Monday, March 12, 2018

Fernihough's bible

Eric Fernihough with the Brough Superior on
which he broke land speed records and ultimately
met his demise in Hungary.

I was lucky enough to recently find for a modest sum this relic of the great Eric Crudgington Fernihough. It is his Bible which the previous owner purchased as part of a house clearance back in 1982 when his widow passed away. Her name was Florence Dorothy Fernihough and she lived in a lovely 1930s house by the name of Crosby in Clock House Close, Byfleet, not far from Brooklands circuit.

'Crosby', Byfleet in Surrey, close to the Brooklands Circuit.
Ferni's racing and record breaking achievements are well documented but there is scant information available about the man himself. He was born February 17th 1905 in Birkenhead the son of a tobacco warehousing and manufacturing family. As a lad from a well to do family Ferni enrolled at Magdalene College in Cambridge. The Bible is dated as October 1923 at which age Ferni would have been 18, it came with a postcard of Magdalene College within its pages. Presumably the Bible was a gift for when he left home and went to University. Within the cover of the Bible, 'See Joshua 1.7' is also annotated (in a different hand - perhaps that of a parent?).

The postcard found in Ferni's Bible of his college, Magdalene,
at Cambridge.
Joshua 1.7
Only be strong and very courageous, to observe to do according to all the law, which Moses my servant commanded thee: turn not from it to the right hand or to the left, that though mayest have good success whithersoever thou goest.

In all honesty the Bible is not very well thumbed though there is a chocolate wrapper marking a page (606-607) so perhaps he did get stuck in some way.

Through the interwar years motor sport was very much a part of the Cambridge scene, and just as the Oxford / Cambridge boat race now is so varsity motor sport events were also big occasions. Much of Ferni's motor sport activities were under the umbrella of the Cambridge University Automobile Club, predominantly a motor cycle competitor he also dabbled heavily with Morgan three wheelers and shortly before his accident he became involved in four wheeler sport.

Speed racing was very much Ferni's thing though he did enter one IOM TT. Very active and part of the scene at Brooklands, he ran a garage by the perimeter of the track on Byfleet Road. Through the thirties Ferni became more involved in ultimate speed racing, both at Brooklands and in land speed record bids, he was motorcycle land speed record holder in 1936 and 1937. Sadly he was killed in Gyón, Hungary April 23 1938 aged just 33 whilst trying to regain his title. He had been clocked at 180 mph just before he lost control of his Brough Superior and fatally crashed.

Eric Fernihough is buried in Bournemouth East cemetery, I am not sure of his connection with Bournemouth as he was born in Birkenhead and, as far as I can see, lived in Surrey. I aim to visit his gravestone in the near future.

As a final note, the above information is collected from secondary sources and to the best of my knowledge is correct. If anyone out there can elaborate further please do get in touch. One mystery I have not found the answer to is that I have seen mentioned that in the twenties he was engaged to a Kathleen Butler who sometimes passengered his Morgan at Brooklands. This seems at odds with his widow being Florence Fernihough, perhaps someone knows the answer and will get in touch?

Eric Fernihough's signature and
the note to see Joshua 1.7

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