Queen’s South Africa, 3 bars, Cape Colony, Orange Free State, South Africa 1902, Lieut later Captain Richard Henry Townshend, Rifle Brigade, died in Glendale, California, United States during 1975.
He was a relative of Group Captain Peter Townshend, Battle of Britain Flying Ace, also remembered as the scandalous lover to Princess Margaret, the Queen’s Sister, during the 1950s.
“Years ago, when I was in the racing game, I was taught by one of Italy’s racing men. He told me that if you wanted to stay alive there were fundamental rules you had to keep. Never for one split second allow your eyes to stray from the place you want to go, the faster you go the further ahead you must keep your eyes.” R.H. Townshend in a letter to the Los Angeles Times, 1963, defending the accumulated skill of drivers over the age of 60.
Richard Henry Townshend was born on 18th November 1883 in Cheland, Winchester, Hampshire, the son of Lt Colonel Gerard Paul Townshend and Frances Priscillia Mary Annesley.
He grew up in the sprawling stunning estate of Caldecote Hall, over 1200 acres, dating back almost 1000 years.
However the story of his very Wealthy Grandfather was of more humble origins, and not the gift of an aristocratic birth.
His grandfather was a Self Made Millionaire of his time, Captain Henry Townshend had been a Captain in the 88th Connaught Rangers and was a renowned Agriculturist, Sheep Breeder and Sportsman, who seems to have made his fortune as a Director of Allsopp’s Brewery. He had bought Caldecote Hall in the 1880s, rebuilding it adding a full size neo-gothic minstrel gallery to hold lavish dinners and impress members of Victoria High Society. His extravagance however got the best of him and landed him in some serious debt.
Richard Henry Townshend, was naturally educated at Eton, and was barely 17 years old when the Boer War had been declared in South Africa.
Promoted to Captain with 7th Battalion, Rifle Brigade on 27th July 1900, London Gazette 16th October 1906.
Following the end of his time as a Full Time Army Officer, soon followed the death of his Father, Lt Col Gerard Paul Townshend, in 1909, the probate amounted to over £160,000 and soon afterwards Richard set off for America and Canada.
He emigrated to Canada in 1909, and was found on the 1911 Census living in Calgary, Canada.
He was also travelling around the United States around this time.
Returning back home from Canada, landing at Liverpool on 18th January 1913, he intended to stay in the UK having been a resident in Canada.
It only took about 3 months for him to present himself at Brooklands Race Course in June 1913, taking part in the first races run on Benzol in place of general Petrol.
He seems to have used some of his inheritance to land a place in the “Private Competitor’s Race”, riding his 48.4 Sheffield Simplex Motor Cycle.
There appears to be a picture of him taken at the wheel of his car in 1909, with an article about him in the Motor Car Journal Volume 11, 1909, a snippet of the article “Capt R. H. Townshend at the wheel of his Sheffield-Simplex Six Cylinder gear-box-less car, Capt Townshend writes that he has now driven the car over 4,000 miles, and that it is the most delightful car to drive and…”
Sheffield Simplex had used him in their advertisements as he was an early buyer of their new car.
The Scotsman 23rd June 1913:
“MOTOR RACING AT BROOKLANDS
Good handicapping again was witnessed in the private competitor’s race, which was won by Robertson Shersby-Harvie from scratch, on a 30 rating Roland-Pillain, at 91 Miles an hour for 5 3/4 miles, beating R. H. Townshend, on a 48.4 Sheffield Simplex, which had 18 secs start, by 4 lengths.
After O. D. Pollok, on his S.C.A.R., had carried off the 75 miles an hour handicap at 70 1/4 miles an hour from scratch, Hancock scored another brilliant success in the 100 miles an hour short handicap, which he won from Townshend on the Sheffield-Simplex at the highest speed of the day, his pace being over 97 miles an hour for 5 3/4 miles.
2 p.m. – THE JUNE PRIVATE COMPETITOR’S HANDICAP (The entrant of the winner to receive a cup value £15, the second a cup value £10, and the third a cup value £5.) For motor cars, to be driven by private competitors of the Brooklands Automobile Racing Club. Distance, about 5 3/4 Miles.
Mr R. Robertson SHersby Harvie, 30.0 Rolland-Pillain “Buster” (scratch)….. Owner 1
Mr R. H. Townshend, 48.4 Sheffield Simplex (6 Cylinder) (18 secs handicap)….. Owner 2
The Hon R. Westenra, 15.9 Hispano-Suiza (1 min 12 secs handicap)…. Owner 3
Won by 4 lengths, with a hundred yards between the 2nd and 3rd. Five cars finished in a bunch. Winner’s speed was 91 miles an hour.”
With the possibility of being required for service with the United States Army, he was signed up for the US Army Draft during 1942, he was 59 years old, and living at 12949 Bloomfield Street, North Hollywood, Los Angeles, California, United States.
He Later died in Glendale, Los Angeles, California, on 15th August 1975.