From Chris Jones, 1st March 2016
Subject; Car badges
Hi, Great site, I have had a few car badges pass through my hands over the last 15 years, I also have some pics of the original membership cards if you want me to forward them - Chris Jones
From Chris Jones, 1st March 2016
Ian, here is a link to a Magazine ad. I remember - Chris
From Chris Jones, 2nd March 2016
I was never a member, I try and look at the history of any “Special” car badges I come across, I have had 3 or 4 Steering Wheel Club badges but nothing at present (They are really sought after in collecting circles). If I come across anything I will drop you a note.
From Ken Farrell, ex-member of staff, 20th March 2016
Hello Ian, I really can't say how pleased I was to find your site. During a moment of reflection, and a wander down memory lane, I googled the steering wheel, and there you were. I worked there from February 1968 until November 1971. My main task was as waiter in the restaraunt, needless to say, this was an immensely enjoyable and rewarding time for me. My recollections of John and Haysie Morgan are very clear, and I remember them with fondness and respect. The atmosphere at "the club" was always convivial , of course the emphasis being on the social side of the motor racing world. The general manager was Ernest Vent, who ran a happy ship in a professional and jovial manner, as you know his brother Frank ran the bar, and was master of cocktails, and Worthington White Shield, (pouring this from the bottle was quite an art, and Frank would always gather an appreciative audience). I have so many memories and one or two stories if they may be of interest to you, the only photo I have, is one informal shot taken on the roof showing myself, Ernest (Ernie) and some other members of staff. Nice people, happy days and great times, I learned a lot at "The Club" and was quite upset to learn of its demise, John and Haysie must have been dreadfully upset. I am not sure if my note to you is the sort of info you are seeking, perhaps not, however should you wish to reply with any questions I shall try to answer as accurately as my memory will allow. Best regards. Ken Farrell
From Ken Farrell, 24th March 2016
I'm really am very pleased that my message was ,or could be of use to you.
There is so much to say and talk of, this may take some time, and will probably form a series of E Mails, as I trickle information through to you. As for my work colleagues, I don't really have to dig too deep, the details are quite fresh in my mind. There were quite a number , some came and went, we did attract a number of foreign students who were "Doing England/Europe" during a gap year. To begin, the attached photo, which was taken by one of the aforementioned students, a girl named Jasna(Yasna) from the now destroyed Yugoslavia.
Left to right; Antonio (Tony) Munoz, Waiter; Cesare, Kitchen Porter; Pat
Byrne, Chef; George Nelson, Hall Porter; Ernest Vent, General Manager,
Ken Farrell, Head Waiter.
Left to right; Antonio (Tony) Munoz, Waiter; Cesare, kitchen porter (he was with us for a short time only); Pat Byrne, Chef; George Nelson, hall Porter; Ernest Vent, General Manager; lastly, holding a pint in true steering Wheel tradition, myself, Ken Farrell, Head Waiter. Shame about the quality of the pic, at least it has survived ! I will give you a more complete list of staff another time, as this mail is going to ramble somewhat.
As you so rightly point out, "The Wheel" was unique, there was nothing like it before, and certainly nothing since to match it. It is
most certainly deserving of preservation, so to speak, I do feel your website will have an impact, it may take time for it to be appreciated and visited, but all of a sudden The Steering Wheel has a real presence in the world, away from the gossip and exagerated nonsense of forums and the like. Not being listed in Wikipaedia is no real loss, let your site fly the (Chequered) flag, and make full use of the unique establishment that was The Steering Wheel.
Regarding Stirling Moss owning the Club, some folk were of that opinion while it was still operating, in fact he was an infrequent visitor, although he lived, and still does I believe, just around the corner in Shepherd Mews. The mix of members was not limited to the motor racing world, but of course almost everyone who visited the Club, did have a genuine interest in motor racing. Brian Blessed would enjoy a sandwich and a pint, Alan Freeman, Warren Mitchell, were casual visitors. The artists, Roy Nockolds, and Michael Turner were regulars, along with photographer Michael Cooper, who was the preferred choice of camera at most major race meetings. Peter Scott-Russell, who was the track commentator at Brands, almost lived there! I don't know how he found the time, as he also ran a very successful publishing business, with his bother James.
The list goes on, but I must mention, John Morgan and his very good friend Dennis Drewitt they would dine together along with "Haysie" and Mandy, (Dennis' lady) a happy foursome, it was nice to witness.
As I have mentioned, happy days !
Do feel free to use my original message as you see fit, although you may want to edit it, I don't mind in the least. I am genuinely happy to help, and I believe that the more information you have to hand will attract more visitors to the site, it is possible that Ernest or myself may be recognised, thus attracting comment and further info from other sources. who knows!
Lots to tell you, but perhaps too much in one go, so i will leave it at that for now.
