Man who taught a generation of Crawley youngsters to drive dies

Fred Stone
Fred Stone

A man who taught a generation of Crawley youngsters to drive has died, aged 91.

Fred Stone, collapsed while walking near his home in Furnace Green.

Mr Stone founded his one-man Stone’s Driving School in 1972 and went on to get scores of local people through their driving tests before he retired in the early 1990s.

He moved to Crawley from Morden in Surrey when the new town was founded, in 1953, one of the first residents in Mitchells Road, Three Bridges.

He owned the first car in the street, a Series E Austin Morris.

Former Crawley Town goalkeeper and manager Johnny Maggs lived across the road.

He worked for many years on the Industrial Estate as an engineering draughtsman with APV and also for Woodall Duckham.

Ironically he never passed a driving test himself! He learnt to drive in the army, doing National Service just after the Second World War, in the UK and in Germany.

He is survived by his wife Eileen and sons Graham, Alan and David.

Alan said: “Lots of people will have fond memories of Fred. He was a kind and very clever bloke. He was a great teacher and a gifted engineer who could fix anything.

“At one stage he was virtually the in-house driving instructor at Thomas Bennett Community College.

“He never advertised and ran the business for 20 years based almost entirely on personal recommendations. That speaks volumes for how well he was regarded.”

Fred Stone’s funeral is at the Surrey and Sussex Crematorium, Balcombe Road on Friday May 4 at 2.45pm. All are welcome.

His family have requested no flowers but suggest donations in his memory to the British Heart Foundation.