Crete’s King of the Road has real Royal meeting in Windsor

Stephen Bott — Retired entrepreneur Roger Tomlinson lives near Agios Nikolaos in Lasithi, Crete but he recently drove his 1951 3.5 litre Jaguar Mark V DHC , which he keeps in Agios during the summer, back to England to take part in the Royal Windsor Jaguar Festival last month.

Roger and his Jag were selected from over 1,200 on show to take part in a 238-car parade through the town of Windsor and the castle grounds…. and then he got to meet and talk to Prince Edward too.

You could say Roger made a bit of a bollards of it because as he drove his Old English white Jag complete with blue leather upholstery past HRH he accidentally clipped a  round stone bollard with his running board.

“When Prince Edward walked up to me and the car afterwards I apologised about clipping the bollard,” said Roger. “The Prince said ‘Oh, was that you?’ and then went on to explain I had had a lucky escape because the bollards were once fixed in permanently and had I hit one then the car would have been badly damaged. As it was there was hardly any.

“He asked how long I had had the car and a little more about it and remarked that it was in good condition. He also asked if I had any more cars. I was for want of a better expression ‘gobsmacked’ and could only manage to reply ‘Yes, but not Jaguars’.

“I was still trying to get over how fortunate I was that of those he spoke to one of them was me.”

I have witnessed Roger and his car driving through and around Agios Nikolaos and Elounda and it is indeed a royal sight and a real head turner….no matter how scruffy the friends he has as passengers you still expect to get a Royal wave.

Roger bought the vehicle just under two years ago after trawling the internet. The Jag was in Australia and although there was a little trepidation at first Roger said: “I got a former motor trader friend of mine Syd Leach who lived out there to have a look at it . The report was good so I bought it and had it shipped to England.

“I was pleased to say it was relatively inexpensive to do that and quite stress free,” added Roger, who also has a house in Kent.

Once Her Majesty’s Revenue and Customs had cleared the car, it was registered and issued with a number plate relevant to its era, WXG 101.

It was like going back in time for Roger because the first car he bought, courtesy of the bank of Dad, at the age of 18 was a 1938 SS 1.5 litre Jaguar DHC registration number FLY 26.

“My friend and I had a great year driving it round the country lanes and, to use an expression of the time, it was a great crumpet puller’.”

But then one day Roger and his friend pushed it a bit too far and a big end went. “We got it repaired, but the car had to go,” he said. “It was costing me too much to run. Petrol was 4s 6d a gallon at the time. I was earning £10 a week and the car did 15 miles to the gallon.

“It was sold within a week for £145, which was exactly what I had borrowed from the bank of Dad to buy it.”

The current Jag is valued at between £80-90,000 – but Roger is in no rush to sell. Far from it. “I intend it to form part of my children’s inheritance,” he said. Quite appropriate really as it was a holiday visit to the villa in Ayios by his daughter two years ago, accompanied by the usual bundle of vintage, veteran and classic car magazines, that prompted the search that ended in the current Jaguar.

“I saw an ad for a 2.5 litre SS Jaguar DHC and enquired about it. It was a lot to buy and I have to say I was relieved when it turned out it was already sold.”

But Roger had been bitten by the bug again and the rest as they say is history.

The Jaguar and that meeting with the Prince seem to go hand in hand with Roger and his lifestyle.

His late wife Anne was a famous TV actress who appeared in such classics as Emergency Ward 10, No Hiding Place and Dixon of Dock Green under her stage name of Anne Brooks. She also appeared alongside world-famous British actor Kenneth More in one of Anglia Television’s first-ever ITV productions, a comedy/drama series entitled “Collect Your Baggage”.

There were also musicals and stage productions while Roger himself has run a successful betting shop – bought out by a big-time betting shop chain owner – dance halls and bingo halls in and around London when the 60s scene was in full swing, allied to a full-time job as an advertising representative for the Daily Express newspaper on Fleet Street.

Born in Cairo and raised in Ewell, Surrey, Roger first came to Crete with Anne on holiday in 1987. “We had a very successful medical book supply business which we ran for 20 years. Our main customer was the NHS and universities. I knew a bit about the business having worked for an American medical publisher before being made redundant at the age of 41.

“We visited 15 different islands for two-week holidays during the time we had the business. When we sold up we went round the world in 2006 then we came to Crete again in February 2007, and bought the villa and I moved in in November 2007.”

Sadly Anne passed away in the June after illness  before she was able to live in the villa, but Roger has a lovely archived collection of cuttings from her stage and TV days and on one wall there is a fantastic framed picture of a Radio Times of the day with Anne’s picture next to another of the Emergency Ward Ten actors advertising that night’s edition.

Somehow fitting then that the Tomlinson’s right royal lifestyle met with such a meeting in, of all places, Windsor just a few short weeks ago.

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