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Dr. Diarmuid Michael Francis English. MB Bch.

With the passing of Cindy English, the tethered hydroplane community has lost its last link with one of the great characters the sport has known, Dr Michael English, known affectionately to one and all as 'Doc', and to close friends as 'sarge', from his service in the armed forces. His godson John Doughty used to assist him in the running of the boats and Doc built him a 5cc boat which was called 'Mr Jones' after Doc's great friend and fellow competitor Jimmy Jones.

Recently John contacted OTW and it was with great pleasure that we were able to meet up with him at St Albans and find out more about Doc and Cindy English. Although based in Sheffield, Doc was an active member of the Cotswold Club, based at South Cerney in Gloucestershire and Vice President of The Model Hydroplane Club. When he retired his campervan could usually be found at most hydroplane events round the country making many friends along the way.

 (Doc) English  1915-1987

Amongst the trophies awarded annually at the St Albans International is the magnificent Doc English Trophy. Following his death in 1987 the tethered hydroplane community subscribed to its purchase in his memory.

Jimmy Jones, W Halligan, Alec Graham and Doc Jim Williams starts Doc's A class boat at South Cerney The 30cc cc boat at full speed after launching
Doc with Dave Scarnell   Some of Doc's medals

Doc & Jim Williams at Cerney with 5cc
'Mr Jones'
Doc with 30cc boat John Doughty launches
'Mr Jones'
70th birthday

The late Tom Clement was close friends with 'Doc' and Cindy and put together the following tribute to them.

Cynthia B English  16th March 1932 – 4th April 2009

Cynthia known as Cindy passed away on the 4th April 2009 in hospital. She was married to Doctor (Doc) English MD. Doc. died in 1987. I first met them at Birkenhead in the latter half of the 1960’s; Doc was from Eire & was working as a General Practitioner in Sheffield. Cindy was a Yorkshire lass. Doc enjoyed running hydroplanes as a complete break & relaxation from his full time job. Cindy was his helper at the regattas & often her hands were covered in fuel when Doc was washing his engines out after a run.

I became a close friend of Doc & Cindy often travelling to the hydro conferences & Hydro Club AGM’s with them. The driving was always shared Doc doing the town driving & Cindy the main road driving. Cindy learned to drive so that she could act as Doc’s driver when he was called out in the early hours; Doc liked a drink of beer & preferred not to drive after drinking in the evening after work. In the years before the breathalyser he would share a party 7 can of beer with those at the regattas.

He had a very dry sense of humour & I have a number if remembrances of him in 1976 when the International Event was moved to South Cerney because of lack of water at St Albans, I had attended the St Albans straight running event at Welwyn Garden City on the Sunday & stayed with relatives in South London travelling from there to Cerney.

At that time I had not driven from Cerney to Newcastle. Doc offered to guide me to the M1 which I was glad to accept, I was also offered overnight accommodation, this I declined to accept as I was due at work the next morning, the acceptance was made just before the M1. I was in no state to have made the rest of the trip on my own.

Doc offered me a doctor’s note saying that he had seen my runs. On another time at Birkenhead his boat stopped unexpectedly & a voice from the bank asked " Doc what happened" Doc’s reply was "IT STOPPED".

Cindy was a match & at St Albans when everyone was having problems starting their engines, a member of the public was pestering Cindy as to why they were not starting, she came out with the statement that "It was all to do with the barometric pressure & humidity" she was not bothered again.

When Doc died she gave me his 30cc boat to run as my own. She continued to attend regattas until her eyesight prevented her from seeing the boats running. She had diabetes & eventually became blind. I had sailed Doc’s 15cc boat on her behalf until she stopped attending, when she gave it to me.

