Marples Must Go

Marples Must Go – 1964 Austin Mini Cooper S 1071 originally owned by much-loathed Postmaster General, Minister of Transport and alleged tax fraudster The Rt. Hon. The Lord Marples, PC – Alfred Ernest Marples (1907 – 1978) to be auctioned by H&H Classics on 26th July 2017 – Estimate of £70,000 to £80,000 ($89,500 to $102,300, €79,100 to €90,400 or درهم328,800 to درهم375,900)

1964 Mini Cooper S hatchback designed to carry the golf clubs of the much-loathed Postmaster General, Minister of Transport and alleged tax fraudster Ernest Marples for sale


Twice married and born in Levenshulme, Manchester, Ernest Marples – later Lord Marples – makes the very worst of modern politicians look like relative babes in arms. He can, however, be credited with commissioning a rare thing – the first ever Mini hatchback. Two were made in total and one, which was eventually transferred to the ownership of the politician in 1968, is to be auctioned in July.


Pictured left: (Alfred) Ernest Marples (1907 – 1978) with his secretary turned second wife, Ruth Dobson. They married in 1956 and he became The Rt. Hon. The Lord Marples, PC in 1974. Pictured right: Lord Marples in his ‘Marples Mini’ (date unknown).


Marples, whose upbringing was within the Labour Party and whose love of eccentric orange-brown shoes and blue suits was well known, worked as a miner, postman, chef and accountant before a stint in the Royal Artillery between 1941 and 1944. He then joined the Conservative Party, was elected Member of Parliament for Wallasey in 1945 and took his first ministerial post in 1951. Promoted by Churchill, Macmillan and Douglas-Home, he rose to become Postmaster General and Minister of Transport and introduced the STD telephone code, the Premium Bond scheme, the first postcodes, the MOT test, roadside single yellow and double yellow lines and possibly, in his most unpopular move of all, traffic wardens.


Aside from his public appointments, controversially, Marples became a director of various companies in the 1940s. Without considering any potential conflicts of interest, he involved himself in firms that built the first motorways and several power stations also and attracted much attention after protestors spray painted a motorway bridge near Luton that his firm, Marples Ridgway and Partners, constructed with the caption: “Marples Must Go!”


Subsequently, Marples brought the government into disrepute through his part in a prostitution scandal and after this was covered up in 1963, he later “cut and run” to Monaco in 1975 to avoid “a substantial tax bill” after being discovered having parked most of his assets in Monaco and Liechtenstein. He spent his final years on his 45-acre vineyard estate in Fleurie, France and died in a Monte Carlo hospital in 1978.


The ex-Ernest Marples 1964 Austin Mini Cooper S 1071 will be sold by H&H Classics at their Imperial War Museum Duxford sale in Cambridgeshire on the 26th July. It has an estimate of £70,000 to £80,000 ($89,500 to $102,300, €79,100 to €90,400 or درهم328,800 to درهم375,900) – a sum that would no doubt, if he were still alive, have money obsessed Marples smiling with glee.


Of the almond green car, which supposedly the hatchback boot was fitted to on the orders of Marples on the basis he wanted to be easily able to fill it with cases of wine and golf clubs, Damian Jones of H&H Classics commented:


“This is not just another Mini. It is history on four wheels. Its former owner, Transport Minister Ernest Marples changed the face of Britain with housing, bridges, motorways. He was a very ‘colourful character’ to say the least. It is fascinating that he chose to buy and use this relatively modest car when going golfing or going to France on holiday. If this car could speak what tales might it tell? It is truly one of a kind.”



  1. If he was going to be a greedy robber why didn’t the bugger get a Daimler??????????? Plainly not a bright one!!!!!!!!!!!!! A Mini!!!!!!!!!!!!!

  2. Maybe my memory is at fault and I remember many scandals from the 1960s and 70s I do not remember any attached to Marples. I do however well remember going to a party in Earls Court (probably) in about ’70 and a chap showing me the bottle of Marples wine he had brought to the party. Don’t remember the guy of the wine – only the incident

    • He was new to me Iain but I did enjoy researching his somewhat plainly very, very dodgy past. I suppose, though, it was the era of Profumo, Bob Maxwell and Bob Boothby so anything did, indeed, go.

  3. When I left Maxwell’s employ he told me I had learned more from him than any business school could have taught me. I had to tell him that it might be true but not easy to put into practice. Maxwell made Marples look saintly.
    In reality, the politicians of that era were pretty shady.


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