Perhaps you will let me have your comments, and as I have said, any questions, just fire away.
best regards, Ken
From Ken Farrell, 1st April 2016
Hugh Mynott; Hall Porter 1964 - 1970
Des Egan; Assistant Barman 1967 - 1969
Mabel Connor; Cleaner 1959 - 1969
Joe Holden; 2nd Chef 1966 - 1972 ( Initially Joe was a waiter, then showed a preference for the kitchen, of which he had some previous experience)
John Dewar; Waiter 1960 - 1970 ( John actually was part time )
Gordon Rowlands; Waiter/Barman 1962 - 1966 ( I am not too sure on these dates for Gordon, )
Neville Pinto; Office Manager 1962 - ??? Neville ran the accounts side of the business, monitoring membership subscriptions, along with responsibility for staff wages, invoicing, etc, etc.
Others will come to mind, and of course I will let you have the details as I remember them, I worked with all of those mentioned, Gordon Rowlands only once or twice, as you will see from the dates of employment, Mabel. John and Gordon, were working at Brick Street, before the "move ". You may find that interesting.
After leaving "The Wheel" I did keep in touch, with Ernest, and on occassions would return to help out during busy periods and so on, such as the Motor Show, as you know then held at Earls Court.
Now, these photos ! Not much help really, I do recognise some but names elude me, except for one definite. The blonde haired lady sitting to the left of John (The right in photo) in "Steering wheel social gathering" is Vera Sugg, long time partner of David Benson, then motoring correspondent for the Daily and Sunday Express. She was a regular, living literally 200 yards away. She ran a very successful employment agency (I have my own thoughts on that !!) and will tell you another time !!
As for the two gentlemen, with John watching the TV, definitely not staff, in profile the first (sitting) does have a slight resemblance to Frank, but....... no moustache, and Frank only smoked cigars. If you look closely you will see he is wearing a BRDC Tie, I vaguely remember seeing him, but very rarely. I would say this particular photo was probably taken in the very late 70s or early 80s, as they are watching a video, which did not exist during my time at the club.
Not much more I can say on those points really, I am so very pleased that you find this info. helpful, it is little or no trouble to me at all to give you some background to the Old Place. After all as I have said it does hold very fond memories for me. I am also happy that you like the staff picture, and I have been recognised !! Should I be pleased or careful, as I was last seen on Crimewatch !!!(joking honestly).
I do recall you, I am sure that on your first visit, Haysie introduced you to Ernest as her Nephew, have I got that right. and I do feel that subsequent visits were spent mainly at the bar !!! Happy days!!
Best Regards, Ken
Sarah Jane Lochhead contacted me in June 2016 informing me that her Father and Uncle had both been Members of the Steering Wheel Club throughout the 1950's, 60's & 70's. Following my initial reply she kindly provided the following information:
I was so pleasantly surprised to receive your email and enjoyed reading it. Unfortunately my father James Middleton George Lochhead (Jim) died in 2005 and his brother Alexander David Lochhead (Sandy) died in 1973.
I know my father was a frequent user of the Steering Wheel Club together with his brother in the 1950s, 60's and 70's and used the restaurant on numerous occasions to bring friends to enjoy the ambiance and I think I even went there with my Parents when I was 7yrs old and remember looking at all the racing framed photographs on the wall but was on my best behaviour, if I remember rightly it was a narrow mews house?. I remember once my Father mentioning to me that he was on very good 1st name terms with both Stirling Moss, Graham Hill and found them both very charismatic, friendly and interesting to talk to.
My father was heavily involved with motor racing scene in the early to late 1950's and through the Steering Wheel Club ( I think) they used to arrange Racing Meets where the racing drivers used to race against members and were timed ( I even have copies of original programmes with the number of laps and times etc . If you are interested I also have photographs of my Father racing at Firle and Stapleford which I can scan and let you have copies. I even thought in the past it would be amazing to arrange something similar but with present day motor enthusiasts and racing drivers if this was possible.
This piece of information might be of interest to you. Back in 2007 my Mother received a letter from Adam Ferrington who is a Motor Historian together with a French colleague and was trying to locate the past and present owners of my Father's Delahaye (which I think was originally built in 1938 ). Adam was planning to write a book on the general history of the Delahaye. My father's Delahaye is presently owed by Robbie Walker (his father was Rob Walker who I think has connections with Stirling Moss ). The car is still around has been modified and occasionally raced at Goodwood Festival of Speed and is now worth a lot of money approx. £250.000. I did make telephone contact with Robbie Walker a couple of years ago who said I am most welcome to come and see the car which is being held at Haines Motor Museum but never took him up on the offer but I could always make contact again.
I would really appreciate you thoughts on the above and look forward to your reply.
