As it is for most owners, the Traction was only ever a hobby
for Fred who had earlier honed his engineering skills in the Fleet Air
Arm as an aircraft mechanic, maintaining fighters. Although his
career then found him engineering special items in a Central
Electricity Generating Board research workshop he also worked for a
while as a car mechanic - and that is where he got his first taste of
the Traction and was immediately hooked by the advanced design.
Incredibly Fred’s association with, and love of, the Traction did not
happen in the days when they were current. In fact his interest
was only established in the late 50s by which time Tractions were
decidedly “old technology” (at least by CitroŽn standards!) and had
effectively lost their position as status symbols.
Within ten years of buying his first Light 15 saloon Fred had
accumulated quite a collection, including his famous Light 15 Coupť, a
limousine and several Cabriolets, one of which was the only RHD Big 15
Cabriolet ever built. Fred continued buying up almost any Slough
Traction that became available in order to save it - or at least the
precious parts - from being lost forever. As a result he quickly earned
the reputation of being the only person one needed to talk to for help
and, much more importantly, spare parts. The downside of that was
his own projects often took a back seat whilst he worked on other
When the TOC was formed in 1976, initially as a section of the CitroŽn Car Club,
Fred’s allegiance still lay heavily with the CCC. He therefore
agreed to sit on both committees as one of 2 “liaison” members and made
available his personal register of Tractions and owners. Fred’s
home, in the Guildford area, was also the venue for some of the
earliest meetings as the fledgling club established itself.
At that time all TOC members were also CCC members and had a CCC
membership number with a “T” suffix to denote Traction Owner.
However, by the time the TOC became independent of the CCC (in April
1980) the Club had no hesitation in allocating Fred membership Number 1
in acknowledgement of his expertise and the work he had done for the
Club, the cars and their owners. Thereafter he remained happy to
be an ordinary member until, in recognition of his services, he was
made an Honorary Life Member in 1985.
On retiring Fred relocated the family to rural Lincolnshire where he
and Edna set up a home with vehicle storage and workshop space to
exercise his passion to the full. Having finally completed his
numerous projects, in 2003 he decided to slow down and hang up his
spanners. With the exception of the Coupť (which was passed to
his son Barry), all his vehicles were sold off. However, the TOC
also benefited because Fred generously made his vast collection of
parts available to the Club - for which we shall always be grateful.
Sadly his last years were spent in poor health and he was unable to
attend many meetings. Nevertheless he continued to show a keen
interest in the cars and their owners. The 2009 75th Anniversary
celebration in Arras was the last big event he was able to attend and
below is a picture of him discussing Phil Allison’s Cabriolet
restoration at the 2006 Annual TOC Rally in York.
© 2014 Bernard Shaw