Banbury icon Eddie Dow’s lasting legacy

Eddie Dow winning the Senior Isle of Man TT in 1955 NNL-170322-092736001

Eddie Dow winning the Senior Isle of Man TT in 1955 NNL-170322-092736001

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Eddie Dow, one of Banbury’s leading businessmen, has died at the age of 92.

Born on June 26, 1924 in Sunderland, Eddie’s professional life was to revolve around his passion for motor vehicles and speed. During WWII Eddie was an apprentice with Rolls Royce helping to design and develop the first jet engines. Eddie opened his Banbury vehicle dealership in 1956, eponymously renaming it in 1962. The showroom sold motorcycles, mostly British-made BSA models.

He used his engineering skills in the showroom’s workshop to engineer after-market parts that significantly enhanced the performance of the standard motorbikes of the day.

Such was his expertise that BSA often retrospectively adopted his advances to improve the factory’s own machines. He was also responsible for the on-going development of the famous Gold Star and instrumental in the creation of the BSA Rocket Gold Star – the ultimate ‘café racer’ of the middle 60s.

Away from the showroom Eddie was a successful motorcycle racer having made a name for himself in the Army Motorcycle Team, winning many trials events.

His close working relationship with BSA, however was to ultimately propel him to motorcycle triumphs when he went on to win the Senior Isle of Man TT in 1955, just two years after a near fatal crash left him in Liverpool hospital for six months.

Eddie also raced other British motorcycle marques including Norton and became a feared competitor in endurance racing. He won the gruelling nine-hour Thruxton endurance race more than once.

After his racing career, he continued to be involved in the sport, imparting his wisdom to less experienced racers and became one of the UK’s first professional circuit and TV commentators.

Among his broadcasting ‘prodigies’ is Murray Walker who began his commentating career under Eddie’s tutelage.

When British motorcycle manufacturing hit hard times in the late 60s, Eddie’s dealership moved to four wheels, selling MGs, Renaults, and finally to Volkswagens. He sold the business in 1991.

Eddie lived out a busy and fulfilling retirement in Sulgrave, remaining a keen motorsport enthusiast.

He died on Friday March 17, and is survived by his wife, Diane; daughter Franca, and grandchildren Justin, Kate and Joshua. The funeral will take place on Monday April 3 at noon at Banbury Crematorium.

The family has requested no flowers, although donations to the Church of St James the Less in Sulgrave will be welcome.