Saturday, 24 September 2011

Paddie (Eirane) Naismith

Eirane Naismith, always known as Paddie, began her racing career inauspiciously, as part of Barbara Cartland's set-up race for "Society Ladies" in 1931. Billed as an erstwhile chauffeur to the Prime Minister, she either won, or came third in, the “Brooklands Society Ladies’ Handicap”, depending on which account one reads.

Despite the dubious beginning to her motorsport career, she actually became a decent racer. The following year, having lived down the Cartland débacle successfully, she won a bona fide Ladies' Handicap at Brooklands. There were ten entrants, including Fay Taylour and Elsie Wisdom, who had won the 1000 Mile race earlier in the year. She was driving a Salmson.

In 1934, she was third in two challenging Long Handicap races: the BARC First Long Handicap in July, and the First Kingston Junior Long Handicap in October.. Her car was a supercharged Salmson, which belonged to her lover, Sir Derwent Hall-Caine. This was her last Brooklands appearance, following a fine and a race exclusion for running over the lines at the track edge.

In the intervening period, she drove in the 1932 RAC Rally, in a Standard. The following year, she entered the event again in the same car, finishing 93rd in Class 3. She occasionally competed with her sister, Jill, in this vehicle, although Jill’s involvement with cars was mainly as a Concours d’Elegance entrant. The sisters owned a Ballot which they used for this purpose.

In between her racing exploits, she found time to gain her pilot’s license, and aviation increasingly took up her time. The high point of her career as an aviatrix was her flight to Australia in 1934, as part of the Centenary Air Race. As well as piloting her own aeroplanes, she also flew as a stewardess professionally.

Paddie was primarily an actress by trade, who appeared in small parts in a couple of feature films. She is most famous for being the image first transmitted as a colour television picture in 1940. John Logie Baird thought that her distinctive red hair would show up well on screen.

(Picture from

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