Select Pertwee Miscellany

Here are some Pertwee stories and accounts over the years:

French Perthuis

The English Pertwees have claimed their descent from the French family of Perthuis de Laillevault in Auxerre. The line in France has continued down until the present day.  In more recent times, the head of the family was Comte Bernhard de Perthuis de Laillevault.  He fought with the RAF during World War Two and became a distinguished painter of murals.

Canon Arthur Pertwee and His Maritime Duties

Many a time Canon Pertwee would accompany crews in the roughest of weather or to stranded or wrecks of vessels. 

On one occasion when they had tarried too long, the vicar himself took the spare oar and pulled like "one to the manner born."  On another occasion, when one of the deep sea vessels came in with her flag flying at half mast, it turned out that some of the crew were down with smallpox.  The authorities could find no one willing to go on board to nurse the patients. The vicar knew of their sorry plight and urgent needs, however. After the doctor had visited the infected boat, he put off alone in his canoe and nursed the sufferers carefully through the night.

Oaklands House in Chelmsford

Chelmsford brewery had been started by the Wells family in the town in the 1790’s.  Frederick Wells, a director of the company in the 1860’s, had Oaklands House built for him in the Italianate style by his brother-in-law Charles Pertwee.  Charles Pertwee went on to design many of Chelmsford’s Victorian buildings, including a number of Congregational chapels and the Co-operative Building on Wells Street. 

Oaklands House on Moulsham Street is now the Chelmsford Museum.  It remains very much as it was built almost 150 years ago.  Charles Pertwee’s name lives on in Pertwee Lodge, an old cemetery lodge recently converted into apartments.

Ernest Pertwee and the Art of Public Speaking

Ernest Pertwee was a professor of elocution at the City of London school.  From the early 1900’s he started producing books on public speaking, as well as verse anthologies.  The following is a list of some of his works. 

Shakespeare for Recitation, 1904 
English History in Verse
, 1906 
Scenes from Dickens
, 1910 
The Scottish Reciter
, 1914 
The Art of Speaking
, 1924 
The New Spirit in Verse
, 1930  

A number of the earlier works were edited and expanded by his son Guy Pertwee.

Jon Pertwee and the Whomobile

In early 1973 Jon Pertwee was opening a Ford dealers’ branch in Nottingham when he saw a restored Model T Ford called “The Californian Hot Rod” that could do 0-60 mph in three seconds.  Pertwee found out that the vehicle was created by Peter Farries and he asked him if he could design a custom-built car to suit his futuristic character in the Dr Who series. 

Thus was created the Whomobile.  Powered by a 975cc Hillman Imp sports engine, the vehicle could reach a maximum speed of 105 mph if pushed.  It was 14 feet long and 7 feet wide and had large fins extending five foot from the ground. The body was made from fibreglass and constructed in just two sections.  There were no doors. To gain access you climbed in over the wing.  Inside, the sci-fi look continued with a TV screen and a fake computer bank of flashing lights to the left of the TV. 

By September 1973 the Whomobile was written into the Dr Who series and was first featured in "Invasion of the Dinosaurs" where the Doctor might otherwise have been riding a motorbike.  It made its second and last appearance in “Planet of the Spiders.” 

Peter Farries, the inventor of the Whomobile, said that the car was eventually sold at a car auction for £1,200 after having been mistaken for a motorboat.


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