Story Behind the Image

Holidays 1958

Get a car, get away!

This photo was taken about 55 years ago and shows three friends at lands End; or perhaps that would be a caption to it anyway. So what’s the backstory, as it is fashionable to say, and how did it come about? It was just before the long summer holidays and Richard (Dicky) Parker, Dave Crisp and David Padley were talking about what to do in the summer holidays and the idea came about to do something different which wasn’t too surprising as we were 17 or 18 years old. The idea came up of get a car and get away somewhere different.

The car problem

The biggest problem was the car, of course, because all the rest depended upon it. Dave had the idea he could get hold of a car which was fortunate because I think that Richards dad may have had one but only a couple families in our street owed one and none of my family did except an uncle who happened to work in a factory (that seemed to make him rich in my mind at least). The venue was a bit more straightforward and it would be Devon and Cornwall as Richard said that everyone was doing it. Well those that he knew might well have been but not the circles that I moved in. My view was that we would never be able to manage it, as the car seemed out of reach. True to his word Dave said that he mother had a friend who came drinking regularly, don’t jump to conclusions Dave’s family kept a pub in Epperstone, and he said that he could let us have one. Now this really impressed, fancy having friends who had lots of cars and wasn’t even sure which one it would be.

The great day came

Having collected some clothes together (I didn’t seem to have too extensive a summer wardrobe actually) some money, that I had earned doing jobs that summer, I made my way over to Southwell and I think stayed at Richard’s overnight. Richard lived in a rather lovely old cottage and had a great dog, a springer, that made a real fuss of me. We got over to Dave’s that morning and he did not seem to have a car! Not to worry it would arrive and to my astonishment it did, a two tone Hillman Minx as I remember it. Two tone was very fashionable be Hillman rather less so. It did however sport lots of chrome, a gear lever on the steering column and seats cover with plastic to keep them clean. The car belonged to the local garage and had been taken in part exchange for a new one and we could have it as long as we looked after it. Dave and Richard had got the best seats in the front and I got the ones in the back with the luggage. Richard and Dave were to drive but in practice Dave did almost all of it. Dave Crisp was a born leader and sort of took control as and when the situation required. So there we were the world was our oyster; a car, a map some money and off we went. The journey was planed and after some debate we chose the A46 that would take us in the general direction of Bristol and Bath. It may have been some co-incidence that the road was the first major road locally going through Leicester, Coventry and Cheltenham. Motorways were yet to be invented and dual-carriage ways were rare indeed, milestones were normally measured in terms of getting through major cities so to get as far as Cheltenham the first day was a major achievement. Time rather than distance was the key measure and I do remember that a good day would be six hours at least of driving.

Animal Farm?

Accommodation was going to be expensive so the plan was not to spend money on the traditional B&B’s; Dave and Richard reckoned the best bet was to go for farms and to see if we could come up with either cheap or no cost sleeping arrangements. The first night went reasonably well by just turning up at a farm, looking very tired and asking if we could sleep in the barn. It surprisingly worked rather well and we had sleeping bags and the farm had a decent barn well stocked with straw; so far so good as I slept pretty well. The morning actually proved better because we got breakfast and for a few pounds in total that was it. This was then a high point because thing went down hill the next night. It was raining and we could not find anything promising so we tried a farm down a muddy track and were meet with an equally muddy farmer and his two dogs and some pigs that were even worst. He said that we could use the barn but we took one look and made the excuse that we were going to the local shop and ran back to the car rejoicing in the fact that we had got away and fanaticising on what might befall us at the farm. We did not of course return.

Lands End and scrumpy

Washing was a bit of a problem so we tried to get into the sea as often as we could and broadly we were spoilt for choice. There was none of todays traffic jams that you will see today and the names just roll off the tongue; St Ives, Perranporth, Newquay, Sennon Cove, Polzeath, Looe, Polperro and Lands End. One of the most memorable moment was playing rugby on one of the beaches in the hot sun as the tide came in very fast over one of those flat beaches. Seems like a lot of places to go but petrol was cheap in those days as you could get 4 gallons of petrol and change out of a pound. Another memory was our first chance to sample genuine scrimpy cider. We were at some out of the way pub, of an evening, and were talked into some genuine scrimpy, this stuff apparently had to the cloudy 'so you could see the strings of the apples'. Well, we had a couple of pints or so and true to his word I had the genuine hangover and I felt 'cloudy' alright next day. It took a long time before I would venture onto the stuff again. Finally back to the picture taken clearly at Lands End as can see on the sign behind us, together with a special one saying Nottingham 336 miles. A long way and a long time ago, just three lads off on holiday before all the complications of life began.

David Padley, at Minster Grammar School 1952 to 1959