A short history of 61XJ by William Morrison
|It is not our intention here to go into the intricate makeup and specification of the Rolls-Royce Phantom II model, but rather to concentrate on one particular car chassis 61XJ.
The chassis (short) was ordered by Car Mart Ltd. of 46 50 Park Lane, London W1. on 15th October 1929 and was to have springing to suit a Weymann saloon weighing approx. 9 cwt, usually seating four.
This chassis was fitted with a most handsome and light Weymann sporting saloon body by H J Mulliner, a Rolls-Royce subframe being utilised. The fabric and wings were finished in black with the interior leatherwork in blue with rubbed in black effect Connolly Vaumol Luxan Grain hide.
The completed car was delivered in February 1930 to Capt. Leslie George Wylde. Leslie Wylde would appear to have had exemplary taste in motor cars. All of the known Rolls-Royces that he bought new were all fine, light and sporting looking cars.
The initial history of this particular Phantom II was involved with two men Leslie George Wylde and Leo Francis Howard Schuster. Although Francis (Frank/Frankie) Schuster (1852 1927) was dead by the time Leslie Wylde bought 61XJ, he was intrinsically linked with Wylde and his wife Wendela and was important to the story which emerges below.
Leslie Wylde was born in New Zealand in 1893 to George and Sadie Wylde, joined the Canterbury Infantry Battalion in 1914, lost a leg at Gallipoli in August 1915, and ended up recuperating in England where he no doubt looked up an old family friend, Frank Schuster.
Frank Schuster was the original owner of a Rolls-Royce Silver Ghost, 72CE. On the first of two Rolls-Royce ownership cards for 72CE, four things in particular stand out under L F Schuster - 22 Old Queen Street, W1 - The Hut, Monkey Island, Bray - The Long White Cloud, Bray and All communications to: Leslie Wylde, 22 Old Queen Street, Westminster.
As will be seen above and also noted from service visit reports to do with 72CE from 1923, Leslie was in charge of the Schuster car/s and, we suspect, could have been acting as Schuster’s secretary and general help. Leslie Wylde referred to himself as Schuster’s nephew. A photograph of Frank Schuster and his friend Edward Elgar, from 1904, was published in ‘The Elgar-Atkins Friendship’ by E Wulstan Atkins. This showed the Elgars with Schuster at their home, Plas Gwyn. They were about to take a ride in Schuster’s Fiat and standing by the car was his secretary Barry presumably Mr Barry. It is therefore possible, given the above reference to Leslie Wylde as the person to contact, that he initially worked for Frank Schuster as his secretary/driver and was then accepted into the family of Schuster and his sister, Adela.
Frank Schuster was a wealthy supporter and patron of the arts and Elgar in particular, who he much admired, furthering Elgar’s music in every way possible. Schuster generally surrounded himself with the leading artists and musicians of the day and there were a number of other recipients of his generosity such as Ivor Novello and Siegfried Sasoon.
It is suspected that the source of Frank Schuster’s wealth was connected to Schuster, Son & Co., merchants and bankers of Cannon Street, London EC. Both he and his sister entertained lavishly at 22 Queen Street.
In 1924, Leslie married Wendela Boreel, a well known artist of the time and, from all available evidence, Frank Schuster enlarged The Hut and renamed the property The Long White Cloud in recognition of his young friend and his bride. The Land of the Long White Cloud was a name given to New Zealand by Maoris who arrived on canoe voyages.
Describing friends of Elgar, the Grove dictionary of music noted: Colleagues; cultivated men of substance who delighted in furthering his career, such as Rodewald in Liverpool, Kilburn in Bishop Auckland, Speyer and Schuster near London; and later in life, men of letters, Sir Sidney Colvin and Bernard Shaw.
When he died, Frank Schuster, besides leaving Edward Elgar a reasonable sum of money in his will, left Leslie Wylde a very substantial sum and presumably The Long White Cloud, as Leslie and Wendela were to stay there in future years until Leslie’s untimely death.
This then was the world that 61XJ inhabited for just over a year Leslie did not keep his Rolls-Royces long. However, we do know that before his marriage and whilst Frank Schuster was alive, Leslie drove Schuster on the Continent, sometimes for three months at a time and was noted by the visiting Rolls-Royce inspector as giving every indication of being a fast and furious driver! This was raised when a particular problem on 72CE was being addressed.
