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The Shetland Flyer -The 3rd Trip

Dennis and Shelia Brown are by no means frightened of using their Standard. Here they recount the story of their summer trip of over 1500 miles from their home in South Wales to the Shetland Islands and back in their 1938 Standard Flying 12. They are a shining example to us all!

 Standards at the Show. Dennis's Flying 12 is in the centre, flanked by a Roadster and a Standard Ensign, a couple of local cars

It is 4 years since we last visited the Shetland Motor Show and during that time we have had numerous requests to visit once again. Bearing in mind that neither of us are getting any younger it was a case of now or never.

So the decision was made, ferry and accommodation booked and the route planned. We also decided to spend a couple of extra days on the island so that we could visit some of the outlying areas.

So, bright and early-ish we set out on Sunday morning for the Buck Inn at Chopgate, on the North York Moors where we were to meet Roy and Davina Barker, our travelling companions. Our route was via the M50 and M5, onto the A46 to Newark and then the A1.

Prior to this I had seen a TV programme which featured the Waggoners Memorial at Sledmere, east of York, which seemed reasonably close to our route so we decided to visit it.

The Waggoner's Memorial

The Memorial was designed by Lt Col. Sir Mark  Sykes,Bart: MP,in remembrance of the gallant service of the Waggoners Reserve Corps of 1,000 men in the 1914/18 war. The men were a army transport unit recruited from local farms, with experience of handling horses, to supply the front line positions. The memorial consists of a series of carvings which tell their story.

Unfortunately the memorial was further off our route than we thought and we eventually covered nearly 300 miles before arriving at the Pub.

Our destination next day was Edinburgh. As we wanted to visit the Historic Quay at Hartlepool we agreed to meet up with Roy & Davina later in the day some where on route.

The centrepiece of the Quay is HMS Trincomalee which floats in a dockyard setting with period stores, shops, etc. situated on the surrounding dock.  

                                              HMS Trincomalee.                                                                             The Gun Deck.

HMS Trincomalee was built in Bombay at a cost of £30,323 and launched on 12th October 1817. During her time on active service she spent 944 days at sea and covered over 110,000 miles between the Antarctic and the Arctic. In 1860 she became a Training Ship until training ceased in 1986.

In 1987 she was bought for restoration during which time over 50 skip loads of non-original features were removed, but despite this over 60% of the timber is original. She is the oldest ship afloat in Europe.

It was now time to move on and meet up with Roy and Davina at a small café north-east of Newcastle. After a scary ride through the Tyne Tunnel, and the best efforts of our sat-nav to get us lost, thank goodness for a map! we arrived only to find the café shut! We did manage to find a alternative and the it was on to our over-night stay in Edinburgh.

Day 3 was a relatively short, 120 mileish, drive to the docks at Aberdeen. All went well until we approached the Forth Bridge where massive road works were taking place, it appears another road crossing is being built, and by the state of the existing bridge it is sorely needed.

Once over the bridge the road works continued, we were following the M90/A90 when at fork in the road works Roy went left but we were unable to follow due to a very large lorry which appeared on our nearside, so we went right.

At the next services on the M90 we stopped to find out where Roy and Davina. They appeared to be on the A92, but were not really sure. We eventually met up 45 miles later at Dundee where the two roads meet. From then on it was uneventful all the way to Aberdeen. We boarded the ferry quite early and were well established in our cabin when it set sail. After a very enjoyable meal in the restaurant it was off to bed and a uneventful crossing.

The ferry disembarks at 7.00 hrs but we found out that we could park our cars on the dockside and then return to the ship for a leisurely breakfast. On returning to our car I noticed a 1935 standard 12 on the opposite side of the car park which I had not seen on the crossing but looked vaguely familiar. I recognised the registration, JSL 138, but could remember who owned it. But more of that later.

We then had a leisurely drive around Lerwick before checking into our hotel.

The Shetland Classic Car Club organise tours around Shetland on the two days prior to the opening of the Show. The first of these was via the minor roads of the East coast to the Sumburgh Head National Nature Reserve with it’s large colony of Puffins. Lunch was at the Sumburgh Hotel after which we returned to Lerwick via the Quendale Watermill Museum with it’s large collection of exhibits showing the history of the area

The main road back to Lerwick crosses the main runway of Sumburgh Airport and is controlled by traffic lights. It is somewhat unreal to be waiting at a red light when a large commercial aircraft passes within a few feet of the front of the car!

