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Thomas Pitt Cholmondeley Tapper


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#1 Jackie

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Posted 25 April 2005 - 02:18

I just searched the NF for information about Thomas Pitt Cholmondeley Tapper and found some fascinating stuff - especially O Volante's information about his life after racing.

I hope you don't mind if I give Tapper his own topic!

I have just read Amateur Racing Driver and it seems to me that he was genuinely and totally enthusiastic about racing. I liked the way he wrote - and he seemed to be modest about his racing and rather in awe of the people he met during his racing career.

Only at the end of the book did I realise that he was only 26 when he retired from motorsport.

I have heard all sorts of strange stories about him (including a report that he was gay) but would love to hear what members of the NF have to say about him.

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#2 Rob29

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Posted 25 April 2005 - 07:42

Don't know about gay,maybe bisexual as I have read his book and others,and had the inpression he was at one time Eileen Ellisons's boyfriend and they travelled around Europe sharing the same Bugatti!

#3 humphries

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Posted 25 April 2005 - 08:09

Tapper - modest!?

#4 Vitesse2

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Posted 25 April 2005 - 08:28

Originally posted by Rob29
.....had the inpression he was at one time Eileen Ellisons's boyfriend and they travelled around Europe sharing the same Bugatti!

He was, they did. But you wouldn't necessarily know that from the book. I understand there was some sort of (shall we say) disagreement which ended the relationship. So the book needs to be read with care and with other references to hand, since he more or less airbrushed her out. But lots of pictures show them together.

OTOH, you have to have a certain respect for a man who turns down a Mercedes test drive to go skiing!! Or is that part of the myth?

#5 ensign14

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Posted 25 April 2005 - 08:58

Originally posted by Vitesse2
I understand there was some sort of (shall we say) disagreement which ended the relationship.

It was probably that "Women Know Your Limits" programme for the BBC he did with his friend Grayson.

now, who will get that?

#6 Vitesse2

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Posted 25 April 2005 - 09:11

I did, but let's not go O/T. As Jackie lives in Florida, I think she's unlikely to have seen Harry Enfield.

#7 ensign14

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Posted 25 April 2005 - 09:38

O Volante's posts are found here. Given that he married and had children (and grandchildren) I am guessing he was not gay...(Tapper, that is, I don't know about O Volante. :p )

But also given that he was a member of the British skiing team (which is almost oxymoronic, but maybe they were better in the 1930s) maybe he was a skier that went motor racing rather than vice versa? That could explain his refusal to take part in car testing in Germany. (Or maybe he did not want to face the currency restrictions &c.)

#8 Paul Parker

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Posted 27 April 2005 - 15:12

Having purchased a mint copy of C-Tapper's book from Chater's in 1982 I read the foreward that was signed off from Piddle (I kid you not) in Oxfordshire.

Thus equipped I phoned the wonderful DIRECTORY OF ENQUIRIES who were able to give me C-T's phone number (just try doing that today with just a name and a town and no address, how usesless latter day systems are). Amazingly there he still was and agreed to see me so off I went and was ushered into the company of a delightful and beautifully mannered man who had suffered some brain damage from a wartime plane crash. He was if I recall correctly employed by Churchill to find suitable sites for aerodromes (either actual or decoy I cannot now remember) for use in WW2. His equally delightfull wife fed me with cake and tea.

Anyway he signed my book along with a polite little note and explained to me that he had turned down a test with Auto Union (not Mercedes Benz) in favour of going skiing during the winter of 1936.

Sadly that is all I can recall now and as I was not then writing professionally I kept no notes. Ho hum!

#9 Jackie

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Posted 27 April 2005 - 20:04

You still have that book, PP?

I just just googling and found that a Margaret Cholmondeley Tapper co-authored a book about Hans Holbein the Younger - in the early eighties, I think. Would that be his wife?

#10 Paul Parker

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Posted 01 May 2005 - 20:00

Yes I do still possess the book Jackie, but I cannot recall Mrs C-T's name. What I have remembered subsequently was that he had come from New Zealand but apparently the family had Norwegian origins.

Probably Bill Boddy or David Venables could tell us more, I'll see what I can find out.

#11 Jackie

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Posted 02 May 2005 - 02:15

Thanks Paul. It's great to know that you still have the book. It seems that Tapper's family had connections in Jersey and that his maternal grandfather was an archbishop in NZ. I don't know how accurate this information is, though.

