Obituary

BRIAN MUCKLOW (23.01.1934 – 08.02.2018)

I first met Brian in September 1950, when we started our apprenticeships with the Austin Motor Co. Ltd.. At that time – 16 years old – we already had in common a burning interest in motor cars and we were both learning to drive in our respective parents` Austin Big 7.

During the first 3 years of the apprenticeship Brian and I had little contact because we were always working in different Departments and we attended Technical College on different days. This changed radically during the last 15 months of the apprenticeship when we were both allocated to the Experimental Road Test Department under Harry Broome. During these 15 months we spent most of our working hours together in one car or another. This was the dream occupation for two youngsters with newly acquired driving licences: one day covering long distances on almost deserted Cotswold roads (the record was 365 miles in one normal 8 ½ hour working day), the next day up and down equally deserted roads in the Welsh mountains – all to prove the durability of standard cars over long distances. The next day may then be spent at the Motor Industry Research Association`s proving ground at Nuneaton, driving on Belgian pave, washboard surfaces or highspeed tracks or maybe through dust tunnels or high-pressure water sprays to prove the durability of the vehicles under extreme conditions and the efficiency of the body sealing. The ultimate delight was driving the recently introduced Austin Healey 100 lap after lap at 100 mph on the MIRA high speed track. Once we were chosen to act as mechanics for a press demonstration; this gave us the dubious honour of working together through the night in the almost unlit stable of an hotel in the Lake District changing the gearbox on one of the new, demonstration A60 Cambridges to get it ready for its introduction to the press the next day.

In 1954 Brian was selected to give the response to the toast “Apprentices” at the Austin Apprentices 21st Annual Dinner at the Worcestershire Brine Baths Hotel in Droitwich.

 

 

After completion of our apprenticeships, National Service was due. Brian, being a few months older, started his NS before I did but, due to our similar background experience we were both allocated to REME as potential officers. After 6 weeks of basic training and 10 weeks of preliminary officer training the powers that be decided that neither of us fulfilled the requirements to be an officer of her Majesty`s Army but, instead, would both make ideal Leading Artisan Sergeants. We thus met again on a 10 month course in Borden, where the scope of our abilities was extended from mere cars and light commercial vehicles to include heavy lorries, jeeps, tanks, armoured cars, motor bikes, heavy breakdown vehicles, compressors – in fact every type of motor-driven vehicle and equipment used by the army. Just as we finished the LAS course the Suez crisis developed and we didn`t know from one day to the next whether we would be posted directly to the Suez area or to Germany or Cyprus for later transfer to Suez. As it turned out the crisis was so short-lived that neither of us was sent to the battle area; Brian ended up in Aldershot where he completed his NS and I in Germany where I completed mine.

After NS our careers followed similar but individual paths. We both joined C W Glover and Partners and were seconded to work on nuclear projects; Brian at AERE Harwell and I at AWRE Aldermaston. From there, no longer with C W Glover and Partners, we went on to nuclear power plant construction projects, Brian at Sizewell and I at Oldbury, then followed project management – Brian with Esso Chemical and I with Brown Boveri in Switzerland. Brian`s project management career culminated in the construction of the Fife Ethylene Plant in Scotland – the largest UK construction project of its day. On a subsequent large project – the design and building of the new Esso headquarters building in Surrey – an unique feature of Brian`s project management ability was shown when, due to serious back problems, he carried out the day-to-day management for several months while lying on a mattress on his office desk and thereby increasing the respect of Esso Management, Local Authorities, the members of his own project team and of the many sub-contractors to the project..

During the last months of our apprenticeship Brian met and very soon after completing his NS married Gill. During NS in Germany I met Carita and we married 7 months after Brian and Gill. Recently both couples were able to celebrate their diamond wedding anniversary. Our families have always had close ties and our move to Switzerland more than 50 years ago did nothing to weaken these ties. The Mucklows visited us in Switzerland many times for skiing and summer holidays and we visited them countless times not only in Lymington but also when they were living in Aldeburgh, Brussels, London and Edinburgh.

Brian was passionately fond of every sort of motor sport – in particular – Grand Prix racing. He was a spectator at Silverstone for over 65 years usually with a pit pass, which allowed him to hob-nob with the big names in the sport.  Before and well in to retirement Brian was a much sought after speaker and he entertained  many  clubs and other organisations with lectures based on his first-hand experiences from the Grand Prix world. Also in retirement – unable to do without a connection to the motoring world – Brian spent hundreds of voluntary hours at The Beaulieu Motor Museum helping to organise and make available to the public the massive amount of documents at the museum.

With the passing of Brian two families have suffered a great loss.

Bob Skinner