Philip Conrad Vincent


  A Thurrock Motorcycle Pioneer
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Philip Conrad Vincent was born in Fulham on 14th March 1908. His parents farmed in Argentina.

Educated first by his mother and then at a British Preparatory school in Argentina, he then came back to England to live with his uncle John Vincent in High House, Horndon-on-the-Hill. John was a veterinary surgeon who, with his brother, an agricultural engineer, was involved in the local Orsett Agricultural Show, and these two gentlemen are commemorated by the name in ‘Vincent Close’ in Horndon. An extension was built onto the back of High House, the ground floor of which became a schoolroom and Phillip, his two sisters, Marjorie and Gwendoline, cousin Mary Kirk, (and four local children considered ‘suitable’ companions) were all educated there together until Phillip went off to Harrow School which was where he first became interested in motorcycles. He returned to Horndon for holidays. He said he found this time in his life very cold and damp after the warmth of Argentina.

He got his first motorcycle second hand from Gamages in Holborn at Christmas 1924, it was a 350cc BSA. Vincent went to Cambridge in October 1936 to read Mechanical Sciences at Kings College. However, his heart was not in his studies.

At 18 he had a workshop and was designing and building motorcycles. His father eventually agreed to let him leave Cambridge and fund him for a trial period in this venture. His first machine was "Vincent Special" which was okay. Philip then formed a company with Frank Waller a family friend.

In 1928 HRD Motors came on the market and was bought. HRD were the initials of its chief Howard Raymond Davies, a racer. The new company was called Vincent HRD and they had their premises at Stevenage, where they remained until the company's demise in 1956. They produced 12,500 motorcycles for both road and sporting use collecting both National and World records.

Philip Conrad Vincent passed away in 1979 and his ashes are interred in the family plot at St Peter and St. Paul's, Horndon on the Hill.

In 1948 the Vincent HRD Owners Club was formed and in 1999 on their Golden Jubilee they held a rally at the Isle of Man. Andrew Everett who organised the event, tells us that over 300 Vincents took part and 217 took part in a parade lap on the TT circuit. The participants included the Vincent Black Shadow seen above which is the property of Peter Merrick and has been ridden regularly including the trip from Thurrock to the Isle of Man. Less than 1,800 of the 1,000c.c.Vincent Black Shadows were ever made. It was the custom order version of the Shadow the Black Lightning that broke the land speed record with a pass of 150.313 mph. A Thurrock Heritage Plaque to Vincent was unveiled by Philip Vincent-Day, his grandson, at High House on 21st July 2002 . The plaque was supported by members of the Vincent HRD Owners Club and Thurrock Council.

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