Hieatt Close

Reading motorcyclist Bernard Hieatt died at the age of 21 in 1930 when he crashed during a 200 mile sidecar race at the Brooklands circuit.

Although remembered in a Katesgrove street name, neither he nor his family seem to have had any direct link with the area. Bernard Hieatt’s father Benoni Hieatt had a butcher’s shop at 121 Wokingham Road and Bernard went to school at Emmanuel College, Reading.

A report of the inquest into his death said that he was travelling at 83 mph and had four laps to go when the accident happened. Heavy rain had made conditions very difficult. The bike and sidecar overturned when it hit the grass verge of the track. The rider was thrown from the 600 cc Rex Acme machine and was killed instantly [ref 1].

During the race he set two records: the 100 miles record at an average speed of 82.13 mph and the two hours record at an average speed of 80.97 mph [ref 2].

The passenger in the sidecar, F Matthews, survived despite being trapped underneath. He was racing again a couple of weeks later when he won the Reading Motor Club’s 40 mile pillion trial on a Rudge [ref 3].

The race continued after the accident and was won by FG Hicks at an average speed of 73.12 mph, but events later in the day were cancelled.

Bernard Hieatt’s funeral service took place at St Bartholomew’s Church on Friday 15 May 1930 and was followed by burial at Reading Cemetery on London Road. Members of Reading and District Motor Cycle Club walked alongside the hearse. Bernard Hieatt was also a pilot, and after the ceremony his plane flew overhead with another from the Reading Aero Club. A wreath was dropped by parachute from his plane and Reading Aero Club contributed a wreath which was a model of his plane [ref 4].

Bernard Hieatt Memorial

Bernard Hieatt’s imposing memorial is Grade II listed.

A week after the funeral, Mr P. Wheeler of 2 Ffoulkes Street (Spring Gardens) was awarded 5s (25p) by the Berkshire Chronicle for his photograph of the floral tributes to Bernard Hieatt which was published in the 23 May 1930 edition [ref 5].

A local connection with motorcycling is the South Reading Motorcycle Club. The club was founded in Whitley in 1930 and for a while had its headquarters at the Wellington Arms (now closed) on Whitley Street. In 1933 the club rode from the Whitley Pump to Stamford Bridge to the England v Australia test match [ref 6].

Links and references

  1. Berkshire Chronicle 9 May 1930. The report covers the race and the inquest.
  2. Sheffield Independent 5 May 1930. The accident is covered on the front page and includes a photograph of Bernard Hieatt racing on the day.
  3. Berkshire Chronicle 23 May 1930.
  4. Berkshire Chronicle 16 May 1930. Report with photographs of Bernard Hieatt’s funeral.
  5. Berkshire Chronicle 23 May 1930.
  6. Berkshire Chronicle report, quoted in Arnie Gibbons, Tears and Glory: The Winged Wheel Story.
  7. South Reading Motorcycle Club
  8. Historic England Listing Record 1096058