Alfred James Dixon 1886 - 1935

 

See Wikpedia article

 

Jimmy to his friends, AJ in the press of his time, managed to live his short life to the full but died early, before his full potential could be uncovered. He lived fast and he lived hard. But above all, he had fun, until cancer took over his life.
 

Early life
Jimmy was born 21 October 1886 at 11 Stratford Place, Pancras, the son of Alfred Archer Dixon, a publican and Fanny Law, daughter of Richard Law. Richard was the publican of the Hare and Hounds in Layer Breton in Essex and had fought at the Battle of Sebastopol in the Crimea on board HMS Rodney. Educated at Ongar Academy, he completed an apprenticeship with a railway company. He attended Ongar Grammar School as a border, but there are no records to tell us what sort of student he was. Like any child, he must have been aware of the rapidly changing environment around him, as the nineteenth century drew to a close. It was at this time that many of the most important inventions were in the making - automobiles, flying machines, radio and the like. It must have been a very exciting time to be growing up. We have no records of Jimmy’s school days, except that family stories that come down to us say Ongar Grammar School was an extremely tough school to attend. As the century turned, Jimmy was fourteen years old. In the next few years he took a great interest in motorcycles and racing. There was no way that he could have afforded the lifestyle that he followed, so his father must have bankrolled him.  After leaving school he joined the British Railways and trained as an engineer at the Stratford Sheds. His father, of course was an important official in the railways. and although Jimmy did not want to work on the railways, his father insisted upon it. In those days youngsters didn't have a great deal of freedom in choosing their careers. Jimmy’s father stipulated that unless he completed his apprenticeship he would not support his racing career. He did complete the apprenticeship and his dad did bankroll him.  From reading Motor Cycle magazine and from searching the internet, I have identified the many events and dates that Jimmy took part in. There were probably many more, but I live in the Outback of Australia, and so I have no access to official records.

Jimmy's motorcycle career

Jimmy competed in many events in England, France and the UK winning medals. Atkinson in his book "The Singer Story" said that "in 1912, the most successful rider was G E Stanley, but also very successful were Jimmy Crocker, W A Jacobs and a man who would later progress to driving racing cars for Singer, Arthur J Dixon."  Atkinson refers to AJ Dixon throughout is book as Arthur, but it should read Alfred J Dixon.

 

1911

Nothing in the press as it  צust have been in his first few years of racing and he was learnig his skills but we have a medallion for the MCS Herts Co A&ACC rear open hill climb.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

1912

Bethane Barracq-Michael 13 kilometre race: on time: First highest award; on Formula: First highest award and fastest time of the day;  Classemont General – for the meeting - first - highest award;  Gaillon Hill Climb (France) on time 500cc class - First highest award; French Kilometre Record 26 Oct 1912.

Motor Cycling magazine 1912 “…. One of the features of the water-cooled system is that it allows a higher compression to be used than does an air cooled model. In some cases, the extra power developed by the water-cooled engine has resulted in breakage of vital parts. The 80-mile-an-hour 500cc Singer, referred to below. It is at present being tuned up at Brooklands by Mr A. J .Dixon, who is shown mounted on it. It is suggested that at present the engine is overcooked and hence has as yet failed to develop the power expected of so remarkable a machine. It has been suggested to me that the 80 mile an hour Singer water-cooled engine has not yet performed up to expectations on the track is because it is overcooled. Indeed I am told that one of the radiators has been put out of action during the latest tests and that the speed at once increased."

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

1913

Bristol Motorcycle & Motor Club: Open Hill Climb Milan – Torina – Bologna - Torina endurance race; Hertfordshire MCC Speed Trials in Lutton Hoo Park; Class Ic. Racing Single Cylinder to 300 c.c.  A. J. Dixon . . Singer . . FIRST.  Class 3 c. Racing Single Cylinder to 500 c.c.  A. J. Dixon . . Singer; Scottish Six days Trial; Speed Trials at Colwyn Bay AJ Dixon 3rd in Class 3. (Motorcycle Magazine). ACUs Spring Trial - With over 150 machines and a 120 mile course starting and finishing in Dorking it was a difficult race. AJ is mentioned "The first 11 competitors to arrive went up well, while the first machine to “conk out” was a Rudge driven by W. Price. A. Dixon, on a Singer, roared up , as did F. A Nab on his Ariel" Jimmy came 4th in this race.  1913 December London to Exeter Run in December. The London to Exeter Run in December 1913 has a report in Motor Cycle. The article ends with this comment: “A. J. Dixon, the well-known Singer drier said that the outward journey in the night was the most unpleasant he had ever been in.”

