Friday, 25 September 2009

Curious Case of Beatrice Blore-Browne

One of the most interesting gravestones in St Tudnos Church on the Great Orme in Llandudno is this one:

'She feared naught but God'

It is the grave of Beatrice Blore Browne - born September 26th 1887 at Middlesboro, Yorkshire, died November 23rd 1921 at Delamere, Penmaenmawr (age 34).

For a long time, mystery surrounded both her life & death; it was believed that she was a racing driver who died in a car crash but the recent appearance of her death certificate reveals that she actually died from cancer. Her inscription concludes with 'She feared naught but God'.

Beatrice was certainly a unique woman - she drove a 10hp Singer car up Old Road on the Great Orme in, I think, 1911 - a daring feat which resulted in a lot of press attention, there are photos of her driving the car and reports of onlookers watching with 'bated breath' as to whether she would make it or not. I think it was this event that drew the attention of the man that later became her husband, a George Wilkins Browne.

He was another unique character - a racing driver who had held the land speed record at Brooklands (110mph I think?) for about 2 years. By 1914, he lived at 'Sunnyside' on Curzon Road, Craig Y Don, and was the manager of the Llandudno Automobile Touring Company which had a garage on Mostyn Broadway. He was renowned for being ruthless in business and there is a long history of lawsuits he brought against various people in the local area. By 1920, he had become Managing Director of Silver Motors Limited. In later years, he also became a councillor on Llandudno UDC.

In December 1920, he became the first person to drive a car both up and down Snowdon. He drove up and down the railway track in an Angus Sanderson 14hp car. This event was filmed for cinema audiences. The ascent took 1 hour 22 mins, the descent 1 hour 5 mins. He was accompanied by two of the staff from Silver Motors Ltd.

In 1920, she changed her name from Beatrice Blore to Beatrice Blore-Browne and was living at a house called Bodeon in Cadnant Park, Conwy. Her death, on the November 23rd 1921 at the early age of 34, cannot have come as a surprise as she had been suffering from cancer for the previous two years. Her unique gravestone has kept her memory alive, a reminder of a woman keen to push the boundaries of what it was considered acceptable for women to do.

Note: I am keen to find a photo of Beatrice to add to this article; if you happen to have one then please get in touch!


Anonymous said...

Thanks for this info - was on the Great Orme last month and saw this gravestone. I've been wondering what it was all about :-)

Tim said...

Did you ever find a photo of her? Another website says her death certificate has her as a spinster, and her name change was by dee poll... sounds even more racy for the time!

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