Randolph Trafford’s Cars


1925 - 1943


Introductory Note: Richard Randolph William Rawson Trafford was Lord of the Manor of a part of Ewyas Lacy by virtue of his ownership of the Michaelchurch Court Estate from 1910 until his death in 1943. His residence in Herefordshire was at Michaelchurch Court in the parish of Michaelchurch Escley, more details of which [and of the Trafford family history] are given elsewhere on the website. Between the World Wars Randolph Trafford became a well-known aviator, and his great-nephew, James Baxendale, OBE, has written an account of his life and times, ‘Randolph Trafford: the Flying Years’ which is reproduced in full elsewhere on this website. Part of that research described Randolph Trafford’s enthusiasm for motor cars, and since its publication James has discovered further details of Randolph’s motoring adventures, described below, expanding on references in the earlier paper. As ever, we are grateful to James Baxendale for his permission to reproduce his research here.

Ewyas Lacy Study Group






Randolph was a car enthusiast.[1] From the age of 18 until his death he owned various cars, a number of which it has been possible to trace.



His first car appears to have been an Amilcar (registration no YK 86)[2] – likely an Amilcar CGS.[3] His 1926 diary records trips in the car in March to relatives’ houses and as far as Cheltenham.



On 23 December 1925, having just arrived in Geneva Randolph’s mother bought her 18 year old son for Christmas a new “closed” Citroën (“Very excited”, he wrote in his diary).


24 December : Got up fairly early went to Citroën place with Tommy … fetched our car.


The speedometer reading was 0. In February, he drove with his mother across the Alps to the Italian lakes and onto Rapallo and Portofino, leaving the car at Genoa for four weeks whilst they returned to England. By the end of February, he had covered 1,490 km in the car.


At the end of March, they returned to Italy to continue the holiday. They drove the car down to Florence, before returning to Geneva via Venice, Bellagio, Lucerne and Interlaken. Randolph stayed only a week in Geneva before driving to Dieppe via Paris (and presumably on to England). Nothing further of the car is known.


Rolls Royce Silver Ghost

On 23 April 1928, shortly after his twenty-first birthday, Randolph wrote in his diary, whilst he was living in Geneva, “saw Rolls Royce”. On 30 April, he wrote, “bought Rolls Royce”.


Rolls Royce, Switzerland, May-June 1928


The Rolls in question was a 1922 Silver Ghost, chassis no 2HG.[4][5] He likely bought it from the Rolls Royce agent in Geneva, Albert Schmidt SA.


Rolls Royce record for chassis no 2HG


On 1 July 1928, Randolph drove the car to England (“crossed to Dover”), taking the car to Rolls-Royce on 2 July (presumably in London).[6] He subsequently registered the car at Michaelchurch Escley,[7] the UK registration number being VJ 989.[8] On 31 August, he drove the Rolls to see his sister at Stoke Hall in Derbyshire.[9] In his 1929 diary, a few other trips are recorded, as well as his extensive mileage in the car.[10]




Randolph’s Rolls Royce Silver Ghost (VJ 989) at Michaelchurch


Randolph kept the car just two years, subsequently selling it on 17 April 1930 to University Motors in Notting Hill Gate, London.[11]



               Subsequent owmers of Rolls Royce chassis no 2HG                  Final DVLA record for

          VJ989, 1948


Lagonda 2 litre low chassis

On 25 April 1930, Randolph bought a Lagonda 2 litre low chassis tourer (registration number GF 8843).[12] He likely bought it from Lagonda Distributors Ltd in Albemarle Road, close to the Royal Aero Club where he stayed when in London. In his 1931 diary he makes several references to the Lagonda, principally trips with his mother. On 24 June, he wrote,


Mummy and I went to Hereford in evening in Lagonda and collided with a Morris. Borrowed Riley from garage …


A photograph of the car at Michaelchurch, taken on 12 August 1931 (the ‘Glorious Twelfth’), and a short ciné clip of the same day, also exists.