#12 O Volante

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Posted 02 May 2005 - 21:00

Hi Jackie,

as said a number of times before, due to other commitments I'm currently not able to post here regularly. So it's just by chance I find you are following up a subject I was very much interested in ...

Let's start with with my sources: Because I have a soft spot for drivers from, races in, and a lot more from NZ :) , I wanted to varify the well known claim TPCT was a New Zealander. I found the answer in his book "Amateur Racing Driver": Given the somewhat distorting historical background of the British Empire, the status of dominions and so on, relevant for the first half of the 20th century, I would think he surely was!

Later I wanted to know more, and inquired without success at Cambridge University about a student TPCT. In fact, in his book he said he went to university in Britain ... well, he was very explict about the point, but because he had apparently left out certain other things, or at least, left them in the shadow, I was nor sure if that was truth or fiction: What I mean is, of course, his relation with Miss Ellison - which is evident from the Brooklands book, and other race records ... but in his book, as said above, she's in the pics, but not the text ... My explanation of these ommisions or slight twists of what really happend was simply that such kind of lazy "gipsy lift" at the pre-war Continent was simply not acceptable for the targeted readership of the book when it was published first in the early 1950s.

By some googleing I found then an obituary of TPCP on an NZ homepage, in fact, that of his school in Christchurch. The Registrar's office was very helpful, and supplied me with Mrs. Cholmondeley Tapper's address. When I send some questions relating to her late husband, I received the letter mentioned in the Maserati 8CM drivers thread. What I wrote there is a slightly edited version of the lines send by Mrs. Cholmondeley Tapper!

To sum up, I think there is no reason to assume any information related by Mrs. Cholmondeley Tapper in this letter is wrong ... therefore I can only hope some rather incorrect, but repeated claims about a Norwegian background and so on are now finally laid to rest ...

On the famous invitation to test-drive a Mercedes at Monza, I would think, it is pertinent to let the man speak himself, so to say: "October was on the wane, the racing season for 1936 was over and back in Cambridge, I garaged the Maserati [8CM 3013, W.K.] for the winter without indulging in any extensive maintenance operations. I was shortly to leave for Monza in Northern Italy where I was to have a trial as a driver for Mercedes-Benz, whose racing organization were visiting the Monza track to test new designs and train drivers, and I arranged to travel out there with John Wakefield in his car. He wished me to introduce him on the way to the Maserati brothers in Bologna, so that he could order a car from them for the following season ... [A short description of the Maserati company and family, plus the reception of the two visitors follows, W.K.] ... Wakefield and I were delayed on our journey and stayed rather longer than we had anticipated in Bologna, so that I was several days late in reaching Monza. We found that the Mercedes-Benz contingent had already returned to their factory in Germany. I was, of course, sharply disappointed at having missed such an opportunity but, even so, my regret was softened by the growing realization that the time was coming for me to turn my efforts to more stable matters than motor-racing. I was twenty-six, and by now had achieved sufficient driving experience and skill to compete seriously with the front rank drivers, but this meant that I needed the latest cars, for pure ability is not sufficient for success in motor-racing, unless coupled with a car capable of competitive performance. Since I could not afford the vast expenditure required to keep abreast as a private owner of rapidly improving racing-car design, the only alternative was to become a member of one of the factory teams. This, in its turn, presented a difficulty, for I did not wish to make a career of motor-racing, which would be the inevitable outcome if I became a professional driver. " ... how things have changed: today many young drivers would make hell and heaven move to be there just in time ....

#13 Jackie

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Posted 03 May 2005 - 01:20

Thanks, OV, for the information. I never quite understood the Norweigan thing at all. But it seems that Tapper was most certainly from NZ. The info I have is that he was born in NZ (I don't know where) on July 31st, 1910. Also, that his surname is the result of a marriage in 1900 between George Albert Tapper and Lena Cholmondeley - his parents. Both had been born in New Zealand; George's father had emigrated from England in 1863, along with his mother and his brother, who had been born on the Isle of Man. The family were well connected - his mother, Lena Tapper, was the daughter of George James Cholmondeley, Archdeacon of Christchurch Cathedral.

I don't know how accurate this is, however.

