The life and times of pioneer Winifred Brown from Sale brought to life in new book
PUBLISHED: 12:00 05 June 2013
A brave, intrepid woman from Sale has inspired this new book which will be discussed by her famous actor son at this month’s Lymm Festival.
Lymm resident Geoff Meggitt had a career as a scientist in the nuclear industry before he retired.
He began his retirement in the early noughties by writing a history of the subject: Taming the Rays. Then halfway through another technical history, he came across Winifred Brown through his interest in sailing. He quickly found that sailing was just one of this woman’s remarkable achievements. Geoff decided to put the history book to one side for a while and, with help from her famous actor son Tony Adams, write her biography.
Born in Sale in Cheshire in 1899, the wayward daughter of a well-off Manchester butcher, Win Brown became an outstanding sportswoman and aviator. She played hockey and ice hockey for England and was a low handicap golfer. She took up flying and in 1930 was the first (and last) woman to win the prestigious King’s Cup Air Race around England. By now a national celebrity, she made a canoe voyage in the upper Amazon before turning to sailing. Her drive and ambition soon took her and her constant companion Ron Adams, both novices, on three long and hazardous voyages from the Menai Straits in Wales to Norway in her small boat—including one to Spitsbergen in the Arctic. War came and claimed the love of her life,
Norwegian resistance hero Einar Sverdrup. A baby was made legitimate when she married Ron Adams (although he was not the father), family break-up and financial problems changed everything and she and young Tony moved from Beaumaris to London where he trained as an actor. As Tony’s career blossomed, she mingled with his friends, always outrageous, always fun. Later, she moved to the south coast, drank with the cream of the yachting fraternity and spent her later years living on Tony’s stylish motor yacht in various harbours. Tony Adams meanwhile, among many successes in theatre and variety, became a national heart-throb as racy Adam Chance in the legendary soap Crossroads.
Winifred wrote three books about her life. One of them, Duffers on the Deep, is a lively, honest account of her sailing adventures and, to many, a classic of its kind.