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Britain By Car - A Motoring History

Created Date:

03 February 2014

Last Modified:

18 December 2023

Woodbine Cottage

The house where Donald Healey, creator of the Austin Healey, grew up and to where he returned after service in the First World War. 

St Georges Hill, Perranporth, TR6 0JT

1898 – c1934

Other locations 
Mawan Smith
, Cornwall
Penhallow, Cornwall
Warwick, Warwickshire

Donald Healey was born in Perranporth on 3rd July 1898.  His parents ran the local store, known as the Red House Shop. 

From an early age Donald healey was fascinated by planes and cars.  In 1914, with financial support from his father, he started an apprenticeship with the Sopwith Aviation Company at Kingston-on-Thames, near London, but never completed it.  In 1915, lying about his age, he volunteered for the Royal Flying Corps, and learnt to fly.

A report in the Independent on Sunday, 6th September 1998, explains that Donald Healey qualified as a pilot after less than three hours flying, and describes the occasion when attempting to land at Doncaster racecourse in a Farman biplane, his aircraft stalled and crashed into the grandstand, narrowly missing the infantrymen billeted on the course.  

After gaining his wings as a pilot, Donald Healey served both as fighter and night bomber pilot, but was shot down when an Allied shell exploded close to his aircraft, and he crashed close to enemy lines.  With both physical injuries and some memory loss, he was invalided out of the service, working for the remainder of the War in the Aircraft Inspection Department.

Returning to Perranporth after the War, Donald Healey built and set up a garage business next door to his parents’ shop.

Further details

  • Austin Healey – The story of the Big Healeys, Geoffrey Healey, Wilton House Gentry, 1977.
  • Austin-Healey, Graham Robson, Shire Library, 2010.
  • The Independent on Sunday, 6th September 1998.