Remembered Down on the Farm

By Thomas O'Keefe, U.S.A.
Atlas F1 Senior Writer

Located west of Berwick-Upon-Tweed, a seaside town that goes back to medieval times, Duns and Chirnside provided a most pleasant and surprising visit. Most tourists come to this part of the world to see the abbeys, castles, ancient battlefields and great houses that dot the countryside; indeed, it turns out that the very grand "Manderson House", the Edwardian Country House on 56 acres used in a recent TV series on Channel 4 in the UK and PBS in the States, is about five minutes from Jim Clark's former home in Duns, so there is something for everyone on a visit to these parts.

Berwick-Upon-Tweed, which is on the English side of the border, and its Scottish environs are easily accessible. After returning from the Continent on the Eurostar, I took a fabulous Great Northern Railroad train called, believe it or not, The Flying Scotsman, from London's Kings Cross station and the trip took about 4 hours.

In that time, the train winds its way through an incredible variety of terrain, from the bustling heart of the City of London, to its suburbs, to farmland and then north into the hinterlands, following the North Sea coastline before arriving at Berwick-upon-Tweed in Northumbria. You can also reach the Borders area by flying to Edinburgh and driving southeast about 60 miles either on the A1 Superhighway or on the back roads.

I stayed in Berwick-upon-Tweed, where there are several decent hotels1. I ended up at the Kings Arms Hotel on Hide Hill. Before railroads, the Kings Arms was originally a Georgian Coaching Inn on the run between Newcastle to Edinburgh, where passengers would stop for a rest and a meal and the guards and horses would be changed. Charles Dickens stayed there - twice, once in 1858 and again in 1861 - and I figured that if he came back that second time it was good enough for me. He was right. The staff was cheerful and diligent, the hotel was homey and comfortable and the town is interesting itself and well located for forays into the surrounding countryside. A rental car is a must; Blackburn & Price, the Vauxhall dealer around the corner from the Kings Arms was entirely out of rentals when I appeared but one of the members of the accounting staff was a fan of David Coulthard and organized a demonstrator for me on short notice. Thank you DC.

Don't expect any Jim Clark bus tours to be lining up in front of your hotel, but it is easy to design a tour for yourself and make it as light or intensive as your interest and time permit. In the space of one day you can easily do most of the Scottish sites you associate with Jim Clark: Edington Mains, Chirnside, the "Jim Clark Room" in Duns and for the truly avid, the old Charterhall race track (now and then a disused World War II airfield), where Jim Clark got his first taste of what it was like to compete and win in a major motor race.

If you have time only for one spot, the centerpiece of any visit is the "Jim Clark Room" in Duns, which is a veritable shrine to the Flying Scot. I should note that Berwick-upon-Tweed is itself a Jim Clark site because when Clark and Roy Salvadori, who together finished third overall at Le Mans in 1960, received a trophy from Motor magazine, they did so sitting in the Aston Martin DBR1 by the ancient walls of Berwick-upon-Tweed's harbor.

Edington Mains

Assuming you have time to dawdle a bit, here is what you will see. First, Edington Mains, the fieldstone farmhouse owned by the Clark family, which is located amidst the farms that Jim Clark, his father, James Clark Senior, his uncle and his cousins operated while Jim was alive. It is the place where Clark's family sat and listened through a telephone hookup to Lotus as Jim Clark was competing half a world away in the Indianapolis 500. Edington Mains is the house you see pictured in any biography of Jim Clark, sometimes with Jim leaning on his Lotus Elan parked on the grass.

Since Edington Mains is privately owned, it is not exactly fair to treat it as a tourist spot but if you are alert, as you are driving along the A6105 from Berwick-upon-Tweed to Duns, you will spot the small but elegant black ornamental ironwork signpost with an "Edington Mains" sign that has been there since Jim Clark's time, posted on the A6105 to mark the side road to take to find the house, one kilometer from the A6105. If you purchase what the English call an Ordnance Survey map of the Duns area (Map #67), there are references to "Edington" and "Mains" off A6105 just before reaching Chirnside.

Atop the black-painted Edington Mains signpost is a small white sheep. Surprisingly, it is the only sheep you will see for miles around, as over the years the farms in this area have gone over almost completely from the sheep and cows that Clark and his family reared to agricultural farming; fields of grain instead of the mental image you might have of Jim Clark herding sheep with his shepherds staff and a Border Collie. But if you want to see sheep grazing as they did in Jim Clark's time, go over and drive by the nearby Manderston country house which has a herd of sheep grazing on the vast front lawn in an idyllic setting that looks as if it were 100 years ago.

