Percy E. Lambert
1881 - 1913
(By Andy Lambert)
Very little is know about Percy's early life and the author would appreciate hearing from anyone who has information on this. We know he was born in 1881, the son of Charles and Sarah Lambert. He was survived by his brother and a sister Annie
He went to school and lived in the Westminster area between
1893-98. Later on, he worked with his older brother Harold Charles Lambert,
in the motor trade. They sold Austin and later Singer cars, in Westminster.
Percy first raced at Brooklands in 1910 aged 29. He drove a Streamlined Austin called 'Pearly III'. It is said that because of his vehicle's name, he acquired the Nickname 'Pearly Lambert'. It is however more likely that he had the nickname at school, as a result of his 'Pearly White' Teeth. In his short carrier he became a popular driver, winning seven races and being placed in six more.
He drove a range of vehicles including Austin, Singer, Talbot and Vauxhall marques. As well as being a successful racing driver, Percy also enjoyed winter sports.
Percy and Harold decided to enter vehicle manufacturing and jointly formed the Lambert-Herbert Light Car Company. Their first vehicle was a 10HP 4 Cylinder, that sold for £225. One can only speculate how successful this project would have been, but it was wound up shortly after Percy's death. Had it continued it could have caused some confusion 'across the pond' with the American Lambert Brother's Automobiles.
Percy Lambert, became the first person to cover a hundred miles in an hour, on February 15th 1913. The record was set at Brooklands, Weybridge, Surrey, England), while driving his 4.5 litre 'side valve' Talbot. He successful covered a total of 103 miles, in sixty minutes. As with all records, this one was soon broken. Although no one can take from Percy, that he was the first.
Percy was aware of the dangers of going so fast and promised his Fiancée that he would give up his record braking, after 'one last attempt' to get the record back. Supported as always by brother Harold, the attempt was made on October 21st, 1913. For the first 20 laps he averaged 110 mph, enough to give him a chance at claiming the record back. On the 21st lap a rear tyre disintegrated on the members banking, the Talbot crashed and rolled down the banking. Percy died on the way to the Weybridge Cottage Hospital.
He was greatly mourned by the Brooklands community, who attended his funeral service at St Peters, Eaton Square, en massie. He is buried at Brompton Cemetery in the Old Brompton Road London. His gravestone is inscribed: "A modest friend, a fine gentleman and a thorough sportsman. The first man to cover 100 miles in one hour. Killed by accident at Brooklands Motor Racing Track whilst attempting further records. October 21st, 1913"
Brother Harold withdrew from the sport, and in his capacity of General Manager of Crossley Motors, designed the bodywork for the 25-30 Crossley in 1914. After the war Harold founded The Lambert Motor Co. at 140 London Road Kingston Surrey. They were the Ford Motor Co. franchises for the area until the Seventies. Harold died on the 2nd of March 1937, aged just 59.
Percy is said to haunt Brooklands (now a successful Museum). Many people having claimed to have seen his headless body, wandering through the site. I (the author) am possible a distant relative of Percy and I have been associated with Brooklands since the mid eighties. I actually spent over ten years working on the site, but have not yet meet him. That said I often feel when I am there, that someone is 'looking after me', who can say it is not dear old Percy.
Film of Percy's record attempts is among the oldest surviving film archives of Brooklands' motoring history. An obituary at the time referred to Percy as the best known racing driver in the world, sadly today he is virtually unknown.
John Pulford Brooklands Museum
National Motor Museum
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