Brian Thomas Shakespeare
1936 - 2019 - 'The Vanguard Doctor'
Many Club members and particularly Vanguard owners will be saddened to learn that Brian Shakespeare passed away on Saturday 29th June, shortly before his 83rd birthday. His funeral was held at Chesterfield Crematorium on Friday 12th July. I had known Brian since shortly after my purchase of my Vanguard in 1992 and he was a great help with advice and sources of parts during its restoration from then until 1997. He repeated his help with the restoration of my Swallow Doretti, a car he called the 'Vanguard kit car.' I’m sure many owners have been grateful to him over many years.
Brian once told me had owned some 27 different Vanguards since the purchase of his first soon after leaving the army after his National Service. Perhaps his fondness for the model came from that time as many were operated by the military. Vanguards were ideal for climbing the hills around Matlock where he lived with his lovely tolerant wife Maureen and their two daughters, Sally and Emma. I describe Maureen as tolerant because Brian had a whole room in the house racked out with Vanguard spares and at one time, a back axle under the stairs as well as a workshop and spares in an outhouse.
Brian with 'Nellie' and his wife, Maureen
I only knew the last three of Brian’s Vanguards, a red TR4-engined Phase II pick up which was off the road for the whole time I knew him, a Phase 1A saloon fondly known as Nellie and a Phase II saloon, which he acquired when he had a bit of trouble with Nellie, of which he was so fond she could almost be described as his ‘other woman.’
Brian took Nellie to rallies as far afield as Norfolk, the Midlands and the south of England, always towing a caravan and often with Maureen and his daughters. He’d already had to take early retirement from his work as an electrician because of heart trouble, but he’d always be happy to dispense advice and friendly criticism to any Vanguard owner and would often help with that elusive part. He’d carried out various modifications to Nellie with Phase II parts and fitted stronger springs for towing, as a result of which, her rear end was far higher than that on my estate car.
Even when in later life he’d had several health scares, heart attacks and strokes, he refused to give up and could still be seen locally at events at places close to home until three or four years ago. After that, the toll on his health was just too much and he became virtually bedridden, though was very ably cared for by Maureen. The last time I spoke to him was in April this year when I was on the Club’s East Anglian Run. We had two Phase II Vanguards, my 1A estate car and a couple of Phase IIIs; I thought he ought to know, so I phoned to tell him. Though clearly very unwell. he perked up at the mention of Vanguards!
Maureen had originally wished for Brian to be transported to the crematorium in a Vanguard estate car, van or pick up but sadly they are a little too short. As the next best thing, the hearse was followed to the crematorium by five Vanguards, my Phase 1A estate from Warwickshire, Ian Leggett’s Phase II from Suffolk, Paul Robins’ Phase II from Kent, Peter Foster’s Ensign from Lincolnshire and finally, Paul Green’s Vignale Estate from Sheffield. As a relatively new member, Paul had never even met Brian but was happy to come along and pay tribute to him, which is what a club is all about. We met the hearse in the car park of the Duke of Wellington pub in Matlock and as it arrived, at Brian’s request, all the bonnets were raised as a salute to the Vanguard Doctor.
Inevitably, Vanguards and Brian’s love of them were mentioned in a tribute to him by the celebrant at the crematorium. All the Vanguards made it home, showing what good long-distance classics they are, though they will now have to manage without the Vanguard Doctor who will no doubt now be tending to those Vanguards that have left this earth.
RIP Shakey - you will be sadly missed.