The Page Motors Family
William Richardson Page was born in Ovington, a very small village in Norfolk, in 1882, son of farmer Thomas Page (1853-1942) and Susan Richardson (1856-1940). In the 1901 census he was an engineer's apprentice in Ovington and by 1911 he was in Epsom as a motor engineer (employer), living in a seven-roomed house called 'Heatherton' in College Road. In 1907 he had been fined £3 with costs for racing a motor cycle against another man along the Dorking Road at the then considerable speed of 31 miles and 440 yards per hour. In 1909 William was up before the beak again, for driving a car in Cheam at 27 miles and 772 yards per hour, and, despite calling in his defence Mr Basil Braithwaite
, the High Sheriff of Surrey (who had travelled in the car several times and said that it was incapable of even 20 mph), he was fined £5.
Waterloo Cycles, 5 Waterloo Road
Boy racer William's original business was the Waterloo Cycle Works in Waterloo Road, which had been founded in 1907, and he turned it into an engine works. At some point soon thereafter he had premises at Number 2, East Street. He then opened a larger concern at Number 78 High Street: this had formerly been the premises of veterinary surgeon Thomas Skilton and, before that, of the Andrews
No 78 High Street, premises of Thomas Skilton, 1908
Page Motors at No 2, East Street in 1912
The firm maintained its High Street presence, having expanded to encompass Numbers 74 to 78, until about 1976, when the site, opposite what is now the Ashley Centre, became the Indoor Market and then Wilkinsons.
Page Motors at 74-78 High Street
Page Motors had already established a branch on the Nonsuch Trading estate, in Kiln Lane, in the 1960s, but progressively transferred parts of the business to 24-28 East Street. The firm is now a subsidiary of Page Holdings Ltd, along with other motor businesses, such as Wedd & White Coachworks of New Malden: among the directors are descendants of William's son, Victor Charles Page.
24-28 East Street
Page Motors Brochure
A post war photo of Bryan Page, and his cousin William, eldest son of
Sqd Ldr. Wilfrid Thomas Page in one of Page Motors' earlier models.
Note the Spitfire Hurricane tail wheels on the car
In 1911 William, who later became a local councillor, married Esther Olive Polhill (born in 1891), daughter of Epsom pork butcher Charles Polhill, and they had nine children.
Eight of the Page children in the mid-1920s (Bryan came along later).
Left to right: William Richardson Junior, Victor Charles,
Wilfrid Thomas, Dennis Gordon, Leslie Alfred, Douglas George, Olive Mary and Robert Walter.
William Richardson Page Junior, known as Ritchie and also a motor engineer, died aged only 16 in 1928.
Wilfrid, known as Tom, was a test pilot with the Parnall aircraft company of Bristol. He was called up in 1939 and became a Sergeant - Pilot and later Squadron Leader. He requested, and was granted, permission to paint the Epsom and Ewell coat of arms on his Hawker Hurricane Mark II.
Tom with his Hurricane bearing the Epsom and Ewell coat of arms
In a 1942 newspaper report Tom described a low-level Hurricane raid on German positions in Normandy, in which he had taken part. He said,
'After crossing the French coast navigation was difficult because of the haze, but we found the German camp all right. Light machine-guns opened fire from the ground, but I replied with my guns, and the firing stopped at once. I still had my finger on the gun button when I let my bombs go and none of us was more than 30 ft high when bombing. Then I turned so that I could not look back and when I had counted off the second allowed by our delayed action bombs there were terrific explosions. Smoke, dust and debris rose to a height of 200 ft or more, and it looked as though the whole camp had been blown sky high. We made quite a mess of it. It was a beautifully planned show and, except for one small bullet hole in my Hurricane, not one of our aircraft was hit. On the way back we saw our Spitfire escorts beating up other targets. They did some particularly good shooting on a goods train. It came towards them head-on and they fired down the whole length of it.'
Squadron Leader Wilfrid Thomas Page RAFVR, was killed in action in 1943, aged just 29; he was flying Spitfires out of Grottaglie in southern Italy and is commemorated on the Malta War Memorial and the Battle of Britain London Monument
William Richardson Page Senior with Tom
Victor Charles Page (1913-82) remained involved in the business and his son, Richard Lewis Page, originally an engineer, was an MP for many years up until 2005 and a district councillor for Banstead from 1968 to 1971.
William Senior died on 11 June 1952 at the Royal Masonic Hospital, London W6 and Esther in 1967. They were buried in Epsom Cemetery, as were some of their children.
Linda Jackson November 2012
Most of the images on this page are courtesy of various members of the Page Family