Hampton Wick and the Motor Industry

Hampton Wick is a village in the south-west corner of London, U.K.


Carden Cyclecar Hampton Wick hasn't any great connections with the Motor Industry, but quite a lot was going on in the surrounding area. I photographed this beautiful little Carden cyclecar in Hampton Wick in June 2006. Captain John Valentine Carden was an engineer who specialised in making things lighter and more compact. He died in 1935, while testing a light-weight aircraft. He may have had a production facility in Somerset Road Teddington. In any case, during the 1920s, that facility was used by A.V. Motors of Teddington, to build an unusual cyclecar, partly to a design bought from John Carden. The works was more recently used by Volvo, but all that can now be seen remaining is the old office block. Cyclecars were built using modified motorcycle parts.

Tamplin of Twickenham was also associated with cyclecars.

A legendary sports car, the Frazer-Nash, was built at Isleworth, 5 miles north of Hampton Wick. They continued production post-war, then producing a car not unlike the MGA. Earlier, they had premises in London Road Kingston On Thames. However, we may be more interested in the HRG, an off-shoot of Frazer-Nash. Common wisdom has the HRG built in near-by Tolworth, in Oakcroft Road, but it has emerged that it was also built more close by in Hampden Road, Kingston On Thames, just behind the Robert Peel, rock venue. The HRG was a most interesting sports car, usually built using Singer parts. The HRG is rarely seen and this is a pity, in view of it's quality and the fact that over 90% of the original 240 cars have survived - an extraordinary percentage.
Frazer-Nash | HRG

A special place goes to Railton. Their address was given as Fairmile in Cobham, nearly 10 miles away. Before the war, American chassis were imported, about one per week, and a British body installed. Railtons were the sort of big cars that look right in the paddock at Ascot Races, with a picnic-basket on the back. Railton continued production for a time after the war and, in recent years, there has been an attempt to revive the name.

Surely the most important of the local manufaturers was A.C. Cars. They were situated in nearby Thames Ditton - right in the middle of a small village. They started there before the First World War, then, after the Second World War, they built their famous A.C. Cobra, still a very sought-after car on both sides of the Atlantic. I'm surprised by the reference below to Ferry Works in Thames Ditton, as that property was occupied by Rola-Celestion. It could be that it was shared. Certainly, the A.C. factory was round the corner from Ferry Works. The Cobra pictured found itself parked up one mile from where it was originally manufactured.
A.C. Cars | A.C. Cars in the Wikipedia

Kingston Hill, just to the east of Hampton Wick, is an oppulent area. Several motoring and motor racing pioneers lived there, including Archie Frazer-Nash, Henry Segrave and Malcolm Campbell. Many will remember passing the old K.L.G. sparking plug factory at Kingston Vale. Set up by motor racing pioneer, Kenelm Lee Guinness, this factory produced the Bluebird and Golden Arrow land-speed-record cars.

In the 1920s, Tommy Sopwith built the ABC motorcycle in a factory at Canbury Park Road, Kingston On Thames. Part of the factory can still be seen and now looks most handsome. This advanced design was bought from the All British Company which was at near-by Walton On Thames. Losses were caused by faulty valve-gear and production was taken over by a French company.

As for formula one, in the 1950s and 1960s, Cooper cars had two facilities nearby - one in Portsmouth Road Kingston On Thames and one in Ewell Road Surbiton. Australian driver Jack Brabham built his cars at nearby Chessington. Tyrrel were at Cobham and Connaught were at Ripley, between Cobham and Guidford.
Cooper | Connaught

In recent years, World Land Speed Record Holder, Richard Noble, has been based in nearby Twickenham.
Richard Noble

Kaye Don was probably Britain's most famous racing driver in the late 20s and early 30s. He also held the World Water Speed Record for a short period in 1932. He was a frequent visitor to Hampton Wick. My Aunt Mina was said to be his girl-friend, though I think that might be exaggerated, and he employed my two eldest uncles, Pom and Lawrence, as mechanics. He raced cars, mainly Bugattis, at near-by Brooklands, in Weybridge. His career came to an abrupt halt in 1934 when, following a fatal crash on the Isle Of Man, he went to prison for manslaughter. The crash was not a racing incident as the car was used outside the practice period, indeed, it was late in the evening, and the car had no number plates or insurance. Kaye Don's famous Aerdale dog, "Burrah", is buried in Station Road, Hampton Wick. Aunt Mina ran the Drovana hairdresser's in Fife Road, Kingston On Thames until the 1980s.
Brooklands Race Track