Sir Henry Segrave collection

Scope and Content

The collection is comprised of a range of materials relating to Segrave's life, chiefly concerning his record breaking vehicles: the Golden Arrow car and Miss England motor boat. Includes correspondence, newspaper clippings, publications and images.

Administrative / Biographical History

Sir Henry O'Neil de Hane Segrave was born on 22 September 1896 in Baltimore, Maryland, and died on 13 June 1930, having crashed during a water speed record attempt on Lake Windermere. His mother was American and his father Irish; he was raised in Ireland, and educated at Eton and Sandhurst. Commissioned into the Royal Warwickshire Regiment in 1914, he served as a fighter pilot with the Royal Flying Corps from January 1916.

After the war he became the first Briton to win a grand prix in a British car, winning the 1923 French Grand Prix and the 1924 San Sebastian Grand Prix in a Sunbeam car. Following a further win in France he retired from racing to concentrate on speed records.

Between 1926 and 1930 he set three land speed records and the water speed record, being the first person to hold both records simultaneously and the first person to go at over 200 mph in a land vehicle. Segrave set the first land speed record of 152.33 mph on 21 March 1926, on the sands at Southport, driving Sunbeam Tiger Ladybird. This record was quickly lost but was regained on 29 March 1927 in Sunbeam Mystery (also known as The Slug) at Daytona Beach, where he was the first person to travel at over 200 mph. He set the final land speed record of 231.45 mph at Daytona Beach on 11 March 1929, driving the Golden Arrow, which was designed by Captain J.S. Irving.

After this he concentrated on motorboat racing, beating the Americans on water in 1929, following which he received his knighthood. On Friday, 13 June 1930 he captured the water speed record on Lake Windermere in Miss England II, but was unaware that he had done so. He decided to do a follow-up run during which the boat capsized, killing the mechanic. Segrave's body was recovered from the water, but he was unconscious. He was taken to hospital, regained consciousness for a few moments, was informed that he had broken the record, and died a few minutes later.

The Segrave Trophy was established in 1930 to commemorate his life.

Access Information

Open to researchers, by appointment. For further information, please see:

Conditions Governing Use

Please apply to the Archivist if you would like to make any copy of the material.