The History of Shuttleworth
Old Warden Park is owned by the Richard Ormonde Shuttleworth Remembrance Trust. Richard Shuttleworth inherited the Old Warden Estate on his 23rd birthday and took a keen interest in farming and estate management as well as in motor racing and aviation.
He was killed flying in 1940 at the age of 31 and four years later his mother Dorothy Shuttleworth founded the Trust as a permanent memorial to him.
Joseph Shuttleworth (1819-1883) was born the son of John and Rebecca Shuttleworth of Dogdyke in Lincolnshire, where he inherited a boat building business. He formed a partnership with Nathaniel Clayton, an iron foundry owner in Lincoln. Together they set up and developed a successful engineering firm, Clayton and Shuttleworth, and specialised in building steam engines and agricultural machinery.
Joseph Shuttleworth married Sarah Grace Clayton in 1841 and had two sons: Alfred and Frank.
Colonel Frank Shuttleworth
Frank the younger son was partly educated in Germany and France. He served in the 7th Hussars, becoming a Captain in 1877 and Major in 1882, first serving in Ireland and then being sent to India for 4 years.
One of his favourite sports was steeplechasing and he owned a string of horses. On one of his horses, 'Matador', he won 9 out of 14 steeplechases he entered. On his return from the army to run his Bedfordshire estate, he bred his own horses and was elected a member of the Coaching Club and then of the elite Four-In-Hand Club.
Frank was also a fine yachtsman and owned a succession of sea-going yachts, and was an active member of the Royal Yacht Squadron.
He was Chairman of the family firm, Clayton and Shuttleworth and a Director of the Great Northern Railway, Frank also was one of the original members of the Bedfordshire County Council. In 1902 he raised the Bedfordshire Imperial Yeomanry of which he became Honorary Colonel.
Dorothy Clotilda Shuttleworth
At the age of 57 in 1902 Frank Shuttleworth finally married. His bride was Dorothy the lovely 23-year-old daughter of the Vicar of Old Warden. Frank introduced his bride to his many activities, taking her on a round the world trip in 1906. The diary she wrote together with the photograph album still exists recording their route.
Theirs was a very happy marriage but was not to last long, as Colonel Shuttleworth died in 1913 leaving his young widow to bring up their only child, Richard who was born in 1909. Dorothy married again in 1914, Brigadier-General William McClaren Campbell who commanded a battalion of the Black Watch during the Great War. They had a daughter Anne born in 1917, who also grew up at Old Warden as her father died in 1924 leaving Dorothy a widow for the second time. Dorothy Clotilda Shuttleworth having been born at Old Warden, spent the rest of her life dedicated to the well being of the Estate, to the village, to the employees, and the tenants, as well as being involved in many local activities.
It was she who founded the Shuttleworth Trust of which she remained chairman until her death aged 89 in 1968.
Richard Ormonde Shuttleworth
When Richard was a young boy he was happiest tinkering with cars and any available mechanical device and often got into trouble at school for arriving late to lessons covered in grease. He passed out of Sandhurst as a 2nd Lieutenant in the 16th/5th Lancers, and during his time in the army, he pursued various sporting interests like his father had done. According to his father's will he finally came of age at 23 and inherited the family fortune and was then able to concentrate on the management of the estate. He was also then free to pursue his mechanical interests, which became more and more his main occupation.
Richard built up a sizeable collection of old cars, and somewhat later, aeroplanes, restoring them to working order. These now form the nucleus of the Collection at Old Warden Aerodrome, which was also constructed by him. He had a very successful racing career, culminating in the winning of the first British Grand Prix at Donnington Park in 1935 driving his 2.5 litre Alfa Romeo Monoposto. He raced at Grand Prix worldwide and participated in the South African Grand Prix where his car went out of control and he was badly hurt. This led to his retirement from motor racing and he took up flying because 'it was safer'!
When war broke out in 1939 Richard joined the Royal Air Force and was posted to RAF Benson for night flying experience. On the night of the 1st-2nd August 1940 he was flying a cross-country training exercise in a Fairey Battle, but was killed when his aircraft crashed into a nearby hill.
Dorothy Shuttleworth, although devastated by the loss of her son, set up the mansion as a Red Cross Convalescent Home for injured airmen and created a small chapel, dedicated to Richard. In 1944 she decided to place the estate in a Charitable Trust in memory of Richard; she wanted to ensure that it would continue as one entity to be used for the purpose of agricultural and aviation education, two interests that Richard was especially keen on.
Shuttleworth College first opened its doors to students in 1946 based inside the main house, today the College is thriving and is closely associated with Bedford College.
The Collection did not open to the public until 1963, but has increased in size since opening and its regular air displays draw crowds from all over the world.