FIRST OVERLAND NEWSLETTER
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.
The first 13 Newsletters were purely emails to those who'd expressed an interest in the DVD during the (long and drawn-out!) production stages, and were mainly to make sure that potential customers didn't drift away. Once the DVD went on sale, a lively correspondence started about the 'First Overland' trip, and the Newsletter became a way of sharing these comments.
Previous Newsletters are available from these links:
The 'First Overland' Roadshow in Carlisle; Overland to Pakistan in a Mercedes 220 with three rusty spanners, a screwdriver, and a jack; London to Singapore in an E-Type, and 'FO' at the Darjeeling Himalayan Railway Society's AGM
The 'First Overland Roadshow' at the 'Leafers at T'Pit' and Masham Steam Rallies, and 5 intrepid ladies going overland to Sydney in an 88"
The spirit of 'First Overland' helps Scouts build a Land-Rover-carrying log bridge; His Excellency, the British Ambassador to Armenia's memories of Land-Rovers in Burma (and Range Rovers in Paraguay), and The Fortunes of Fido
"From Cambridge, England, our true-story adventure series is proud to welcome a young man who has just completed a remarkable adventure — Mr A.C Barrington Brown...." — 'BB' on American television; the nutritional value of Expedition porridge, and yet another L-R adventurer inspired by Tim Slessor's book
Looking ahead to L-R 60th Anniversary Celebrations at Gaydon and Chepstow, and Fido Runs Again
Tim Slessor drives 'Oxford' again at Gaydon (and finds it hard work!), and if "The answer is '32'!", what was the question?
'Land Rover enthusiast' magazine does a fine report on the first outing of Michael Geary's 'Oxford' replica at Gaydon, and we start on the trail of whichever vehicle went to Ascension Island. We know what registration number it had, but was is 'Oxford' or 'Cambridge'? (and if that question doesn't seem to make sense, read and see why!)
The 'First Overland Roadshow' goes foreign – well, to Wales and Norway! – a 15p postage stamp poses more questions than it answers, and the 'FO' DVD makes a record price at auction.
"Remember that nothing is wasted on islands"; Under African skies; more 'FO'-inspired expeditions, and Crossing the world in a plastic car.
Tim, 'BB' and the replicas at the LR Heritage Weekend at Gaydon; more LR owners inspired by 'First Overland', and we set off for Africa behind a 3-cylinder diesel engine.
Michael Geary's replica cars and 'First Overland Second' expedition get a main magazine feature; more examples of how Tim Slessor drove a generation towards Solihull, and Arabian Hospitality in 'Operation Enterprise'.
'Operation Enterprise' heads off south again towards the Equator... and a ski resort! There's memories of a 'First Overland'-inspired round-the-world bike ride (well, at least as far as Rome!), and news of Land-Rovers in the world of Brooke Bond and the Darjeeling Highland Railway — India.
We celebrate the three greatest Land-Rover Series 1 expeditions with 'Land Rover World', consider the 21st Century problems of crossing Far Eastern borders, and the 'Operation Enterprise' Expedition continues through French West Africa, but has terrible roads and weather to contend with... and a hornet!
We go 'fossicking' in Australia, treating poor eyesight in India (where we also find a James Herriot fan), nearly get struck by lightning in French Equatorial Africa... and I spend a few amazing days with the sole survivor of the team that brought us the very first Land-Rover — Project Engineer, Arthur Goddard.
We find that African rainstorms can have very sharp edges... but that further east, tragic rainstorms delay the 'First Overland 2' Expedition for a year. But we do have memories of an expedition that recently reached Singapore... in a 1963 Series 2 Station Wagon. But would you let a squaddie drive your vehicle through bandit country, while you flew on ahead?
Peter Townsend's hardtop, the possible re-opening of the Stilwell Road, 3000 miles in a 'write-off', a 1953 family trip from Somerset to Southern Rhodesia, and the final (possibly parallel) episode of 'Operation Enterprise'.
A tribute to Adrian Cowell, originator of the 'First Overland' Expedition, and latterly an award-winning documentary film-maker who warned of the dangers of deforestation. Also, a reunion celebrating the three Oxford & Cambridge expeditions of the 1950s, that did so much to promote the Land-Rover as a world-class vehicle.
