Meet the classic car model maker who creates mini masterpieces in his garden shed
His first foray into cinema came much earlier, at the age of 10, with an anonymous role in Terry Gilliam’s Jabberwocky, a fantasy dragon movie starring Michael Palin and David Prowse (of Darth Vader). English recalls, “Dad made all the armor for Jabberwocky, but they needed someone short to play the knight in the famous fight scene to make the dragon look bigger. So that was me, “he laughs.” I wore reduced armor and wielded a sword uncontrollably. “
With the money from Sword of the Valiant, the British started motorcycle racing, participating in events such as the Isle of Man TT. He rarely got out of the saddle: during the week he worked as a dispatcher in London. On the sidelines, he started making models of two-wheeler stars such as George Formby and multiple world champion Mike Hailwood. How did it happen?
He explains, “I was at a movie memorabilia convention with daddy – not my bag but it was for his job – and I saw a model maker and I started thinking ‘I could do that’, so I bought an Action Man doll, I dressed her. in clay and sculpted a model of Mike Hailwood. I’ve sunk a few of them in bronze and sold them on the Isle of Man in TT races.
In 1994 he moved to Cornwall to join his father making armor for films such as First Knight (1995), The 13th Warrior (1999), The Messenger: Joan of Arc (1999) and King Arthur (2004). “All the armor was made in the traditional way by hand beating aluminum plates, but we also had to be on set for repairs and dress the stars in their armor. We spent a lot of time outdoors and loved it, ”says English. “But in 2008, I separated from my partner and had custody of my daughter, so I couldn’t be away for months.”
The hangar – and the models – were the answer. Fortunately, through my lines of George Formby and Mike Hailwood, I met a model maker called Javen Smith who inspired me to make a Manx Norton 1/4 scale racing bike, so I borrowed original parts to copy and started making the models. “
Glen limited the 500cc Manx Nortons to 50 – priced at £ 3,250 – and sold out within months. His next model was the AJS 7R – “the most beautiful motorcycle ever built,” he said. It was only a matter of time before he turned his attention to the cars. “It’s actually easier to make cars because they’re a lot less complex than a motorcycle,” he says.
Dexterity runs through the English family. His uncle, Jim – with whom Glen occasionally works – helped design the 1970s Raleigh Chopper bike for Ogle Design. His cousin, Michael Johnson, is one of the UK’s leading boilermakers and owns Cornwall-based Copperworks, with whom Glen helped create the Duke of Westminster’s coat of arms for the Defense Medical Rehabilitation Center (DMRC). “Michael called me and explained to me that the plaque involved dogs and I said, ‘You’re kidding, I don’t make animals, I make cars and bikes.’ But Michael said ‘You’ll be fine’ so I tried.
“I became obsessed with studying dogs,” says English. “I found myself chasing anyone with a dog and saying, ‘Wait, I have to draw your dog’s paws. “? Fortunately, there were also artist drawings of the plate to work from.
The plaque is one of many bronzes produced for the DMRC and is affixed above a statue of Major Sir Robert Jones (1857-1933) – known as “the father of modern orthopedics”.
But it’s back to the hangar now. English has the Alfa to complete before starting work on its new series: a Jim Clark Lotus 25 and a Maserati 4CLT (the racing rival of the Alfa Romeo 158 in the 1950s). He also collaborated with motorcycle brand Brough Superior to create a 1/4 scale model of the SS100 on which Bert le Vack broke the world record in 1929 with a speed of 129.07 mph.
“I started Brough Superior but I’m studying one part at a time. It’s too worrying to have too many valuable pieces on the workbench, ”he said.
The production demands mean that the next 18 months are almost entirely limited. But it is okay; all Minder episodes are now available for catch-up.