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Commemorating Peter Collins, tomorrow


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#1 Mike Riedner

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Posted 02 August 2018 - 10:02

Tomorrow, 60 years ago, Peter Collins sadly had his fatal accident at the Nürburgring (Pflanzgarten) when chasing Tony Brooks (Vanwall) during the eleventh lap of the German Grand Prix, 3rd August 1958.

 

I was only three years of age then, but for all I have read about him, he seems to be one of the nicest drivers Motor Sport and Grand Prix racing  has ever seen.

 

I plan to pay a visit to the site tomorrow at around noon for commemoration. Anybody else?



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#2 Slurp1955

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Posted 02 August 2018 - 15:36

Good post Mike. I too was three in 1958, and was brought up in Habberley, Kidderminster, about two miles from the Collins household. I grew up with him as a great lost local hero, and grew to appreciate his legacy as I started to follow motor racing in the Sixties. We had two great heroes in Worcestershire post-war. Peter Collins and Duncan Edwards, probably the finest ever English footballer. We lost them both in Germany in 1958. JohnP



#3 Eric Dunsdon

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Posted 02 August 2018 - 16:38

Its nice to see Peter is remembered.  He was one of my schoolboy hero's and I was lucky enough to see him race on many occasions between 1952 and 1958, one of those being his final victory in the 1958 British Grand Prix in which he was unbeatable. In 1955 I wrote a very schoolboyish fan letter to Peter to which he replied with a very nice letter along with a photograph of himself in a Mk2 V16 BRM at Snetterton. I still have that photograph along with many fond  memories of a fine  racing driver and nice man. I shall be thinking of him again tomorrow.



#4 cpbell

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Posted 03 August 2018 - 10:47

Sadly, I wasn't around in 1958 (indeed, my parents were only teenagers at the time) but I read extensively on that era during my own teenage years, and, indeed, spent what was an unprecedented sum for me at the time on a copy of Mon Ami Mate at the National Motor Museum in my late teens.  I have to say that, without wishing to disrespect anyone, Collins comes across as being more likeable than Mike Hawthorn for someone like me who doesn't feel comfortable with loud, self-promoting people.  Having said that, I understand that Mike mellowed after Le Mans 1955 and perhaps developed increased self-awareness.  Collins's death as a tragic waste was brought home to me when, on the 40th anniversary, Schumacher made a similar mistake to Collins' at the penultimate corner of what was then called the A1 Ring in Austria; as was pointed-out, his penalty for running wide was a trip through the gravel and a stop to replace the nose of his car. 


Edited by cpbell, 03 August 2018 - 12:36.


#5 Alan Lewis

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Posted 03 August 2018 - 12:10

Like Slurp, Peter was a "local hero" for me too; though I've lived in Northumberland since the early nineties, I'm a Bewdley High School old boy and grew up just outside Cleobury Mortimer.

We used to go through Shatterford regularly to visit my grandmother and at a very early age I was aware of who used to live in the "big house" by the road. When I was down there in May visiting my mother, events caused me to take that road again for the first time in many years. Not much has changed.

RIP Peter.

#6 D-Type

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Posted 03 August 2018 - 15:10

In the fifties there were three top British drivers, or maybe four.  It is hard to say, at this distance, who was the best.  I feel that Collins is under-rated by many.  Depending on the criteria used there are strong arguments that he did better as Fangio's No 2 in 1956 than Moss had done the previous year.  OK, he didn't win the Mille Miglia, but you feel he could have had he not obeyed the request to let Taruffi retire on a peak.  Had he survived, he would have been team leader at Ferrari and with his understanding of how the Scuderia worked I am sure he would have emerged as 1959 World Champion.



#7 Roger Clark

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Posted 03 August 2018 - 17:16

I don't think it's correct to say that Collins obeyed a request to let Taruffi retire on a peak - he retired from the race having led most of the way.  Enzo Ferrari said that he made the request to von Trips, who complied.

 

None of which casts any aspersions on Peter Collins' driving ability, of course.



#8 Rob Miller

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Posted 03 August 2018 - 18:59

In the fifties there were three top British drivers, or maybe four.

 

 

Definitely four.



#9 Roger Clark

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Posted 04 August 2018 - 10:05

I've received an email from the Motor Sport mailing list referring to a 2008 article on Peter Collins.  It was entitled This Charming Man.  Johnny Marr's all right but anybody more unlike Collins than the dreadful Morrissey is difficult to imagine.



