Malcolm Dixon 1935 - 2010
Paul Zuniga kindly forwarded this obituary of Malcolm as told by his longtime friend Harry Knight. Thank's Paul. For a gallery of Malcom's pictures go here.
Malcolm Dixon and his twin brother, Derrick, were born on 5th of March 1935. The twin’s early years were spent in the grim coal mining area of Ferryhill and Mainsforth, south of Durham city, and Yorkshire, County Durham, the Land Of The Prince Bishops in Northeast England. The social depravation and poverty observed and experienced by an intelligent formative mind certainly had a lasting effect on Malcolm. In those early years, World war and post war austerity conditions were grim for the workers of the area. This experience, albeit seen from a relatively privileged position, certainly coloured Malcolm’s, often controversial, political outlook throughout his life. Latterly living for a while at Newton Aycliffe near Darlington then at Dinsdale Hall, Middleton St. George, where their father was head master at a residential school. Their last day school was Spennimoor Grammar School, which they attended up to age 16.
Their dad considered that the Twins exhibited more of a practical than academic bent so, as they preferred, they were allowed to leave grammar school to start student engineering apprenticeships together at Darlington Whessoe engineering Ltd. then a large employer in the area. Over a 5-year apprenticeship the twins received a thorough grounding in design and application of petrochemical, chemical production and storage. Structural, pipe work, pressure vessel, reformer furnaces and touching on aspects of nuclear power plant engineering. They both pursued and achieved enviable academic and professional engineering qualifications from part time attendance at the local Darlington Technical College, before the then compulsory call up for military service at age 21.
Malcolm, due to his consuming interest in aircraft, was luckily sent to the RAF where he worked on airframes. Malcolm held a private pilot’s license up until his late 60s, owned two vintage aircraft and never lost his interest in flying. Derrick, however, was sent to a tank regiment where, after training, he worked on the electronics and gyro systems of the Centurion battle tank, spending much of the time in Germany. This was perhaps the very first time that the twins were separated. On discharge from military service the Twins returned to industry.
Malcom spent a short time with Imperial Chemical industries at Billingham on Teesside. Moving on to major heavy engineering group, Davey Ashmore ltd at Stockton on Tees, where he specialised in reformer furnace design. After a period he was coerced into moving (not happily) to the New York office of the company in an engineering role. Sometime later, Malcolm was moved to Lakeland Florida where he spent some happy years with the company’s design office. During this period the company was taken over by others a number of times and Malcolm was relocated, ending up in Huston. Eventually working for Akakaverner, an international company for whom he worked up until his terminal illness.
I have known Malcolm and his Twin brother Derrick since my teenage years and always have been in awe of the accomplishments, skill and sheer talent that they both brought to their favorite pastime of motorcycling. Malcolm and Derrick filled a hole in my life, being almost the elder guiding siblings that I never had. Derrick unfortunately died as a result of a freak race accident in the late 60’s, and Malcolm never ever stopped grieving for his loss. In any conversation with Malcolm, he would mention his brother and simply worshiped his memory.
Many of Malcolm’s friends posting on the Internet, mention him as being a true gentleman. Nothing could be closer to the truth, with the emphasis heavily placed on the “Gentle “. There was simply not one ounce of badness in the man. Generous to a fault, Malcolm was always supportive of the underdog, the disenfranchised and to those less fortunate members of society that largely make up the population of this world. Always the “true Brit”, he never forgot his roots in the UK and kept his North east accent to the last. I quite well remember he rekindled his interest in competitive riding when he lived in Lakeland Fla. Riding and occasionally, winning, in local short circuit events, wearing an old Barbour jacket with a union flag on the back, and always on a Triumph.
Soft spoken, unassuming, honest and with a brilliant sense of humor, Malcolm was quick to extend a hand in friendship, and help in fettling a cantankerous motorcycle. A gentleman on the racetrack as well, he gave no quarter and never took one without a fair fight. Though he was the most vigorous defender of Triumph motorcycles, those who knew him best know that he was a true motorcycle enthusiast, and made sport of other marques only on the track and in jest. I could go on for hours describing the many good times we had together. The rides in his beloved Yorkshire dales, the Lake District, Yorkshire moors and beating up the local roads just for the hell of it. Visits to the Bridge inn to drink beer, breath the smoke and listen to traditional Jazz. Early days with his first motorcycle (an ancient 250cc Panther no less), the 1934 600 Douglass with homemade single seat sidecar with ”Linda” painted on the side and a variety of BSA and Triumph machines. The dope burning Tiger 100, housed in a grass track frame, constructed specially to compete in local beach racing. Jowet cars, because they were made in Bradford, the list of memories is endless……
If this event had been for someone else, he would be here in life, giving comfort, sympathy and support to the grieving. The outpouring of fond and treasured memories, respectful admiration, sincere appreciation for his tireless dedication to the motorcycling community, and personal accounts of happy times spent with friends in the U.K. and the U.S. has been extraordinary. Although we say farewell to a great friend, the manner in which he touched our lives leaves us better people.
Harry Knight, UK
Paul Zuniga, Laredo, Texas