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Mike Hawthorn & the Guildford Bypass


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#1 Ebob

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Posted 03 February 2009 - 21:31

Can anyone tell me exactly where the Mike Hawthorn crash on the Guildford bypass happened?
I understand it was near the old John Coombes garage but sure someone on this forum will know a lot more.
Is there any memorial at or near the site?
Thanks.

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#2 simonlewisbooks

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Posted 03 February 2009 - 21:46

Originally posted by Ebob
Can anyone tell me exactly where the Mike Hawthorn crash on the Guildford bypass happened?
I understand it was near the old John Coombes garage but sure someone on this forum will know a lot more.
Is there any memorial at or near the site?
Thanks.


The new book GOLDEN BOY goes into great detail on this subject, lots of then-and-now photos which pinpoint everything even though the road layout has been altered over the years. It was within sight of Coombes establishment and the car was removed by one of their vehicles afterwards.

#3 Tim Murray

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Posted 03 February 2009 - 21:55

Alternatively, have a look at this section of Tony Bailey's comprehensive Hawthorn tribute site.

#4 Ebob

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Posted 04 February 2009 - 10:52

Thanks. Very interesting. Must buy the book now.

#5 tonyb

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Posted 04 February 2009 - 16:17

Originally posted by Ebob
Can anyone tell me exactly where the Mike Hawthorn crash on the Guildford bypass happened?
I understand it was near the old John Coombes garage but sure someone on this forum will know a lot more.
Is there any memorial at or near the site?
Thanks.

As others have said, the crash site is covered on the Tribute Web site and in the Golden Boy book with loads of new photos.

There is no memorial at the crash spot itself - the council/police would not allow it. However, a memorial Hawthorn tree for Mike was planted approx. opposite the spot where he died some ten years ago, but down in what is now the Onslow Arboretum, back during the morning of January 22 1999. Tony Brooks was there along with others and wreaths were left. Again, details on how to find the tree are in the book, easier now in the winter than the summer.

Interestingly, and I had a chat with Doug Nye about this, a plaque has appeared next to the tree in the last two weeks or so that wasn't there before that I can remember. It does looks like it may could been there at some time in the past though as the metal has some corrosion although the wooden part looks pretty new. Doug believes it may have been there shortly after it was first planted - maybe someone 'borrowed' it as a souvenir and had second thoughts recently with all the commemorations going on? The other possibility is that Guildford Council had it removed and in store for some reason or other (vandalism?) and reinstated it for the 50th Anniversary of Mike's death. I've asked them ....

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Or does anyone here know better?

Edited by tonyb, 01 May 2009 - 17:58.


#6 tonyb

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Posted 05 February 2009 - 16:04

The mystery is now solved...

Thanks to Adam Owen manager of the Onslow Arboretum where the plaque is located,
we have the story. It turns out that the commemorative plaque is new, not resurrected, and
was placed there on 21 January 2009 after a request from Guildford Museum to commemorate
the 50th Anniversary of his death, the tree having been there since 1999.

Until that moment, he had never heard of Mike Hawthorn, nor were there any records in
the Parks & Countryside Service that the tree was planted back in 1999. Plaques are not
something they normally place in the arboretum though and if stolen (which they acknowledge
as a possibility) it will not be replaced.

He says:

"Onslow Arboretum is a celebration of trees, and whilst people do sponsor trees to commemorate
births, marriages, anniversaries and deaths the general desire is to see the arboretum remain
a place full of trees, wild flowers and grasses, with only the mown lawn in the centre.

"I am sure that the plaque will remain for a long time and will be 'discovered' by those that know
the story of Mike Hawthorn."

The plaque is made of brass with the idea that it will acquire a patina very quickly and blend in with
its surroundings.

#7 Tony Matthews

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Posted 05 February 2009 - 16:20

Call me cynical, but a plaque on a small wooden post won't resist much weather or any vandalism. I have always been impressed and moved by the stone memorials found especially in Germany.

#8 kayemod

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Posted 05 February 2009 - 18:07

Originally posted by Tony Matthews
Call me cynical, but a plaque on a small wooden post won't resist much weather or any vandalism. I have always been impressed and moved by the stone memorials found especially in Germany.


