Getting to School

Gordon Richardson: The Dangerous 60s

Gordon was born in 1953 in the Philippines. His parents lived and worked abroad so Gordon attended several mainstream schools, mainly in Hong Kong and India. At age eight, he was sent to England with his brother to attend residential mainstream private schools, first in Yorkshire and then in Cambridge. He then went on to study at university.

Here Gordon talks about his Invacar.


Back then, in the late 60s, it was in the days before the mobility allowance, so if you were disabled and were entitled to, you could have one of the little blue three wheelers and I had an Invacar three wheeler.

I was only 16 at the time and because of that I was allowed a sports model i.e. it had a soft top, which you could fold down. There was no other protection for your head, if you went over and they had a little, I think 100 cc motor bicycle engine. Incredibly dangerous things.
They were driven with a side-mounted tiller and you had to push the tiller down to brake. Well of course, if you had to brake in an emergency, the tendency was to push down and forwards, which meant you were braking, steering into the oncoming traffic and probably spinning the vehicle, all at the same time. Not a great idea and they were very light and I, about two or three days after I passed my test, had taken my little Invacar up to the hospital for a check-up and coming back, came down the road from the hospital and turning on to the main road, onto the... can’t remember what the road number was, it was a main road anyway.

It had a line of trees up it and when the wind was blowing off the North Sea, across the Fens, it just blew straight down this line of trees and you had a gale and what it did was, it turned my three wheeler over.Because when I was turning right, to turn right, of course the front wheel was its least stable and it just blew the whole car over upside down and down the embankment on the side.

Fortunately the lady in the car behind me was a doctor from the hospital and she jumped out and two lorry drivers who were going backwards and forwards, I think to Felixstowe docks, came down and got somebody else and between three of them they picked the car up with me inside it and carried it back up on to the road. Which shows you just how heavy they were.

The doctor then came and checked me out and decided my head had had quite a bounce when the car was going rolling over and as I say being a soft top and I had the top down at the time. So she took me back to the school in her car, the lorry drivers picked the car up and put it on the back of one of the lorries and took it back to the school for me.

I survived but I never liked driving. It was fun, you could go out. If your friends were going out cycling for a picnic on a Sunday, then I could go in my little blue car and join them at the picnic site and usually carry all the picnics for them at the same time and yes, I was able to get round and do lots of things, but never really liked it.

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