Paul Hatcher Oral History Summary


Paul Hatcher Oral History Summary


Paul Hatcher


A summary of an oral history interview with Paul Hatcher


Michael Romyn


Kent's Sporting Memories


Interview recorded on 13 July 2021


Paul Hatcher; Michael Romyn


Kent's Sporting Memories


Paul Hatcher Oral History Recording


Word document




Typed summary


Paul Hatcher


Kent’s Sporting Memories Oral History Summary
Interviewee: Paul Hatcher
Interviewer: Michael Romyn
Date: 13 July 2021
Location: Paul’s home in Rochester, Kent

0:00 Name, place and date of birth (Paul Hatcher, Maidstone, 2 October 1951); Paul talks about his grandparents, including the tragic story of his grandfather, who died by accidental shooting; Paul’s father’s work as an undertaker, at Thomas Miller (later Sears) in Maidstone, and memories of helping his father as a boy – ‘I used to enjoy it immensely’; his father’s standing in the community, and his willingness to help other people.
9:00 Paul’s mother’s activities during the war, and her role as a wife and mother; his father’s pastimes, including betting and gardening; the story of his parents’ meeting on the banks of the River Medway; Paul explains how his father eventually buried his older brother, who was unwell for much of his life – ‘he was a lovely guy as well’; his parents’ lack of communication about living and serving in the war.
21:30 Moving near Bromley, to Bickley, early in his first marriage, when both he and his wife worked in Bromley High Street (Paul worked in the fashion business); memories of growing up in Maidstone, including spending time in Mote Park, and visiting family across Kent.
28:00 Attending Plains Avenue Primary School and secondary school, which, except for practical subjects such as woodwork and metal work, Paul did not enjoy for the most part; sport at school, and his introduction to car racing through model cars and watching Rallycross on the television.
31:45 Paul explains how his love of cars started; his early forays into slot car racing through Scalextric; ‘I had the bug…if it had wheels it was great, if it had a ball it wasn’t that important’; his admiration for Jackie Stewart and other racing drivers like Stirling Moss; attending Brands Hatch racing school, aged 19, across several levels and in various cars; how a lack of means meant Paul could not enter into the world of motor racing in the way he would have liked; Paul’s confidence behind the wheel, and his desire to be involved in racing as a driver.
43:20 Getting married, moving to Aylesford (via Bickley), and leaving the fashion industry to begin work at a furniture shop in Maidstone, aged 22; becoming an area sales manager for a German bedroom company, a firm he stayed with for 29 years before retiring.
47:45 Being introduced by a friend to stock car racing and Hot Rods at Crayford Stadium, Kent – ‘I thought this is so good. And I came away from there…and said to my wife ‘I’ve got to buy a Ford Anglia and go car racing’; buying a Ford Anglia in 1972, stripping the car out, and preparing it for competition at Crayford.
51:10 Competing in and winning his second ever race at Crayford; Paul describes the mutual aid and camaraderie he experienced in the Hot Rod racing community – ‘there was always people to help’; making improvements to his car with the help of various people, including his cousin, a car mechanic, and later, a neighbor, who was also a mechanic; ‘I loved the participation…of being part of it – the drivers, the club, the social side of it, getting dirty, just driving around’; the joy of having his young sons at the track.
58:10 Crowds could reach up to 5,000 people at the various tracks, including Crayford, Brands Hatch and Lydden in Kent; the friendships Paul made in racing; the structure of competitive racing, which comprised a league and weekly events.
1:08 The enjoyment Paul derived from racing, and how he still enjoys watching it and being involved with cars today; Paul raced between 1972 and 1989; Paul’s involvement in slot car racing; being a member of and serving as chairman for Medway Slot Car Club – ‘It’s great fun’.
1:14:20 The biggest changes Paul has seen in his 17 years of racing; more on Paul’s slot car club, including how he got involved 22 years ago, and how it is similar in many ways – specifications, adaptions, sociability - to his racing days; meeting Jackie Stewart, his racing hero, in 2016; watching Jackie Stewart for the first time in 1969; Paul’s waning interest in Formula 1, and taking an interest in NASCAR racing; watching NASCAR and driving a NASCAR car in America for his fiftieth birthday.
1:26:00 Paul’s fondest memories and highlights from his involvement in cars – ‘I think it was just being part of it…it was just being on the track as opposed to the stands’.