Tuesday, February 7, 2012

1956 Overland Travel

Peter Townsend
1956  - One overland expedition ended and two began...
The Oxford and Cambridge Far East Expedition had just completed their epic London to Singapore in two Land Rover Series I.  Michael Marriott & his wife set out for Australia two-up on a NSU Prima Scooter (Blog by Michael Marriott) and Group Captain Peter Townsend began his overland expedition around the world by Land Rover.

Michael Marriott - Two-Up
The first trip to depart in 1956 (July) was by Michael & Nita Marriott on their NSU Prima Scooter.  Their first night camping described the setup as follows:
There was the gay little orange two-man tent, complete with matching fly-sheet and, in­side, the two wonderfully warm swansdown-filled sleeping-bags; tough, ultra-lightweight equipment which the manufacturers had confidently and generously presented to us. 'That equipment,' they had said, 'will stand up to anything.' At that time we had no conception how right they were. Looking at our canvas home and the bedding within, it was incredible to think that only a few minutes previously the whole lot had been contained in one small roll in a neat waterproof bag on top of our other baggage. Next, we unpacked the off-side pannier-bag and assembled our faithful old folding stove and the rest of the culinary equipment. And while I humped the big valise which held our precious cameras, films, paperwork, and spare clothing to the back of the tent to act as our pillow, Nita rummaged through the other pannier for some­thing to appease our sharp appetites. I kindled a fire, just to make things cosy, and strolled off with my rifle to see if there were any myxo-free rabbits or a pigeon in the vicinity.  Source: Two-Up Pg 6

Peter Townsend
The second trip to depart in 1956 (21st October) was by Peter Townsend in his Land Rover Series I.  His book, "Earth, My Friend" describes his equipment list as follows:
"I took far too much baggage with me, rather hoping to wear out some of my oldest clothes, but later on was to send much of it home.  Rather than cumber myself with elaborate food supplies, I took only a few stores to fall back on, with some cooking things and a small petrol stove. I carried with me a case of spare parts for the car, though I opened it only once during the whole journey to look for a short rubber hose connection for the hydraulic brake system/ I had also a spare set of road spoirngs. Apart from these I had an ace, a crowbar and a coilf of rope; I know I should have taken a spade - all the best expeditons do - but I did not come into possession of one until some 50,000 miles further on when I approached the Sahara. A medicine chest, a bedding roll and a Bible completed the main items of my equipment" Source: Earth, My Friend. Pg 29
Reading the travel reports from 1956 does beg the question:
Do overland expeditions take too much equipment?
Our vehicles are totally modified, shelves and drawer systems packed to the brim and the roof rack loaded with tents, spares, fuel and the extra spare wheel.  Is all of this really necessary for travel in our generation compared to the totally different travel conditions in 1956?
My guess is that we have over complicated equipment lists and vehicle modifications for the type of travel we do.  But then, we like our vehicles fully modified, don't we?

Additional Photos from the book "Earth, My Friend" by Peter Townsend
Peter Townsend - The Hoggar Massif

Peter Townsend - Between In Salah and El Golea
Additional Reading:
1968 Overland Expeditions
You Packed What?

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