Fatal crash brought speed trials at Eastney to an end | Nostalgia

The photograph of the wrecked Aston Martin I published last week was seen by several readers who gave me further information, but most came from internet research.

The wrecked Aston Martin at Eastney. Picture: Colin Hull collection.
The wrecked Aston Martin at Eastney. Picture: Colin Hull collection.

Back in 1958, Ferry Road, Eastney, belonged to the Admiralty and was much straighter than it is today.

John Sextone tells me the road surface was little more than a dirt track.

He says: ‘At that time it used to pass over what is now the yacht marina in a quarter-mile straight.

The original course of Ferry Road, the section used for speed trials and the crash site.

‘When the marina was excavated the road was re-aligned and now makes a sharp right hand turn to the junction of Fort Cumberland Road and turns left at Ferry Road running to the right of the marina and onward to the peninsula where the ferry to Hayling Island departs from.’

On Sunday, May 27, 1958, Alan Overton, 22, drove down from his home near Dorking, Surrey, along with his 19-year-old finance Marie Munroe.

The car belonged to Denis Barthel and was serviced at Rob Walker’s Pipbrook Garage at London Road, Dorking.

Alan was the mechanic who maintained the car and was allowed to drive it at the Gosport Speed Trials which were held at Eastney.

Having set the fastest time in the class, Alan failed to slow at the end, plunged into the sea and was killed.

Denzil Bloy, of Fourth Avenue, Cosham, a marshal at the speed trials estimated Overton’s speed at 95-100mph as he crossed the finishing line.

At the inquest he said: ‘The car changed into a higher gear and continued to accelerate which was very unusual. It appeared to brake violently as it went into the right hand bend but it was too late to do anything about it.’

Another marshal, Kenneth Richards, of Tukes Avenue, Gosport, said the car went into a broadside at the corner, and a third marshal, Ronald Collins, of Fareham Road, Gosport, said that the car struck a telephone stay wire after leaving the road and the car appeared to break up.

Richard Elliott, president of the Gosport Automobile Club, said that he thought Overton made a rather wild start.

He said: ‘When he passed the finish line I was alarmed and angry because all competitors know that after finishing they should slow down. I said to another steward that that young man had better have a warning’

Paul Faulkner said: ‘I was 12 in 1958. As I recall it the venue at Eastney was only used for motor sport events on two or three occasions.

‘I remember going with my father, Ronald Faulkner, who did compete in the sprint on at least one occasion but I don’t think we were there in 1958 when the tragedy occurred.

‘Following the accident the venue was never used again and Gosport Motor Club folded shortly after.

‘I recall the accident as it was the subject of lots of discussion in the motor sport community.’

Summing up, the Portsmouth coroner, Mr PH Childs said: ‘Possibly we shall never know the reason why he did not slow down on crossing the line.

‘You can never entirely ignore the human element and it is possible that even at such a supreme moment as this he may have been thinking of something else.’

The car was rebuilt from the chassis up and later appeared as the Bellini in the 1960 feature film School for Scoundrels starring Ian Carmichael and Terry-Thomas.

On the map we see the original course of Ferry Road and the quarter-mile straight used for the speed trials.

The dots follow the course Alan took to his death.

Nowadays Ferry Road takes a sharp right to a T-junction with Fort Cumberland Road. From that point it is now Ferry Road to the Hayling ferry. The part where I have written ‘original course of Ferry Road' has been dredged out and is now the Eastney Marina.