Doncaster statue on agenda on 60th anniversary of death of Formula One legend Mike Hawthorn
A statue in memory of Doncaster Formula One legend Mike Hawthorn is being discussed – exactly 60 years after the legendary’s driver’s death.
Mike became Britain’s first Formula One world champion in September 1958 after finishing second in the Moroccan grand prix that year.
But 60 years ago today, on January 22, 1959, he was killed in a car crash on a road in Surrey.
Today, Mike’s achievement and link to Mexborough is marked by a plaque in the town centre, on Hope Street. It was unveiled in 2006 by Mike’s one-time finance, Jean Ireland. There is also a board on the wall of the Old Market Hall pub in the town telling brief details of his story.
The driver was born in Mexborough and spent the early part of his childhood there. His father ran the Robinson and Hawthorn garage, which was on Doncaster Road.
Local historian Giles Brearley, a member of Mexborough and District Heritage Society’s blue plaques committee, said a proposal to build a statue in honour of Mr Hawthorn was due to be discussed at a committee meeting of the society this week.
He said: “There has been talk that there may be a statue built of Mike in Mexborough. It has been on the agenda before, and we will look at it again this week. It could be a couple of years before anything happens.It is certainly an aspiration.”
He said funds would have to be raised for anything to go ahead.
Mike died at the age of 29 after a Jaguar he was driving collided with a lorry on the Guildford by-pass, before turning a double somersault and hitting a tree.
His grandmother, Kate, who lived on Alexandra Road, Mexborough, was informed of his death by her doctor on her sickbed, it was reported at the time. She had previously said she was pleased he had given up motor racing the previous year.
Since 1959 speculation over the cause of death has covered driver error, mechanical failures and blackout.
Rob Walker, a friend of Mike who had been driving a Mercedes just ahead of his Jaguar had insisted until his own death that the two of them being on the same road that day had been entirely coincidental, dismissing suggestions that the two had been racing.
Mike’s cousin, Neil Hawthorne, aged 69, still lives on Queen’s Terrace, in Mexborough, and remembers his famous cousin’s visits to his grandmothers house, but was only a young child when he died. He is very proud of his older cousin.
He said: “The last time I saw him would have been 1959. I remember my parents mentioning that he had died.”