Taking a left turn at the Edington Mains signpost coming from the direction of Berwick-upon-Tweed, you first go by some modern-looking metal farm buildings and warehouses and some newly-constructed private residences before coming to the Edington Mains farmhouse itself, with a wrought-iron gate, looking pretty much as it does in the pictures with Jim Clark on the sloping lawn (except for a satellite dish that the new owner has installed, presumably to bring in the Formula One races!).

What struck me, however, was the long straightaway right out in front of the gates of Edington Mains, complete with the occasional humps in the road, that looked for all the world like Hohe Acht, the straightaway on the backside of Nordschleife, the Old Nurburgring track which, now that I thought of it, looked very much like this road and so many of the roads in Jim Clark's neighborhood: narrow and constantly turning, framed by hedge rows on either side. In effect, Clark had been practicing for years on roads like this before he ever laid eyes on Spa or the Nordschleife, two of the most difficult "drivers" tracks where he always excelled. Although the Nordschleife looked pretty formidable and dangerous to me when I saw it earlier this summer, to Jim Clark, it would have been familiar looking terrain after no doubt scaring himself silly on the roads around Duns and Chirnside during his teenage years.

I don't know why, but I continued down the Scottish Hohe Acht for a while passing what looked like perhaps 300 acres of the farmland closest to the Edington Mains farmhouse and turned in on a dirt road to follow what appeared to be the outside perimeter of the farm. When I got out of the car, amongst some shade trees at the edge of the farm fields to look back at the farmhouse, Edington Mains was still visible in the distance. After this shady area is a cliff, with the terrain dropping off precipitously, so that the view was of a hollow overlooking a stream called Whiteadder Water, the waters of which ran Edington Mill, close by Jim's farmhouse. The picturesque view of this river valley from the shady overlook at the edge of what was Jim Clark's farm must surely have been a spot the Great Scot himself looked forward to seeing again after returning from the Grand Prix tour.


Retracing your steps past Edington Mains and back to the main road, the A6105, take a left and a few minutes on in the direction of Duns is Chirnside you will come upon Chirnside Church and its adjacent cemetery which is right on the A6105. This is the beautiful country church where an overflow crowd of hundreds of people gathered on a sunny but chilly day to say goodbye to Jimmy on Wednesday, April 10th 1968, including most of Jim Clark's fellow Grand Prix drivers.

In the graveyard, there are three Jim Clark-related gravestones located on the far side of the cemetery near a brown bench: on the left side of Clark's gravestone is the black gravestone of William "Willie" Campbell, the key employee of the Clark family who took up the cudgels in managing the family farms once it became clear that Jimmy's driving career would take precedence over continuing in his father's footsteps. Willie's son William, who was Jimmy's age, is still alive and remains in the Duns area.

On the right side of Clark's gravestone is the gravestone of Jim's parents, James Clark (d. 1981) and Helen Clark (d. 1980), neither of whom were ever too thrilled about Jimmy becoming a race car driver, particularly his mother.

Jim Clark's gravestone tells an interesting story. Taller than most in this very old cemetery but still not very ostentatious, it has gold lettering and pithily sums up Clark's life as follows:

"In Loving Memory of Jim Clark, OBE, born 4-3-36, died 7-4-68. Farmer, Edington Mains Chirnside and of Pembroke Bermuda. World Champion Motor Racing Driver 1963 and 1965. Winner of 25 Grand Prix Races. Indianapolis '500' Winner 1965. First Freeman of Burgh of Duns."

Why the reference to Pembroke Bermuda as one of his residences? Today, many Grand Prix drivers shelter their income by establishing residences in the world's tax havens such as Monaco or Switzerland; in Jim Clark's case, according to Eric Dymock's "Jim Clark" biography, the investment/tax advice of the time steered him toward first Paris and then Bermuda to escape the grasp of the British Inland Revenue, which nevertheless hounded him literally to the grave.

To preserve the legal position being taken by Clark's advisors with Inland Revenue in ongoing examinations, "Pembroke Bermuda" was included on the gravestone along with Duns and Chirnside. It is a curious aspect of the Jim Clark story combining the only two certainties for us all: death and taxes.

Across from the Chirnside cemetery is another revelation, the striking cream-colored Art Deco elementary school Jim Clark attended and its playing field, still preserved as it was despite a residential development which encroaches on the nearby hillside. Although he was taciturn, Jim Clark seemed very articulate and intelligent but in fact he left school early in life.

When two of Jim Clark's uncles died suddenly in 1952, Jim was taken out of the Loretto School (which he attended in his early teens after Chirnside elementary school) at 16 years old to help his father and cousins run the three family farms, 1,240 acres in all, learning the business from Willie Campbell, but thus ending Jim Clark's formal education.