Anyone feel like placing bets on how long that plaque is likely to stay there?

Something similar to the stone Rosemeyer memorial that's situated in a stopping area off the southbound carriageway of the Frankfurt/Darmstadt autobahn would be fitting. It dates from 1938, and I stopped there most recently a couple of years ago and found it clean and well kept, with fresh flowers and a lit candle. A very moving tribute to one of the greatest ever drivers, who clearly lives on in many peoples' memory. I'm not ashamed to say that I shed a tear. If I was a bit cleverer and could understand the TNF instructions, I'd post a photo.

#9 Tony Matthews

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Posted 05 February 2009 - 18:21

Originally posted by kayemod
Anyone feel like placing bets on how long that plaque is likely to stay there?


Exactly. I was trying to remember the driver comemmorated by an inscribed stone about one quarter of the way up the Gaisberg Hill Climb, dating, I think from the thirties. There's probably less vandalism in Austria, but that monument was moving in its very solidity, and although not obviously cared for, it wasn't going anywhere.

#10 kayemod

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Posted 05 February 2009 - 18:50

Originally posted by Tony Matthews


Exactly. I was trying to remember the driver comemmorated by an inscribed stone about one quarter of the way up the Gaisberg Hill Climb, dating, I think from the thirties. There's probably less vandalism in Austria, but that monument was moving in its very solidity, and although not obviously cared for, it wasn't going anywhere.


Similarly, the Rosemeyer one is carved from solid granite, about five feet tall and set in concrete, it must weigh several tons. I can't see it being uprooted and put on eBay Deutschland any time soon.

#11 Tim Murray

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Posted 05 February 2009 - 20:28

Originally posted by kayemod
If I was a bit cleverer and could understand the TNF instructions, I'd post a photo.

Don't worry - it's been done:

Originally posted by Arjan de Roos in the 'Motorsport Memorials' thread
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Phil Rainford posted a similar photo in the same thread only last week.

#12 kayemod

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Posted 05 February 2009 - 22:29

Originally posted by Tim Murray

Don't worry - it's been done:
Phil Rainford posted a similar photo in the same thread only last week.


Falsches Denkmal, (wrong memorial!).

That's not the Frankfurt/Darmstadt autobahn one, which marks the site of Bernd's fatal crash, and is what we've been discussing here. It's fairly similar to the one you've found, which I think is in a cemetery somewhere near Berlin. The autobahn one is a similar size, but rather rougher hewn. If only I was a bit cleverer with posting pictures...

Why is that so damned difficult on TNF? I've used a couple of other forums, and it was dead simple on those. Possibly the main obstacle is the fact that bad experiences have put me off using Photobucket and similar sites, I experienced a huge increase in junk mail when I registered with them some time ago, and I still haven't been able to stop some of it. Why can't we just attach pics from our own computers? Lots of other forums work this way.

#13 Tim Murray

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Posted 05 February 2009 - 22:52

Originally posted by kayemod
Falsches Denkmal, (wrong memorial!).

Well I never. I took it for granted that as it is inscribed 'an dieser stelle' it had to be at the actual place. Sorry about that. :blush:

#14 kayemod

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Posted 05 February 2009 - 23:21

Originally posted by Tim Murray

Well I never. I took it for granted that as it is inscribed 'an dieser stelle' it had to be at the actual place. Sorry about that. :blush:


No problem Tim, but that appears to be a replica of the original memorial. The wording seems to be the same, but the setting is very different, the Autobahn memorial, which I imagine must be the original, is set in concrete in a rustic setting away from the autobahn, a few metres down a signposted footpath, and it's surrounded by mature woodland, nothing like the area in the pic you posted.

#15 markpde

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Posted 06 February 2009 - 00:27

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I believe this is the actual Rosemeyer memorial - I think I would shed a tear too.

The hawthorn tree and the plaque should come to serve as a fitting memorial to Mike - it's a nice touch, the tree being a living thing, and the memorial will be accessible only to those who know where to look.

Given their location they might survive - vandals are usually too lazy to travel very far. :rolleyes:

#16 kayemod

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Posted 06 February 2009 - 14:00

Originally posted by markpde
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I believe this is the actual Rosemeyer memorial - I think I would shed a tear too.


