Stephen Petter, grandson of Guy Petter, remembers the Petter brothers; Percy, Ernest and Guy

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James Bazeley Petter with his family. (Back Row) Tilly, John, Percy, Harry, Guy, Claude. (Middle Row) Hugh – added later, Gertrude, James, Charlotte, Mary. (Front Row) Dick, Eva and Ernest.

My father’s father was Guy Petter. He was one of thirteen children actually but the three that are most notable are the twins, Percy and Ernest. He and his two brothers made a variety of things but they made their first fortune with a grate, a fire grate, which Queen Victoria bought and they did very well selling but then they went into engines. They claimed they produced the first British motor car and it was in a procession, a Lord Mayor’s procession in London, and they sold two models, two vehicles, but never got paid for either of them and so went bust and that was the story of their life. They kept on inventing things.

My branch of the family coming from Guy consider that Guy was the inventor, Percy was like the production manager, he kept the factories going, and Ernest travelled the world selling mainly Petter engines.

Percy and Ernest were identical twins. Percy was a very evangelical, born-again Christian and could frequently be seen preaching from a soapbox in Trafalgar Square. Ernest, on the other hand, was a bit of a libertine and a bit of a drunkard and he would be seen in his gentlemen’s club by his colleagues and think oh, my God, he’s made a fool of himself again and then the next minute they’d be walking through Trafalgar Square and they’d see apparently him, the same person, the identical twin, preaching salvation.

That’s one of the amusing family stories.


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