Percy E. Lambert

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Percy Edgar Lambert (1881 - 31 October 1913) was the first person to drive an automobile a hundred miles in an hour.

Funerary monument, Brompton Cemetery, London

Early life[edit]

He was born in 1881, the son of Charles and Sarah Lambert. He joined Westminster City School in 1892[1] and lived in the Westminster area between 1893-98. Later on, he worked with his older brother Harold Charles Lambert, in the motor trade. They sold Austin and later Singer cars, in Westminster.[2]

Percy first raced at Brooklands in 1910 aged 29. He drove a Streamlined Austin called 'Pearly III'. It is said that because of his vehicle's name, he acquired the Nickname 'Pearly Lambert'. It is however more likely that he had the nickname at school, as a result of his 'Pearly White' Teeth. In his short career he became a popular driver, winning seven races and being placed in six more.[3]

He drove a range of vehicles including Austin, Singer, Talbot and Vauxhall marques. As well as being a successful racing driver, Percy also enjoyed winter sports.[3]

Percy and Harold decided to enter vehicle manufacturing and jointly formed the Lambert-Herbert Light Car Company. Their first vehicle was a 10HP 4 Cylinder, that sold for £225.[3]

World record[edit]

Lambert became the first person to cover a hundred miles in an hour. The record was set at Brooklands Weybridge, Surrey, England on 15 February 1913 when driving his 4.5 litre side valve Talbot. He actually covered 103 miles and 1470 yards in sixty minutes.[2] There is a film of his exploits at the Brooklands Museum which was made on that day.[4]

Percy Lambert’s record in 1913 was a huge publicity coup for Clement Talbot, and generated much public interest. He achieved it in a car with a fairly standard chassis and an engine of only 4.5 litres displacement, whereas the only other attempts on the record that had come close were in monster racing cars of 9.1 and 15 litres.[2]

Death[edit]

Lambert was killed at Brooklands on 21 October 1913, while trying to regain his land speed record from Peugeot. He averaged over 110 mph for the first 20 laps but a rear tyre disintegrated on the 21st lap and Percy was killed. Percy died on the way to the Weybridge Cottage Hospital. This happened two weeks before Percy was due to marry his fiancee and give up racing.[2]

Burial[edit]

His funeral service was held at St Peters, Eaton Square.[2] He was buried in a streamlined coffin to match his car at Brompton Cemetery, London.[5]

His Epitaph read: A modest friend, a fine gentleman and a thorough sportsman. The first man to cover 100 miles in one hour. Killed by accident at Brooklands Motor Racing Track whilst attempting further records.[3]

On his final record-breaking attempt, Percy Lambert covered 20 laps before his rear tyre burst, sending the car out of control and causing his death. The Ghost of Percy Lambert has been reported as appearing[3] in various locations around the club house area, along with a number of other ghosts.

Notes[edit]

  1. ^ "Memorable OWCs Page 2". Old Westminster citizens Association. Retrieved 14 June 2013. 
  2. ^ a b c d e Donnelly 2013.
  3. ^ a b c d e Lambert 2009.
  4. ^ "Percy Lambert 100 miles in the hour Centenary". Brooklands Museum. 2013. Retrieved 14 June 2013. 
  5. ^ Brompton football equipment training folding at brompton.org at www.brompton.org

References[edit]

External links[edit]