#10 Doug Nye

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Posted 06 August 2021 - 13:06

The anniversary of Peter Collins's fatal accident in the 1958 German GP fell this past Tuesday, 63 years after that sad event.  A Collins enthusiast friend of mine, Andrew Holt, made the pilgrimage from Yorkshire to visit Peter's grave in Stone Hill churchyard, Kidderminster, that day. He has given me permission to share these photos he took there...

 

HOLT-COLLINS-A-2021.jpg

 

HOLT-COLLINS-B-2021.jpg

 

HOLT-COLLINS-C-2021.jpg

 

HOLT-COLLINS-D-2021.jpg

 

HOLT-COLLINS-E-2021.jpg

 

Andrew wrote to me: 

 

"While I was at the churchyard I telephoned Louise Collins in America ( although I speak with Louise frequently she was unaware of my Journey ) I explained to Louise that I had taken a red rose on her behalf and asked her what message she would like me to write on the Rose ) Louise was most grateful and asked me to write the words you see in the photo.
 
"While I was in the area I met a lady who lived next door to Peter at his father's first garage at Mustow Green, this lady was a close friend of the Collins family and introduced me to a man with a very old aerial photograph of the said garage. She also gave me a copy of a photo of  Louise standing next to the bride at Peters sister wedding , taken at the Chateau Impney Droitwitch, I also visited Shatterford Grange another house where Peter lived."
 
A touching and thoughtful tribute I think - and worth sharing....
 
DCN


#11 RS2000

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Posted 06 August 2021 - 15:07

I noticed the other week that Shatterford Grange is more visible from the A road than I recall it being when I used to pass through there every few weeks about 30 years ago. Some trees gone presumably. I used to wonder which bend towards Kidderminster PC rolled his father's car on. There is an obvious candidate that is not so much a problem in modern cars. 



#12 Bishop61

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Posted 09 August 2021 - 16:50

I would like to add a few comments to this forum to commemorate our local hero,Peter Collins.
Whilst I very much admired the touching picture of Peter’s headstone it is was with some sadness that I viewed it because at some point over the winter the gold painted eternal flame has been stolen from it along with other items taken from the churchyard.
I was amazed to see a photograph of the Collins family’s Talbot Garage at Mustow Green after searching for so long to find one. I do however have an image of how it looked around 1929 when first built by Pat Collins and a painting an artist friend created for me to represent how I thought it might have looked in 1949.
I would imagine the incident where Peter added dents and scratches to his father’s Bentley at Honeybrook would be on the bend on the A442 where the brook goes under the road. He already had some form on this road. When he could first legally drive his Purple Peril he had a similar accident two hundred yards before this at the bottom of Round Hill. It was a Saturday morning and Peter was on his way to work. He took the car straight to Lionel Evans at RadPanels who had built the body for him and on this occasion saved his bacon by repairing the damage in time for Monday before Peter’s father found out what had happened.
I had been told that Peter had taken his cars down to Arley to show the local school children, but had no specific details until getting in a dialogue with a schoolboy who remembered it. From what I have been able to piece together Peter diverted cars going to Aintree for the Grand Prixs. In 1955 it seems he appeared with the Owen Maserati on a trailer and an “impressive silver racing car on a special trailer” (Moss’s Mercedes I wonder ?) in the Valencia Arms car park. In 1957 Peter repeated this with his Ferrari 801 and brought Tony Brooks along with Moss’s Vanwall on trailers. They had great fun talking to the locals and school kids, lifting the children up to sit in the cars. Can you imagine as an eight year old being lifted into such a car on its way to Grand Prix history ?
An amazing story that says so much about a great driver.

Edited by Bishop61, 09 August 2021 - 16:51.


#13 MCS

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Posted 09 August 2021 - 18:23

Great post, Bishop 61. 

 

I was in Upper Arley the week before last.  A wonderful part of the world, but I had no idea about the visits made by Collins.  The pub is apartments now, but here is a picture from 1960: https://www.francisf...l-c1960_a164067

 

I wonder if anybody has any photos from the visits made in the Fifties?


Edited by MCS, 09 August 2021 - 18:25.


#14 Bishop61

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Posted 09 August 2021 - 19:08

Thank you MCS.

Arley village and the surrounding area is beautiful for sure.

That really would be a find, to turn up a photograph of the cars taken to The Valencia Arms.
Who knows, I have been waiting ten years to see a photo of the Collins garage at Mustow
Green and look what turned up. Surely someone would take a camera, as word got around
About these appearances I’m told.

The locals recalled Peter turning up at different times at the Valencia for a drink with Fangio, Moss, Tony Brooks
and apparently Hawthorn. On one of these occasions the village policeman’s wife had to throw
herself into a hedge to avoid a laughing Mike in his Jaguar.

