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THE RESCUE - continued

by Austin P. Farrar

by Austin P. Farrar

My spell at Southampton was coming to an end, and I was due to return to the National Physical Laboratory at Teddington; so the plan was to get both cars to Teddington, where I could rent a garage for them. With today's chaotic railway system, it seems to be extraordinary that during the war the railways, and particularly the Goods system, were highly efficient. There was virtually no road transport, with very little petrol and few vehicles; but there was plenty of coal for steam locos, and goods could be transported quite quickly by rail; and, for instance, it took only a few days to send a truckload of rigging shackles from Portsmouth Dockyard to Greenock. There was a railway line inside our shed at the docks, so we had a truck shunted in, wheeled both cars onto it, roped them securely into place, and dispatched it to Teddington goods station, where it arrived at an end-loading platform two days later. Then, with help from the local kids, we motored the Bentley, towing the White, a few hundred yards to their rented garage; where they stayed for some time before I could organise the next move home.

In 1944 things got complicated; my mother moved from Felixstowe to a house on the Shotley peninsular which, in addition to a double garage for her and my brother's cars, had a 60 foot barn which had once been a wheelwright's shop; big enough for the Bentley and the White. Then in August 1 was suddenly moved; with the whole of my department, up to the Clyde.

In 1945, when I came south for some leave, I got the Bentley serviceable enough to drive home - albeit with a stack of torch batteries to work the coil ignition for starting - and then returned to Teddinglon and sent the White off by rail to the nearest goods station to home; coming home myself by train. All it needed then was to enlist a friend to help unload the White from its truck and tow it behind the Bentley the five miles through the lanes to Stutton and the barn. At the end of my leave I drove the Bentley up to Scotland -- but that's another story.

After the war I had great ideas about rebuilding the White, and read up all the information I could find about Steam cars. But somehow, what with trying to run a boatyard, I never had any spare time. I was introduced to Alec Hodsdon who wanted to buy the White and after putting him off for several years, be said "You are never going to have time to do that job as well as your own-I'll give you £400 for it now and a ride in it when I have it finished."

I never got my ride, and some years later I heard that he had never made any progress and had sold it; so I assumed it had gone out of my life.

Then in 1994 1 had a phone call, "Are, you the chap, who used to have a White Steam Car?" "Er -- Yes". "Well I've got it, and it's running" This was Bob Dyke, phoning from Penzance, and the rest of the story is his, but I had had my ride on the Norfolk Steam car Tour in 1996 and the satisfaction of having saved a piece of mechanical history.


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