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Daniel & Bunty Richmond, in the early days.  

       


This superbly evocative image is of Daniel & Bunty when the great success of Downton Engineering works looked more like a pipe dream than a reality. Running a small garage specialising in the repair & restoration of Rolls Royce and other high end cars, they had recently developed a "bit of a side line" in performance conversions. Daniel is seen "playing" a performance manifold for a Morris Minor.




Downton Engineering Works (Circa 1957)   

       


This is where it all began, a very rare picture of the original premises taken over by the Richmond's. Who would have thought where the business started in this quaint little country garage would end up.

      





Early photo (1963) of staff and two cars prepared by Downton.


The car in the background is 700 HCG, an early 1071 Cooper S first registered in May 1963. It was used by Rob Slotemaker & Timo Makinen. This car became a Downton "Hack car" affectionately known as "Sophia" after Sophia Loren, the film star. 176 NWL was "Bunty" Richmond's. personal transport for a while.


From the left - Brian Reeves (mechanic experimental dept), David Miller (mechanic later to become foreman), George Toth (Cylinder head grinder), Andrew? (mechanic), Keith? (mechanic), Robin Fearon (carburetor /mechanic) , Jock? (machinist), Fred Pales (cylinder head assembler), Paul Faulkard (mechanic), Clem? (mechanic), Jim Penton (welding dept foreman), Mrs. Bernard Cahier, Daniel Richmond, David? (sales ast.), Sheila (Secretary/telephonist), Ray Shepard (foreman mechanic experimental dept), Val Gardner (Sales), Tom Penny (Welder),Ray Harris (Foreman mechanic), Junior? (mechanic). Mrs Bunty Richmond and Barry Hawkins where watching from behind the glass of the showroom.




Very nice picture of Daniel Richmond & Bernard Cahier.


Taken outside the "Old" Downton Engineering Works Showroom. This picture was obviously taken at the same time as the one above.




Bernard Cahier and Prince Metternich.


Taken after the 1962 Targa Florio. They set a sensational 50.04 mph average for the Sicilian killer's 447 miles, out lapping some of the Ferraris and placing second in the up-to-two litre prototipi class .







The Mini Cooper 'S' in the picture is a personal export model. Large numbers of cars for export are modified and prepared at Downton.







A skilled operator turning small parts in the Machine Shop at Downton. Quality is maintained by, as far as practical, carrying out all machining in our own workshop.

        


Walter Downs (pictured)

      





A Cooper ‘S’ cylinder head in process of modification. Specialised equipment is used and elaborate precautions taken to ensure absolutely consistent results.

        


(George Toth pictured)

      





The illustration shows a Mini Cooper S power unit mounted on a special test rig with the dynamometer driven through the car transmission. We also test power at the crankshaft by use of a special slave flywheel.

        


(Ray Sheperd pictured)

      





The cylinder head on the left has reached the final stages, whereas that on the right has yet to be processed. Very thorough inspection at all stages is one of the secrets of success.

        


(Fred Stokes pictured)

      






This view shows part of the Welding Shop, where all Downton manifolds and exhaust systems are produced. The manifold in the jig is for the 1800 model.

        


(Jim Penton Pictured)

        


Another shot of the Fabrication shop (Circa 1969)

        


Jimmy Mc Farland (in white), Tom Penny (foreground)

      





In this department cylinder heads are finally inspected and assembled in perfectly clean conditions remote from grinding and machining operations. The completed heads in the foreground are destined for B.M.C's. Special Tuning Department.

      





This equipment, the very latest Crypton Heenan ' Rolling Road,' measures power at the driving wheels. Vehicles can be safely tested at speeds of over 120 m.p.h., and the final tuning can be achieved with great accuracy.

      





The M.G. 'C' has just returned from road test. It is towing an electric fifth wheel speedometer, a super accurate instrument identical to those used by reputable Motoring Journals; thus accurate road testing supplements our elaborate engine and vehicle testing equipment.

      





Mr Daniel Richmond.  

       


The engineering brains and enthusiasm behind Downton Engineering Works Ltd. This picture was taken on the Downton Stand at the "Motor Racing Show" in 1967.

      





Downton Engineering Works (Circa 1969)

        


The Downton Mini van in the foreground was known as "Marigold". The other works vehicle (not pictured) was "William" a Mini pickup.

        





The Bull Hotel In Downton (1967).


The original Downton engineering works were situated next door to this Pub. But even after the Engineering works moved to new premises it remained one of Daniel & Bunty Richmond's favourite haunts. It was also the home of the infamous "Downton Social Club". A collection of employees and friends who would gather to talk racing, tuning and most importantly DRINK!



