'First Overland' Newsletter Page


The latest news of the 'First Overland' DVD, based on Antony Barrington Brown's original film footage of the 1955 Oxford & Cambridge Far Eastern Expedition from London to Singapore, and the subsequent 'After Overland' adventures of the two cars.
For more information contact Graeme Aldous firstoverland@teeafit.co.uk

A KIWI FRUITFUL JOURNEY [Did you see what I did there?!]

'Oxford' and a spectacular view       'Oxford' and a spectacular view

Well, 'Oxford' is now in New Zealand, and heading towards the 'Wheels at Wanaka' big event over the Easter weekend. It's not just a Land-Rover occasion, but a big celebration of everything mobile in the South Island. As the poster says, "If it's got wheels or tracks, it'll be on display". In the meantime, SNX891 has been enjoying the amazing scenery... like the North Riding of Yorkshire and the Lake District combined, but with far fewer roads/houses/people.

But if we think that 'our Oxford' is an iconic, well-travelled vehicle, take a look at this...

This is Ian Begg's Ford 1900 tractor, and the caravan he towed 27,000km around the world in 1993-94. Now, that has to be some journey... so why is this the first time I've ever heard of it? Apparently it's not just UK university students who undertake big expeditions!
      'Oxford' Ian Begg's 'big rig'

Now, apologies to the people who took those pictures — in an ideal world I'd have found out who you are and asked for your permission to reproduce them. But this is SNX891 we're talking about here, and the exploits should be shared. Likewise a 10-minute video of 'Oxford' at play in the Hawkes Bay area — you can see it on YouTube if you click here. Wonderful stuff.


I've had an email from Adrian Nicholson, who wrote:
Like so many others, I first read the book when I was a youngster, back in the late fifties/very early sixties. I remember that back then I borrowed it from our local library and was enthralled! I have re-read it several times over the years, and funnily enough, I am just re-reading it yet again as I had recently recommended it as a 'cracking read' to an old friend of mine (currently stuck in lockdown).

For my sins, I also 'leaned' towards Land Rovers in later years, both through my time in REME (as a young adult), and later as we purchased a small-holding and bought a "90" to drag Hay and Horses all over the countryside. I also had a 300TDI Disco, for many years for 'posher outings'.

Adrian also had a 'dark note':
I am just at the part of the book where they visit the archaeological sites in Syria — Apamea, Krak des Chevaliers, Baalbek etc. — and it makes me think back to the needless and wanton destruction of these sites (and others) a few years back by the fanatics of ISIS (apart from all the other "atrocities" that they also carried out constantly on fellow human beings!) And it just makes me terribly sad, yet again, at the depravity in this world. I really do worry about the world being left for our children and grand-children.

I can't argue at that — but I am going to (hopefully) lift the mood by pointing out all the worldwide goodwill that one simple Land-Rover Station Wagon has brought in the past 64 years... and is still doing so. SNX891 'Oxford'.


And finally, when I interviewed Sir David Attenborough for ‘First Overland’, he asked me “When’s it going out?” I said “When I’ve finished it.” His eyebrows went up… “When I do one of my series, we start by knowing when the programmes are going to be broadcast, and work back from there.” I remember feeling some relief that, whilst I had all the pressure of working on my own compared to his whole shared production team, I didn’t have a calendar date poking me to finish at all costs.

Alex Bescoby’s Grammar Productions have a third approach with their ‘Last Overland’ film — they have had the financial gamble of filming and editing the programmes, without a firm commission from a broadcaster who will put them on the air. OK, he’s had the confidence of a good track record, and knowledge that someone will pick up such a good series… but that has taken longer to come to fruition that he (or we) would like.

And that’s why this Newsletter is coming out later than I anticipated — for quite a few weeks I’ve been delaying it in the hope that I would be able to include full details of when, and on what channel, we’ll be able to see the story of ‘Oxford’ and the team (including Tim Slessor’s grandson Nat) reversing the original ‘First Overland’ journey, and setting out from Singapore towards their triumphal return to London.

But I mustn’t delay any longer… SNX891 is now in New Zealand, and needs to be written about. So, as far as ‘Last Overland’ is concerned, rest assured that as soon as I have information from Alex, you will receive another Newsletter with the details.

Stop Press

David Short, the President of the Rover Owners Association of Virginia, who did so much to make the 'Sea To Shining Sea' event happen, has posted to YouTube the first episode of his video pull-together of 'Oxford's trans-America journey. It runs 22 minutes, and introduces us to the people, the weather and the terrain the SNX891 got to meet in North East USA. You can see it at https://youtu.be/e3_JaVUQvao. He hopes to get Episode 2 finished in mid-April.

Keep safe


Previous 'First Overland' Newsletters are available here.

To subscribe to this Newsletter, and receive notice of updates, please visit my Subscribe Page.
The 'After Overland' web page is afteroverland.co.uk, and 'First Overland' is teeafit.co.uk/firstoverland

And a reminder of my DVD titles still on sale, priced at £22 (including postage) worldwide — you can order them via the DVD sales page, where you'll also find the Vimeo streaming details, and of the Photobook of original 1955 expedition photos, put together by Adam Bennett.