Both Falcon and the MCC owe a lot to the Tucker-Peake family whose drive and energy has had a profound effect on both over the years. "Tucker" pictured left, was perhaps the most prominent but he was not the only one. This article is a small appreciation.
Like most organisations individuals heavily influence Motor Clubs and Falcon is no exception. In our case, and the MCCs, one of our biggest influences has been the Tucker-Peake family who were the main stay of the club for many years
H. W. Tucker-Peake was born in Cornwall and christened Herbert, but was known as "Tucker" to most of us, or even "Tuck" if you were on very good terms. Tuckers interest in Motorsport all started when he saw Lands End competitors passing by his Launceston home each Easter. When he left school, Tuck moved up to Hertfordshire as an apprentice at Sir Henry Birkins workshops at Welwyn. They prepared the famous 4.5 litre "blower" versions for the pre-war Bentley Le-Mans assaults. W.O. Bentley himself never approved of blowers. Believing that there was no substitute for litres W.O. left Sir Henry to finance the blower team by himself. He soon spent all his own money, then worked through his fathers before bankrupting him. All was not over because the dashing "Tim" attracted the attention of a rich spinster, The Hon Dorothy Padgett. With her funding the team was able to continue and achieved Le Mans fame in 1930 with its battle with Carraciolas vast 7 litre Mercedes. Birkins searing pace broke the Mercedes, which retired, but it had taken too much out of the Blower Bentley which had to give up itself soon afterwards, leaving one of W.O.s 6.5 litre factory cars to take the chequered flag in the hands of Wolf Barnato and Glen Kidson. Birkin tried to continue with his team but when Miss Padgetts money was all gone, he had to call it a day and close his Welwyn workshop, leaving Tucker out of a job.
Tucker was not out of work for long. He got on his bike and cycled North to Stevenage, where he persuaded HRD motorcycles to take up his apprenticeship. It was through Vincents that Tucker started his competition career, courtesy of the legendary Aussie, Phil Irving. Irving was anxious to prove the superiority of the new radial valved Python engine, and entered an outfit in the 1932 Lands End. Irving drove himself with his newly signed up apprentice, Tucker in the chair. In those days the Lands End only had one start and Irving and Tucker had a short run down to Virginia Water to get away just after 10 in the evening. They started off well but during the night run the Python developed an intermittent miss-fire. They arrived at the Taunton breakfast control just after 4am and despite being frozen to the marrow decided to change the contacts in the magneto. An official spotted them and said they would be disqualified, as there was to be no work done on the machinery in controls. However, they carried on and the bike went much better. They went up Doverhay, like a rocket, the Python motor pulling like a train. Beggars Roost was next, in those days one of the most feared hills, but they cleaned this as well. Things were going well and thoughts of the publicity accruing from winning a Gold medal went through Irvings mind. They were in Cornwall now, Tucker was back home. They made a steep winding descent through Burlone Eglos, through a small ford to the foot of Hustyn. It didnt look to bad, it was pretty steep but there was a hard stone surface and they had cleaned harder hills already. Irving and Tucker attacked the hill with gusto, the Python singing like a bird. Irving saw a rock step ahead, eased the throttle as the front wheel went over it and gunned the motor, which promptly cut dead. The spectators helped the crestfallen pair to the summit and they managed to re-start the engine, which never missed another beat all the way through the trial.
Tucker and Betty (right) trialled an Anglia after the Tucker-MG was retired. Here seen with Derek Fleming and Ron Warren (picture from the Derek Fleming collection)
From then on Tucker took every opportunity to take part in Motorsport, riding bikes in trails, speed trials and races whenever and wherever he could. Work-wise Tuck had moved on, to ERA at Bourne, home of the famous predecessors to the BRM. After the war, Tucker and brother John set up "Shelford and Crowe" a garage business in Stevenage High Street. By now Tucker had move to four wheels for his Motorsport, trialling a much modified MG Magnette before building The "Tucker-MG". Tuck was very successful in the "Tucker" which won circuit races and speed events as well as trials. By now Tucker and his wife Betty had two daughters, Maralyn and Susan who were not allowed to miss out on the fun. When they became to big, to be crushed in behind the seats Tuck converted the "Tucker" to a four seater! Later on Tuck built them their own trials car called "The Tucker Nipper Special" which I have written about recently. Maralyn was the driver and sister Sue the bouncer. Maralyn won two triples with this car before retiring to become an RAC timekeeper! Today she is actively involved with producing the MCC magazine. Susan took to circuit racing with Anglias and Escorts before taking in a season of continental racing with the Skoda works team. These days Susan lives in Launceston and is Secretary of the Lands End Trial.
JTP with "The Bean" at the top of Blue Hills. also in the picture are Alan Davies and Neil Bray and Don MacIver with Primrose.
Brother John was Tuckers business partner in their garage in Stevenage High Street. A quiet, thoughtful man, John was a superb trials driver and car builder. Before the war John was apprenticed to the Riley Company, starting his trials career on a 250cc Villiers engined James. He moved up the scale with the cessation of hostilities, trialling a 1000cc Vincent Rapide twin, successfully! Moving to four wheels John built a succession of very special cars. The first was a real fly-weight, "The Scarlett Runner" made up of all sorts of bits and pieces with fiddle brakes on the rear wheels. In the early sixties John built "The Olympic" this was a Morris Minor shell with a big Ford Consul engine and running gear. It was probably Johns least successful Trials Iron but was great at the traffic light Grand Prix! Finally came the "Runner Bean" which he built with his son Adrian. It was basically a Ford Capri with a Pop body and would climb anything "The Bean" is still competing in trials in the hands of Tom and Clive Kalber and will still climb anything as they demonstrated on the Mini Classic. Adrian was an early editor of Triple and is currently campaigning a front wheel drive Peugeot in Classic Trials, following in the family tradition by taking the kids in the back!
(top left) Ron Warren, Alan Preston, John Tucker-Peake, Maralyn Knight and Derek and Betty Fleming (Derek Fleming collection), (top right) The Runner Bean storming Crooked Mustard in the 70s (picture Mike Furse)
(bottom left) Falcons successful 1972 Quiz Team "Mad Dog" Smith, Michael Leete and Tucker about to set of for the Birmingham final. I can see at least four other T-Ps in this picture and who is that handsome lad just behind Tucker? (bottom right) Susan and Maralyn with Tuckers Triple that they presented to Falcon for our Trials Trophy
Tucker was actively involved as an official and organiser for both the MCC and Falcon. He became an MCC committee member in 1954 and was involved with Falcon almost since its inception. He was the organiser of the Land s End for a very long time and Clerk of the Course at the Silverstone race meeting. He organised a great number of events for Falcon over the years, running the Guy Fawkes both as road trial and a PCT. Later he was the driving force behind the Knebworth Park autocross. Tucker was President of both clubs when he sadly passed away a few years ago. Always trying new things, and forever young at heart, Tucker was the inspiration for so many young Falcon members.