Yes indeed, that's the real one alright. I doubt if we were there on the same day, and you'll note that there are fresh flowers and candles in place on your pic as well, wonderful to see that Bernd is still remembered like this more than seventy years after his death.

#17 markpde

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Posted 06 February 2009 - 16:16

Originally posted by kayemod


Yes indeed, that's the real one alright. I doubt if we were there on the same day, and you'll note that there are fresh flowers and candles in place on your pic as well, wonderful to see that Bernd is still remembered like this more than seventy years after his death.

Sorry, I wasn't there - I just had the photo in my files. If I was ever in that area, though, I would make sure I visited the memorial - I have Chris Nixon's 'Rosemeyer! - A New Biography', which you'll know is an English adaptation of Bernd's wife Elly's 'Mein Mann, der Rennfahrer', with a couple of extra chapters. One of these stories where fact eclipses whatever fiction could invent.

#18 speedman13

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Posted 06 February 2009 - 16:42

The replica is outside the museum at Donington Park.
There is nothing other than the grave at the Dahlem cemetery.

#19 tonyb

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Posted 10 April 2009 - 16:25

As many will know, today would have been Mike's 80th Birthday had he survived to celebrate it.

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:mad: Unfortunately, the plaque above that was placed in Onslow Arboretum back in January 2009 alongside the tree planted in Mike's memory back in 1999 is now but a memory itself. Some misguided soul has recently stolen the brass plaque - but left the wooden base there. Probably pointless, but worth keeping an eye out for it as you never know how minds work. The council indicated that they would not replace it if it was stolen and, as others suggested, it was almost inevitable that it would vanish one day.

Maybe we could start a fund to pay for a heavy stone version set in concrete?

There are moves afoot to have the plaque that was never placed in the Hawthorn Memorial Sports Pavilion in Farnham finally made and put up there. The council have agreed to have this done and we are just awaiting the necessary words that will go on it so it can be made.

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#20 rich06

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Posted 10 April 2009 - 17:13

my god what sort of people live in this world ... :(
RIP Mike on your 80th...

#21 aaron

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Posted 11 April 2009 - 22:01

I thought Hawthown's crash was well covered in Mon Ami Mate. Aaron

#22 Mal9444

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Posted 12 April 2009 - 18:54

Originally posted by rich06
my god what sort of people live in this world ...


That is indeed truly depressing. How long did it last?Three months?

#23 Tony Matthews

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Posted 12 April 2009 - 19:02

Originally posted by Tony Matthews
Call me cynical, but a plaque on a small wooden post won't resist much weather or any vandalism.


What did I say? It's not often I am saddened to be proved right...

#24 Kingsleyrob

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Posted 13 April 2009 - 09:30

Absolutely disgraceful, but as you say Tony, hardly unpredictable. :mad: :mad:

A certain naivety is displayed by simply securing the plate with four screws. Surely there would have been a better way of securing it so that removing it would have damaged the plate, thereby diminishing the "pride of ownership" of its new, despicable custodian.

If I was really mean I'd say I hope he gets run over.

On the Guildford by-pass.

Rob :wave:

#25 Paul Rochdale

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Posted 13 April 2009 - 09:56

A brass plate can easily be re-made but it's the principal of the thing. Our local crematoriums were attacked last year when hundreds of brass name plates bearing the names of loved ones were jemmied off memorial walls and stolen. I hope MH's tree is still OK. :

#26 tonyb

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Posted 13 April 2009 - 17:15

Here's a sad record of what's left - the whole top part has been pulled off its retaining screws,
not just the plaque removed from its base.... :cry:

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The tree is okay though ...
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#27 frogeye59

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Posted 13 April 2009 - 20:06

TNF Whip-round for a "suitable" replacement ????????

#28 Paul Rochdale

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Posted 13 April 2009 - 21:40

No point. It'll just go the way of the first one. The suggestion of an engraved stone sounds better. I've VERY PLEASED that the tree wasn't mistreated, and thanks for letting us know.

#29 kayemod

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Posted 14 April 2009 - 07:35

Originally posted by Paul Rochdale
No point. It'll just go the way of the first one. The suggestion of an engraved stone sounds better. I've VERY PLEASED that the tree wasn't mistreated, and thanks for letting us know.


