Arthur Jolley (left) presenting the Reynolds Trophy to the Editor of IVS, Tom Heavey (right).
I lost a good friend, and Irish motorsport lost one of its most distinguished competitors with the recent passing of Arthur Jolley, aged 95. Arthur was both a very accomplished motorcyclist and a top class rally navigator who made his mark in the most famous event of them all, the Monte Carlo Rally.
Arthur grew up at Airfield in Tallaght, so-named as it had once been the site of the first Royal Flying Corps base in Ireland. After attending the High School he studied Commerce at Trinity College, Dublin. While there he became an active member of the Dublin University Motor Cycle & Light Car Club (invariably known as DU and of which he became a president and life member), having a particular interest in motorcycle trials, at which dicipline he soon came to be regarded as a expert. In 1948 he won his first event – the Rathmichael Scramble – in the process beating the famous Reg Armstrong. Throughout his life, Artur continued to compete in motorcycle trials and was a regular and successful competitor in the Scottish Six Days Trial.
The Cavey-built Jaguar Mk. V of Vard/Young/Jolly /Jackson at the finish of the 1951 Monte Carlo Rally. Note the tricolour on the radiator grille.
It was in 1951 that he was enlisted together with Frank Biggar and ‘Doc’ Jackson to be part of Dubliner Cecil Vard’s crew in the forthcoming Monte Carlo Rally. At the time easily the greatest rally in the world as well as the most keenly contested, Vard’s plan was to borrow his motor-in-law’s Jaguar Mk. V and use it for the event, choosing Glasgow as their starting point. The Jaguar was an Irish-assembled car, having been built by Cavey’s at Camden Street, Dublin. In the event, after 2,000 miles of terrible weather conditions, they took a superb third place, helped by Cecil Vard’s second place in the Speed-Regularity Trial on the streets of Monte Carlo. The result was sensational and was the first major international success by an Irish crew in a major event.
Two years later, Cecil and Arthur returned with the same car, together with Frank Biggar, to place fifth, directly ahead of the Sunbeam-Talbot driven by no less than Stirling Moss and John Cooper, and demonstrating that their earlier third place had been no fluke.
The telegram from Jaguar to Cavey’s congratulating them on their success.
Alongside his motoring and motorcycling activities, Arthur found time to enjoy sailing and was a member of the National Yacht Club. He particularly enjoyed exploring the western Isles of Scotland.
In later life, Arthur enjoyed veteran car and motorcycle events and competed in many of the early Royal Irish Automobile Club Pioneer Run events on various motorcycles, together with his great friend, Jonathan Bewley. Arthur was for many years a committee member of the RIAC Archive and became its Chairman, holding that position for ten years right up to just before his death. He was particularly keen on the annual Reynolds Trophy, presented to the person who has made the greatest contribution to the preserving of motoring or motorsport history in the preceeding year. His store of knowledge and great good sense will be greatly missed by all those with a love of motorsporting history.
This article, by Bob Montgomery, is featured in Irish Vintage Scene Magazine, Issue 170 (July 2020). Bob Montgomery is an author, publisher and Curator of the RIAC archive. He is widely known as Ireland's foremost motoring historian.