Wow with know-how
DRIVING FORCE: Jonathan Turner’s businesses have made him enormously wealthy, and while he works hard, he knows how to have fun with his money. Sheena Hastings met him.
ONATHAN TURNER is Tigger personified. He bounds down the stairs, hand outstretched, then throws himself down in a chair before hitting the conversational road in true quasi-motormouth fashion. Enthusiasm and a certain restlessness spring from every pore. Conversation canters over the history of the family business he bought out (from 14 relatives) in 2004, the story of the building we’re sitting in – Bowcliffe Hall at Bramham, near Leeds, the HQ of his Bayford Group – and other hand-picked businesses that rent space in the mansion and adjacent buildings, such as a beautifully restored cricket pavilion.
Before long we’ve moved to a pot of tea and carrot cake in what used to be a white, utilitarian, Ikea-furnished “staff canteen”. What the teams (and club members selected by Turner or groups wishing to hire the rooms) get to enjoy these days is what you can only call true glamour.
He watches my face as we enter – how can I put this? – a fantasy man cave of motoring memorabilia set amid bespoke decor installed with the highest level of craftsmanship. I am no motoring enthusiast, but my eyes pop at the imagination, effort and sheer love that have gone into the execution of this by a man who works hard, knows how to play hard – and wants very much to share his private pleasure in exquisite old cars.
“I want people to say ‘Wow!’ 27 times before they leave,” says Turner. His glee is understandable. The walls are beautifully walnut panelled, in the style of a traditional gentlemen’s club. Glass cabinets house Turner’s trophies from the many races and rallies he’s won in his own vintage cars. He says he can’t remember how many he owns, but they include the first 3L Bentley to race at Le Mans, and a gorgeous blue D Type Jaguar, in which he raced the Orient Express across Europe (and won) in 2012. His calendar is littered with race and rally dates.
The rich dark brown leather banquettes are modelled on the back seat of a Mk 7 Jaguar, complete with pull-down armrests that reveal a box for wine bottles. Each
I spotted the jaguar from a taxi in the King’s Road. I just had to have it.