Land Rover Series One Club
If you can see this message, you're not getting to see all the wonderful content on this website... why not REGISTER for our forum and get access to so much more?

Author Topic: Gethin Bradley. Rover Press Officer 1955 - 1962  (Read 2794 times)

0 Members and 1 Guest are viewing this topic.

November 14, 2013 - 18:36
Read 2794 times

Offline R Hughes

  • LRSOC & LR Register Member
  • Location: Bucks / Oxon Border, UK
Gethin Bradley. Born 23 December 1932.
It was with saddness that I recently learnt of the passing of Gethin Bradley, Rover Press officer in the 1950’s and first “owner” of my 107” SW, TWD 713.
I first had the pleasure and honour of meeting Gethin in 1999 and attended a number of enjoyable and jovial events with him, although more recently we exchanged emails as he became less mobile following a fall and as he battled with “Herbert” -  his nickname for his cancer !
It is impossible for someone like me to try and summarise Gethins life in any meaningful way and so much of the following is extracts from items he wrote as I try and give some idea of this wonderful man – and his amazing character.
Leaving Marlborough College in 1950, Gethin’s motoring interests were initially chanelled to competed in UK rallies in his Wolseley Hornet Special and HRG sports car.
However, speed gave way to distance in 1952 when (with Bill Greenwood - a recently demobbed RAF bomber pilot) the pair to drive an ex military Ford V8 staff car via Algiers to Capetown. (see pic 5, Gethin on right).
Returning from this expedition, Gethin joined Trinity College, Cambridge University (when asked what subject he read, he replied primarily “The Autocar & Motor”)
He joined the Cambridge University Automobile Club (CUAC) and became Honorary Secretary, organising and participating in various rallies and speed trials.
The HRG was replaced with the ex St John Horsfall 2 Litre Spa Aston; an icon of the Aston Martin Owners Club. Apparently there was also a short spell competing in the - new to the UK -  Stock Racing with a Cambridge Blue Ford V8 , built and run with fellow undergraduates.
During his time at Cambridge, a bet made in a Hong King nightclub in the Summer of 1953 led to “The Boatrace On Wheels” – the 1954 Oxford & Cambridge Trans-Africa Expedition to Capetown & back (25,000 miles) in two 86” Land Rover Station Wagons.
Gethin advised that, despite the splendid efforts of the support team they started the trip with an impressive list of sponsors and a heavy load of goodies but no fuel supply or much money !
On the first day in France they blagged fuel off individual garages in return for taking a photo and apparently “had a few Litres success”. However, a “sharp eyed” Unilever executive spotted the spurious Unilever logo and the team were soon in their Paris HQ for a chat and interviewed by French radio.
The results were very positive and this led introductions to their companies in Africa and more important to Shell France / Algeria !
Upon leaving Cambridge, Gethin was invited to join the Rover Company in 1955 as Press Officer for Rover cars and Land Rover. His responsibilities included , in addition to International Public Relations activity for all aspects of the Rover Company, special liaison with all the L/R Expeditioners.
The first of these were the Ox/Cam Singapore and the Ox/Cam South America expeditions. These were followed by well known names such as Laurens van der Post, Barbara Troy, Group Captain Peter Townsend; Gerald Durrell and David Attenborough to mention but a few.
He was also in charge of the press demo fleet and this gave him the opportunity to decide that the brand new 107 Station Wagon, TWD 713, needed to be run in -  so he chose it as his wedding car and added the necessary miles on honeymoon in Cornwall.
(Gethin remembered TWD 713 being straight off the production line with the engine being covered in its original protective grease, for, on leaving the wedding reception, he found that friends from Land Rover and the Oxford Cambridge Expedition had switched some of the wiring around and he had to sort them in London, dressed in his wedding suit !!)
Gethin left the Rover Company in 1962 and co founded a successful Public Relations company, Good Relations Ltd.
Gethin remained involved with Public Affairs throughout his life and was a founding member of the MIPAA (Motor Industry Public Affairs Association) twice Chairman and then Honorary Life President. The MIPAA created a verb– to be Gethined – defined as that feeling when you try to get up from a good lunch to find that your wine glass had been filled rather more often than you’d appreciated !  I feel this summaries Gethin well, a generous man, great host and life and soul of any gathering.
Gethin and his friends had very fond memories of their time at the Rover Company and when I suggested sharing these, he said he was too too lazy to remind them ! However, this changed recently when he was honoured and delighted to be invited by Roger Crathorne & Mike Bishop to attend the 65th Celebrations at Solihull; his first visit to the factory since leaving in 1962.
Gethin described this event as pure nostalgia, and was astonished at the growth that had taken place;     
  “The old jungle over which ,as a 23 year old,  I drove many  alarmed VIPS has been filled with a factory, but the “Boiler house slope”, a thriller, is still visible and a brand new course has been created. The welcome we received, the interest shown by staff, management and Series One enthusiasts convinced me that despite all the changes in ownership the original spirit of Land Rover is still as strong as ever”.

In a recent article that Gethin wrote describing his life and career, he summarised it as “A great life”. I would simply add,well deserved, for a great man who will be greatly missed by all that knew him.

Richard Hughes
November 2013


November 14, 2013 - 18:49
Reply #1

Offline Landie Les Moderator

  • LRSOC Member
  • Location: Sussex, UK
Sorry to read of Gethin's passing. I had the opportunity to speak to him once. An interesting and entertaining man.

5 Door pre-pro on the road for the 170th?

November 15, 2013 - 07:58
Reply #2

Offline Graeme Trade Advertiser

  • LRSOC Member
  • Location: Yorkshire, UK
    • The Teeafit's website
Reading 'Autocar' half a generation younger than Gethin, I grew up aware of his memorable name... but it wasn't until August 2011 that I met him for the first time.  Roger Crathorne, Mike Bishop and Steve Kerss had brought together the surviving members of the three Oxford & Cambridge 1950s expeditions, and had invited me to make a film record of the occasion for their own souvenir use.  It was just in time — three weeks later Adrian Cowell suddenly died.  Since then we've also lost 'BB' (Antony Barrington-Brown) and his wife Althea, and now Gethin.

When he came to the table with his walking frame at the Explorers' Reunion Dinner, he clearly wasn't a fit man.  But once at the table, with good food and wine, and surrounded by old friends talking motors and expeditions, he was in his element, with a wonderful speech prepared (see picture below).  Apparently not hung over the next morning, he was also thrilled to pose alongside the Oxford replica (third from right) at Land Rover Experience.

Only a few weeks ago I called him on the phone to ask for some clarification on a question I'd been asked about one of the expedition vehicles used during his period as Press Officer.  He was, as ever, delighted to talk about motoring, exploring and Land-Rovers.  You can't invent people like Gethin... they have to be born.