The most comprehensive resource for the early mini fan anywhere

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 Fearing (carburettor /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 asst), 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.

Barry Hawkins

Much as Barry would deny it, he was to all intents and purposes Bunty's right hand man and general manager for most of the 1960. As such there was little that didn't go unnoticed. Barry has very kindly given me a wealth of material from his days at Downton, read his recollections by clicking the link.

David Dorrington

David "Buster" Dorrington worked in the welding department under Jim Penton the welding shop foreman. Jim obviously taught him well as David went on to found and run Maniflow. The finest manufacturer of performance exhaust systems in the country.

Val Gardner

Was one of the early Sales managers and was a personal friend of the Richmonds before working there, Val was the only person ever to call the Richmond's by their first names. Val had a house at Nomansland in the depths of the New Forest where 3/4 of the mechanics's lived. Barry recals; One thing I always remember about Val was, the first week I spent working at Downton was when Daniel was talking to me in the office and Val came in, Val waited until there was a pause in the conversation and turned to Daniel and Said " that new guy you have got, he knows nothing", then Val looked at me and said " Oh, it's you ". Daniel once had a bet with a guy for a case of Krug, that he could beat his Healey 3000 with a Mini at the Burnham-on-sea speed trials. Daniel did win, but Val also beat Daniel with the same car.


Raymond John Sheppard.

Ray worked for the Richmonds from the late 1950's right through to the closure of the works in 1976. Making him one of their longest serving employees. Ray described to me how he used to go past the old Hedlands Garage site on the school bus. He would ogle the old Rolls' & Bugattis’ parked outside and promised himself he would work there one day. Upon leaving school Ray approached the Richmonds who set him on. Ray spent most of his time at Downton as the Forman in the "Top Secret" experimental shop.

Richard Longman

Richard was another long time Downton employee and mainstay of the social club. Both an enthusiastic engineer and tallented driver. The company he formed with George Toth after finally leaving Downton is seen by many people as the natural successor to Downton. Unfortunately Richard was unable to attend the reunion due to a prior engagement, he did however telephone on a number of occasions to check how it was going. (Richard Longman & Co. 01202 486569)

Goerge Toth.

The name George Toth is absolutely synonymous with both that of Downton & Longman. George was employed by the Richmonds from the late 1950's when he was a penniless refugee from his native Hungary. He went on to develop an almost supernatural understanding of Cylinder head design. George was responsible for all the Downton developed cylinder head designs. When Downton closed he went into partnership with Richard Longman and continued designing and grinding cylinder heads until his returement a couple of years ago.

Steve Harris

Steve Harris started as an apprentice at Downton Engineering Works. In 1971 Steve joined forces with George Toth & Richard Longman to form the company Richard Longman & Co. Steve stayed with the company until 1975 when he was asked by Bunty Richmond to return to run the workshops at Downton Engineering after Daniel’s death. Downton Engineering work was at a very low point and after 6 months Bunty Richmond decided to call it a day, so at this point Steve Harris formed his own business.

Gordon Spice

(Worked in the sales department in the mid 60's and went on to drive one of the legendary "Britax Downton Coopers". To read Gordons memories of his time at Downton, follow the link.

Roy Vincent.

The long serving Downton van driver who's

          wife Diane was Mrs. Richmond's home help.

Brian Slark

Brian worked in the Cylinder head shop at Downton between 1967 and 1973 when he left to form his own company Slark Race Engineering. Another died in the wool A Series specialist. Bryan & his son Neil have prepared some of the most successful minis in recent years.

Don Head

came to Downton as junior mechanic. (BH Says) One day he was with me in 860MW when I came far too fast around the long bend towards the notorious narrow ached railway bridge on the London road out of Salisbury. As I came closer to the bridge I could see a large well laden lorry linning up to get through the arch of the bridge. manage to get 860MW sideways with thick blue tyre smoke everywhere with me trying to get the front wheel facing back out the way we had come and very slower it came around, I must have found a low gear and to the road surface, with front tyre almost stationary but turning a great speed , they started to move 860MW back out in the direction we had come, I could just glimpse a large radiator and lorry bumper a hairs breadth from our boot lid. I did not stop and Don never said a word, but we could still hear the lorries horn when we where a long way down the road, A few weeks later Don Head joined the police force from where he recently retired as I believe a detective sergeant (Much safer).He still talks about those mad times to my son who was with him in the police force.

Jim Penton.

         Jim took over from Jan Odor as forman of the welding shop. As well as ensuring the smooth day to day running of this part of the company Jim would be responsible for the design of any new systems as well as the manufacture of the all important patterns used as the masters when forming the production exhausts.

Brian de la Rivas

Not all Downton employees "made the grade", Brian was only at Downton 3 months, but it seems to have made a lasting impression.

Sean Wiles

was another early Downton employee, read what he has to say about his time at Downton by following the link.

Alan Haddock.

Alan joined Downton straight from school in 1962 and worked as an aprentice under Ray Shepherd in the experiments department until he left in 1965. Alan is fourth from the left in the picture at the top of this section).

Barry Beauchamps.

Barry started work at Downton straight from school. He can be seen at the extreme right hand side of the picture at the top of the page.

