Monday, 21 November 2011

Bearwood Legend: Ken Wharton


I just love this video that Bill Munro sent welovebearwood about Ken Wharton. Everybody looks so smart - not sure about the smoking though!

Both Robin Hanny, who sent us some great info about Ken earlier in the year, and Bill Munro are researching into Ken's life and we would love to know if you knew Ken.

Did you ever see him race? Were you one of the two thousand people who attended his funeral? Did you ever get your car serviced at his garage? Please tell us about your link with a real Bearwood legend by emailing us at

A P.S from Robin Hanny:

The garage in the newsreel clip was in Hume Street, Smethwick. most of which sits beneath the ASDA car park. The lady doing the smoking which, incidentally, almost everybody did then, was Jean, Ken's sister. She worked at the garage alongside Ken's father and mother.

I know her children Kate, Sarah, Caroline and Ken (whose full name is Ken Wharton Emms). Jean married after Ken's death, when the garages had closed down. Kate and Sarah have been particularly helpful in my researches. Incidentally, if there was local interest, we could always put on a Ken Wharton exhibition, or I could do a talk about him. I have many photos, press cuttings and magazine articles.

If you want to see more Bearwood newsreel footage from early 1957, go to the website of MACE Archive, key words Ken Wharton, and you'll find TV newsreel footage of Ken's funeral. You will see Bearwood Road, St Mary's Road and church, the crowds and some very famous 1950s racing drivers, many of whom got killed in the 50s.

There is also a glimpse of one of the first Mercedes Benz 300SL Gullwings which, althoug driven by a blonde, was owned by another garage owner/racer called Bill Whitehouse. He was killed racing in April 1957

Incidentally, Ken, his sister Jean and theirmother and father are buried in the same grave in Quinton cemetery. A large blackmarble edifice.

1 comment:

  1. I saw him compete at Prescott Hillclimb in 1954 I believe when I would have been aged 7. I am checking the event date with a Prescott archivist. It rained most of the day I remember. My Father was a close friend of Phil Scragg through the textile industry. I remember water spray standing upright off the rear wheels of the fast cars. I also collected Kens autograph that day! Stanley Rooney