Following this it was time to wrap up the year, and Jimmy put on his finery and headed to London for the 1913 Annual Dinner of the Motor Cycling Club. The Club was formed in 1901, so when Jimmy attended, it was just 10 years old. One of the Dixon family heirlooms is the menu, with signatures of some of luminaries of the time. This has now been donated to the National Motorcycle Museum in Birmingham.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

This is the information that has been found on the people who signed the menu. It was an august gatherine, and few of them would have realised that the life that they knew was about to change. Some would be killed, spme would go on to create household names and some would fade into obscurity.

Charles Jarrott OBE         

26 March 1877 – 4 January 1944) was an English racing car driver and businessman. Jarrott raced from 1900 to 1904, winning the 1902 Circuit des Ardennes race and competing in the 1903 and 1904 Gordon Bennett Cup races. He was the chair of the Motor Cycling Club's Annual Dinner at the Trocadero on Saturday 12 December 1913. He co-founded a car import firm in 1902 and was a founder member of the Automobile Association (the AA), serving as chairman in 1922. Photo from here (Motorsport database). Great story. The Jarrott Cup 1914 Staines to Penzance 174 riders

Lionel Martin

5 March 1878 – 21 October 1945 was an English engineer, who with Robert Bamford founded a company in January 1913 that became Aston Martin. Great article about Martin and Bamford with pictures in Exceptional Cars Aston Martin Ulster The remarkable history of CMC 614 By Stephen Archer.

Robert Bamford

16 June 1883 – 1942) was an English engineer, who with Lionel Martin founded a company in January 1913 that became Aston Martin. Bamford and Martin became firm friends through their love of long-distance competitive cycling He was inducted into the Automotive Hall of Fame in 2013

H. G. Bell

took part in the Motor Cycling Club’s 24 hours’ run from London to Exeter and back.

L. A. Baddely

Baddely created his own 3hp motorcycle and took part in the following races: 1905 London to Edinburgh Run; 1906 London to Edinburgh Run; 1907 Auto-Cycle Club 24-hours Run - London-Plymouth-London riding this own 3 h.p. Baddeley and won a Gold Medal; 1907 London to Edinburgh Run;  1908 London - Land's End - London Trial; 1908 London to Edinburgh Run; 1910 London to Edinburgh Run; 1914/05/29 London to Edinburgh Run

Harold "Oily" Karslake

founder of the Dreadnought joined the Motor Cycling Club in 1909, he became a regular and highly successful participant in their long-distance trials - winning the "24 Hours" (466 miles) trial outright in 1909. In 1910, he participated in the London-Edinburgh (and back.) The non-stop team trials and the petrol consumption trial. In 1911, he won the gold medal for the Winter Ride and the silver medal in the "Land's End Trial" - in total, some 60,000 -70,000 miles in eight years. Took part in the 1914 London to Edinburgh riding a 5-6 Arial sidecar

John Chater-Lea

son of William Chater-Lea who founded Chater-Lea, still in operation today. Took part in the MCC’s 1910 London-Edinburgh trial, riding a Chater-Lea motorcycle. In WW1 was appointed 2nd Lieutenant in 1915. Took part in the 1914 London to Edinburgh riding a 8 Chater-Lea. rode a 3L Bradbury in the Herts County (with Jimmy) in 1912. He drove a 3 wheeled cycle car in the 14th Edinburgh Trial May 1921. Took part in the 1914 London to Edinburgh riding a 6 Bradbury sidecar. The internet revealed that his medals came up for sale and I am reproducing everything here.

R.M.Brice

Took part in the 1914 London to Edinburgh riding a 7 Indian. MCC Land’s End Trial 25th-26th March 1921 – 314 miles driving a Morris Sport and the Isle of Mann TT Races 1907-1909

H A Cooper

Billie Pratt

Took part of the Herts team in the annual reliability trial organised by the MCC for The Motor Cycle Fifty-guinea Challenge Cup, over a 100-mile course centred on Daventry, attracted a record entry of 18 teams, each comprising five solos and a combo. The team weren’t helped by the penalty imposed on their combo pilot, Billy Pratt. When he copped a sidecar wheel puncture his passenger scrambled onto the carrier and rode there for 55 miles before an MCC observer told him passengers had to remain in their sidecars and disqualified him. Fierce! Gold medal in the MCC London-Exeter and back 1913 driving a Humberette 10 HP cyclecar

C. G Ridgeway

Edwin Seagrave

son of Henry the famous racing driver?