The next day was a tour of the West Mainland via the Tingwall Valley and it’s small local airport, which serves the outlying islands, to the Scalloway viewpoint.

Scalloway was famous during WW11 as the base for what became known as the “Shetland Bus”. This bus was operated by Norwegian fishermen who had escaped from Nazi occupied Norway and did not go overland but across the North Sea, taking supplies and saboteurs into the Norwegian fjords under the noses of the Germans and returning with refugees. These journeys were made in open, unarmed, fishing boats, covering thousands of miles, the fishermen risking their lives in storms, fog and darkness.

From Scalloway we went via The Shetland Silvercraft factory on the shores of Loch Hellister,and then on to the Sandness Woollen Mill.

Sandness is about as far West as you can go on Shetland and is at the end of the A971. Again this is something I have only seen on Shetland, a A road which is single track for the last dozen or so miles!

Scalloway from Viewpoint.

Which A Road is this sign on?

As we entered the village we stopped at the local school so that the pupils, all 7 of them, could have a look at the cars, and then it was just a few yards to the Woollen Mill.

The Mill is owned by Bertie Jamieson and his family and Is what these days would be called fully integrated, taking fleece from local farms, cleaning and dyeing it and then producing fully finished jumpers and cardigans. The finishing process is fully automated and computer controlled and it is fascinating to see the finished garments piling up under the knitting machines.

Bertie is a long standing member of the Standard Motor Club and owns a 1934 “10” which he drove down to the “National” at Honiley ( Hatton Country World - Webmaster) some years ago, and a 1947 Flying 12.

On our way back we stopped off for lunch at the Village Hall in Walls where the local ladies provided us with soup, 2 varieties, and a vast array of homemade sandwiches.

Saturday and Sunday are Show days with vehicles displayed inside the hall at the Clickimim Leisure Centre and also on the surrounding car park. We were parked inside the Hall, alongside the Swallow Doretti of Alan Gibb, the Triumph Roadster of  Roy & Davina Barker and Ensign of Hamilton Gifford.

The Ensign was delivered new to Shetland in 1959 and for the next 2 years worked as a taxi with Hamilton at the wheel. The car was then sold to a new owner in Scalloway. When she was put up for sale in 1994 Hamilton bought her and having restored her to her original condition she makes regular appearances at the Lerwick show. It’s registration number, PS 3055 is the oldest number on the road and has been on the car since new.

It was here that we first met Bob Alexander and while chatting to him I asked where his car was. Outside was the reply, so I went to have a look at it and lo and behold it was JSL 138 originally owned by Frank Jones with whom we had spent may enjoyable Nationals.

After the Show we spent a couple of day’s touring round Shetland and the surrounding islands before boarding the overnight ferry back to Aberdeen. While waiting on the quayside our friend Margaret Forest presented us with some “Puffin Poo” for the journey home!

For some reason we had decided to try and get home in 2 days rather than the usual 3, so we decided to have a quick breakfast and make a quick departure. We were first off the ferry into the early morning mist so we had a good start on the journey south. Our overnight stop was in Darlington some 280 miles to the south but we had already planned to visit  Scotland’s Secret Bunker just outside Anstruther in Fife, which was sort of on the way home.

The bunker was constructed at the start of The Cold War as part of a underground radar early warning system. The building is buried 40 metres underground, with outer walls of solid concrete 3 metres thick reinforced with 2.5cm tungsten rods, and covered with earth from the original excavation. The guard house was built to resemble a typical Scottish farmhouse suitably re-inforced. It was so unobtrusive that the locals were unaware of it’s purpose.

It is a two story building, entered by a tunnel approx 150 metres long, gradually sloping downhill to the top floor of the bunker. In 1968 it was considerably updated to house up to 300 personnel when it became a Regional Government Headquarters for use in the event of a nuclear war.

Later than planned we then set off for Darlington arriving around 9pm,in the pouring rain on a deserted industrial estate courtesy of Sat-Nav!  While trying to establish a, where we were, and b, where we should be ,we turned the engine off. By this time we had travelled over 1,500 miles without any problems, only to find the wire from the starter button to the starter motor had now broken. Fortunately the car can be started from under the bonnet by operating the solenoid manually. Eventually, cold and wet we found our hotel.

The following day the weather dried up and we had a uneventful journey home. Just for the record in13 days we covered 1,554 miles and averaged just over 25 mpg.

Dennis Brown

November 2012

Thanks Dennis,

Have you made a long distance trip in your Standard? Write and tell the members about it with photos please. Send them as attachments to