Richard Ormonde Shuttleworth

16 July 1909 – 2 August 1940

Richard Ormonde Shuttleworth was born on July 16, 1909, at Old Warden. The Manor House was built in 1872, and the family wealth came from the long-established firm of Clayton & Shuttleworth, agricultural engineers and steam-wagon makers. He was fascinated from a very young age with any mechanical object, retaining his enthusiasm throughout his life for objects ranging from a new tool in the workshop to the operation of a supercharger on an aircraft engine. His wide interest in a variety of mechanical objects and his collecting of them formed the nucleus of The Collection.

Richard’s enthusiasm was also directed at the estate resulting in his election to ‘President of the Bedfordshire Agricultural Society’ in 1935, and in various steam-powered machinery.


At the age of 23, Richard Shuttleworth inherited enough money to enjoy his passion for racing and aviation.

Richard purchased his first vintage car, the 1897 Panhard Levassor, which he ran in the Brighton Run. The car had previously taken part in the Paris-Amsterdam race. Around the same time, he also bought his first aircraft the DH60X Moth (G-EBWD), both of which are still part of The Collection today.

Richard was a keen horseman, and owned or drove a large number of cars including Bugattis, Alfa Romeos, Railton, a 2.3-litre sleeve valve Arrol-Aster, Rolls-Royce, and a vintage Jowett. He also enjoyed motorcycles and once owned a sleeve-valve Sparkbrook. He also enjoyed steam-powered vehicles such as his 1901 Locomobile.

Richard the racing driver

Richard went on to have a successful racing career, which included winning the International Donnington Grand Prix Car Race at Donington Park in 1935, driving his Alfa Romeo Monoposto. Enjoying racing immensely Richard went to South Africa for the East London GP in January 1936. He was driving an Alfa Romeo, fitted with de Ram shock absorbers. Dissatisfied with the handling Richard’s concerns were realised when the Alfa left the road and he was seriously injured. His mother, Dorothy Shuttleworth was unable to fly out for health reasons so travelled via ship, but Richard remained unconscious for 19 days. He didn’t return to England until April, and the accident ended his racing career.


Richard Shuttleworth racing in his Alfa Romeo, 1935

Richard the pilot

After recuperating, Richard turned his interest to aeronautics. He was particularly interested in historic aircraft and would track down abandoned aeroplanes, then restore them to pristine condition in what is now the Engineering Workshop here at Shuttleworth.

When war broke out in 1939, Richard joined the Royal Air Force and was posted to RAF Benson. In the early hours of 2 August 1940, he was flying in a cross-country training exercise in a Fairey Battle aircraft and was killed when it crashed into a nearby hill.

Richard’s legacy

Dorothy kept Richard’s collection alive in his memory, and many more exhibits have been added since. Despite his early and untimely death, the legacy of his passion and enthusiasm for restoring marvellous old vehicles and aircraft to their former glory to be enjoyed lives on today at Shuttleworth. Follow the Richard Ormonde Shuttleworth trail to explore these exhibits.

In Richard’s honour, the ‘Spirit of Shuttleworth’ trophy is awarded to the sprint participant that most embodies the fun and enjoyment of racing old cars, at our Season Finale Race Day airshow event.


The life of Richard Shuttleworth (video)