F.A. Applebee

b 13 Jul 1887 Walthamstow, the son of Frank Wilberforce Applebee, another pioneer motorcycle racer. In 1909 he formed Godfrey's with Oliver Godfrey (who won the TT on an Indian in 1911) The firm sold and maintained motor cycles from a number of outlets, including 208 Great Portland St, London. Won first place in the Isle of Man TT race (senior class) on a Scott. Took part in the 1914 London to Edinburgh riding a 3.75hp  Scott sidecar.

G. Bax

Took part in the 1914 London to Edinburgh riding a 375HP Scott sidecar

G. T. Gray

1911 Brooklands race meeting; 1914 London to Edinburgh riding a 3.5 Rudge Multi.

Jack Haslam

Took part in the 1914 London to Edinburgh riding a 5 Zenith sidecar

R. Charlesworth

Took part in the 1914 London to Edinburgh riding a 5 Zenith sidecar

1914

Edinburgh & District Motor Club Ltd – Scottish Trials Won by A J Dixon 1914 & the Herts County A.C in January riding a Rudge

 

1914 Paris-Nice Trial March Jimmy took part in the Paris -Nice – Monte Carlo Trial in 1914. He was awarded a gold medal which is held in a bank by one of my cousins. The photo below was gven to me by Jimmy's yungest daughter - Phyllis Burns. It shows Jimmy, together with the other British riders, embarking on the ship that took them and their machines across the channel. Jimmy has the black spot in front of him.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Motor Cycle magazine wrote about the Trial in some detail. It stated that “striking success achieved by British machines." The story goes on to say that Jimmy lost no points on the first day (188 miles from Paris Montgeron to Dijon). The second day was 185 miles – Dijon to Lyons, “a most depressing morning with drizzling rain which got worse all day. One of the competitors, Vernon Busby, considered that this ride was the most arduous he had ever undertaken with visibility at zero. It was altogether A miserable run, and the English competitors felt it severely, as they had to travel 120 miles in a downpour before lunch, starting at 5am with only a light French meal to fortify themselves for such an ordeal.” This photograph below was found in the attic of the White House public house in 1971. Jimmy is on the right – I am not sure who the other rider is or what the motorcycle is. The photo was taken in Paris.

Jimmy lost no points in day 2. The third day consisted of 185 miles, from Lyons to Aix-en-Provence. The competitors had to get taxis to the garage where their machines were stored, and some of the riders got lost navigating out of the town. Weather was good, but some of the English riders complained about the quality of the French food. Jimmy and Hugh Gibson both lost marks in a secret check at Livron for being 3 minutes early. The start of one of the days.

The fourth day was another 185 miles from Aix-en-Provence to Monte-Carlo. “The English riders got lost again – it being a 5am start in the dark and there were no street lights. Some of them found themselves in a street in which the drains were up and lifted their machines over the barriers to save time in getting out of town. At Cannes, the British riders were exceedingly glad to obtain food similar to that found at home.” As they neared Monte-Carlo they ran into heavy traffic because the Tour de France was taking place.

At the conclusion of the race there was a Flexibility Trial – a run from Nice, up the mountain to the Golf Club at Monte Carlo. Parker (Norton); Dixon (Singer); Sangster (Ariel) and Newsome (Triumph) all performed admirably.  The list of awards tell us that A.J. Dixon won a gold medal for the 500cc motorcycles and came 4th in the Flexibility Trial. “After the celebrations, coming down into Nice, the official car caught fire, but with the assistance of A. J. Dixon, the Singer rider, the flames were extinguished. Thus ended an exceedingly severe trial." (Motor Cycle magazine)

Family tradition said that Jimmy won a gold cup, but with the outbreak of World War 1, he wasn’t sure how easy it would be to get it back to Britain, so he buried it and retrieved it after the war ended. I’m not sure I believe this story, but that’s what my grandmother told me. However cousin Tony Burns told me that it was a gold medal and it's the family bank vault. The Motorcycle Magazine article confrms this -

Most of the photographs in this story were taken by the French and given to the riders. These have been inherited and were passed from Jimmy's wife, Gertrude, to her son Alfred Patrick John Dixon and then to me.  I donated them to the National Motorcycle Museum in Birmingham.

