It’s good to remember …

old friends.

Last Sunday evening Miss Janet Clinksale was sitting in her cottage in the Berwickshire village of Chirnside, listening to Songs of Praise on television.

Janet’s home is close to Chirnside kirk, and it was in the churchyard there that Jim Clark was laid to rest two weeks ago.  From her window, Janet could see scores of visitors passing her cottage to visit Jim’s grave, and pay tribute to him.

As you may know, Songs of Praise came from Lenzie last week, and it was led by Kenneth McKellar.  When Kenneth began to sing, as a solo, the old Easter hymn, “When I survey the Wondrous Cross,” it was so beautiful that Janet turned up the sound on her TV, and threw open her front door so the visitors could hear it, too.

As Kenneth’s voice soared out into the still, sunny evening, echoing over the fields, the strangers on the road stopped and gathered round Janet’s door to listen.  Then one of them began to sing the hymn quietly, until all of them were singing it with Kenneth McKellar.  Even the village bobby was there, standing with them.

It was one of those magic moments when time seems to stand still – and when the last notes died away and the visitors turned to go, they took with them a memory that will always be green.

A local Borders paper, May 1968.

Jim Clark’s memory still burns bright.  On Saturday (7th April 2018) we drove the Elise up to Duns and Chirnside, fifty years to the day since that tragic accident at Hockenheim on the saddest of Sundays. Newtown Street in Duns was closed off – a variety of Lotus cars lined the road, Classic Team Lotus displayed a collection of his single seaters, there was an anniversary exhibition at Chirnside Hall and a Commemoration Service at Chirnside Church.

Lotus 43

Lotus 43 + the BRM H-16

Duns, 7th April 2018

A small selection the Evoras and Elises at Duns

Lotus 11 Westfield replica,

This is one of my favourite stories from that sad time which occurred many miles from the small town of Chirnside.  I first came across it in Eric Dymock’s 1997 book – Jim Clark – Tribute to a Champion, Prologue and Epilogue, page 26 – it is unattributed.  The Motor Sport archive is more specific: Shortly after Ed and Sally (Swart) moved to California in 1980 they attended a beach party where one of the guests told them that the day after Clark’s death he had been driving along the 405 freeway.  The announcer on the radio suggested that all those listening who were mourning the death of “the great racing driver Jim Clark” should turn on their headlights. He said the whole of the 405 lit up.

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13 comments

  1. Tish Farrell · April 8

    Great yarns, Robin. Must go and rouse Graham to come and look at the Lotus pics.

    • northumbrianlight · April 8

      Slumbering on a Sunday, very civilised – I hope the interruption proves worth it 🙂

      • Tish Farrell · April 8

        The rousing included a trip down memory lane. His good chum Nigel had a real Lotus 11 nicknamed Flossie. He once drove under an articulated lorry in it. And he and G wore crash helmets when driving down to London. When he tried to sell it, no one wanted it. How things changed. G owned 2 Lotus Elans – S3SE and Plus2S130/5 None of which means anything to me, and all well before my time. I can tell you had a very happy day out though 🙂

      • northumbrianlight · April 9

        Pas on my congratulations to G as a man of excellent taste. All I ever wanted was a car with a Lotus badge on but it took me until 2009 – now I won’t let go 🙂

  2. Sue · April 8

    It is, indeed, good to remember

    • northumbrianlight · April 9

      Chirnside and Duns did a very good job of honouring their local hero.

      • Sue · April 9

        It certainly looks that way. I have always intended to get up that way……

  3. restlessjo · April 8

    Lovely story about Janet! 🙂 🙂 And of course, I remember JIm!

    • northumbrianlight · April 9

      Great little story isn’t it – the Chirnside hall was full of local memorabilia – nothing flash about the presentation but endlessly fascinating.

  4. J.D. Riso · April 8

    What an impressive gathering of vehicles. Good to know the memory of him is still very alive.

    • northumbrianlight · April 9

      It was a fitting tribute – one story from the weekend – there was a spike in the number of boys named Jim in the US after he won the Indy 500 🙂

  5. Aviationtrails · April 9

    I was at Chirnside over the same weekend, my partner has relations who worked on the Clark’s farm, and one of whom is buried next to Jim Clark in Chirnside cemetery. It was indeed a very moving experience being there and the line up of cars amazing. He was an incredible man and a great loss not only to the world but the small community of Chirnside in particular. They certainly did him proud!

    • northumbrianlight · April 9

      It was indeed good to be there and, as you say, they certainly did him proud. It was the memorabilia collection in the village hall that I enjoyed most – some fascinating and quirky stuff a lot of which I had never seen before.

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