Jeremy Thorpe – a life in pictures

There are a host of fantastic photographs of Jeremy Thorpe in the archives. He had a real sense of showmanship to which photographers responded. Here are a few images which reflect his life. Scroll down to view them. Hover your mouse, cursor or finger over the image to see the caption. All these pictures come from the remarkable Getty Images library, which you can access here.

There are a few photographs which I would have liked to have included here but which licensing rights prevented me from doing. Those photos are:

1. Possibly the best photograph ever taken of a politician – Jeremy Thorpe tries out Jimi Hendrix’s guitar. An absolute gem of a photo!
2. For me, the most iconic photo of Jeremy Thorpe is this one where he vaults over a North Devon ditch.
3. This astonishing photo of Jeremy Thorpe as violinist circa 1965.
4. This photo of him with a “youthful liberal”.
5. This one of him laughing at a “livestock market”. It looks like South Molton market to me, but I would welcome any more authoritative views on the location.
6. This one which shows him echoing the pose of his own photograph.
7. This one of him while signing copies of his auto-biography.
8. Lastly, as a real bonus, this extraordinary photograph of Jeremy Thorpe dressed in full sou’-westers from the BBC. The occasion was the summer of 1974, when Jeremy toured the south-west’s tourist spots to campaign. At one point the weather turned nasty, hence the photo of the great man with the sou’ westers on. As a 15 year-old, I witnessed Jeremy Thorpe’s visit to Summerleaze beach, Bude that summer. I remember seeing him being interviewed there by Angela Rippon, who was a reporter with Westward Television, the ITV franchise for the South-West at the time. In 2007 I recalled the occasion on my blog:

I witnessed one of these events at Bude, Cornwall. It was absolutely bizarre. Jeremy Thorpe’s hovercraft arrived from the sea and landed on busy Summerleaze beach, on which hordes of tourists were sunbathing in their swimming trunks/bikinis. Thorpe then came out of the hovercraft and addressed the populace from the running board of his craft. He stood there in a three-piece suit and trilby hat, in the blazing sunshine. I remember that Angela Rippon, the broadcaster, was standing beside him with a film crew for Westward Television.

You couldn’t make it up.

Paul Tyler added a comment on my aforementioned blog post as follows:

I recall this hovercraft tour as well – for another reason. I saw the hovercraft wrecked on the south coast after it was caught by a rather nasty wave. There were suggestions at the time that it wasn’t helped by the heavyweight Cyril Smith MP being on board at one stage – I couldn’t possibly comment, but see here for a photo.

Memory lane indeed. To my enduring embarrassment I was reponsible for the original idea of a campaign tour around the traditional seaside resorts during the traditional off-season of August. We (correctly) anticipated an early autumn Election (familiar?). Thorpe planned the logistics (down to party colour gumboots) in characteristic detail, but failed to lead on the campaign message. When challenged by Pardoe he said “I leave that to you, John”. The hovercraft was a huge media and campaign succcess in Cornwall, but was hit by a rogue wave when (without me) it returned to Devon/England.

Later I will post a selection of YouTube videos of Jeremy Thorpe.


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