February 28, 2009

Bill Charlton: Bellingham memories. 1940s cars

Northumberland, history, humour, wartime, 1939-45, cars

By Bill Charlton

Dad’s car

Dad’s fist car was an Austin 7, which he bought just before the war. Dad was called up for war service and one weekend when he came on leave, he put the car up on wooden blocks to keep the tyres off the ground in the garage,

Cliff and I would spend quite a bit of time in the garage with this new fangled machine pretending to be driving it using all the gears and double de clutching and steering as the wheels were off the ground.

After a year or two, when Dad was on leave he registered the car for a three months to give it a run around, and he asked me if I’d like to learn to drive. ‘Yes’ I blurted out, so he took me for a spin around the Bridges. Settling into the driving seat off we went up the Hesleyside road all the way around the Bridges and back home. Before we got out of the car Dad said to me ‘You haven’t driven before’? ‘No” I said.

Well Dad said to me there’s not much else that he could teach me, so when I was old enough I got my ‘Provisional Licence’ on the 3rd April 1945. I still have it today in my archives.

After the war was over Dad sold the Austin 7 and updated to an Austin 10 for a few years before getting a Hillman. He then changed it once again to a Cortina as he was building a Caravan. The framework was of aluminium and ash, the same wood as used to build the famous wartime Mosquito aircraft. When it was all finished, Mam and Dad toured Scotland a couple of times before it was sold.

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