Jimmy wasn't only a motorbike racer and a member of the Motor Cycle Club, but he was an accomlished mechanic in his own right.  An edition of the Motor Cycle Magazine in 1912 reported that "…. One of the features of the water-cooled system is that it allows a higher compression to be used than does an air cooled model. In some cases, the extra power developed by the water-cooled engine has resulted in breakage of vital parts. The 80-mile-an-hour 500cc Singer, referred to below. It is at present being tuned up at Brooklands by Mr A. J .Dixon, who is shown mounted on it. It is suggested that at present the engine is overcooked and hence has as yet failed to develop the power expected of so remarkable a machine. It has been suggested to me that the 80 mile an hour Singer water-cooled engine has not yet performed up to expectations on the track is because it is overcooled. Indeed I am told that one of the radiators has been put out of action during the latest tests and that the speed at once increased."

Picture that I got of ebay

When war broke out in August 1914, he tried to join the Royal Flying Corps, but he was too heavy, so he joined the army as a dispatch rider. He served in France in the 101 (City of London) Engineer Regiment in September 1915 but was discharged 4 May 1916 believed to be injured. He was awarded the Victory, British and Star medals. As a dispatch rider at the front, his days were spent skidding through the mud and the dust between headquarters and the trenches. A family story reports that some soldiers got together to organise a motorcycle race. Jimmy was in the lead and some Italian soldiers didn’t like this, so they threw a dog at him. He crashed and didn’t win the race. Nothing more is known of the dog.

Jimmy's cyclecar career

After the war ended, Jimmy sold two of the 10 houses that his father had left him and turned his attention from motorcycle racing to car racing. The purpose of a cyclecar was to fill a gap in the market between the motorcycle and the car, placing the engine of the first into a construct used by the second. It was a budget experience that bloomed … for a while. The first cycle cars appeared in 1910. In 1911 the number of cyclecar manufacturers was less than a dozen in Britain and in France. By 1914, there were over 100 manufacturers in each country, as well as others in Germany, Austria, and other European countries, and in the United States.  At the 1912 Cycle and Motor Cycle Show, Singer unveiled its new baby car to the world. Atkinson states that “This new car was of very lightweight construction, weighing just 6cwt and was capable of both 40 mpg and 40mph. The was probably the first vehicle successfully designed and constructed along the lines of a conventional car, but which was in essence a “cyclecar”.  A cyclecar, according to the Auto Cycle Union, had an engine of less than 1100cc in a car which weighed less than 7 cwt'' (Atkinson).  He threw himself into the cyclecar movement, joining the Cyclecar Club and he bought his own car - a Coventry Premier made by Singer Motors.

 

Some of the events that he competed in were:

1921 London to Land’s End Trial: Jimmy took part in this trial in his Singer 10HP. Atkinson wrongly names him Arthur Dixon, but was in fact AJ Dixon. This was the only Singer in the race. But Atkinson gives a fascinating account of the race. “''On arriving at Lynton, they had precisely two minutes to complete the climb. The surface conditions of which were atrocious. The combination of an appalling surface and the severe gradient proved too much for the Singer. Jimmy only managed 15 mph, so only got a silver medal." Atkinson.

 

1921 Midlands Light Car Club 1 day Reliability Trial:  This race was held 23 April 1912 Atkinson reports that it started at the Austin factory at Longbridge in Birmingham and proceeded south through Worcestershire to the Malvern Hills. Jimmy and his friend and mechanic R. Croucher entered in a Coventry Premier 3-wheeler. Jimmy received a silver medal because he faltered on the old Wyche cutting when he failed to climb the 1 in 2.9 hill.

1921 200 mile race at Brooklands: This race was the first of its kind and was organised by the Junior Car Club and was held in October. The JCC had originally been called the Cyclecar Club and had been formed in 1912. Today its called the British Automobile Racing Club. The Junior Car Club organised the first long-distance race to be held in Britain, which was ultimately won by Henry Seagrave. 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

