Lost Alvis friends

 

Nicholas Parsons who died today aged 96, pictured last year in Scarborough against an inappropriate sign. A film, TV and radio personality who retained his love of Alvis to the end. Photo Robin Willmott

Not an Alvis but an Atalanta, the last restoration project of Barry Ward, serial 3-litre Park Ward and Graber restorer who died unexpectedly on 20th December at the age of 55. The funeral service is on Friday 31st January at Reepham Church, near Lincoln and afterwards at the Petwood Hotel, Woodhall Spa. Our condolences to his parents who were to celebrate their 60th Wedding Anniversary the weekend of his passing.

Author: alvisarchive

Driving Alvis cars since 1964 and the website since 2012

5 thoughts on “Lost Alvis friends”

  1. Very sorry to read today of Nicholas Parsons demise. In 1972/3 he and I used to meet regularly, but on an unplanned basis, at Tollerton and Burke the Alvis service enterprise near Camden in NW London where I would deliver my Alvis TE21 saloon JWT 71C and he his drophead Coupe. He always had a cheery word for me and a commanding eye for the mechanics to keep his car immaculate.

    We met by accident about 20 years later when seeing me from a distance and crept up behind and whispered ‘Tollerton and Burke’. There then followed an amusing resume of all the characters who worked there. Nice man.

    Best Wishes, Barrie Warrener (4747)

    1. From Robin Willmott: I was very sorry to hear on today’s news that Nicholas Parsons CBE has passed away. Here are some pictures of him when he came on a nostalgia trip to Scarborough for the BBC One Show, reliving the days when he starred at the Futurist Theatre for The Summer Season. At this time he drove an Alvis TE 21 cabriolet over which he enthused, so as a treat he and his daughter were chauffeured along Scarborough seafront in my TF21.
      Fortunately the film crew called a wrap just before a sudden horrendous storm which caused serious flooding ,so the sunshine roof was quickly closed and the wipers worked overtime going home.

      1. In 2015 Nicholas corresponded with the Bulletin to correct a story as follows: Live Radio 4 has a spot where people can ring in and publicly thank benefactors whose identity they have never discovered.
        Nicholas Parsons did so and will I hope, forgive us for summarising his story a little as it goes into text. Latterly he has been best known as the host, (in his early nineties!), of “Just a Minute” but this relates to his acting career, specifically starring in “Boeing Boeing” at the Duchess theatre near the Strand in the late 50’s. He was privileged to have a parking space reserved for him by the Commissionaire enabling him to drive there “in his lovely Alvis car” and park in front.
        But on this day there was a terrible traffic holdup occasioned by the Queen Mother’s visit to the Opera at Covent Garden. He was very very late. He was stuck fast in the car just short of the theatre. He became quite desperate. “When you are really in that state”, he explains, “a sort of amazing force moves you to do something dramatic.” He went to the car in front, opened the door and spoke to the passenger.
        “Can you drive?” “Yes”
        “Can you drive an Alvis? It’s a manual?” “Yes”
        Nicholas explained he was on stage at the Duchess Theatre just down the road in 10 minutes and could the passenger drive the car down there
        for him, the Commissionaire would take the car from him. He then ran down to the theatre. Normally there was a check to see everybody was in 30 minutes before curtain up, in case the understudy was needed, On this occasion for some reason, the Company Manager had failed to do this, and the show had actually started but not this time! He dashed in. Changed. No time for makeup. Into the wings. Heard his cue and went on. At the interval came his first chance to wonder, ”Is my lovely car there? What’s happened” He went to see. Indeed it was there, tidily parked in front of the theatre.
        “He saved my professional career and the show. Maybe he’s still alive,
        maybe he has told a relation the story. I would love to know who he is
        and thank him! “
        He wrote “I am still a great lover of Alvis cars. I am so pleased the story appealed to you. I can assure you that at the time I have never felt in such a desperate state but as you have heard, it all turned out fine, except I did not thank my kind unknown friend!!
        This is to thank you for the copy Bulletin referring to the article you wrote about me, when I was in my Alvis and could not get through the traffic to appear on time at the theatre, which was an adaptation of what I said on Radio 4. I read it with interest, being a lover of Alvis cars. It made me very nostalgic for the days when I owned one. For your information, my first Alvis was a TD – a drop head – I also had a TE and I was told that I owned the last TF to come out of the factory. Perhaps someone more knowledgeable than me can confirm about the TF. I was told by a Mr Geoghegan that someone who does research on ownerships said that my last Alvis was now somewhere in Japan! But that was a few years ago. I was delighted that you included the story in the Bulletin and it brought back many happy memories of my Alvis period and, who knows, maybe someone may still contact me in response to the story.
        Keep up the good work with nostalgia in writing about these wonderful motor cars.
        Very best wishes.
        NICHOLAS PARSONS

      2. From Dave Culshaw – Nicholas Parsons 1923-2020, Alvis owner ( 26758 and 27232 ), with a life story nearly as long as the marque.

        It must be well over twenty years ago that one morning the phone rang, and a voice said ” Nicholas Parsons here “. Having got over the initial shock, and established that it really was the great entertainer himself, the reason for the call emerged. ” I am informed ” he said, ” that you may be able to locate the present whereabouts of the TE21 which I once owned.”
        The reason for this enquiry was that the marriage of Nicholas’s son was imminent, and he would like to borrow the said car for the occasion. The good news was that I found it fairly promptly, the bad ,that for some reason it was not available. So, a plan B was hatched and a call to then Chairman Nick Walker who resided not all that far from the then Parsons abode in Burford, resulted in his well-known SB Speed Twenty being pressed into service instead. Whilst Nick generously refused any payment, Nicholas offered to assist in any appropriate capacity, and so it was that I invited the man himself, to present the prizes at Midland Alvis Day, I think 1996. It was one of my more memorable moments when Lesley and myself were delegated the job of showing Nicholas and Annie around the attending cars with the appropriate explanations. I have kept up the occasional contact with N.P. ever since, and will be ever grateful for the photograph of himself with 27232, which he gave me for page 98 of my Three-Litre Book. Following his move to London, Nicholas never quite made it to one of the Mayfair meetings, despite invitation, such was his busy schedule. He did however meet up , not long ago, with Robin and Judy Willmott, for an urban ride round Scarborough, in their TF 21, for which cine footage still exists.
        A truly remarkable man, with such a prodigious memory, that he never had recourse to an autocue.
        His autobiography ‘The Straight Man’ can be recommended for anyone desirous of knowing more about this versatile and talented genius.
        He is greatly missed for his sincerity, bonhomie, and erudition.

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