|Ellen Maskrey and Tom Sopwith|
Stella’s mother – Ellen Maskrey – had a passion for motor racing and was described by a family as ‘one of a kind’. She had met Tommy Sopwith at Brooklands before the First World War and had even become engaged to him, although they did not marry. Sopwith married his first wife – the Hon. Beatrix Hore-Ruthven – in 1914 and the marriage lasted until her death in 1930.
Can you tell me a little bit about your mother as well, because obviously your mother didn’t work for the company.
No my mother didn’t work.
But years before had a connection, she know Tommy Sopwith didn’t she?
She was actually engaged to him.
She was engaged to Tommy Sopwith.
That was his first engagement. I think he got married twice after that, but my mother escaped. But, yes she did, she was into motor racing, which according to my father was not what ladies did. But this one did and she met him at Brooklands. And for a long time they were racing together and she got very interested in aeroplanes of course. So when my dad had to think of something else to do I think she persuaded him into Hawkers. But I am not sure why she didn’t marry Tommy Sopwith. But, probably wouldn’t have lasted because he wasn’t very good at marrying.
Do you remember did she ever talk about …?
Oh yes, she talked about him quite a lot.
Right, can you remember any of the stories about him?
Well, apparently he was very impatient and he liked everything to go his way. And you know, he used to get cross with her if she did anything wrong when she was driving. She was quite a strong person herself that was another thing, so I think she sort of was good for him. And I think she was very fond of him and she said he had a mind of his own and wanted everybody else to do things his way.
I asked her sometimes about him because I was quite interested because he still had a name of course, you know, aircraft wise. So she told me, you know that, yes she had intended marrying him. And I might have been a Sopwith – but there we are. I think they sailed as well quite a lot.
Right well of course sailing was his sort of first love wasn’t it?
So this must have been before the First World War because he got married …
Yes, yes it was.
He married his first wife, that was Beatrix wasn’t it? He married his first wife in 1914. When she knew him that must have been before the First World War. And her family name was Maskrey?