This was the first long-distance race held England, for Brooklands, in spite of its fourteen summers, had seen nothing like it. The actual distance was to be 901 miles 189 yards, and there were to be two classes, up to 1,100 cc and 1101-1500 cc, with cups for the winners and a great gold cup presented by T. B. Andre; for the entrant of the car making fastest time of all. The starters were to be drawn up at the Fork in four lines, the first row leaving at mid-day, the remaining rows being flagged off at intervals. Cars allocated to the first row were to sport at least two feet of yellow paint on their bonnets, those in the second row red, those in the third - green, and those unfortunates in the last row white. Mechanics had to be carried and they, alone, could assist the driver at the pits. Jimmy finished 4th in his class. This was also the first race in which he drove a 4 wheeled car. Before this time he driven the 3 wheeled Singer.    Atkinson said that “another Singer works entry was that of the Coventry Premier driven by Arthur (we know this should read Alfred) Dixon''. So if it was a works entry, that would indicate that Jimmy was part of the Singer company. He goes on to explain that “Dixon’s car, which wore a number 8 for the race was basically standard even down to it’s disk wheels. A Goodwin was the mechanic for Dixon. Dixon managed to take his car the full distance, finishing a highly creditable fourth place at an average speed of 55 mph. Austin Harris has two excellent photographs of the race, which I have purchased. Jimmy's car is number 8.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

This an absolutely wonderful photograph. We can see Jimmy's car on the front row - number 8.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

1922 Land’s End Trial:  Both Jimmy and Croucher entered this event with their Coventry Premiers. “''McNeile in his Singer had problems at Beggar’s Roost where he collided with the bank. On restarting, he selected reverse instead of second gear and shot off backwards don the hill. He made another attempt to climb while pressurizing the fuel tank by blowing into a tube. The tube came off and sprayed petrol into his eyes. Despite this he managed to carry on driving and was eventually assisted over the steepest part'' Atkinson: The Singer Story. The Motor described this as the “hardest trial yet””.  Jimmy did not manage to finish.

1923 Colmore Cup: The Colmore Cup was organised by Sutton Coldfield and N Birmingham AC, popularly known as SUNBAC. It was primarily an event for motorcycles, it also included classes for 3-wheelers and for cars up to 1100cc. It was held on 24 Feb 1923. Atkinson tells us that Jimmy drove a 10hp Singer and Bicknell a 10hp Coventry Premier “''Both made good climbs up such tests as Sainsbury Hill and it was not until they reached Rising Sun Hill that they had problems. On this hill (the most severe test of all the hills) they had to do a stop and restart test. In all Dixon stopped four times but managed to get away with assistance, whereas Bicknell stopped and had to be pushed to restart. As a result, Dixon was awarded the silver medal and Bicknell had to be satisfied with a bronze." Atkinson: The Singer Story,

Austin Harris has an excellent photo of Jimmy leading the chase.  The driver of the Talbot (behind) was a bloke with a great name – T. P. Manifold!!! Another good shot here.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 


 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Austin Harris has another photo on their site that shows the car from a different angle - click here. You can see Jimmy standing at the back. He was a big man. This was surprising as I have never seen a Singer 10 and thought that it would have been a bigger car.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

1923 Land’s End Trial: This event was always held on the Easter weekend. This year was a drier occasion than usual and Jimmy drove really well and won a gold medal. The engine was a four-cylinder unit of 1096 cc initially with side valves but changing to overhead valves in 1923. The three speed transmission was initially located with the rear axle but moved to the centre of the car in 1922 and from 1923 was in-unit with the engine. The chassis had rigid axles front and rear with semi-elliptic leaf springs until 1922 when they changed to quarter elliptic. Braking was on the rear wheels only. A basic version of the car was sold under the Coventry Premier brand in 1923.

1924 Colmore Cup: We know Jimmy was an entrant in the 1924 Colmore Cup because Atkinson reports that “Dixon had an excellent trial and did not even bother to fit non-skid chains to his tyres, unlike most competitors." Atkinson, The Singer Story.

1924 Land’s End Trial: Held at Easter, Jimmy was unable to finish. Singer reported that his Singer 10 sheared a key in the rear axle almost as soon as he started - on the start line in Slough. Atkinson, The Singer Story.

1924 RAC Small Car Trial: "Singer entered two cars to be driven by Dixon and Bicknell in this trial in Wales, but at the last minute both cars were withdrawn shortly before the race with no explanation."  Atkinson, The Singer Story

 

Jimmy's family life

You would have to wonder about how much time Jimmy spent at home.  Not very much by the looks of it. He had inherited quite enough money from his father that he didn't really have to work, so instead he had fun. His dad, Alfred Archer Dixon's estate was worth £3710-12-3 (about £500,000.00 today).

