THE SOUND of more than a dozen rumbling Bentleys filled a quiet graveyard yesterday to honour a lifelong collector of the famous British brand.
More than 400 friends and fellow car collectors turned out to pay their respects to Eddie Ewart, who spent his life buying and restoring the luxury firm’s models.
The body of the Edinburgh hotelier arrived at Mortonhall Crematorium in his own Bentley hearse that his devoted son had converted.
Fraser Ewart turned the R-Type 1953 saloon into a hearse to for Eddie’s last journey, saying: “It’s exactly the way he would want to go.”
A banjo, trumpet and saxophone trio cheerily played Eddie’s coffin into the crematorium, to the jazz tune of Carry Me Back To Old Virginia and When The Saints Go Marching In.His youngest son Gordon spoke to the large gathering of friends and family, who crammed into the main chapel to hear him pay an upbeat tribute to his dad.
He told how his father had served in the RAF, before becoming a plumber, then owning a bar in Edinburgh’s Cowgate before finally buying the Eskbank Hotel, which he ran “Fawlty Towers style.”
Gordon described a larger-than-life figure to the congregation, many of whom had a tear in their eye as they laughed and smiled.
He joked that his father’s Bentleys had played a big part in all their lives and had recalled one incident when he was a boy.
Gordon said: “I was playing in the driveway when my dad drove straight over both of my feet in the three-litre Bentley.
“My brothers freaked out my relatives by saying, ‘Dad’s run over Gordon with the Bentley.”
He also told how Eddie, his wife Priscilla and his Bentley had become stuck behind the Iron Curtain after they lost their exit papers.
James Bond style
He said: “Eddie Ewart was stuck in the Eastern Bloc and struggling to get his papers back – James Bond style.”
Gordon also told how his mum and dad had recently spent their 50-year anniversary revisiting the small Peebles hotel that they had spent their first night together in, after originally meeting at the Murrayfield ice rink as teenagers.
He added: “He always said he would love to go early rather than not drive, and in his later years he certainly pushed the white line once or twice.
“His legacy leaves plenty of children and grandchildren and I can’t profess how much he loved them in his final years.
“And as a friend he will be remembered by those who he has touched.
“Safe journey then.”
The ceremony’s minister then bid Eddie farewell, before telling the congregation that they could “follow the trail of blue smoke” to join the family at Prestonfield House Hotel.
His 46-year-old brother Fraser, who is also an avid fan of the British brand, owning eight himself, said: “I tried to find a Bentley hearse, but I could only locate one down south.
“So I rolled my sleeves up and transformed the last one he owned.
“I found a hearse in a junkyard, removed the soft top of the Bentley and attached the hearse back to the gap.
“It’s exactly the way he would want to go.
“My father was a cheery man, a cheeky character.
“I know it’s a send-off he would have approved of – even if we have altered his Bentley.”