Tributes to Antony Barrington Brown ('BB') and his wife Althea, who were tragically killed in a road accident near their home on January 24th 2012.
So what was the ultimate fate of the original 'Cambridge' car? At last, Peter Galilee has some news for us. We meet a Series 1 still looking good in the South Atlantic... and Tim Slessor gets to drive off road again.
The Nairn Bus, The Ghost Road (and present-day Myanmar), a new (?) route from India to China, and London-to-Singapore... in an E-Type Jaguar! Oh, and Tim Slessor's latest book "which doesn't have a Land-Rover in it". But it does have Butch Cassidy's Model T Ford!
Never let the facts spoil a good story... we look at how sloppy reporting may distort history. We'll see how The Companion Book Club ran "plumb outta road!", and visit The Nairn Bus Story again. And there's plenty more travellers' tales, including 10-thousand miles in a Minivan.
The 'Oxford' replica gets a new home... but I don't know where; we consider the figure 2,016,933, and see where BB's camera fits in; Tim Slessor helps build the most expensive Land Rover ever; we 'Hail Defender', and consider the perils of 'TLDR'.
SNX891 comes home! Yes, after decades rotting away on a South Atlantic island, one man achieves what many others have talked about, but never managed... collecting a container-load of scrap steel and Birmabright, shipping it back to Yorkshire, and getting 'Oxford' up and running again. And who gets to drive it? Tim Slessor, of course.
SNX891 meets the public for the first time in decades, as Adam Bennett takes 'Oxford' to the 'Land Rover Owner' Show at Peterborough.
With SNX891 safely back on the road, the remarkable story can be told of the vehicle's travels after Singapore. There was Ascension Island, and then St.Helena, then York in a container, and rebuild... all told on a new 'After Overland' DVD. We meet some of the people who drove the car on those islands, and a young lad who was in Singapore in 1956 and welcomed the Far Eastern Expedition. There's also an exclusive interview with the man who was driving 'Cambridge' when it went down a ravine and was lost. All this in a film launched on the Isle of Anglesey — where 'Oxford' became yet another part of history, joining in a recreation of the iconic Red Wharf Bay 'Drawing In The Sand'... made with nearly 400 Land-Rovers!
SNX891 sets out on another major adventure — back to Singapore by boat! What happens next?... well, there are plans for 'Oxford' to complete the unfinished part of the 'First Overland' journey, back through the Burmese jungles. And having done that, why not continue overland again, and drive back to the UK?! There's also the chance to download the two 'Overland' films from a streaming service, and a link to a video souvenir of the Red Wharf Bay 'drawing in the sand' made up of nearly 400 Series 1s.
Newsletter 39 included a picture of SNX891 ('Oxford') under wraps in a secret location in Singapore. Now the wraps have come off. In a few weeks 'Oxford', with Tim Slessor at the wheel, will be setting out on the journey that he's been dreaming of for years — to recreate the part of the journey that the 'First Overland' expedition didn't do in 1956... to drive back from Singapore through the Burmese jungles.
'Last Overland' has a big launch at The Grenadier — the pub in Belgravia from where the 'First Overland' Expedition set out in 1955. But there was a serious bit of news — Tim Slessor (for whom retracing the return journey from Singapore through the Burmese jungles had long been an ambition) was just 6 days out of intensive care, and not able to make the trip. But in his place, an excellent substitute... his grandson Nat would fly the Slessor flag in his place.
'Oxford' is nearly home from Singapore, but the curse of the dreaded semi-floating rear axle strikes. There's the plans for a big 'Wecome Home' at Folkestone, and news of a new venture from Adam Bennett — a book of photos from the original 'First Overland' expedition, most of them never published before.
'Oxford' returns overland from Singapore, but hardly had the engine cooled than SNX891 was back on the high seas, crossing the ocean in the 'Atlantic Sky' to roll ashore in Baltimore — a new continent for a well-travelled car!
'Oxford' travels across America, from 'Sea To Shining Sea'.
'Oxford' crosses the USA, and successfully reaches the other 'Shining Sea'. But not without mechanical incident.
Links to the 'First Overland' and 'After Overland' Home Pages