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Famous Sudbury taxi which transported Winston Churchill during the Second World War to make rare appearance

Pat Morton with the car. Picture: CONTRIBUTED

Pat Morton with the car. Picture: CONTRIBUTED

Archant

An 80-year-old taxi which transported Winston Churchill to secret wartime engagements in the Sudbury area will make a rare public appearance next month.

Elsie Elliston with her Austin taxi which transported Churchill during World War Two. Picture: CONTRIBUTED Elsie Elliston with her Austin taxi which transported Churchill during World War Two. Picture: CONTRIBUTED

Elsie Elliston played a unique role in the town’s transport history by ferrying VIPs to events, including Churchill and King George VI, in her six cylinder 16hp Austin taxi.

Riding school owner Elsie, always wore jodhpurs and a riding jacket when driving, also took brides to weddings and rushed expectant mothers to hospital in the vehicle.

Elsie died more than 25 years ago but the taxi is still in ownership of her family, and the vehicle will be on display at Newton Green Golf Club for a 110th anniversary event on August 6.

Elsie’s son-in-law Pat Morton has never previously shown the car, although it has seen service at at family celebrations and a few weddings.

Mr Morton said: “It only needs turning over a couple of times for it to start. The family is pleased it has been able to hold on to a vehicle of such historic importance to the Sudbury area.

“Elsie took King George V1 from Sudbury railway station to Acton airfield when he came to visit injured servicemen, and carried Winston Churchill when he came to the area during the war.”

The old taxi, which was purchased from Mann Eggerton of Ipswich in 1936 for £301, has travelled more than 500,000 miles and still has its original engine - which has had one refurbishment.

The car also transported a few unusual items – a Shetland pony for Elsie’s grandson was brought home tethered in the vehicle’s rear footwell.

But the taxi missed its chance to be a television star when Elsie refused to let it appear in Dad’s Army because she worried it might be damaged.

Interviewed for a history profile in 1992, Elsie said: “I did a lot of driving during the war. I used to drive servicemen back to their bases late at night, and also went up to London a lot.

“I knew the North Circular like the back of my hand. I’ve just had the one car, and it has done the equivalent of going round the world 25 times.

“Every time I came home at night – it might have been raining or snowing – I would wash or wipe it down, and look to see if anyone had dropped a cigarette inside.

“I did all the maternity jobs in Sudbury because women would prefer to have a woman driver. And I did most of the weddings too – I had some lovely class work.”

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