During the war he met Gertrude Anne Elkington while he lived in Coventry during the war. Gertrude was always known as Jack. She came from a big family and all of her close relations worked in either the watch-making trade or bicycle manufacturing plants that were located around Coventry town. She was the daughter of Joseph Elkington and Mary Catherine Pickering and was born at 10 Vine Street. Note that the famous Elkington silver baron family of Birmingham, were Jack’s 4th cousins. Jack and Jimmy were married in 1916 in Coventry. Jack was 26 years old, 5 feet 5 inches with blue eyes and medium complexion. The passport tells us that she has a broad nose, small mouth, round chin and light brown hair. At some stage, before she knew Jimmy, she had become a devout Catholic, upsetting her own family – her father nearly disowned her.  Jack was working at the Coventry Hipppdrom in the box office and was confronted with some young men dressed in drag and about on the town for a good time. Incredible as it sounds, they hit it off and were married in January 1916 in Coventry. Considering there are so many photos of Jimmy, there are very few of Jack.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

After the war, in the early 1920s, Jimmy and Jack moved back to Enfield and they ran the White Horse pub for a few years.  Gertrude worked in the bar and did the books. Jimmy was a keen amateur radio buff and his call sign was G6PD and he was transmitting before it became necessary to hold a licence. He was a member of the North Middlesex Wireless Club. Jimmy attended the 3rd Annual Conference of Affiliated Wireless Societies and had a letter published in the 1922 Wireless World magazine where he made a number of resolutions.

Jimmy was an inventor and he created a home-made refrigerator, a clock out of a shell case, and he experimented with making ice cream out of a vinegar barrel. When cats made too much noise on the roof of his house, he set up an electric charge to give them a buzz. Later he used the same techniques on the local lads who would urinate against the side of his corrugated iron shed – the story goes that it did the trick!
 

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1913

The Spring Trial was written up in Motor Cycle Magazine 4 March 1913. It describes that there were more than 150 machines entered and the article gives a great description and some very clear photographs over 6 pages. Mention is made of Jimmy … “the worst part of the trial was now over. A steep little pitch in Haslemere called Sandrock Hill, caused a few of the passenger machines some little inconvenience.”The article has been reproduced by the Motorcycle Timeline.

 

Milan – Torina – Bologna - Torina

Even in Italy we find that Jimmy is racing his beloved Singer motorcycle. This was published in La Stampa Portivo in Verona in April 1913.

La Stampa Portivo .tiff
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1914 London to Edinburgh Run May 29th to June 1st Graces Guide gives all the entrants, the machines that they rode and the position they achieved in the race. It was won by Jimmy’s friend - Lionel Martin – and so many of his other friends from the Motor Cycle Club dinner were there as well. There was a field of 199 motorcycles and 27 cycle-cars. Jimmy was riding a 10 HP Singer and came 127th!

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Official photograph taken at the time by the press - purchased from Alamy

Photo passed down from Jimmy and Gertrude to Paddy then to the author.

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Colmore cup.HEIC

During the war, Jimmy was still the manager of the White Horse public house in Enfield that he had inherited from his father. He was injured during the war and was taken on by Singer Motorcycles as an engineer at their factory in Coventry where they were making munitions.  It was in Coventry that he met and married Gertrude Annie Elkington, known to her friends as Jack

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Jimmy is second from right

Brooklands 1921.HEIC
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Jimmy was an inventor and he created a home-made refrigerator, a clock out of a shell case, and he experimented with making ice cream out of a vinegar barrel. When cats made too much noise on the roof of his house, he set up an electric charge to give them a buzz. Later he used the same techniques on the local lads who would urinate against the side of his corrugated iron shed – the story goes that it did the trick!

 

Whilst living in Enfield he joined the Freemasons. His membership number was 4726. He very quickly rose through the ranks and in 1923 became Worshipful Grand Master at Theobalds Lodge in Hertfordshire.

 

Jimmy stood for parliament on behalf of the Conservative party in the 1923 general election, but was beaten by William Henderson, Labour Party.

At an unknown date, they gave up managing the pub and moved to Clacton-on-Sea in Essex and opened a confectioners/ice cream shop.