Whether Elgar or any of Frank Schuster’s other well known friends kept in touch with the Wyldes after Frank’s death, we will never know, but it is tantalising to think that Edward Elgar or Ivor Novello might just have sat on the rear seat of 61XJ, to be wafted along by Leslie or even driven furiously!
Leslie Wylde’s last illness occurred during a motoring trip to the continent in 1935. He died in Folkestone on the 29th May 1935, aged 39, from acute delirium, convulsions and acute gastritis.
The next owner of 61XJ, from May 1931, was Harry Stuart Goodhart-Rendel Esq. (1887 1959) of 13 Crawford Street, London W. On purchasing the Phantom, Harry Stuart Goodhart-Rendel sent the car back to H J Mulliner to have a division fitted and, thereafter, the car is supposed to have been used exclusively by him to travel to his house in the South of France. This work also consisted of fitting a rear luggage grid and supplying two side mounted spare wheel carriers. It is assumed that whilst H J Mulliner were fitting the new division, they also modified the front wings, creating wells for the spare wheels, and mounted the new wheel carriers, one to either side.
Harry Goodhart-Rendel attended Eton and Mulgrave Castle, Yorkshire, Trinity College, Cambridge and studied music at Cambridge with Sir Donald Tovey, becoming a Bachelor of Music Cant. He also gained a Master of Arts from Oxford.
|He was an architect of renown, practicing in England from 1909, and for a time in the South of France as well but possibly more well known for his books about architecture. To quote from the Concise Dictionary of National Biography: he began an architectural practice, 1909; had comprehensive knowledge of Victorian architecture from which his own work was a vigorous and original development; became Roman Catholic in middle life; his later work was mainly concerned with churches; his buildings were less important than his devoted services to the profession as a scholarly personality of eloquence and wit. He served in the first world War in the Grenadier Guards from 1915 1919.
Harry Stuart Goodhart-Rendel was awarded a CBE in 1955; and was also, at some point, a Fellow of the Society of Antiquaries. A clever and artistic man, other interests were pattern and material/textile design, leaded lights, geometric patterns for tiles, decorative pierced stonework, maze design, houses, public houses, churches, fretwork screens, bookcases and presumably other items.
When he died on 21st June 1959 his addresses were given as: 114 Eaton Square, London, SW1. - The Old Parsonage, East Clandon, Guildford. - Villa St Maximin, Valescure St Raphael, France (Var.).
On his death, the car was left to his godson in Worcestershire but, after a few months, he, in turn, passed the car on to a local garage owner who, in addition, had local industrial estate interests. The garage owner had driven the car briefly and had not taken to it but, having the storage space, 61XJ was put to sleep for thirty odd years under cover in what must have been relatively dry conditions, although not thoroughly ideal. In fact, when purchased by the next owner who did re-commission and use the Phantom sparingly, the tax disc showed that Goodhart-Rendel had taken the car off the road in 1947, twelve years before he died. This purchase took place in 1990/1.
The storage possibly saved the original Weymann (fabric) body as it is still in superb condition and needed very little attention during the rebuild other than attention to the wood frame at the rear. So many of these fabric bodies have disappeared due to the light construction and materials used, allied to water ingress.
When purchased in 1990/1, the new owner decided to remove the division, fitted in 1931. The spare wheels, originally mounted on the rear, were, as we have seen, side mounted. These wheels were re-instated on the rear of the car, the side-mountings were removed and fibreglass covers were made up to fit in the top of the wing recesses. That is how the car was used throughout the 1990s and early 2000s until bought by the present owner who commissioned the rebuild by Alpine Eagle in 2003. When delivered to Alpine Eagle, the wings and wheel discs were painted a mid/dark blue.
As far as the chassis, engine and running gear were concerned, after removal of the body, this was a full and most comprehensive rebuild, to exacting standards. The front wings were returned to their original form, minimal repair was carried out to the body frame at the rear and the original fabric was checked thoroughly and cleaned. New running boards were manufactured incorporating tool boxes and were replicas of the original boards and boxes which were too dilapidated to renovate.
The wings were painted in black. Sadly, the door trim panels were not able to be re-used - but were kept nevertheless. The car was re-trimmed in a burgundy leather with fawn West of England headlining.
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Acknowledgements: Alice Margaret Reynolds, Alan Wylde, Anne Mulcock, Dr Alison Kuiper, Richard Russell, Mrs Leonie Nicholas