Austria 1954

 Contents The Gallery College Trips Austria 1954

In 2003 Derek Buckingham wrote to the College to enquire:

Does anyone remember the first trip to Germany, staying at the Schoppernau Jugen Herberge?  School Hols - must have been about 1953 when we had a trip to Youth Hostels in Germany.  Channel crossing from Harwich to the Hook of Holland and then a long train journey to where, I am unable to recall (help, someone!), the beer festival in the village ‘down the mountain’.  Walking on to the Schoppernau Youth Hostel.  Must have been at least 392 kilometres!!

Likewise, who were the other two lads who went to Austria with Mr Staveley, his wife and son?  For the life of me I can't remember who they were.  We drove, in Mr Staveley's Armstrong Siddeley (Typhoon) to Lympne, the car was driven into the airplane, we boarded and landed at Dunkerque. And so the trip began.... " .

With regard to the second trip, the 1955 College Magazine (then called the Alliance) carried this article under the title of 'A Private Trip to Austria:'

On July 28th, 1954 three weary members of the Fourth Form might be seen sitting on the pavement, surrounded by a motley assortment of bedding, rucksacks, kettles and sundry old iron outside Liverpool St. Station, while an equally weary member of staff was exploring this vast building in search of officialdom. So began our expedition which led eventually to the Dolomites and the border of Yugoslavia. After this hesitant start, apart from a few complaints on the part of an overloaded car, everything went reasonably smoothly.

The eventual goal was somewhere in Austria. The party was ferried across the Channel in a British [should be Bristol - Ed.] freighter, and then proceeded on a very devious route through North France, Belgium and Germany to the Bregenzer Wald in West Austria. This was reached after some exciting travel on the great autobahn from Frankfurt to Ulm, and adventures which included one night spent in a very wet field in Bavaria !

Our first night in Austria caused much consternation owing to the inability of the youthful and inexperienced members of the carload to find their way under the large feather bolsters (dumplings) which formed their bedclothes. A very pleasant day or so, however, was spent walking in this area. Later we visited Innsbruck and thoroughly explored the Stubaital. Our experiences here included a stay at an alpine hut 7,000 feet above sea level, much fun and games on various glaciers and the conquest of the Mair Spitz—a 10,000 ft. peak. From the Stubai we crossed the Brenner into Italy, and thence eastwards via the Dolomites into Carinthia. Our homeward journey was notable for the crossing of the Gross Glockner road which reaches nearly 8,000 ft., and the fact that when we reached Salzburg we realised that we only had two and a half days to reach Calais—a mere 800 miles away—resulting in high speed travel, and an arrival at Charleroi at 3 a.m. to the grave suspicion of the Belgium police !

In the course of our journey we visited France, Belgium, Germany, Italy, Austria, Luxembourg and Saarland, covered 3,000 miles, lost a passport down a drain, ate the most amazing assortment of unfamiliar food without any ill effects, and, in short, had a thoroughly good time. Many thanks to Mr. Staveley !


Derek later confirmed that Doc Staveley's car was silver with an imitation vinyl roof (using chrome "pram" fittings) and the aircraft was a Bristol 170 Super Freighter of Silver City Airways, which was capable of carrying up to three cars and 21 passengers on the Company's English Channel 'airbridge' service.  The airline operated initially from Lympne, but had probably moved to Lydd by the time of this trip.


It was a marvellous surprise to hear from Doc Staveley's son John in May 2005, principally in relation to our section on Staff Cars:

The earliest one shown (1953) is the Armstrong Siddeley Typhoon. This was a two door fixed head coupe (not a convertible) The roof was actually made from a perforated gauze and covered with black leather. The car was painted light grey and was registered GAH 182. I have checked with the AS Owners Club and they no longer know of its existence so it probably got scrapped years ago! In or around 1953 we toured Europe in the car with three WC boys but I can only remember the name of one of them, Crawford. It was a bit crowded with six on board and luggage for a month but it was the trip of a lifetime and I wonder if the others remember it as fondly as I do!

Derek and John are now in touch and are attempting to compile a detailed record of the trip - more than 50 years after the event.  John has very kindly sent these photos; scanned from colour transparencies and taken, of course, by Doc Staveley.

Click thumbnail photos to enlarge

A roadside meal (with what looks like a tin of corned beef).  John Staveley is at the front and the others are (L to R) Derek Buckingham, Reggie Ramm, Kingsley Crawford and the Armstrong Siddeley Typhoon in all its glory
Derek, John, Reggie and Kingsley with ?
The boys (and Mrs Staveley?) with some of the locals.