Jimmy the Mason.JPG

Jimmy  took up flying lessons and was close friends with Paddy Flynn, Alan Cobham and Henry Seagrave. Paddy was one of the first pilots of Imperial Airways, which later became BOAC then BAC. Paddy, Jimmy's son, remembers watching his dad walk on the wings of an Avro 504K at Clacton-on-sea in a plane piloted by Alan Cobham in the Alan Cobham Flying Circus. This consisted of a team of up to fourteen aircraft, ranging from single-seaters to modern airliners, and many skilled pilots. It toured the country, calling at hundreds of sites, some of them regular airfields and some just fields cleared for the occasion. It was hugely popular, giving thousands of people their first experience of flying, and bringing "air-mindedness" to the population. This family snap shot, donated by Phyllis Burns, shows Jimmy standing between Paddy and Alan when the Flying Circus visited Clacton. My dad, Paddy told m that he watched his dad walk on the wing of anAvro 504k flown by Paddy Flynn at Clacton.

 

The family moved from Enfield to Clacton-on-Sea, Essex in 1928. Jimmy and Jack bought the Criterion Restarurant and Jack ran the café, which was very busy in the summer, leaving Jimmy time to pursue his hobbies in the winter. They continued the name of Mazzolini's. It was a restaurant, confectioner and ice cream parlour.

The family didn’t live in Clacton, but in Frinton-on-Sea, a town that allowed no pubs in it! They had a lovely house called Sans Souci.

Jimmy had a number of cars at this time. His children, Paddy, Nora and Phyl remember a Riley and a Sunbeam and he could do the trip between Farringdon (London) and Clacton in 80 minutes. On one journey, the gear lever suddenly snapped off and cool as a cucumber he slapped a box spanner over the stump and continued driving. In Clacton, he had his own motor cruiser and he anchored this at Walton-on-the-Naze. It was called Puffin. Once a year he would take his family out for a cruise. At Harwich one day, returning from the marine store, he slipped on the slimy steps and fell headlong into the water. When he emerged he still wore the blue beret at a jaunty angle. Cigarette still between his lips and with a broad smile he told the kids “Don’t you dare tell your mother.” However, most of the time he usually dumped the kids on the Walton pier for the day, where they would have to amuse themselves with twopence in their pockets.

 

 

He also took the family out for picnics in his car. Here we can see a very early form of CD player…. Jack is in the passenger seat, Nora on the back seat, Phyl next to the wheel and Jimmy at the back.  Paddy was away at boarding school. He loved music and usually took his music machines with him, much like we do today. He would have loved the technology that we have developed. Tony remembers his mum telling him that she fell out of the car at Weely Cross as Jimmy took a sharp bend.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

He was elected president of the Clacton on Sea Chamber of Commerce in 1931. They held their Annual meeting and reported that membership stood at 140 - a record! There were 3 nominations for presidency and Mr. A J Dixon was elected. There is a cartoon of Clacton celebrities that my cousin Tony Burns unearthed – I’m hoping to get a better copy. It shows Jimmy – smoking as usual. He was a chain smoker.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Remember that Jack had converted to Catholicism? The only one in our extended family to do so. She had an arrangement that she would bring the daughters up as Catholic but Jimmy insisted that his son, Paddy, be brought up as Protestant. I’m not sure that Jimmy was all that religious, but he certainly steered clear of the Roman Catholic religion.

However, in his dying days, when racked with pain, the Catholic church was a constant companion. Jack brought in a personal friend of hers to give Jimmy some comfort, but also to ensure that he would go to heaven. I think his name was father Joseph Heenan (?) - he was a Jesuit and he had many long conversations with Jimmy. He wore him down and eventually Jimmy threw his Freemasons ring into the fire. The Catholic Church is and was vehemently opposed to Freemasonry. I like to believe that Jimmy threw his ring in as a gesture to please Jack…. and as insurance in case there was an afterlife. Finally this big man wasted away to virtually nothing, living on a diet of morphine and brandy. He had lived hard, but he also died hard. And he was only 47 years old when he died. Imagine what he could have achieved if he had lived a full life. He died on the 21 March 1935.

 

Jimmy’s final home at Kirby Cross cemetery. Jack is there as well. By the time he died, the family was not so well off, Jimmy had spent most of his inheritance. My dad, Paddy, wished to have his ashes interred here and so we wnt him on his final posting and our Burns cousins organised his final resting pace. There is a new gravestone. The estate was valued at £4994-11-3d. That is still far better than a lot of people at that time.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Jimmy was a real character. I wish that I had met him. I feel that he was very intelligent and I'm glad he passed that down trough the genes. I wish I was as technically savvy as he was as I'd love to make a cyclekart and practical things.  Tony said "that of all of us I have always felt Phil is the nearest to Jimmy with his self taught engineering knowledge, a good sportsman who played Rugby at a high level and a love of motor bikes. Phil is close to rebuilding an old Enfield, I think."