30cc boat and Doc English Trophy 30cc awaiting restoration 30cc motor

This I have rebuilt this winter as it broke up at Hull last October. I did not tell her as by this time she had dementia. She suffered for over two years & was being looked after by her elder sister Jean. Cindy’s doctor & the Social Services had to move her into a care home in December 2008 for her sister’s health. From there she was admitted to hospital & passed away. I had always called on her & her sister in Worksop whenever I travelled South to events & meetings.

John Doughty & Cindy English with
the Doc English Trophy
Newly rebuilt 15cc boat  B class motor built by Doc and run by
Tom Clement. Now with John Doughty.

Many thanks to Jim Free, Rob Bamford, Tom Clement for photo's and to Cindy's sister Jean for the loan of her photo album 


Alan A. Rayman. 1922-2016

Alan Rayman met John Benson one evening in 1936 at the Prince of Wales Pond at Blackheath. John was a member of the Blackheath Model Power Boat Club and suggested to Alan that he came along to the regatta on the Sunday morning to see the "big boys of model boating". He did, and joined the club there and then, he was 14 years old. One of the veterans Ted Vanner, gave him tuition and encouragement.

He built his first steam engine in 1938 under the guidance of Joe Jepson, who with Cecil Abbott had formed the club in 1928. He entered it in the Model Engineer Exhibition that year as a junior entry, where he was awarded a "Diploma of Merit" much to the delight of Joe who had help guide him throughout the build. Alan continued to enter the Exhibition, winning 6 awards over the years for his work.

As an architectural technician Alan spent all his working days associated with building construction and design work except for the last three years of the war when he served in the Royal Signals. He was however discharged early, due to his occupation.

During those war years John, Joe and others kept on running boats, indeed an article by John in Model Engineer just after the war was entitled "Blackheath Carries On". This prompted John, who was now secretary of the Blackheath Club, to contact the past MPBA secretary, Edgar T Westbury to call for a reformation of the MPBA, which had ceased during the hostilities. There followed a meeting in a hired room above a pub in Tottenham Court Road where everything was got under way again. John was very soon made general secretary and Alan was asked to assist for the first few years. As the association grew and they held AGM’s, John was made the treasurer and Alan was made vice chairman, positions they held for over 20 years. Alan was later awarded life membership of the MPBA.

In the early 1950’s Alan built the first of a few tethered hydroplanes. "Chloe" (title photo) was a B class flash steamer 1"1/16th bore x ¾ stroke and reached a creditable speed of 35mph.

The early 60’s saw Alan build a 10cc hydroplane "Hot Toddy" for Jim King, who managed his best speed of 67 mph. His last hydro was "Crazy Rhythm" which had his own home built engine but ran without any great success.

Alan always admitted "that hydro’s just aren’t my thing"

It is with the flash steam, straight running and scale boats that Alan is more associated with although some of these are certainly not slow. Amongst his successes were the MPBA Steering Cup, Vanner Trophy, Southern Area Steering Championship, Prototype Cup, and the prestigious Porter-Suzor Friendship Trophy.

Alan was an authority on flash steam engines and plants and built many of these during his career. Such was his knowledge and understanding of flash steam that in 1973 he and John Benson published what is now the standard work on the subject, ‘Experimental Flash Steam’.

Alan had been a member of the Blackheath Club for 80 years, including 21 years as secretary and a long spell as chairman. He continued to compete in the club's straight running events, helping and passing on his considerable knowledge of all things model steam related. In 2007 the MBPA presented Alan with a 'long membership' award in recognition of 70 years continuous membership of the Association.

All that remains of the flash steam hydroplane Chloe is the complex and superbly engineered single cylinder engine.

Hot Toddy came to an untimely end when Jim King inadvertently ran it over after its most successful run ever.
Crazy Rhythm, complete with its 30cc engine has survived.

At the Model Engineer Exhibition, Phil Abbott displayed five of Alan's steam powered straight runners, 50 years of building from 1947-1997

Thanks to Phil Abbott for the text and original photo's, and to the late Alan Rayman, also Jim Free for photo's of Crazy Rhythm.