"“We have lent a huge amount of money to the U.S. Of course we are concerned about the safety of our assets. To be honest, I am definitely a little worried.” "

Chinese premier Wen Jiabao 12th March 2009

""We have a financial system that is run by private shareholders, managed by private institutions, and we'd like to do our best to preserve that system."

Timothy Geithner US Secretary of the Treasury, previously President of the Federal Reserve Bank of New York.1/3/2009

Thursday, November 08, 2007

Lord and Lady Docker - Where are they Now ? No 457

Celebrities, those famous for being famous were few and far between in the glum post war years and the Dockers added some some welcome glamour to a world without TV shows, pop stars and rock star status royalty.

Sir Bernard D0cker, Old Harrovian and Chairman of the Daimler Company (which was actually the Birmingham Small Arms Co., and did rather well out of the war- and also Director of Anglo-Argentine Tramways, Midland Bank and Thomas Cook and Sons ) married Norah Collins, a one-time dancer at the Café de Paris -- and throughout the 50's, the gracelessly gaudy pair entertained the nation with a succession of fancy cars, mink coats, champagne receptions and the magnificent Southampton built SHEMARA, an 860-ton yacht with a crew of 35. Launched in 1038 she was used in the war as a trainign vessel for anti submarine warfare.

It was conspicuous consumption on a massive scale. While people on the Clapham omnibus shook their heads in disbelief, they were somehow grateful for the chance to wonder at a glamour and unabashed extravagance they had long been denied. Lady Docker was the real showstopper; Sir Bernard was the complaisant supplier of her far from petty cash.

In 1954 a few eyebrows were raised when 45 Yorkshire miners were invited to Southampton for a cocktail party on Shemara. "We had a riotous day,'' said Lady Docker at the time.

Lady Docker's best-known asset were her glitzy cars : in 1951, Prattley, her chauffeur, drove an initialled gold Daimler with gold-plated fittings.

This was later upgraded to a metallic-blue version with lizard-skin upholstery; by 1953, her car was a Daimler Silver Flash with red crocodile-leather seats.

There were also two gold-plated Daimlers—one of them upholstered in six zebra skins and costing £42,000. Owned by Daimler, they were built to Lady Docker's specifications and for her use.

When £15,000-worth of her jewels were stolen, Billy Hill, the former 'King of the Underworld' vowed to get them back - "I admire Lady Docker," he said. "She's not afraid to mix with people like me." The empty briefcase that had contained the jewels and was stolen from the massive Stocksbridge hampshire home was recovered from the River Itchen. Billy HIll it seems didn't manage to recover them.

But the Dockers could not get away with it forever. After defending his extravagant life-style at a press conference at the Savoy Hotel, Sir Bernard lost his chairmanship of Daimler at the end of 1956.

They sacked Sir Bernard not only as chairman and managing director, but even as a director.

Next day the Dockers called in the press, poured out pink champagne and their hearts.

Sir Bernard's father had helped build the B.S.A. empire; Sir Bernard had been chairman since 1938; and his fortune was founded around the company. Said Sir Bernard, cigar in hand, tears in eyes: "I've been sacked, sacked, sacked. When father left the board, they gave him a gold watch. For me they called a special meeting, and the only subject they discussed was my departure. Damnable." Cried Lady Docker even more tearfully: "It's not the loss of the gold cars that makes me feel like this. And weren't they fun? They were like my children. No, it's that lovely party I was planning for 25,000 B.S.A. workers for my 50th birthday on June 23. A tiptop affair —and now it's all off. How could they do this to him after 17 years? Why, he's such a hard worker that he had a through line to the firm from our yacht.''

It was said Sir Bernard concealed important figures from the directors (Sir Bernard: "They could always look at the books").

By 1958 they were reduced to selling Lady Docker's jewellery and, finally, in 1968, the famous yacht.

In 1965 Shemara was put up for sale for £600,000, ( say £3Mn. today), 3 years later later, after a great deal of legal wrangling, the vessel finally passed to the ownership of reclusive property tycoon Harry Hyams of Oldham Estates for £290,000.

By then living a low life as tax-exiles in a tiny bungalow on Jersey, Lady Docker ( a forbear no doubt of Macca's ex) had not lost her punch. Obviously, the island and its people held few charms for her,"They're the most frightfully boring, dreadful people that have ever been born," she tartly observed.

Sir Bernard died in 1978, aged 81, while Lady Docker survived him until 1983 when she was found dead in a London hotel at the age of 78.

Lady Docker, photographed at the first day of Royal Ascot 1955, was always at the forefront of fashion, seen here in a wide-brimmed hat, an opulent mink stole and a lace dress.

PS : Evidently with an eye for show stopping show girls Berbard Docker was marreid briefly to Miss Ivy Sweet, the pretty daughter of a copper-beater better known as Jeanne Stuart who appeared in London in After All and It's A Girl, and was described at the time as "tall and of a figure that enables her to wear to advantage extremely modern-cut clothes", which, in both productions, "caused gasps of surprise on the first nights". She later performed alongside Jack Hulbert, Cicely Courtneidge, Jack Buchanan and many others.

Jeanne and Docker (against his father's wishes) married in London in April 1933 at a register office ceremony in Prince's Row, attended by the Duke and Duchess of Atholl, and they honeymooned in South America. Jeanne was given the later famous 860- ton yacht Shemara as a wedding present.

On the basis of meeting in "circumstances which left no doubt of their adultery" jeanne who had become raomtically entangled with West End star David Hutcheson. The Docker marriage lasted five months, and was finally dissolved in January 1933.


Berylll said...

I was around at the time of Lord and Lady Docker in the 50's when they use to drive through the West End showing off their Cars, Lady Docker use to colour her hair sometimes Pink, so what ever she did, I did, I use to go to the School of Hairdressing in Piccadilly Circus, and have mine done the same. Use to see then often at the Cafe de Paris. Yes! they were quite a pair, but harmless. Good old days.

Anonymous said...

I remember the Dockers when I was a child. I think my parents reaction to them was probably as is mine today with our so called "celebrities". There is mention of the car with gold plated external furniture, but , do I not remember a gold plated Rolls Royce ?

(C) Very Seriously Disorganised Criminals 2002/3/4/5/6/7/8/9 - copy anything you wish