had been a member of Charles Follett's Alvis team in rallies ... Jack was a great fan of Raymond Mays and even talked of buying an ERA. I put him in touch with Reg Parnell, who had several available, but nothing came of it.



[For those who aren't aware of them, the "Rembrandts" were a series of wartime meetings of racing enthusiasts (usually) at the Rembrandt Hotel in London: there were also gatherings at both Chessington and London Zoos, when well-known racing cars were exhibited along with such exotica as the Aston Martin Atom prototype. These meetings culminated in the Cockfosters Grand Prix.]

#31 Vitesse2

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Posted 28 October 2006 - 22:47

[Salutes] Evenin' all ;)

Browsing eBay the other day I came across what I hoped might be the answer to the "Jack Warner mystery". The June 1966 issue of Old Motor magazine contains an article by the man himself called Jack Warner Remembers. It doesn't provide anywhere near all the answers, but it's a start ....

Jack's career in the motor trade started as a humble "sweeper-up" at the Balham branch of FW Berwick, earning tuppence an hour. His enthusiasm for cars meant he soon graduated to fitter's mate, working with the chief fitter Charlie Ward (who was later the Ward of Park Ward coachbuilders) and also Jack Hobbs (an occasional racer IIRC) - later a Riley distributor.

Jack progressed through the company and - for unexplained reasons - in 1913 the young man was selected to go to Paris at the time the first Sizaire Berwick car was being constructed to "learn about the car and live with M Sizaire and his family, teaching him English".

He helped hand-build the first Sizaire Berwick and among his other duties was "to test cars in France on those long straight roads."

In due course, he returned to England at the wheel of the second Sizaire Berwick built: the implication is that it was a bare chassis which he drove in torrential rain from Paris to Boulogne. There's another slightly different version here:

http://www.britishmm...tory.asp?id=824

After RAF [sic RFC?] service he rejoined Sizaire Berwick as "experimental engineer and head tester" but the company soon went into liquidation and Jack moved on to an unnamed company in Albermarle [sic - should be Albemarle] St as sales manager. He then joined Car Mart Ltd as service manager of their Upper Montagu St branch and finally Charles Follett Ltd at 18 Berkeley St (which the observant will have noticed had also been Berwicks head office!)

We've seen the Follett connection before, of course, but it seems he didn't stay there long as an employee, leaving to become a full-time entertainer "in the early thirties".

Frustratingly, there's not a word about racing! However, there are two photographs, both sports-related.

The first allegedly shows Jack in a 1914 TT Sunbeam, apparently taken in Spain (??) in 1921. The car is obviously well-used and, although not in road trim, it carries a registration number - either 6675 or S675 - painted on the bottom of the grille. I don't have the resources to check which car it is and whether it was actually in Spain at all, let alone in 1921.

After checking further pictures, I no longer believe the car to be a TT Sunbeam - or even a Sunbeam at all - although it bears a superficial resemblance to the 1914 TT and Grand Prix cars. The radiator has rounded rather than sharp edges and the scuttle is higher. In addition there is an illegible script nameplate on the radiator in the same style as the Austro-Daimler Saschas - if I didn't know better, I'd say it read "Austin"! It's also not a 1912 or 1913 GP model Sunbeam either, although the general style is that of a 1908-14 car, with bolster tank etc. In size, it looks similar to the 1914 GP Opel.

There's no further explanation of the picture, apart from a caption which says that "The War [being] over, continental motoring again became possible." :

Finally, there's a picture of Warner with what he describes as "a typically overstyled Mercedes on the 1935 Monte Carlo Rally". An RHD car - Jack is standing on the driver's side, with another unidentified man standing on the passenger side - it wears a Monte plate above what looks like a British registration. Unfortunately, no numbers are visible as the front of the car is in deep shadow. In the background is what appears to be a scoreboard of some sort and I suspect the picture was taken in Monte Carlo on the day of the final speed tests. The bodywork is clean and apparently undamaged, but the wheel hubs and wires look like they need a polish. Certainly not quite ready for the Concours d'élégance, but well on the way. Perhaps that was what he came third in? The car is one of those enormous 500K or 540K touring convertible roadsters, with a wheelbase of about 10 feet and with everything mechanical well behind the front axle. Long, low, rakish styling with wings blending into the running boards. Very 1930s ....

So, perhaps more questions than answers, but this does at least answer a few of the ones we've already asked.

As a postscript, Jack is also seen outside his home with what was presumably his daily driver, a well-maintained Sunbeam Talbot Alpine convertible, registered TPL732.

Edited to add text in red

#32 RTH

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Posted 29 October 2006 - 06:35

That is all most interesting Richard, many thanks, does indeed shed a lot of light.