The Grand Prix champ whose flying passion inspired Shuttleworth Collection
PUBLISHED: 13:53 09 August 2018 | UPDATED: 14:02 09 August 2018
The Shuttleworth Collection put on yet another fantastic display on Sunday at the Shuttleworth Family Airshow, almost 78 years to the day after the death of the aviator who laid its foundations.
There were many show highlights, including the airshow display of the Miles Hawk Speed Six flying alongside the Percival Mew Gull.
A Second World War formation of the Westland Lysander, flanked by a Hawker Hurricane and Supermarine Spitfire, had eyes to the sky – while a de Havilland Dragon Rapide duo put on an elegant display.
Although they were not out on show over the weekend, The Shuttleworth Collection operates a Blériot Monoplane, Comper Swift and DH60X Moth, all of which belonged to the man whose passion for flight and aviation spawned the collection.
Richard Shuttleworth was born on July 16, 1909. in the family home at Old Warden Park.
His father was Col Frank Shuttleworth, who served in the British Army from 1860 to 1882. His mother was named Dorothy.
Richard lost his father to heart failure when he was just a toddler, and received his inheritance as a 23-year-old.
The family were very wealthy, with the money coming from the well-established Clayton and Shuttleworth firm – renowned as agricultural engineers and steam-wagon makers.
This love of engineering was clearly passed down to Richard, as The Shuttleworth Collection’s Ciara Harper told the Comet.
“Richard excelled in Eton College’s School of Mechanics,” she said. “He was fascinated from a very young age with mechanical objects.”
His inhertiance allowed him to enjoy his passion, collecting cars and aircraft. He bought and competed in racers including Bugattis and an Alfa Romeo.
Richard won consecutive Brighton Speed Trials in 1934 and 1935, breaking Sir Malcolm Campbell’s course record in the latter. Later that year he won the Mountain Championship at Surrey’s legendary Brooklands race track, and the Donington Grand Prix – often cited as his greatest victory.
But Richard’s racing career came to abrupt end when he crashed out of the South African Grand Prix in January 1936. He was lucky to survive his injuries.
In aviation, Richard had another hobby to occupy his time.
“He loved aircraft, and took his first flight in a de Havilland Moth in 1927,” said Ciara. “He gained his licence, and within a year flew with his friend George Stead in a pair of Comper Swifts in an adventurous flight 6,000 miles across the world to take part in the Viceroy Trophy Race in India.
“Through his enthusiasm for restoration work, he acquired a damaged Blériot and a Deperdussin as projects – both of which are still in the collection.”
Richard went on to create his own airfield and aviation firm, while expanding his collection.
When the Second World War broke out in 1939, he joined the Royal Air Force. He tragically died early on August 2, 1940, when he crashed into a hill near Ewelme in Oxfordshire while flying in a Fairey Battle light bomber on a training exercise.
Despite his tragic death, his collection and love for flight and racing was not lost.
“His mother, Dorothy, kept the collection alive in his memory,” said Ciara.
“Richard’s legacy lives on at Shuttleworth through the aircraft and vehicles of the collection – preserved in working order to enable future generations to enjoy these beautiful machines at their best.”