Sarah Jane Lochhead
P.S. Dear Ian,
I forgot to mention in my previous email, I was extremely impressed with the website of the Steering Wheel Club and only visited the website last Friday for the first time and was pleased that I did so. Speak soon hopefully
From Michael J. Deschamps via Facebook, July 2016
I was a member from about 1975 to 1983. I was also a member The Order of the Road. John always greeted me with genuine warm reception and a firm handshake. I was introduced to John by a lady named Betty from The Little House Club where my mum was a member. I have my Order of the Road blazer crest as well as my tie AND my SWC tie too.
I met a fellow at the SWC who had a Group 6 McLaren and he arranged a test for me. The problem was that the test was at Brands Hatch on a Saturday. British Rail service was pathetic. The train was 20 minutes late and I missed my connection. My motor racing career aspirations were destroyed by a late train.
From Gerry Hall, 6th September 2016
Hi. What a surprise to come across the web site. I had often wondered whatever happened to the old club which held so many memories. To add just a few to your member list: Jack Fairman Douglas Moore Brian and Tony Hegbourne Peter Gethin and of course Stirling was a member with badge number 7. I was a very average race driver (grin) but a member of the club with badge number 32....still got it. Sadly I have no photos to contribute, These days during the week I live not a hundred yards away from 3 Brick Street.
From Gary McGraw - Miami, Florida, 14th September 2014
I love your website! I've collected a few Steering Wheel Club (and Doghouse Owner's Club) items over the years when I can find them on line. My most curious is a small plate that says "Steering Wheel Club" on the reverse, but has an obscure logo with a pink elephant, a checkered flag, and a fish on the face of the plate. It also bears a signature that says "Frank" and the initials F.O.B.M.C. I've tried to decipher this curiosity for years. I've never seen another. The fact that it bears the image of a pink elephant and a fish appears to encourage one to drink like a fish. The best guess at the F.O.B.M.C logo is "Frank's Own Bloody Motor Club." Any ideas? I have a standard "Wheel" ashtray in purple and another in green. Plus the signed dish. I'd love to hear from you, and again, congratulations on the great website!
I was never a member, as I live in America, but I've been a fan since I read about The Wheel in Octane magazine years ago. I stumbled across a small dish on a racing memorabilia site, and from then on I was hooked into hunting down more Wheel automobilia. I've been searching the web off and on for years to find out more about the club. My wife and I visited England in 2009 to go to the Goodwood Revival, and we visited Brooklands (where they had a small exhibit of Wheel and Doghouse memorabilia) and even dragged my wife to Curzon Street to find the former site of the Club. I've had a Lotus Elan for 29 years, so I'm a bit of an Anglophile I suppose. (As a teenager, I enjoyed reading articles in Road and Track about Lotus, F1, Graham Hill and Jim Clark.)
I took a photo of my FOBMC dish to the Lotus Owners Gathering here in Florida a few years back and asked Vic Elford, the 60's British race car driver, if he was a member of the Wheel. His eyes lit up, but he said that he had heard great stories, but that he was not a member. Derek Bell was there too, but I didn't get a chance to ask him. I have attached a card in my possession from which you can glean the member, J.N. Capes, and his number 0327. I have always been curious as to who belonged to the badge in my possession, number 166. I'm sure there is, or was, a confidential list somewhere with all of the member's names and associated membership numbers, but that may be lost to the ages. I've attached an article from the Feb. 2008 issue of Octane magazine for your personal enjoyment, but you'd likely need their permission to post it on your web site. Here are a few of the items in my possession... I've never seen another Steering Wheel Club matchbook or a FOBMC dish. I'm always on the hunt for a Wheel tie.
Do you have any scans of the interior of the Recipes for Refueling book? I'd love to see that!
Thanks for all of your efforts on your web page!
From Sir Stirling Moss O.B.E. 7th September 2016
A brief note, having just returned from a month away, to thank you for your card about the Steering Wheel Club website.
I had a look through it and it is fascinating. I really don’t have anything to add, as I think you have done a great job. Here’s hoping it is visited by lots of interested people!
All the best,
From Tony Brooks, September 2016
Thank you for your card about the Steering Wheel Club and I looked at the website but it did not prompt a comment. Unfortunately I will not be at the Revival & have been unable to attend any public event for two years which have been a very difficult period for medical reasons. I am keeping a low profile until hopefully I beat my problems and wish you well with the Steering Wheel initiative.
All the best,
From Laurence Homes, January 2017
Hi, my father, Mike Homes, was a member of the Steering Wheel for many years, and I remember eating in the restaurant as a child on many occasions. I have very vivid memories of all the memorabilia on the walls, and especially the bent steering wheel that used to adorn the door, I believe, in the lounge area. It's funny, I found one of his old membership cards a couple of months ago, number 0093, which got me thinking about the club, it's very sad to read what happened to it, I was hoping it may still be open so that I could take my children to it, but there you go, things move on I guess! I now carry the card in my wallet as a reminder of both my father and the happy times I spent at the club, I remember the food was always excellent.