Lagonda 2 litre low chassis (GF 8843)

in front of Michaelchurch Court,

12 August 1931


Randolph’s Lagonda GF 8843 in 2018[13]


Hedley Wilding, who would have serviced the cars, remembers Randolph owning the Lagonda,[14] which he dates to 1931-32 and which he particularly remembered for having front wings which moved with the wheels.[15]


Citroën C6 Saloon

In April 1929, Randolph bought a second Citroën in Geneva, presumably for daily use whilst in Switzerland.[16]


Randolph’s Citroën C6 Saloon


Citroën C6 Saloon

Randolph’s mother in front of the Hôtel Carlton-Parc, Geneva

May 1929[17]



Wilding remembers in addition a Sunbeam, which Randolph may have bought after the Lagonda. No trace of this car appears to exist; Wilding may have been mistaken.[18][19]


Hedley Wilding’s garage, Vowchurch


Daimler Double Six

Randolph took a trial run of a Daimler Double Six on three occasions in late 1928.[20] It appears that at some stage he may have bought a 1931 Daimler Double Six, London registration number GO 5360 or GO 5366.


1931 Daimler Double Six 50 Sport


J Francis[21] or Cooper in front of a 1931

Daimlet Double Six (reg GO 5366/0)


On 22 April 1935, Randolph wrote to his mother :


Lacayo is going to fly someone down to Michaelchurch on Thursday next to look at the Daimler, so will you have the ?Sausage up and tell Cooper to meet them, also to have the Daimler running. They will want to try it up and down the drive so he had better warm it up first.[22]


HudsonEight Drophead Coupe

In 1935, Randolph bought a British-built Hudson Eight Drophead Coupé[23] (registration number beginning BYH),[24] The body is by Coachcraft, making it possible to identify the car as being likely chassis 542579.[25][26] Randolph still owned this in 1940 and, given the war, it was likely his final car before he was killed.[27]



1935 Hudson Eight Drophead Coupé

Randolph with his mother (and nieces), 1940


1935 Hudson Eight Drophead Foursome Coupé[28]


Wye Valley Auto Club

Randolph was President of the Wye Valley Auto Club[29] for a number of years, and hosted various competitions of the club at Michaelchurch Court.[30]  According to Wilding, the Auto Club used to hold time trials down the front and back drives of the Court.  Somebody was directed to stand at the entrance to the Court to ensure that no cars were coming in the opposite direction when the cars sped out of the drive onto the road.[31] 



A newspaper article, which appears to be dated June 1932,[32]reported:


On Sunday, at the Weir End, Ross-on-Wye, a motor rally was held under the auspices of the Western Centre of the Auto-Cycle Union.  Over 100 motor-cycles and cars were present, whose drivers took part in the various sports and competitions such as chasing an aeroplane piloted by Mr RRWR Trafford, egg and spoon motor-cycle race, three-legged football match, and guessing competitions.


Mr Trafford also gave a demonstration to the gathering of how not to fly, an exhibition which provided plenty of thrills and excitement for the onlookers. …



[1] He held motor licence number 166666.

[2] YK’ indicates that the registration number was issued in the London area between June-July 1925.

[3] According to Rod Martin of the Amilcar Register (email dated 23 March 2018), the car was likely an Amilcar CGS, similar to one with registration number YK 98, which was registered on 22 June 1925.

[4] Identified thanks to extensive help from Sharron Bland of the Records Department of the Rolls Royce Enthusiasts Club (RREC).

[5] Chassis no 2HG ; Model: Silver Ghost ; Type: Alpine Eagle ; Body: 4 seater open touring by Gangloff (initially shipped as a sporting 2 seater) ; Horsepower: 40/50 ; Engine no: P446 ; Tyres: Dunlop. The car was initially sold on 18 October 1922 to Albert Schmidt SA, 29 Quai du Mont Blanc, Geneva, the Swiss agent for Rolls Royce.  The cost of the chassis was £1,850. Albert Schmidt sold the car to Baron Jean-Jacques (Johann Jakob) von Bonstetten.[5] The car was shipped from the Rolls Royce showroom, Lillie Hall, in Fulham on 5 February 1923 to Boulogne.

[6] 1928 diary, entries for 1 and 2 July.

[7] Either Michaelchurch Court or The Cottage. Randolph lived with his mother in The Cottage between 1929-1931.

[8] ‘VJ’ was the series for the Herefordshire area between June 1927 –April 1937, numbers being issued in sequence from 1 to 9999.

[9] 1928 diary.

