Brian Morgan
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Brian Morgan

Obituary of Brian Morgan - 1920-1994

With the passing of Brian Morgan at the age of seventy-four, the ranks of those well equipped to keep the heavenly machine in fine fettle have once more been swelled.

Given a grandfather the engineer in charge of the construction of the Blackpool Tower, a father Doctor of Science and a mother, who taught botany and chemistry - it was inevitable not only that Brian should follow a mechanical bent, but that he should want to share with others - often younger and less skilled than himself - his own experience and abilities.

Graduation from Birmingham University in 1940 was followed by a period of war service as a Wing Engineering Officer until demobilisation in 1946. That allowed him to resume married life with Hazel and to take up employment with the well known Birmingham engineering firm of Benton and Stone with their well known trademark of Enots. This was under the tutelage of Eric Milner whose son Pat had been Brian's greatest friend until his untimely death in the last days of the war.

Having become Managing Director of Benton and Stone in 1963 Brian took that firm, whose products had ranged from Aspidistra leaf cleaning tongs to grease nipples so well known to Vintage enthusiasts, via a number of less well advertised components to the forefront of the manufacture of high volume production engineering pneumatics, and from its original home in Aston to Lichfield with the minimum of disruption much to the credit of Mead Barker. For two years Brian had resisted the blandishments of the authorities to take the factory to some distant depressed area and thereby preserved the jobs of a loyal workforce who all looked upon him as someone who would listen carefully and fairly to any grievance. It also meant that recently completed rebuilds could be tested on the ample car park!

Meanwhile his interest in Vintage cars continued and developed through a series of meticulously executed rebuilds. The types of car which received his attention reflect his wide interest - from the Veteran de Dion which his son Paul still exercises on the London to Brighton, via, amongst others, a Springfield Ghost, a 1914 Grand Prix Opel, a Duesenberg engined Bentley, the streamlined V 12 Lagonda to the Speed Six Bentley which set standards of restoration for those then under-appreciated cars and revived interest in what many consider to be W.O. Bentley's greatest achievement. He also assisted greatly in the rebuilding of the 30-98, belonging to the then Editor of the Bulletin, John Stanford.

It was his collaboration with Dick Wheatley, who had recently completed his equally exacting rebuild of a 4 1/2 Bentley, which led to the writing of the two books which made their names pre-eminent amongst those engaged in the restoration of Vintage cars. Indeed the first, which was published in 1957, is a volume which no self-respecting Vintagent should be without. Such was the regard in which the two came to be held that they, often in the company of the late Michael Usher, were in regular demand as Concours judges for the VSCC, the BDC and other clubs as well.

After retiring in 1974, the Department of Mechanical Engineering at Squirrel Walk was busy with all sorts of projects. Whether it was in advising the younger and less pecunious enthusiast with his first vintage car or rebuilding the working parts of more exotic machinery for the older and better heeled member, one could always rely on Brian for encouragement and enthusiasm in the midst of continuing disaster which would have caused lesser mortals to abandon hope. Amidst all this, he developed a hot-air engine and shot regularly at his local pistol club.

All those who knew him know how much they stand in his debt - a debt only too well realised now his helping hand is no longer there. His wide interests made him an excellent companion with time to talk with and listen to others. To the end he maintained his interest in the latest automotive developments - most notably through Paul's achievements at Ilmor Engineering - whilst enjoying the delights of Vintage motoring - most recently in a DISS Delage. None however, will miss him more than Hazel, Paul and his wife Liz and their two children, Patrick and Lucy.

The writers would like to extend their condolences and voice their gratitude at having been privileged to be numbered among the friends of Brian Morgan.

- MRE and BRB

Reprinted with kind permission from and courtesy of the VSCC Bulletin, the official quarterly publication of the Vintage Sports-Car Club. For more information on the VSCC, visit them online at http://www.vscc.co.uk/.