It would cost a lot more than a brass plaque, but what's required is a big lump of granite like the Rosemeyer memorial, no-one's going to walk off with that are they? Just have to be a bit careful with the inscription though, anything along the lines of the "Gay and gallant sportsman" wording on Mike's headstone, is asking for trouble in these 'enlightened' times.

#30 tonyb

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Posted 14 April 2009 - 07:51

Originally posted by kayemod

It would cost a lot more than a brass plaque, but what's required is a big lump of granite like the Rosemeyer memorial, no-one's going to walk off with that are they? Just have to be a bit careful with the inscription though, anything along the lines of the "Gay and gallant sportsman" wording on Mike's headstone, is asking for trouble in these 'enlightened' times.

The person that runs the arboretum isn't keen on having any markers in there at all. The original mail I had indicated that it was only put here after a request from a higher level forced them to do it. The manager didn't even know that the tree was there as it wasn't recorded!

I'll make enquiries at both levels and see what might be possible. I very much doubt a large stone device of any sort would get approval though but you never know.

#31 tonyb

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Posted 15 April 2009 - 18:54

I had a look back at the overheads we had taken for the book and found this one that
wasn't used. It shows the location of the memorial tree and how to find it, plus
the crash site on the A3:

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Photo courtesy Paul Farmer

From the research that we did using police photos and various other bits of data, the
actual crash site appears to be slightly west (bottom of photo) of where the tree was
planted. The old cattle crossing obviously isn't used now but there is a path there into
the arboretum via a stile. The photo was taken about this time last year using a powered
model aeroplane fitted with a camera that flew back and forth over the area to get the
images.

The A3 back in 1959 was just dual carriageway on the right of the photo and the current
westbound only carriageway at the right was wider and both west and eastbound back then.

There is still a tarmac path alongside the A3 past the crash site and you can walk down
from the bridge by Manor Way if you want - be warned though that you'll have heavy traffic
passing within a few feet of you at 50mph+ and there is no barrier to protect you!

Hope that helps someone.

#32 Tony Matthews

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Posted 15 April 2009 - 21:20

I'm beginning to think that if it were possible to fund a stone/cast memorial, the crash site is probably not the place for it. If it is as pedestrian-unfriendly as Tony says - and I have no idea how many 'visitors' it would attract - perhaps it should be placed elsewhere. Leave the tree to those who seek it out.

#33 tonyb

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Posted 15 April 2009 - 21:26

Originally posted by Tony Matthews
I'm beginning to think that if it were possible to fund a stone/cast memorial, the crash site is probably not the place for it. If it is as pedestrian-unfriendly as Tony says - and I have no idea how many 'visitors' it would attract - perhaps it should be placed elsewhere. Leave the tree to those who seek it out.

The police refused the siting of a memorial up the bank near the actual spot aeons ago for those obvious safety reasons.

I suspect leaving it unmarked really isn't such a bad idea. We've been investigating a more permanent memorial in Farnham itself but haven't found anywhere yet.

#34 Kingsleyrob

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Posted 15 April 2009 - 22:14

Originally posted by Tony Matthews
I'm beginning to think that if it were possible to fund a stone/cast memorial, the crash site is probably not the place for it. If it is as pedestrian-unfriendly as Tony says - and I have no idea how many 'visitors' it would attract - perhaps it should be placed elsewhere. Leave the tree to those who seek it out.

Would a site near to one of Mike's watering holes be appropriate? If so would the Barley Mow at Tilford or the Frensham Pond Hotel be contenders?

Would be better for visitors to be able to drink to his memory in a hostelry rather than witness the place of his demise. From what I know I'm sure that would get his vote...

Rob :wave:

#35 simonlewisbooks

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Posted 16 April 2009 - 09:53

Originally posted by Kingsleyrob

Would a site near to one of Mike's watering holes be appropriate? If so would the Barley Mow at Tilford or the Frensham Pond Hotel be contenders?

Would be better for visitors to be able to drink to his memory in a hostelry rather than witness the place of his demise. From what I know I'm sure that would get his vote...

Rob :wave:


It would do something positive for the pub's trade in these difficult times and make it a potential focus for car club gatherings in the future, which would be a definite boost.