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MUSEUM COLLECTIONS Bert Denly Collection


One day in the early 1920s a butcher’s boy called Bert Denly was spotted delivering orders around Byfleet on his Douglas motorcycle by the Competition Manager of Norton Motors. Almost immediately he was signed up as the Works Rider for Norton, competing in long and short distance Brooklands races and going on to take countless World Records, solo and sidecar. By 1927 he had become the first person to cover 100 miles in one hour in the 500cc class. He went on to partner George Eyston in MGs in racing and record breaking, supervising World Speed Record runs and the building of Eyston’s ‘Thunderbolt’ and ‘Speed of the Wind’ record-breaking cars among others. The two became life-long friends. In retirement, Denly drove the local school bus and died in 1990 in his 90th year.


A family collection of memorabilia, photos and cuttings which does justice to Denly’s remarkable career has been loaned to the Museum by his grandson, Paul Denly, on behalf of other members of the family. It includes several of the trophies he won along with cigarette cases, tankards, club badges, medals and one of his ‘Bemsee’ Gold Stars for achieving over 100mph around the Brooklands Outer Circuit. One of the cigarette cases bearing his initials is said to have been kept in his pocket throughout much of his racing activities and carries enough marks and scars to bear out that story. Our thanks go to Paul and the other family members and we look forward to exhibiting the collection in the motorcycling display. Leo Villa’s overalls We are grateful to Ian Mitchell for donating two pairs of overalls that belonged to the racing and record-breaking mechanic Leo Villa. Villa was the right-hand-man to both Malcolm Campbell and his son Donald while they spent their lives in pur- suit of land and water speed records. He was taken on by Malcolm Campbell in the 1920s when his racing activities at Brooklands were at their height and worked in the Campbell Shed on ‘the Skipper’s’ racing and record-breaking cars. Leo Villa was still working with Donald Campbell when their partnership was cut short by Donald’s untimely death while attempting a water speed record in 1967. The overalls are, appropriately, pale blue and have been presented with a photo- graph of Donald Campbell and Leo Villa holding a large model of Donald’s 1964 Land Speed Record car ‘Bluebird’.


55


Update


Bert Denly featuring in a Shell and AJS advertisement from the Denly Collection.


The Hugh Hunter Collection In 1991 the Hugh Curling Hunter Collection, comprising the racing driver’s trophies, badges, motoring library, photographs, model car


Hugh Hunter in a Frazer Nash-BMW on the Test Hill at the 1939 JCC Trials.


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