I’m grateful to be able to post as a new member to this site so please excuse any typos while I feel my way
around it. If I knew how to post photos I would !

Edited by Bishop61, 09 August 2021 - 19:13.


#15 Myhinpaa

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Posted 10 August 2021 - 08:34

The location of The Valentia Arms Hotel as it was captured on Google Street View in 2009 similarly to the photo linked to in post #13



#16 nmansellfan

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Posted 10 August 2021 - 13:57

It took me a second to place the picture of the Collins garage in Mustow Green (I drop my son off at school a couple of times a week a 1/4 mile up the road) - I was thinking it was on the site of the car dealership that is hidden from view (if it was there at the time) on the opposite side of the roundabout.  The Collins family also owned the garage on Worcester Road in Kidderminster, now a Ford dealership, for a time I have read?

 

Like others I'm local to the area but was born 20 years after Peter met his end.  My uncle was a teenager in the late 50's and has told me in the past you could tell when Peter was in and around Kidderminster town as you could hear the open exhaust of his 250GT from a mile away!

 

It may be another hearsay story but I have been told by others in the past that he would often come close to putting a Ferrari road car on its roof by trying to beat his own personal time driving the B4194 Ribbesford road between Arely Kings and Bewdley - known to some locally as the 'Switchback'.  Anyone who has driven that road knows it is certainly possible in places to end up on the banks of, or even in the River Severn if you get it wrong...



#17 Alan Lewis

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Posted 10 August 2021 - 15:03

(Bewdley High School Old Boy, '76-'83): Yes, the Ribbesford road was always only the Switchbacks to us. Not sure I could ever have told you the road number.

Apart from the Valentia, Peter's local was the Bellman's Cross - literally across the road from Shatterford Grange. In the sixties Dad worked on a farm in Trimpley and we lived in one of the tied cottages. We'd go through Shatterford every Friday night to visit my Gran in Bobbington and I knew from an early age who'd lived in the big house by the road.

Haven't been in the Bellman's in decades but a quick google suggests it is now a rather posh sounding restaurant that wouldn't be happy letting a yokel like me in...

Edited by Alan Lewis, 10 August 2021 - 15:03.


#18 Bishop61

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Posted 12 August 2021 - 09:50

I have a few stories that I’ve been told about the Collins Talbot Garage at Mustow Green that might be of interest that say a little about the characters of father and son.

Firstly a story that possibly hasn’t been told too widely involved Peter when still at Bromsgrove School. Talbot Garage regularly kept six olive green liveried lorries for Baldwin’s Steelworks, five of which were kept within the garage overnight and the sixth was parked outside.

One morning the first driver showed up to work to find no lorry outside and assumed it had been stolen. The village Bobby, PC Greet was summoned but on entry to the garage he immediately spotted that all six lorries had been shoe-horned inside.

During the evening and after the garage had closed Peter had taken the opportunity of his parents going out to move the lorries around so as to squeeze three of the Leyland Octopus lorries side by side in the entrance where they were normally parked two abreast. Easy for a slim school boy to exit, but impossible for a burly lorry driver.

Mr. Collins was out, possibly taking Peter to school but on his return was confronted by a number of bemused lorry drivers and the village policeman.

Quickly identifying Peter as the culprit a phone call was made to Bromsgrove School and a laughing Peter was brought to the telephone. Once the shouting had stopped Peter explained that he had left the middle of the three lorries out of gear and with the handbrake off and he suggested a visit to the Tate family might secure the use of their tractor to tow the vehicle out far enough so the drivers could gain access to their lorries and start their day.

I understand a quantity of scotch had be distributed to Bobby and drivers alike to secure their silence and keep Baldwins unaware of who was driving their lorries out of hours and underage !

As I’ve gassed on for a bit I’ll leave the other stories for another time.

It’s great to hear more stories about Peter from people from around Kidderminster. I can well imagine him racing the switchbacks (just wonder how he would have timed it unless he took a stopwatch with him ?). The wife of the village Bobby at Shatterford was waiting for the bus into Kidderminster one day when Peter stopped to offer her a lift into town in his Aston Martin. She described the journey in to town as “better than any fairground ride”. No wonder Peter was in the top flight of drivers who drove in road races, he was very well practiced at home !

#19 Bishop61

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Posted 13 August 2021 - 16:51

A couple of stories about Pat Collins (Peter’s father) and the family business, Talbot Garage at Mustow Green.

Looking at documents in the National Archive my understanding is that when transport businesses were nationalised after the end of the war it seems the Road Transport Executive were under the impression they had purchased Pat Collins’s transport business until they came to licence their newly “acquired” vehicles and found that they didn’t own them.