Over in a corner of the bright green grass of the Chirnside playing field is a cluster of old trees that you can imagine Clark and his boyhood friends resorting to discuss the secret schemes adolescent boys always have or to relax after a sporting event. In a world as mobile as the one we live in, it is amazing that Jim Clark is buried not even fifty yards from the school where he learned and the field on which he played schoolboy sports.

Elsewhere in Chirnside, on Main Street in the Town Square a few blocks from the Chirnside Church, is a memorial clock designed by Clark's friend and earliest supporter, Ian Scott Watson. The rear-engined Lotus that adorns the clock is a charming piece of ironwork that captures the graceful lines of a car that somehow has managed to transcend the time when it was made; I only hope that the delicately fabricated piece survives another 35 years.

The Jim Clark Room

After taking in the clock memorial and the Chirnside cemetery, it is back on the A6105 again for the brief trip into Duns, for a visit to the heart of the tour, the "Jim Clark Room"2. Following the very good signage on the outskirts of Duns, you will come to a building at 44 Newtown Street. Admission is 1.30 UK pounds, children free. On the lawn there is a picture of a Lotus and within the building there is a lovingly decorated room that in a very small space somehow manages to capture the man and his era remarkably well.

Don't expect full size Lotus cars and Coventry Climax engines on display as you would see at the Donington Grand Prix Collection or the Hall of Fame Museum at the Indianapolis Motor Speedway. In effect, this is a jewel - not a blockbuster exhibit; a mini-museum, with extremely detailed and accurate narratives of the major phases of Jim Clark's career interspersed amongst display cases containing many of the trophies Clark received during his career, and other documents, photographs, awards, programs and Lotus and Clark memorabilia of all kinds that had significance during his career.

The core of the collection was provided by Clark's parents when they donated much of what is seen to the then-Duns Town Council. Indeed, the intimacy of the place gives you the sense that you are visiting the trophy room at Edington Mains. If you recall the scene from the movie "Grand Prix", where driver Scott Stoddard visits his dead brother's trophy room while recuperating from injuries received when he crashed into the harbor at Monaco, you will get an idea of how cozy this Room feels.

The Jim Clark Room is run by an enthusiastic and knowledgeable staff under the management of the Scottish Borders Council Museums Service. Amidst the displays, there are videos playing of Jim Clark's career that take on new meaning in this setting and many of the objects on display are unique and can be found nowhere else.

For example, there is a blue warm-up jacket awarded by Monroe Shock Absorbers to Jim Clark as 1963 Indianapolis-Rookie of the Year which I had never seen before, along with a clock-like trophy Clark was awarded in 1965 when he won the Indianapolis 500. Interestingly, and perhaps fittingly, I noticed that all the racecars that decorate the Indy 500 clock were front-engined roadsters, the very machines Clark's 1965 victory doomed to extinction.

When you have absorbed all there is to learn in the Jim Clark Room, there are souvenirs of your visit to buy, including pictures, postcards, some books and rare photographs.

There is also a visitors' book to sign. Jack Brabham and Roy Salvadori have been here along with some 200,000 visitors since the room officially opened in 1969; fellow Scot Jackie Stewart dedicated the room on April 2, 1993 to commemorate the 25th Anniversary of Clark's death at Hockenheim. Innes Ireland, another Scot with whom Jim Clark had an ongoing feud, visited just a few months before he died in 1993.


On October 5th 1957, Jim Clark first tasted victory in a major way at a disused World War II airfield called Charterhall, located perhaps five miles south-southwest of Duns off route B6460. He was 21 years old. Clark was driving a white Porsche 1600 Super owned by his friend, fellow farmer and biggest cheerleader, Ian Scott Watson.

Charterhall was also a place where, in October 1952, Jim Clark saw his first motor race in Scotland, with Guiseppe Farina driving the Ferrari-based Thinwall Special and Belgian band leader Johnny Claes driving his Talbot-Lago. Along with two other abandoned Scottish airfields, Winfield and Crimond, these leftover artifacts from the war served the same function as did Silverstone in England, supplementing the local road system as the driving schools of the time for the outstanding group of Scottish drivers that came out of that era: Ron Flockhart, Archie Scott Brown, Innes Ireland, Jimmy Stewart (Jackie's older brother), Jackie Stewart and Jim Clark himself.

Charterhall was first used on May 31st 1952 and as of 1999 has now become a disused racetrack as well as a disused airfield. According to an article in Berkwickshire Today, written by Andrew Dickson, in its heyday Charterhall attracted 20,000 spectators to the 2 mile (3.21 km) track with five corners that not surprisingly used the wide, 1,000 meter runway as the main straightaway. Tofts Turn was a tight hairpin on the west end of the track and Lodge Corner was a gentler hairpin on the east end of the runway, with a kidney-shaped curve called Paddock Bend and the Kames Curve bulging to one side of the track to add variety. Marker barrels painted white led the way around the flat terrain.

