Much has been written about Jim Clark over the years, and this page does not seek to replicate what has already been published elsewhere. It aims to record Jim Clark’s association with the town of Berwick-upon-Tweed, along with the town’s other link with motor racing, the production of steering wheels for Lotus cars, and other leading sports car manufacturers of that time, at P D Springall’s in Tweedmouth. It was with Colin Chapman, the owner of Lotus cars, that Jim Clark would achieve his F1 world championship successes in 1963 and 1965. And it was P D Springall who in 1965 supplied Lotus cars with the steering wheels for Jim Clark’s F1 world championship winning car, as well as his Indianapolis 500, Lotus 38.
Jim Clark, OBE, was born on 4th March 1936, at Wester Kilmany Farm, Kilmany village, in Fife. In 1942, he moved with his parents and four sisters to Edington Mains Farm near Chirnside, eight miles west of Berwick. He was educated at Chirnside, before going to Clifton Hall preparatory school, Newbridge, near Edinburgh, and then to the Lorreto School, Musselburgh, East Lothian.
His father James was an experienced and highly regarded stockman and cereal grower, and following him Jim took up the mantle at Edington Mains Farm. Jim Clark too was well respected in farming circles in the Borders, and as a local farmer he was a familiar face in and around Berwick, both on business and socially.
In 1966 he purchased the Northern Garage in Tweedmouth; the following report, along with the accompanying photograph, appeared in the Berwick Advertiser on 10th November 1966.
|Jim Clark takes over garage at Tweedmouth
Jim Clark, twice world motor-racing champion, has taken over the Northern Garage at Tweedmouth. An official statement yesterday ended weeks of speculation about the future of the premises on the A1 road. Jim, motor racing driver and farmer now enters another branch of business and this is his first venture into garages.
For many years, the garage was owned by Mr Jack Hill and his family. After Mr Hill’s death, earlier this year, negotiations for the sale of the property began and the official take-over dated from November 7. In his statement. Mr Clark said that over the years, the late Mr Jack Hill and his family maintained friendly relations with their many customers. “I hope to be able to provide a service that will command the same loyalty” he said. He was, he added, particularly pleased that the present staff of the Northern Garage had agreed to stay on. The premises cover an extensive area and include a filling station and shop as well as workshop accommodation.
Jim Clark, who farms Edington Mains, near Chirnside was world champion in 1963 and again in 1965 and he became the first Briton ever to win the Indianapolis 500. He has won more Grand Prix events than any other British driver. For weeks there had been rumours that he was interested in the Northern Garage and now confirmation has come. Jim had never forgotten the help given to him in his early days as a racing driver by the late Mr Jock McBain who had a garage and agricultural engineering premises at Chirnside.
On Monday, Jim visited the garage to meet the staff and have a look at the property. He said there would definitely be developments on the site. “I have not, at this stage, thought about the possibility of using it for developments in the racing car field,” he added. Jim said he had no intention of giving up motor racing and he had a full calendar of events for the coming month.
From the Berwick Advertiser, 10th November 1966
P D Springall Limited was founded in London in 1957, by Peter Springall, with its production in small premises in Hornsey. The company made steering wheels for the Lotus sports car models the Elite and Elan. In 1960, Peter Springall and three employees moved to new premises in Hitchin.
The early Springall steering wheel rims were made of wood, but by 1962 leather was the cover of choice. As well as Lotus, Springall’s supplied Ford and the Brabham F1 team. They were also suppliers to a number of other well-known sports car makers of that era.
P D Springall had two factories at the Tweedside Industrial Estate in Tweedmouth. The company operated in Berwick between the years 1967 to 1984.
The Berwick and District Motor Club annual presentation dinner in the 1960s was held in the assembly rooms at the Kings Arms Hotel in Berwick.
The Berwick Record Office holds a selection of high quality photographs of one such evening, which was attended by Jim Clark, Jackie Stewart and Graham Hill. In a few all three world champions appear together, photographed with their respective partners in the assembly rooms.
The Record Office collection also includes motor racing photographs taken at the Chaterhall racetrack in the 1960s, along with images of Jim Clark on the open top bus in the Borders after his 1963 victory. There are also pictures of Jim Clark on his farm, his funeral service at Chirnside, and a variety of other local photographs of Jim Clark. These are available to view by appointment at Berwick Record Office.
(a) Jim Clark’s Formula One World Championship-winning Lotus 25 car. In the Donington Grand Prix Collection museum, Leics. Photo:by John Chapman (Pyrope) (Own work) [GFDL or CC BY-SA 3.0], via Wikimedia Commons.
(b) Production line at P D Springall, Tweedside Industrial Estate, Tweedmouth, Berwick-upon-Tweed. © Berwick Record Office, BRO 2103-4-7091-1.