Bill Abbott.

Bill was never a Downton employee, but he did have a small workshop just down the road from the works. Bills workshop was perfectly situated between the works and the Kings Head pub. Over a 4 year period in the mid 60's Bills small workshop saw an amazing 22 "Downton Social Club" racing minis born.

Bill Quine.

Bill Quine was another tallented engineer who travelled a long way from his home in the Isle of Man to work at Downton. He went on to run his own tuning firm "Manx Racing" and was famous in Mini circles for his amazing "Manx 7 Port" cylinder head.

Dale Clement

Dale worked at Downton in the early 1960's and amongst other things accompanied The Richmonds on a trip to compete "Sophie" the Downton 1275 S in the Nurburgring 6 hour race in 1963. Dale remembers;

"We took Sophie to the Nurburgring 6 hour race in 1963. The car was entered in the 1300 class and was one of the first 1275 engines that Downton ever prepared. The two drivers were Dickie Stoop & Rob Slotemaker (seen on the left talking to bunty, in the PICTURE). Daniel is changing the osf wheel & I'm doing the nsf one). You may notice that the front indicator lenses are missing, they were stolen when the car was left outside the hotel we stayed at the night before. In the race itself, Dickie Stoop took the first stint, unfortunately, Dickie being a slightly portly gentleman, the drivers seat back broke after only a few laps. At the time I seem to remember we were leading the class, but I can't be sure. When Dickie came in, we managed to cobble it up and Rob Slottemaker took over. Rob then drove the rest of the race, I remember his hands were badly blistered at the end of the race through gripping the wheel tightly so as to not put too much strain on the broken seat back.

Unfortunately, although he was lapping quickly, he was only able to finish second in class. The class winner was the Don Moore entered Mini in the next pit to us, driven by Cristabel Carlisle and I think, Chris McLaren. A Merc 300 was the overall winner.

Dickie Stoop had spent the previous week at the Nurburgring lapping in his MG 1100 (Downton Modified) to learn the track. The registration number was OU4 if I remember clearly.

Rob Slottemaker drove from Holland in a Simca with completely bald tires, this was a car he used in his "Skid School" back home.

The Mini was towed to the ring by Bunty & Daniel in their 1100 450AMW, I was asked to go with them as Ray Shepherd was going to either LeMans or the Targa Florio. It was the first time I had been abroad and it was quite an adventure. The day after the race we did a lap of the ring with the Mini on the trailer behind the 1100!

I remember on the way back, on the ferry another Mini competitor, I don't know who, showing Daniel a beautiful polished broken con rod. Daniel told him he would have better spent his time stress-relieving and radiusing than polishing. Daniel didn't believe in polishing con-rods.

Paul Foulkard

used to drive to work in a Lotus 11 and one day I came across the whole back of the removable body laying in the road, which he had not missed until he arrived to clock in.

Martin E. Tew

(assistant sales manager 67 - 68)

Laurence Chester.

Originally haled from Wales after his time at Downton he later became a very successful rally driver.

Mrs. Val Thoughton

(office typist)

Jack Kettle

(parts dept)

Martin Goodall

          started off in the workshop & ended his Downton days after 4 years or so in the sales department.

Graham Davies

Graham Davies, was someone else intimately involved with Downton during the 60's, this time working in the London for Richard Miles.

Colin J. Fisher

(sales dept. 68) Before leaving to take over a pub near Salisbury.

David Hewitt

(parts dept.)

Fred Stokes.

Walter Downs.

Andrew Simpson

Bob Brown

Paul Dorrington.

(Brother of David Dorrington).

Frank Wheal

Frank was one of Downtons early Cylinder head experts. When he left his place was taken by Brian Slark

Sid Lawley

Began as a trainee mechanic and eventually left to Work for Richard Longman and co. He has now become one of Mr. Longmans stalwart engineers.

Peter Vaughan

was a welsh Mechanic that later became quite well know on the rally scene.

Peter Styles.

Peter was an apprentice at Downton for the last year. He writes, " I was only

sixteen back then & was

petrified of Bunty".

Richard Miles

David Lawrence.

John Eyre

Bob Sheriton

David Mitchell

Frank Hackforth

Roger Penton

parts dept)

Graham Paddy

John Coundley

John Hoad

Johnny Harrington

John Peachy-Austin

Jonathan Buncombe

Malcolm Fricker

John Dorrans

Neil Griffiths

Nick Thake

Pete Hepponstall

Peter Crouch

Ray Cheevers

Ray Harris

Tony Brown .

Richard Newton

Rob Noakes

Robin Fearon

Sam Thake

Ted de la Riviere

Over the years that Downton Engineering Works was involved in the conversion & modification of BMC cars there must have been hundreds of employees who passed through this small Wiltshire firm. Some stayed for years others didn't. One thing that most have in common though is that working at Downton left a lasting impression. The people listed on this page all worked for the Richmonds at some time through the 50's, 60's or 70's. Most of these also attended the reunion organised in October 2006 by Barry Hawkins & myself. I hope you enjoy reading more about some of the people who made Downton what it was.

The finest tuner of BMC cars ever.

Working for Downton
Former employees remember their time at Downton