#14 Patrick Fletcher

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Posted 03 May 2005 - 01:35

Maybe another contact - Jules Tapper; during 1990 and beyond Jules flew with Mount Cook Airlines landing a Tiger Moth in Hagley Park Christchurch one day!

#15 Jackie

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Posted 03 May 2005 - 02:25

Hmm ... I googled him, Patrick. Interesting stuff - thank you :)

#16 David Birchall

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Posted 03 May 2005 - 04:22

I'm surprised that nobody has commented that Cholmondeley is pronounced "Chumly" as in: (Yorkshire accent) "Ay up lads, yonder comes a choomly".
David B

#17 dbw

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Posted 03 May 2005 - 07:18

shoot..everybody knows that....just as everyone knows that "the house in saint john's wood belongs to the sinjuns".... :wave:

#18 Hieronymus

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Posted 03 May 2005 - 08:58

ry6 had an interview with Cholmondeley Tapper a couple of years ago. It featured as an excellent 3-page article in CLASSIC CAR AFRICA.

#19 Jackie

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Posted 04 May 2005 - 01:39

Hi H,

You don't have a copy of it, do you?;)

Re motorsport and skiing (going off topic for a moment, if that's OK). I read today that Derek Cook, father of Paula and David, was killed in a car crash yesterday. :( Didn't David Cook leave racing for skiing?

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#20 Hieronymus

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Posted 04 May 2005 - 05:51

Jackie

Yes, sure I do have a copy. I presume that your email address is still the same???

#21 Jackie

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Posted 04 May 2005 - 16:34

Yes - thank you SO much :)

#22 bradbury west

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Posted 10 May 2005 - 18:20

Jackie, Did you receive my PM sent a few weeks ago about Eileen Ellison? I believe she died in Jersey. I know someone who bought a huge amount of personal items and correspondence from her/the family a good ten years ago with masses of material about her racing exploits. He planned to make a TV programme about her, but it came to nought. I have spoken to him the other week, and he is more than happy to be contacted to give you any details you may require.

Please PM me and I wil be happy to put you in touch

Roger Lund.

#23 Jackie

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Posted 10 May 2005 - 19:51

Hi Roger,

Great to hear from you - I've replied to your PM and also your previous one, which I didn't find until today. :rolleyes:

I would love to be in touch with your friend - this is SO exciting. I've sent you my email address :)

#24 Paul Parker

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Posted 13 May 2005 - 21:08

Looks like I got it wrong about C-T, although he definitely told me Auto Union at the time. At the moment my archive including all my books are in one place and I am somewhere else so I could not check my copy of the book.

Anyway apologies if I mislead anybody.

#25 Paul Rochdale

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Posted 23 December 2010 - 10:01

http://www.findagrav...p...d=62735232

Not a driver I'd heard of before now.



#26 ry6

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Posted 31 December 2010 - 00:51

O Volante's posts are found here. Given that he married and had children (and grandchildren) I am guessing he was not gay...(Tapper, that is, I don't know about O Volante. :p )

But also given that he was a member of the British skiing team (which is almost oxymoronic, but maybe they were better in the 1930s) maybe he was a skier that went motor racing rather than vice versa? That could explain his refusal to take part in car testing in Germany. (Or maybe he did not want to face the currency restrictions &c.)


If memory serves me right (and sometimes it doesn't!) I seem to recall that TPCT told me that his wife wrote the book.
Obviously he was consulted etc
When you read the 'phraseology' there does appear to be a women's touch involved.

Nonetheless I did enjoy the book and TPCT was pleasant to talk to and very helpful with my reseach.

By the way I was once looking through a scrapbook of a 1930's racing driver and we came across a photo of Miss Ellison and TPCT. The old driver was less than complimentary about the relationship saying that 'unmarried people' don't DO this sort of thing. (I make it clear that this was a 1930's drivers comments and maybe a conservatively minded one at that?.)

#27 Bloggsworth

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Posted 31 December 2010 - 09:16

But also given that he was a member of the British skiing team (which is almost oxymoronic, but maybe they were better in the 1930s


In the early days, the British were the world's best skiers, probably because they invented the sport; and as is their way, didn't take it seriously, it was, after all, only a sport; as soon as the snowy lands took it seriously and started organising it, it was no longer fun, so the British stopped enjoying it and fell behind.