Cemeteries and graveyards, full of love, betrayal, tragic deaths, murder, and suicide. What will you find?

Tuesday 2 October 2012

Vivian Charlotte Lewis - Died in her racing car

Taphophilia is a passion for and enjoyment of cemeteries. The singular term is a taphophile.

Monument to Vivian Charlotte Lewis, All Saints Churchyard, Bisham Berkshire.

"In Loving Memory of Vivian Charlotte wife of David Lewis Born 22 April 1923 - Died in her racing car at Brighton Speed Trials 14th September 1963"

Vivian Charlotte Lewis was born Vivian Charlotte Hordern on 22nd April 1923.  Search on her life has proved difficult as the spelling of her first name constantly changed throughout official records.  All that is known of Vivian's life is that she married David Lewis in 1952 in Westmister.

Sadly due to the manner of her passing, a lot is known about her death.

"London, Saturday holiday markers saw a woman racing driver killed when her car somersaulted and burst into flames at Brighton today.
The car hit a kerb, exploded and crashed into a children's playground on the promenade.
The driver Mrs Vivenne [sic] Lewis, 35 [sic] of Cookham Dean, Berkshire, was competing in the Brighton speed trials when her Jaguar hit the kerb and went out of control.
Flames shot 20ft into the air as it exploded
Two timing marshals narrowly escaped as parts of the wreckage landed a few yards from their desk. Some of the timing equipment was damaged.
Racing was stopped for 40 minutes after the crash - the first fatality in the 58 year history of the trials.
Mrs Lewis was married but had no children" - The Sydney Morning Herald 15th September 1963.


Seems Vivian was lying about her age, as she died aged 40, not 35.

On that day Vivian was racing a 1958 Tojeiro Jaguar that she shared with her husband.  The actual car that was involved in the accident was sold, restored and recently came up for sale at auction.

Vivian's car restored

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  1. The sad part of Motor Raceing. I find it amazingthe car was restored and sold on but not unheard of.

    1. I believe she may have been one of the first female racing drivers. I was shocked that her death only got a passing mention in the news at that time.

  2. A very dramatic end for poor Viv.
    Bur what a beautiful car - how interesting that it has been restored and is still loved, by someone.

    1. It is a beautiful car. I found it simply by googling David Lewis. Amazing that the twisted burnt out wreckage could be restorted into something so beautiful.

  3. I'm amazed it could be restored after that kind of crash.

    1. It is amazing. Must have been a real labour of love.


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