Stuart Bailey: tool hire business founder who worked on record-breaking steam car

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Stuart Bailey was the founder of Stuart Bailey Tool Hire

SINCE a small boy Stuart Bailey was never happier, according to his family, then when he was “tinkering around with something in his shed.”

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It was no wonder that Stuart went on to found one of the most well-known businesses in the area – Stuart Bailey Tool Hire – which he created in the early 1980s.

Based in Silver Street, Hordle, the company supplied tools, gardening equipment and virtually every kind of building machinery people needed.

Stuart’s first wife Aase, who he married in in January 1976, remembers: “The success didn’t come overnight. It was down to Stuart working long hours, long days and evenings in the small shed in the garden, or often under a tarpaulin in the garden in all weathers.”

Before setting up the business Stuart, who was born in Barton in April 1949, worked as a gardener and had odd jobs such as barman at The Gun pub in Keyhaven and a picker in an apple orchard. He also worked for a time at Moodys funeral directors in New Milton.

He then went to work at Dennis Knights, a handyman general stores, in Lymington. It was through the shop that he met wife Aase. He was living with one of the owners who had a Norwegian wife and Aase was a friend from the country who came on a visit.

She and Stuart met and fell in love. They had two sons Julian, born in March 1976 and Neil who came along 15 months later.

Julian described his father as “a very loving, caring dad. Really hands on. From an early age he was showing us how to strip down a lawn mower.

“He was a very practical man and liked to show us how things worked. It rubbed off as I went into engineering and my brother is a boat builder.”

As his business grew Stuart was able to indulge his other great passion – boating. He started off with small vessels graduating to a motor boat which he loved to take family and friends out on at weekends.

He also loved sea fishing followed by a walk to his local pub. Former wife Aase remembers him as a “man of habit. Coffee at 11 on Sundays, tea in the afternoon.”

The pair divorced around 15 years ago but remained friends. About two years after they split Stuart became involved with a new partner, Wendy Buscall.

After retiring from the tool hiring business Stuart continued to manage a caravan site on land at Silver Street which was set up in the forties, or fifties.

Julian said: “There are people who have been coming to the site for 20 to 30 years and there were always glad to see dad. He would chat to everyone.”

He said one of his dad’s greatest achievements was to help construct a vehicle for Charles Burnett who wanted to break the World Land Speed record for a steam powered car.

Called “Inspiration” it set the record on 26th August 2009, when it achieved a speed of 148.308 mph (239 km/h) at the Edwards Air Force Base in California. The car can now be seen at the National Motor Museum Trust at Beaulieu.

Apparently in good health Stuart’s death came as a shock to everyone who knew him. Only 69 he had said goodbye to partner Wendy when she left for work before getting up to make some breakfast.

He had then gone back to bed where he was found later having passed away peacefully. Tests later revealed that he had heart problems although they had not caused him any symptoms. In fact two days before he died he was chopping logs and bagging them up in his yard.

Julian said: “The sad thing is that he was absolutely loving being a granddad. I have two children aged three and a half and two and dad was besotted with them.

“It’s so sad that they will now grow up without having him around, he would have taught them so much like he did with us.”

Stuart’s funeral service at Woodlands was attended by so many people speakers had to be set up outside to relay the service.