CHAPTER THREE Sept 8, 2009 12:00:30 GMT 1
Post by administrator on Sept 8, 2009 12:00:30 GMT 1
IN chapter one I began by saying that ‘this is a work in progress’. Progress has been made, so there are some changes. We now know that Jean Reville was born Eric John Revell on 24 October 1899 in Puckeridge, a small village in Hertfordshire. He was the son of James Joslen [sic] Revell, a carman (driver of a horse and cart), and Emma Cecilia, née Barker, and had left Puckeridge by 1922, presumably for London.
Brother Dennis was not younger, but five years older than Jean. A draper’s assistant in 1911, after a spell in the wartime Army (Bedfordshire Regiment), he married Grace Johnson in 1920, and they ran a stationer’s shop in High Street, Puckeridge 1922-1933. Then they joined Jean and Daisy in Merton Park Parade, and changed the spelling of their name to Reville. Dennis became part of the Palmer-Reville operation; he acted as a ‘Steward appointed for the Meeting’ for the Easter 1934 meeting at Crystal Palace (Jean was ‘Track Manager’), and continued the Merton Park garage operation for two or three years after Jean left England.
Arthur Thomas Palmer was rather older than I thought. He was born in 1876 in Rotherhithe, and so was 34 when he moved into a confectionery shop at 82 Kingston Road, Merton, in 1910. Four years later he moved again, to 3 Merton Park Parade. He and his wife Elizabeth Jane seem to have had no children, but Daisy Florence Epsom, their niece, was already living with them in 1911, aged 12 (which explains the ‘Epsom otherwise Palmer’ on her marriage lines). There is no trace of her parents Annie and Arthur (milk carrier of Lewisham in 1901), nor her older twin siblings, also Arthur and Annie, in those parts of the 1911 Census available to date.
Jean Reville and Daisy had two children, Arthur Eric (June 1930) and Margaret Ann (August 1932), so Daisy would have had good reason not to accompany Jean to Australia. There would thus have been eight rather than six Palmers and Revilles who moved into the double shop premises in Ewell in 1935, with Arthur Palmer now 58. When he retired, it was Daisy who continued the Ewell business, ‘trading as A T Palmer’. Dennis and Grace Reville stayed with her until they died, in 1952 and 1958 respectively. Jean’s daughter Margaret Reville left in 1954. Jean’s son Arthur Reville had married another Margaret in 1952, and the couple remained with Daisy until she retired, aged 60, in 1959. The business was then continued by a Mr and Mrs Derry, still trading under the ‘A T Palmer’ name.
Jean Reville never described himself as a mechanic – my mistake in Part 1 – but as a confectioner for both his weddings, in 1928 and 1929, as a garage proprietor in 1932, and eventually as a racing motorist in 1935.
On 12 May 1934 Jean Reville was one of the attractions at the first midget car race meeting at Belle Vue Stadium in Manchester. This was not too successful, as ‘the track was too narrow for three cars abreast’. Intriguingly, pre-event publicity included a photo of another car racing past Jean’s, which is lying on its side, with Jean standing beside it; evidently a previous occasion.
6 April 1935: the programme for the Easter Monday meeting at Crystal Palace shows that at least six Palmer Specials had been built and survived to race that day. The publicity machine is evident – there is a Special Challenge Match Race between Jean Reville in the Gnat, ‘First appearance on any Speedway’, and Jimmy Hanley ‘the famous Gaumont British film artist of Little Friend’ (a recently-released film). Hanley was a child star, only 16 at the time. He had presumably met Reville while working at Merton Park Film Studios, just across the road from the Merton Park Parade premises. What 16-year-old boy could resist ?
One possible explanation of Jean Reville’s failure to return to England after the Australian trip has now been rebutted: a search of the bankruptcy petitions to Kingston County Court for 1934-1936 found no reference to him. So we have to ponder further.
‘Bud Stanley’, the third of the British drivers who raced in Australia, has now been unmasked by inspection of the passenger list of the SS Orsova. This was the pseudonym of Stanley Edgar Budd (ho ho), born in Wimbledon in 1910 to George Budd, jobbing gardener, and his wife Harriet. The family were living at 60 Haydon’s Road in 1911, less than a mile from Merton Park Parade, and moved to Oatlands Road, Burgh Heath, some time before 1934. Between 1897 and 1900 they were in Ware, Hertfordshire, a town only seven miles from Puckeridge. Did the Budds know the Revells back then?
(c) DAVID HAUNTON 2009