Tuesday 29 May 2012

Duke Drives the School Bus in Westray

To celebrate the Royal Diamond Jubilee, Orkney Archive staff have put up a small display in the foyer of the library. The display shows pictures, photos and newspaper cuttings of visits to Orkney and some information on anniversary beacons.

Two of the photos shown are of the Queen Elizabeth and the Duke of Edinburgh visiting Westray during their first visit to Orkney after the coronation on the 12th August 1960. Here we see the Queen laughing at Prince Philip trying to drive the school bus. (OA Ref: L1138/1)

The Orcadian newspaper says that after landing in Westray:

“The Duke soon had his eye on the bright red glittering school bus standing nearby – a Morris van BS 5933. “Is this what I have to drive?” he asked the driver Mr David Hume, who was standing beside it. The Queen got into the front passenger seat and the rest of the entourage piled in the back. The Duke looked at the controls for a few seconds and the gear positions were pointed out to him by Mr Hume. The engine started and they went rather tentatively at first then after a slight crashing of the first gear change with more confidence.”

The Duke then drove them all to Pierowall School.

And here we see the Queen and the Duke after receiving the gift of a handbag. (OA Ref: L1137/2)

The Orcadian says: “Westray’s gift to the Queen was handed over by Miss Agnes Logie. It was truly an island gift for it was a sealskin handbag made by Mrs Mary Kent."

After the visit the Orcadian goes on to say:

“The Royal Party once more crowded into the school bus and the Duke stepped on the accelerator. As he handed back to the usual driver at Gill Pier he remarked that he had a little trouble finding one of the gears but added with a smile “…but its still all there.””

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