Bobby Parkes ~ 1924 - 2009 - Died 15-07-2009
GHF Parkes ( George Herbert Farrer ) – Aged 85 - Born in Hale Barns, Cheshire.
Bobby Parkes was a very eminent person and a very skilful and successful rally driver.
A true English gentleman always immaculately dressed and usually smoking a cigar with one hand and a glass of Grouse in the other.
His main sports were rallying followed by snooker and bowls and was always a great sportsman both in winning or losing and he also liked fishing and shooting.
He lived in his early to mid years with his parents at Hale Barns and then the Majestic Hotel at St Annes, until moving to Morecambe in 1937 to ‘Red Bank House’. Half way through the war his parents built a large house on top of a hill and named it ‘Ridgefield’ both in the Bolton-le-Sands area.
During a term at Malvern School he fell down some stairs and broke his back and was transported home in a makeshift ambulance, his father removed the passenger seating from his Rolls Bentley and travelled home in style. His father was the Chairman/MD of Don Brake Linings manufactured by Small & Parkes, Middleton, Lancs. After leaving school Bobby joined the Company and became the Sales Director, known to all staff as ‘Mr George’. At this time he was living in Barton near Preston and he would leave his Aston Martin DB2/4 Registration Number UWL 333 in the railway station car park, travel to Manchester, be collected by a chauffeur driven car and on arrival at the factory gates, the security gate staff would stand to attention and salute ‘Mr George’.
He joined Morecambe Car Club in 1953 where he honed his driving skills to competition level. And after living for several years at the Majestic Hotel at St Annes, he teamed up in 1956 with the Hotel manager’s son, Geoff Howarth. Bobby also had the services of Brian Howarth who between them competed on numerous events in the UK and Europe with great success in Bobby’s cars and winning the BTRDA Championship in 1957. He would think nothing of entering his own Aston Martin DB2/4 in events like the Acropolis Rally and driving to and from the start in Athens. The Aston was followed by a stream of Jaguars XK120, XK140 - Registration Number KFR 712 - currently on display at Holker Hall museum - and 3.8 saloons and ex works Austin Healey 3000s including the famous lightweight DD300 (which he eventually sold for £850.00!). Bobby finished 8th overall on the 1959 Monte Carlo Rally and was highly delighted to receive the Coupe de l'automobile de Monte Carlo, presented to him by H-RH Princess Grace of Monaco and leading the Jaguar Team to victory. The following year he won an Alpine Cup on the 1960 Coupe des Alpes and many, many more International awards totalling 200 in all.
He also lived at the Midland Hotel, Manchester for about two years which was nice and handy for the factory in Middleton. And being the Company Sales Director he had a great time in travelling the world and in 1960 Small & Parkes (1700 employees at it’s peak) was sold to CAPE and Bobby remained the Sales Director for a few years; it was eventually taken over by BBA Mintex.
Bobby continued rallying in the UK and enjoyed the services of nearly all the top-flight navigators in Ecurie Cod Fillet, of which he was a very proud and treasured member. In 1963 he was invited to lead the new ‘Works’ Reliant Sabre Rally Team where with Arthur Senior they certainly made the headlines in International rallying.
Competing on the Night Hawk rally in his MK1 Lotus Cortina with Tony Mason and always one for a ‘tipple’ or two or even three, he mentioned when about to start a rally Stage on Oliver’s Mount, Scarborough, that he’d noticed there was a case of champagne up for the Ftd – and that he was very partial to a drop of ‘champers’ and thought he would have a go. Well sure enough he did, he ripped out about 150 yards of hedging in the process and missed the prize by 2 seconds.
Bobby lived at Garstang with his son Alan until 1970 and then moved again to Hest Bank, Morecambe. In 1976 Bobby married Maureen and they lived at Coastal Rd, Bolton-le-Sands.
Not one to shirk his duties once he had finished rallying, he was involved over the years with the following, Director of Lancaster City Transport Ltd, elected as the Conservative Councillor for Bolton-le-Sands in 1983, a Councillor on Lancaster City Council for 8 years, Chairman of Lancaster Environmental Health and Licensing Committees, Chairman of the Planning Committee, Governor of several local schools, served on the Road Accident Prevention Committee, Hon Member of the Motor and Cycle Trades Benevolent Fund, Chairman of Lancaster Midas Investment Club, member of Morecambe Bay Probus Club, President of Bare Institute Ltd, subscribing member of the Vale of Lune's RUFC for many years, instigated and organised the MB Probus Club annual Bobby Parkes Snooker Championship and a proud member of the Chartered Institute of Marketing - M.instM.
The last rally that Bobby competed on, as a last fling, was the 200 mile Morecambe Illuminations rally in 1991 with yours truly, I was amazed at his skilled determination, a sheer joy to be in such company and such committed driving. British Motor Sport has lost one of its greatest ambassadors, a true and utter loss.
Bobby has been married for 33 years and leaves his devoted wife Maureen - who tended to his care over the last four years of illness - and daughter Julia and his much adored son Alan, together with his treasured grandchildren, Joseph, Ashley, Megan and Miles.
R.I.P. 'Mr George' - We all salute you.
July 2009 – Don Barrow.