On this day in history….30th December 1983

On this day in history : 30th December 1983 – The death of British racing driver and long distance record breaker Violette Cordery – who was known as ‘The Long Distance Lady’….

Violette Cordery, 1919 – Public domain

Violette was born in London on the 10th of January 1900…. As a young woman she was employed as a driver for Captain Noel Macklin of the Royal Naval Volunteer Reserve based at Dover…. Macklin was also her brother-in-law as he was married to her elder sister, Lucy….

Macklin had his own automobile manufacturing company, Silver Hawk Motors in Cobham, Surrey…. In 1920 he produced his Silver Hawk car, which Violette drove in the 1500cc ‘light cars’ class of the South Harting Hill Climb…. She was then to go on to compete in other motoring events…. In May 1921 she won the ladies’ race at the Junior Car Club meeting, averaging at a speed of 49.7mph throughout the race….

Her racing career continued and in 1925 she broke records in Macklin’s new Invicta car…. She won the West Kent Motor Club’s mile sprint in the 2.7 litre Invicta at Brooklands…. Then in 1926 she set a long distance record in Italy, where she drove another Invicta for 10,000 miles at an average 56.47mph…. She set another record in July 1926 in Paris, where she drove 5,000 miles averaging at 70.7mph…. This saw her win the Royal Automotive Club’s Dewar Trophy – making her the first woman to do so….

Violette Cordery, July 1927 in a touring Invicta – Image source : National Library of France CCO

In 1931 Violette and her younger sister Evelyn completed a long distance challenge at the Brooklands Circuit in Surrey…. They drove 30,000 miles in 30,000 minutes at an average speed of 61.57mph – this equated to approximately 20 days and 20 hours of driving…. The sisters won a second Dewar Trophy….

Violette married racing driver and aviator John Stuart Hindmarsh on the 15th of September 1931 in Stoke D’Abernon, Surrey…. They went on to have two daughters – but on the 6th of September 1938 she was to become widowed…. John had been test flying a Hawker Hurricane at Brooklands when the aircraft crashed, killing him…. After this Violette retired from public life; she died in December 1983 in Oxshott, Surrey….

On this day in history….9th October 1897

On this day in history : 9th October 1897 – Henry Sturmey is the first person to drive from John O’Groats to Land’s End….

Image : http://www.gracesguide.co.uk/Henry_Sturmey

Accompanied by mechanic Richard Ashley, in a journey that took 10 days to make, Henry Sturmey drove his 4.5 hp Daimler (one of the first in Britain) the 929 miles from one end of the land to the other…. The trip was included as part of an epic 1,600 mile tour, the longest ever car journey recorded at that time….

Sturmey was a director and acted as deputy Chairman for Daimler – he had invested heavily in the company…. He was a friend of Harry J Lawson, who was the official chairman – but who rarely attended board meetings, leaving Sturmey to stand in…. Sturmey had a reputation for being a live wire….

And indeed he was…. Known as an inventor, especially for the ‘Sturmey-Archer Three Speed Hub’ for bicycles – a collaboration with James Archer….Sturmey was also a technical editor and journalist, was one of the original editors of ‘Autocar’, which was first published in 1895 and he later founded ‘The Motor’ in January 1903…. He was also a cycle and automobile writer…. All this is a far cry from his original career as a schoolmaster, his first post being as an assistant master at Brixton Hill College….

Cross-sectional diagram of the Sturmey-Archer three-speed hub – Public domain

Autocar Advert 1897 – Public domain

Sturmey took up motoring in 1895 – and motored in France, Germany, the USA and Canada – as well as here in Britain….