Donald Healey: Return to Cornwall, and his Later Years

One of the later Healey prototypes, a Fiesta, sits alongside some more classic machinery at Warwickshire County Record Office.
Image courtesy of Benjamin Earl

Donald Healey moved back to Trebah in Cornwall in 1963 because of his wife Ivy’s poor health. Trebah included 26 acres and had room for workshops. Former Donald Healey Motor Company engineer and head of its experimental department Roger Menadue lived nearby to help with work, including building one of the three Rolls Royce engine Healey prototypes; as well as the running chassis for the prototype Jensen-Healey. Trebah Gardens Ltd was formed to produce flowers for markets.

Visits to Warwick

Soon after moving to Trebah the family appeared in a TV company documentary about the lives of six Cornish families. The programme included visits to Warwick (showing Geoff and ‘Bic’ at work) and Silverstone (testing a Le Mans car). Other scenes included ‘Bic’ fishing at Trebah, waterskiing, and John Healey sand-yachting at Perranporth.

Donald Healey continued his other interests at Trebah such as closed circuit television, organ building, improving TV speakers, a digital 24 hour clock that projected the time onto the ceiling via mirrors, boating, and fishing.

Windmills

Ten years were spent at Trebah but the house became too large to cope with as Donald and Ivy got older, so they moved to be nearer John and his wife Joy near Truro in a house called ‘Beggar’s Roost’. Healey then pursued another interest – using windmills to generate power. His first power generating models were built in his back garden and he then got planning permission to install a tower on the former wartime airfield at Perranporth. Geoff Healey worked on drawings and had castings made in the Midlands, which were then machined in Truro. ‘Bic’ helped out (having retired from the motor industry and was growing flowers commercially nearby). A rig was also fitted on a Mini pickup.

15th January 1988

Ivy’s health deteriorated so a bungalow near ‘Bic’ and his wife Mary (now living in Perranporth) was bought for her and Donald. Ivy died in March 1980. For the last six years of his life Donald lived with John and Joy in an annex to their home and he died on 13th January 1988, the same day that the old Coten End premises in Warwick were demolished.

The previous article looked at Jensen-Healey and attempts to keep the name alive.

The ‘Warwick Healey Motor Company’ material was purchased by Warwickshire County Record Office from the Healey family in June 2016 and includes items from different branches of the family. Subsequent donations were made by the family and others, including former Donald Healey Motor Company employees, individuals, and Healey enthusiasts.

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