Paul Skilleter reports on the sad passing of a leading light among the Jaguar fraternity.
Joss Davenport presenting the prizes at a club event in the early 1970s.
Photo: Paul Skilleter
We very much regret to record the death of Joss Davenport on September 10th, after a long and courageous battle with cancer.
Joss was best known for his infectious enthusiasm for XKs, and had owned his silver XK 120 open two seater (OAU 84) for some 45 years. He was a founder member of the XK Register of the Jaguar Driver’s Club, becoming its first chairman in 1968. It was largely due to Joss’s energy and enthusiasm that the XK Register quickly progressed to a membership of around 1,500. Amongst the events he organised were Greenham Common sprints held in the late 1960s/early 1970s, well before the air base became famous for its Cruise missiles and the ‘Greenham Wimmin’ encampment. Joss campaigned his XK 120 at the sprint, and also entered it in hill climbs.
Joss continued to maintain a leading role in the Register through the 1970s, retiring from the front line in the 1980s but retaining all his enthusiasm for Jaguars and XKs in particular. He joined the Jaguar Enthusiasts’ Club not long after its inception and was a loyal member until his death.
Ever ready to help fellow enthusiasts, Joss had a vast number of friends all over the world, and would go out of his way to help fellow XK owners with advice and encouragement. He had the ability to strike up friendships with almost everyone, including the rich and famous who did not over-awe him in the least – to Joss they were ‘just’ XK enthusiasts like himself, with a common bond. Friendly to all, no-one ever had a bad word to say about Joss.
He owned and restored other Jaguars apart from OAU 84 (a 1951 car he purchased in 1968, replacing an XK 140), these including an XK 120 drophead, an SS Jaguar convertible, and most recently, an XK 150 drophead which he sold last year to a highly appreciative new owner. His great hobby was of course Jaguars, and his restorations were completed in between his frequent and often lengthy trips abroad (especially to the Middle and Far East). He loved travelling on behalf of the medical supplies company for whom he worked for several decades, though he would have preferred to have flown the aircraft rather than being a passenger – but a slight hearing defect had thwarted his original plans as a youth to join the Fleet Air Arm.
Joss was born on 27th April 1938 at Hinton St Mary in Dorset, moving with his parents to Weston-Super-Mare where they ran a small hotel. It was here that he met his wife-to-be Judith, who was on holiday for the first time without her parents! They married in October 1959, and had two children – Alan, born in 1964, and Angela, born in 1967. Angela later provided Joss and Judith with two granddaughters whom Joss doted on. The family lived for a number of years at Thatcham, Berkshire, then moved to Beech House in Hedley, near Newbury, in 1975.
Joss’s cheerful presence will be much missed by all those who knew him. Our deepest sympathies are extended to his wife Judith and all his family and close friends. We will add details of the funeral when the date and place have been decided.
Joss Davenport (left) with his XK 120 OAU 84, during the 40th anniversary meeting of the XK Register held in January 2007 at the Marquis of Granby, Esher, Surrey. With him is another early XK Register member, John James.
Photo: Paul Skilleter
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All information correct at time of publishing.