[10] December 1928 : 290 Miles ; 21/01/29 : 748.5 Miles ; 30/01/29 : 323.8 Miles ; 28/02/29 : 734.2 Miles ; 13/03/29 : 433.5 Miles ; 30/03/29 : 756.4 Miles. The car averaged between 11.9-17.8 mpg. The annual car tax was £16.

[11] University Motors sold the car in July 1931 to Walter Sherwin Engall (1888-1936) of Thames Cottages, Riverside, Staines. Engall had been the chauffeur to the Prince of Wales (later George V), and subsequently established a car dealership. He sold the car in August 1934 to Brian Howard Baker (1892-1987), a renowned amateur all round sportsman (principally in football and high jump) and later businessman in Liverpool in the family firm, Vauxhall Soapery, which produced soap and chemicals. The car’s history between 1934-48 is not known. However, in December 1948 it is recorded in the vehicle tax registration records as a Rolls Royce Silver Ghost with a P446 engine, with a weight of 2 tons 1 cwt 91 lbs. The owner is noted as John William Barrett (1895-1975), a dairy farmer of Mill House Farm, 92 New Street, Halsall, nr Ormskirk in Lancashire (Herefordshire Records Office). It is not known for how long Mr Barrett owned the car. He was still living at Mill House Farm when he died in September 1975. The car’s history since 1948 is not known. Registration number VJ 989 is no longer held at the DVLA (letter from the DVLA, 18 May 2018).

[12] Body type: Tourer T1; Type: SM OHL.T; Number: 1414; Chassis number: OH 96; Engine number: SL958.

[13] The car was purchased by James Baxendale in January 2019.

[14] Information also from Motor Sport, April 1975, p 362.

[15] Interview with Hedley Wilding, 16 August 2007.

[16] His diary entry for 25 April 1929 records “Bought Citroen” and on 29 April “In morning tried car”.

[17] Photograph in the possession of Michael Sheppard and Francis Sheppard. The Hôtel Carlton-Parc is now the headquarters of the ICRC.

[18] It has not been possible to identify this car. Sunbeam ceased production in 1935. The models produced between 1930-34 were the 25hp, the 16hp (known as “18.2”), the 20hp (known as “23.8”), Speed 20, the Twenty, Dawn and the Twenty Five.

[19] Wilding’s son, Robert, the current owner of the petrol pumps and shop, retains the old record books of their customers but, sadly, they only date back to 1948. Robert Wilding to James Baxendale, 8 September 2018.

[20] 12 and 13 October and 6 December 1928.

[21] Mr J Francis worked for the Trafford’s as the odd job man, including acting as chauffeur.

[22] Letter from Randolph to his mother, 22 April 1935. In the possession of Michael Sheppard.

[23] The cars were assembled by Hudson Essex Motors Ltd, Great Western Road, London, from parts shipped over from the US. The coachwork on Randolph’s car was likely by Coachcraft.

[24] The registration number, ‘BYH’, indicates that it was registered in London between May 1935-June 1936.

[25] Email from John Dyson and Toby Sharp of the Hudson Essex Terraplane Club, 3 October 2018. The car appears to have been finished in black.  The only other Hudson Eight Drophead Coupe by Coachcraft was chassis number 543710, but it was painted in Alice blue.

[26] Interview with Hedley Wilding, 16 August 2007. Wilding remembered the car as an Essex Terraplane, the predecessor to the Hudson Eight. Randolph’s ownership of an ‘Essex Terraplane’ was also noted in the April 1975 edition of Motor Sport (p362).

[27] In Switzerland, Randolph owned a Citroën.

[28] Don Butler, The History of the Hudson (1982), p189. Thanks to Paul Butler, the webmaster of the Hudson-Essex-Terraplane Club, for identifying the model.

[29] Formerly the Wye Valley Motor Cycle and Light Car Club, the Club was founded in the early 1920s. It was responsible for the last Speed Trial held on an English public road in Hereford on 4 April 1925 (the ‘Hereford Sprint’). Randolph, aged just 18, may have seen the Hereford Sprint, although he is unlikely to have participated in it (VSCC Bulletin, Summer 2019, no 304).

[30] Obituary, Hereford Times, 23 January 1943.

[31]  Interview with Hedley Wilding, 16 August 2007.

[32] In the possession of Guy Sheppard.

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