The will tells us that Jimmy left 6 freehold dwelling houses 5, 6, 7, 8, 10 and 11 in Bell Road, Enfield and two freehold dwellimg houses in Layer Breton (1 and 2 Seaview Villas). All these valued at £1890 (£143,220 in 2022). He had a further £5100 in assets and capital (£386,469) and this allowed Gertrude to survive comfortably for the rest of her life. 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Before long, World War Two started and Gertrude drove an ambulance during this time and worked as clerk and lived at 32 Astley Road.  After the war on 11 Jan 1947, she sailed to New York on board HMS Queen Elizabeth to stay with cousins in Canada for 3 or 4 years. Not sure when she returned, but he son, Paddy, helped her buy a detached bungalow at 108 Douglas Road in Clacton where she lived until she died. She worked at the Westcliff Theatre for many years and was a stalwart of the Catholic Church. I stayed with hrr a couple of times and found her to so supportive. It is because of her influence that I took up calligraphy and genealogy. Gertrude died 11 Feb 1962 of a heart attack. Effects £2016 (£48,882 in 2022)

Jimmy and his plane.jpg
Jimmy boat Puffin.JPG
AJ and car.jpg
Dixon family outing boat.JPG

Below: a day out on Dedham River - this has always been a favourite day out for our families.

L-R Phyl; Nanna; Jimmy and Paddy

Phyl at Clacton Town Hallc 1930.jpeg
Paddy, Phyl & Gertrude 1928.jpeg
Jimmy the fisherman.tiff
Jimmy and Fred.JPG

Jimmy and Gertrude had 3 children:

1.Nora Winifred Dixon b 10 June 1917 Coventry. More details below.

2. Alfred Patrick John Dixon called "Paddy" by his family, "Old Bill" by his friends in the war b 25 May 1919 in Coventry.

3. Phyllis Mary Dixon called Phyll b 9 June 1917 Clacton-on-Sea. get some more details from Tony and Phillip

Photograph left taken circa 1930:    L-R Paddy; Phyll and Nora

Tragedy struck when Jimmy fell ill with cancer. It was cancer of the stomach. He had spent his youth in pubs – a very unhealthy environment, and all of his life around cars and motorcycles. Add to that he was a heavy smoker and drinker. He underwent an operation in London to remove it, but he suffered a relapse and had to give up work… and fun. Towards the end of his life, Nora gave up her work and moved home (they lived in a house called Winster in Elm Tree Avenue, Frinton) to look after him. Nora had trained as a nurse. The photo below is the last picture that we have of Jimmy, standing next to old Fred. Frederick Walker, pianoforte dealer had two shops - at No 33 Old Road and Wagstaff's Corner at No 37. Norman Jacobs of the Clacton & District Local History Society dates it at about 1932.

In Clacton, Jimmy was a popular character, a typical life and soul of the party as, Nanna told me that he could play the piano and had a great singing voice. As a successful businessman he  was elected president of the Clacton-on Sea-Chamber of Commerce in 1931. They held their Annual meeting and reported that membership stood at 140 - a record! There were 3 nominations for presidency and Mr.A J Dixon was elected.  There is a cartoon of Clacton celebrities that my cousin Tony Burns unearthed – I’m hoping to get a better copy. It shows Jimmy – smoking as usual. He was a chain smoker. He was instrumental in organising a wonderful display at the Clacton Town Hall that featured his daughter Phyl. I believe that the cups on the mantle piece would have been from his racing days.

grave Jimmy & gertrude 1981.jpeg
Kirby grave.PNG

                                                            Original memorial                                                                          new memorial

Phyllisand Gertrude.JPG
Nora, Gertrude and Paddy.JPG
Nora, Bob and Gertrude St Osyth c 1936.jpeg
Gertrude & Phyll RC church c 1937.jpeg

Above: Nora, Gertrude and Paddy c 1925

Below: Gertrude and Phyll c 1933

Above: Phyl and Gertrude circa 1936

Below: Nora, Bob (Nora's friend) & Gertrude St Osyths Priory

Gertrude with one of her grandchildren - could be Tony Chris, Geoffrey, Phillip or Jeremy or Michael at 108 Douglas Road, Clacton-on-Sea

Gert picnic on lawn new chair and _.jpeg