Sunday, 14 March 2010

CHARLIE BARRETT - Speedway Flyer

Arthur Charles Leatham Barrett was born May 2nd 1907 in West Hartlepool.

Charlie was a member of the Middlesborough Motor Club, competing in hill climbs, grass track races and the famous speed trials on the beach at Saltburn during the late 1920s. Charlie also rode in the very first dirt-track meeting at Cleveland Park, Middlesborough on August 23rd 1928. Middlesborough were running on an open licence in 1928, staging 16 individual meetings, but the following year they entered a team into the Northern League with Charlie as their captain. The first official match was against Salford on ay 16th and joining Charlie in the Middlesborough team were James "Indian" Allen, Frank Harrison, Alec Hill, Charlie Sanderson, Jack Ormston and Norman Evans.

On May 31st, Middlesborough registered a massive 43-18 victory over Sheffield and both Charlie and Norman Evans went through the card unbeaten. Later in the season Charlie had a brief spell at Preston before moving down to Wembley where he stayed for the rest of the season and right through to the end of the 1930 racing programme.

Following his departure from Wembley Charlie did some racing on the continent and raced around the bull-rings of Spain during 1932 alongside fellow Teessider Cliff Parkinson and Eva Asquith from Bedale. By 1938 his occupation was listed as "contractor" and he had also taken up a new hobby - flying. He gained his Royal Aero Club aviator certificate at the Newcastle Aero Club on June 11th 1938 flying an 85 hp De Haviland 60 Gypsy.

During the second world war Charlie joined the RAF reserve and married Doris Nicoll in 1940. He was stationed in the North West where he delivered fighters from the airfields at Walney Island, Cark and Haverigg to the frontline stations in the South East. He had attained the rank of Flying Officer by 1941. In the former RAF museum at Haverigg there was a display of memorabila and photographs of Charlie in his flying days. 

Following his retirement from the RAF, Charlie continued flying and set up his own company, Northern Air Charter. He purchased an Airspeed Consul, but he was involved in an accident on October 25th 1950 when the undercarriage failed whilst attempting to land at Seaton Carew, Hartlepool and the plane was written off.

He married again in 1948 and moved back to Cumbria, where he became the landlord of the King William IV pub in the village of Kirksanton, near Millom, just down the road from RAF Haverigg where he was stationed during the war. He continued his interest in motor sports, taking part in scrambles, beach races and trials. He also became interested in the new sport of Kart Racing and was involved in the opening and running of the Kart Track at Rowrah, near Whitehaven.

Charlie died in Cumbria 1983.

(Thanks to Nigel Bird for his invaluable help with additional information)

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Whitehaven, Cumbria, United Kingdom
Disenchanted City Boy who rode out of the fast lane and into the back lanes! Life on Two Wheels is so much fun.