Two years prior to this Pat Collins had created a separate company identified subsequently as “the transport company” as opposed to “the garage company” and moved the assets around, which caused the confusion.

You get the impression that a degree of weariness has set in on behalf of the RTE as they then negotiate to buy the lorries they thought they had bought already and under a separate agreement then find themselves buying the garage premises - something that was not generally in their remit- on the basis that “if you have the lorries you’ll need somewhere to keep and maintain them”. Effectively Pat Collins sold his business three times.

Another admission came from the former parts manager under Pat Collins who was told this by Pat himself at Kidderminster Motors, the Collins family Ford Dealership.

The National Archive documents state the sale of Petrol and oil at Mustow Green was not profitable however Pat said he had found a way to make it more marginally more profitable. It seems the five petrol pumps that originally stood on the forecourt that appeared to sell different grades of petrol all drew from the same tank !

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#20 Doug Nye

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Posted 13 August 2021 - 17:22

Don't you just LOVE the motor trade...   :cool:

 

DCN



#21 tampaguy

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Posted 13 August 2021 - 20:03

On the Thursday before Sebring in 57 my late friend Joe Sheppard had the opportunity to sit with Peter. Joe was entered in an Eleven with Chapman himself. Having little track experience the previous year, Lotus Nine disqualified, Joe asked Peter for some insight on how to better run the coarse. Joe went on and on about how much a gentleman Peter was. He helped me tremendously. Joe and Colin did extremely well finishing first in class. The following year, Joe, without a drive, returned just to stand at the S turns to again study Peters technique. Joe was a very modest Southern gentleman, never boasted about his racing days unless he was asked specific questions. But he was trilled to talk about the fair haired Englishman who took the time to help a fellow racer.



#22 Bishop61

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Posted 13 August 2021 - 21:06

Thank you Tampaguy for sharing this, it was fascinating to read this.

#23 Nick Planas

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Posted 14 August 2021 - 19:54

Effectively Pat Collins sold his business three times.

I believe that's only one short of the number of times BCE sold F1 (retaining control 3 of those 4 times) . As Doug says... the motor trade  :lol:  :lol:  :lol:



#24 Doug Nye

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Posted 17 August 2021 - 05:52

Please spare a thought for Louise Cordier Collins - Peter's vivacious widow - who is most unwell right now, in the US...

 

DCN


Edited by Doug Nye, 17 August 2021 - 06:13.


#25 Bishop61

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Posted 17 August 2021 - 21:40

I’m very sad to learn that Louise Cordier Collins is most unwell.
She is an amazing, inspirational and incredibly kind lady.
I hope all of us who follow this forum will spare a thought
For this wonderful lady. ❤️

Edited by Bishop61, 17 August 2021 - 21:40.


#26 Tim Murray

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Posted 17 August 2021 - 21:42

Hear hear.

I’ve just re-read Doug’s great article on Louise and Peter:

https://www.goodwood...-peter-collins/

Thank you too to Bishop61 and others for these fascinating Collins family titbits.

#27 Doug Nye

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Posted 18 August 2021 - 15:22

Very sadly - I understand that Louise Collins passed away last night.  

 

DCN



#28 Gary C

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Posted 18 August 2021 - 16:48

Very sad to hear this, Doug.

#29 Tim Murray

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Posted 18 August 2021 - 17:00

Very sad news. RIP Louise. Here are a couple of links to nice photos of Louise and Peter on their wedding day in February 1957:

https://www.worthpoi...ouise-429050015

https://www.worthpoi...-race-429050016

#30 cpbell

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Posted 18 August 2021 - 17:03

Very sadly - I understand that Louise Collins passed away last night.  

 

DCN

Oh no, that's awful to hear. :cry:



#31 Bishop61

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Posted 18 August 2021 - 18:40

It is such sad news to learn of Louise’s passing.

I had the pleasure to speak to her on several occasions and she once summed up Peter’s attitude to life as “finding your bliss” or finding the life you were meant to live that brings you joy, purpose and fulfilment. Although Louise’s time with Peter was cut so short I’m sure she continued to live her life in the same way. She was a truly lovely lady to whom I am incredibly grateful.

Edited by Bishop61, 18 August 2021 - 18:41.


#32 Collombin

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Posted 18 August 2021 - 22:03

I never need much of an excuse to rewatch the magnificent Ferrari - Race to Immortality, but it seemed appropriate to do so this evening.

#33 D-Type

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Posted 19 August 2021 - 18:14

RIP Louise



#34 MCS

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Posted 29 August 2021 - 14:21

A typically excellent obituary from Richard Williams for Louise in The Guardian today:  https://www.theguard...e-king-obituary