Ken Watkins was born on the 6th December 1909 in Bromley, Kent. Together with his older brother, Leon, they set up an agricultural machinery business, Watkins and Rosevear, around 1948 on the site of the old Redlake Clay and mining works near Ivybridge, Devon selling early tractors such as Allis Chalmers and Marshalls.
Their engineering knowledge and the use of the factory site was a great help with Ken’s racing and, of course, his mechanic Doc Elliot.
Ken acquired a Cooper Mk III in 1949 and achieved some good results with a fifth place at the Grand Prix meeting in May, against top quality opposition, and then a fifth and a third at Silverstone in July. In August he finished second at Trengwainton and then fifth in the 50 Mile Race at Silverstone.
In June 1950, he travelled to Zandvoort in Holland to finish second to Ken Wharton, also in a Cooper.
On the 8th of July 1950, now in a Cooper Mk IV, Ken had probably his finest weekend with a 3rd place in the scratch race and a win in the 100 Mile Commander Yorke Trophy.
For 1951, he switched to an Emeryson, with limited success but had more luck with the Healy Silverstone and Allard sports cars which he continued to use through to 1953.
After bringing his wife, Mary Clayton, to settle at Harford, he went on to make several natural history films inspired by the local woods and Dartmoor on their doorstep. He founded the Woodland Trust in 1972 to protect ancient woods and their biodiversity. He was very proud to be awarded an OBE for his work with the environment and in 1995 he was given the Peter Scott Memorial Award by the British Naturalists Association. Ken Watkins died on November13th 1996 in Harford, South Devon.
Our thanks to Bruce Fowler for this page.