Barry Hawkins manning the Downton stand at the 1967 Racing car show.


This picture was taken at the same show as the picture of Daniel Richmond further up this page.



Bill Abbott.


Bill Abbott never worked at Downton, but like some others in the Downton area he was a great help to anyone that wanted bodywork etc., done on the own cars as he owned a small workshop at Woodfalls close by. Richard Longman, Sam Thake, Steve Harris, myself and many other spent long evenings working there



Daniel, deep in thought, Galoise in hand.


Daniel Richmond, contemplates the latest Downton innovation, standing in the experimental workshop. The smoke from his "Trademark" Gauloise cigarette masks any smell from the engine on the dyno.



The men who made the A Series GO!.


Daniel Richmond deep in conversation with John Cooper, Issigonis & W V Appleby (Head of the Morris Engines Division). These 4 men were did more to make the Mini & it's A Series power plant a legend.



The experimental shop dyno.


Daniel Richmond examines an 8 port competition engine while it is prepared for a power run on the dyno. Ray Shepherd (experimental shop foreman) can be seen in the white coat.



Preparing a competition 1275 S unit.


Downton employee David Mitchell puts the finishing touches to a 1275 Cooper S unit before it is fitted. Note the Downton designed long manifold for a 45 DCOE weber.



Preparing a competition 1275 S unit.


David Mitchell puts the finishing touches to a 1275 Cooper S unit before it is fitted.



The cylinder head assembly shop.


By 1969 over 100 cylinder heads a week were passing through this department. Where did they all go?





Let the grinding conmmence.


An MG C cylinder head receives the downton treatment. Unlike many of the other tuning companies of the day ALL Downton cylinder heads were ground & checked by hand. No 3D Pantograph mills or other machinery were ever used.





Final assembly .


The valves are lapped in before the final checking procedure.


Every detail is checked.

        

Every single cylinder head that left the Downton cylinder head shop is checked for capacity & consistence of volume.


The MG C gets wings.

        

An MG C type cylinder head on the bench ready for final assembly.



The exhaust store.


All exhaust pipes and manifolds were fabricated on the premises while the silencers, manufactured to Downton designs & specifications were bought in from Burgess silencers in Leicester.



The Works 1974.


This picture was taken shortly before the works closed down in late 1975.



The Works 1968.


Daniel leaves the showroom in thoughtful mood with the MG C demonstrator in the foreground.



The Works 1964.


Daniel & Samantha (the Staffordshire Bull Terrier) pose outside the works in the mid 60's with 3 famous minis on display. HCG700, MCG 777 & UHR 850



The "Family".


A nice informal shot of Daniel, Bunty, Samantha (the dog) and Bunty's Ferrari.


I recently received the following mail;


"My father used to breed Staffordshire Bull Terriers in the 50s and 60s. I know he sold at least one puppy to the Richmonds, presumably the one pictured on your website.


I had no idea how they connected until I saw your site and the picture of the Allard. Presume it was that way, since my father used to sprint an Allard too.


I know he had a drive in a 'Mini Ton Bomb', and was impressed, but it wasn’t his kind of car. From Allards he moved on to a Bristol. "


Jonathan G.



Another new development.


Daniel contemplates further developments using twin 1 3/4" SU carbs.



Bunty & Samantha.


Bunty relaxes at home with Samantha, a rare informal shot. Bunty was never keen on having her photograph taken.



The Showroom & Offices (Circa 1970)


This is a very rare image of the Downton showroom and office as it was in around 1971. This very rare image is courtesy of a downton client from Australia. I will be adding a new page to the site shortly containing some of his memories of Downton.



The Experimental Shop & Daniels Austin 3 Litre


In the foreground of this picture is Daniel’s Austin 3 Litre, a car that he used for many years. It was reputed to have over 300,000 miles on it. The front seat was most firmly Samantha (the dogs) territory. Immediately behind the car is the Experimental shop. I would like to thank Barry Broomhall a downton customer from Australia for this picture & the one immediately above.


Barry has been kind enough to relate the story of a fishing trip taken with Daniel Richmond during Downtons heyday. Click HERE to read this account.


Downton Images
The People & The Works from 1947 - 1976

On this page you will find a large number of images of Downton engineering &the people who worked there.

Regarding Copyright: Where possible I have given all relevant copyright information and have thanked the person who supplied them... This has however not been possible in all cases as the images have come from many sources. If I have inadvertently infringed your copyright, please contact me and I will do everything in my power to come to some arrangement. If however an agreement can't be reached then I will remove any offending images.