Jarrott, Charles 1877 - 1944

English; British

(1877-1944), Motor racing pioneer

Charles Jarrott was born on the 26th March 1877 in London. Said to have been educated at schools in London and Cambridge, he was articled to a firm of solicitors. He began motoring in 1896 and witnessed the London to Brighton run (14 November 1896) to celebrate the emancipation of the motor car following the passage of the Light Locomotives Act. In 1897 he became secretary to the Motor Car Club, the organizers of the run. After giving up the law, he entered the motor trade and formed the English De Dion Bouton Co. in 1899. In 1900 he went into partnership with Harvey du Cros in the English Panhard Levassor Motor Co., and in 1902 with William Malesbury Letts formed Charles Jarrott and Letts Ltd, sole agents for De Dietrich and Oldsmobile, as well as selling Crossley and Bugatti cars. He retired from the partnership in 1909.

Jarrott took part in fifty races in 1899 and won the Motor Car Club's 5 mile championship on a De Dion tricycle in 8 minutes 11 seconds and the 10 mile cycle scratch race in 17 minutes 22 seconds. He gave up motorcycle racing to concentrate on racing in cars, his greatest feat was on 31 July 1902 when, after starting thirty-fourth, he won the Circuit des Ardennes in Belgium, the first circuit race ever held. Jarrott described his racing exploits in a classic book, Ten Years of Motors and Motor Racing (1906; later editions 1912, 1928, 1956), in which he celebrated the good fellowship and sporting spirit among the early drivers and regretted the growing commercialization of motor sport.

Jarrott was a founder in 1905 of the Automobile Association. From 1935 until his death Jarrott was general secretary of the Royal Society of St George. He was an officer of several other motoring bodies and was a founder of the Olympia motor show. A founder member of the Royal Aero Club, he was inspector of transport for the Royal Flying Corps during the First World War and held the rank of lieutenant-colonel; he was mentioned in dispatches three times and appointed OBE in 1918. Jarrott married on 12 August 1903 Violet Aline (1869–1945), She shared her husband's enthusiasm for automobilism, and drove a 16 hp Dietrich at motor gatherings in 1905. He died of bronchopneumonia in St Stephen's Hospital, Chelsea, London, on 4 January 1944, and was cremated at Golders Green.