Cyril Smith

Cyril Smith (1908-1975)  was born in London, and lived in Holland Park with his four brothers and two sisters. His mother, Madame Regina Crutcher, owned a second hand dress shop in Portobello Road. Before the war he would wander round the market, finding bargains, old bicycles and  guns. He was a talented cartoonist and was offered a job on a London paper, but did not want a 9 to 5 job.

Just before the War he married Jackie Payne and they moved to Brent Knoll where he could create his own lifestyle. They rented a dilapidated brick cottage with roses round the door. Rose Cottage.
He was well known for his love of the Ordinary Cycle, also known as the Penny Farthing bicycle, which he collected and rode. He set up The Ordinary Cycle Club at the New Inn in Brent Street. Many youngsters in the 1940s 50s and 60s were active in this Club, and would be seen cycling along Brent Street and the A38.

Cyril gives a lesson.

He also set up a small museum where people could see his collection of 15 roadworthy ‘penny-farthings’ and vintage motorcycles.

Cyril made plaster models of famous people and sold them to the local tourist shops. His wife, Jackie, was the breadwinner as she was an upholsterer, making curtains and covers for the rich folks. Cyril was the ultimate recycler, growing his own food , kept chickens, and shot pigeons to eat and made his own wine.

He also built a steam powered Corgi Motor bike.
He used his talents to paint murals directly on to inside and outside walls of Rose Cottage, showing scenes and people from the village.

Mr and Mrs Fallows, owned the Fish and Chip shop in Oxford Street, and Cyril was often on the premises. One day Mr Fallows said that it was very difficult to make crinkle cut chips. Cyril took a potato home with him. A week later he arrived in the shop with the potato, around which was a rubber band. He removed the band to show a pile of crinkle cut chips. He had designed and constructed a crinkle cut chip cutting machine. A representative of a Catering Machine firm was in the shop later and heard about this amazing invention. He went out at Brent to find Cyril to try to persuade him to sell the machine to the firm. But Cyril would have none of it; he wasn’t interested.

Sadly, Mr Fallows was the person who found Cyril dead in Rose Cottage, in 1975

Cyril at centre, Dan’s father Malcolm Laver on left. Photo courtesy of Dan Harvey (see comments).

Thanks to Pat Nicholls for research and Alan Wheway for artwork pictures.

12 thoughts on “Cyril Smith”

  1. I lived just down the road from Cyril Smith when I was a child and well remember him and many of his visitors riding his penny farthings along Brent Street. What a revelation it was to see the murals on his walls, I had no idea! He was known as an clever, eccentric gentleman.

      1. A bit more detail from my mother Katina Harvey, née Broome.

        She thinks the ladies are my father’s first wife (Peggy?) and Mrs. Smith.

  2. Cyril smith was 63 when he died so he must have been born 1912…..his grave is in st Michael’s church, alongside his brother Arthur and other relatives.

    1. My information came largely from the public records (GRO – General Records Office) which has a death of a
      Cyril George SMITH who died in the June quarter of 1975 and registered at Sedgemeoor registration district, which covers Burnha and Brent Knoll.
      It also gives his date of birth as “15AU1908”.
      This is the information that I have relied upon, not having any means of corroborating the information. This would put him as being 67 at the time of his death.
      There are two births recorded for a Cyril George SMITH, both of them in W.Ham (London). One is in the September quarter and is most likely to be your uncle.
      The second Cyril was registered in the following quarter, December 1908, which is less likely to be him
      I have not been to the graveyard in Brent Knoll but will do so in the not too distant future.
      It was my father-in-law who found Cyril dead in bed – both were eccentric but I think Cyril was far more flamboyant
      Alan Wheway

  3. Cyril was my beloved uncle he taught me so many wonderful things and how to ride a one wheel bike and s penny was not keen on eating pigeon

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