The paddock itself was located within the kidney-shaped bulge and within the perimeter of the track and the startline was in the middle of the runway. The cars raced clockwise around the circuit, which then had a few RAF buildings to enliven the otherwise featureless terrain. The other visible signs of life were the sheep grazing in the field adjacent to the airport.

Today, the airfield is private property and there is nothing but the runway left at Charterhall. It takes a lot of imagination to summon up how exciting it must have been for all those post-war Scots to come out here from their farms to enjoy a Sunday of racing their sport and saloon cars, as Jimmy did his own Sunbeam Talbot Mark 3 and later on his own TR3 or Scott Watson's DKW Sonderklasse, and in time the big iron, the Border Reivers Jaguar D-Type. The ample width and length of the Charterhall runway (1,000 meters x 46 meters) would surely have promoted lots of overtaking amongst these sports cars and though the Charterhall runway is no Mulsanne straight I am sure Jim Clark had the D-Type humming at top speed before throwing out the anchors at Lodge Corner.

Finding Charterhall is not the easiest of tasks and since road crews were repairing roads and bridges in the area when I visited, there were signs laughingly called "diversions" that led me wandering all over the area until I found the abandoned airfield. In the best of times, there is no actual sign anywhere marked "Charterhall" but there is signage for the memorial of a downed RAF pilot named Flight Lieutenant Richard Hope Hillary on the A6142 connecting road from Duns and on the B6460 route it leads to, and once you find Hillary's memorial you are in the right place.

Hillary's Blenheim night fighter crashed during a training flight in nearby Crunklaw Farm in January 1943; he was an author and had been an ace who shot down five Messerschmitts earlier in the war. From the Hillary monument, follow the signs to a company called "Border Grain", a farm cooperative that provides storage facilities for the grain produced on the surrounding farms. Again, this is now private property so a request for permission to visit is in order.

Passing through the dirt roads of the Border Grain facilities you will see some black tarmac and the only evidence that this was once an airport: a limp-looking windsock on a rusted pole. Reconstructing in the mind's eye what you see, it is easy to make out the hairpin turns and there are mounds of tires everywhere that mark the makeshift circuits used in prior years when the annual Jim Clark Memorial Rally occupied Charterhall as a stage of the Rally. On the main straight, there is also a tower that serves as a functioning weather station, so in that respect Charterhall lives on.

And of course, there are the sheep that are still grazing at the eastern end of the runway. The airfield advisory on the internet says: "airfield used for farming - always check runway for stock which may encroach onto the runway. Care must be taken to identify a fence which crosses the eastern end of the runway [behind which lurk the sheep]." The final admonition to pilots is appropriate, given the rough, 65 year-old tarmac: "light aircraft accepted on prior permission and at pilot's own risk."

Risk, the phenomenon which in the end is what motor racing is all about. Looking at the abandoned windswept airfield now home again to ravens, pheasants and sheep, it makes you wonder how the lure of racing and risk takes hold in the soul of a Scottish farmer like Jim Clark and propels him from a desolate place like this to the great racing circuits of the world, from New Zealand to South Africa to the United States to Monaco. If only the tarmac and the sheep could talk.

  • Hotels & cars: if you are going to be in the area overnight, there are small hotels and bed and breakfasts in Duns and Chirnside, including the White Swan in Duns (01361 883338), the Chirnside Hall Country House Hotel (01890 818219) on the outskirts of town and the Naismiths Arms Hotel (01890 818507) on the west end of Main Street. I stayed at the Kings Arms Hotel on Hide Hill (01289 307454). As for renting a car, contact Blackburn & Price (01289 307436), the local Vauxhall dealer.

  • The Jim Clark Room: opening hours, April to September, are 10:30 AM to 4:30 PM from Monday to Saturday, except for lunchtime at 1:00 PM and 2:00-4:00 PM on Sundays; in October, hours are Monday to Saturday, 1:00-4:00 PM. Call ahead to the Room at 01361 883960 or to the Museums Service at 01361 884114 to confirm opening hours.

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    Volume 9, Issue 34
    August 20th 2003

    Atlas F1 Special

    Special Project: How to Save F3000
    by David Cameron

    Atlas F1 Exclusive

    Giancarlo Fisichella: Through the Visor
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    Remembered Down on the Farm
    by Thomas O'Keefe

    Season in the Sun
    by David Cameron

    2003 Hungarian GP Preview

    2003 Hungarian GP Preview
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    Hungary Facts & Stats
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    The Fuel Stop
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    The F1 Trivia Quiz
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    On the Road
    by Garry Martin

    Elsewhere in Racing
    by David Wright & Mark Alan Jones

    The Weekly Grapevine
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