Rovers return to spiritual homes Club members visit houses owned by bigwigs
Ever wondered where the heroes of your favourite marque lived? Members of the Rover P5 Club did, and organised a pilgrimage in August to visit three key sites in Rover history.
Grandest was the house of Rover Chairman Spencer Bernau Wilks, near Monks Kirby in Warwickshire. Set in 12 acres, the property was owned by the Rover Company and is now a convent. It is the location where early scale models of the 3-litre P5 were photographed, with the house providing an aristocratic backdrop.
Having steered the company to success since the Thirties, SB Wilks oversaw the innovative P5 project from its beginnings in the early Fifties.
The P5 Club then went to Leamington Spa and nearby Blackdown House, which belonged to Wilks’ younger brother Maurice. Rover’s then technical chief – and most famously the creator of the Land Rover - lived in the property which is now a Sikh Gurdwara (temple). Its long drive is still lined by trees, and when fallen ones
blocked that drive in 1947, Wilks borrowed a Jeep to clear them. The incident sparked the train of thought that led to the Land Rover.
Finally, members of club visited the home of legendary stylist David Bache, who is said to have designed the grand staircase in the large modern house close to Solihull – as well as styling the imposing shape of the P5. He also kept several interesting Rovers there over the years, including the
one-off P6-based Alvis GTS prototype.
The visits were agreed in advance, and the owners of all three properties were said to be delighted to learn of the great significance their homes had in local history.
David Bache’s imposing and svelte P5 design goes home.
P5 outside SB Wilks’ home.