Home   News   Article

Wick couple take a trip down memory lane after recognising car in Groat’s archive feature


By David G Scott

Register for free to read more of the latest local news. It's easy and will only take a moment.



Click here to sign up to our free newsletters!

The Looking Back archive feature in the Groat brought back happy memories for one elderly motorist in Wick when he saw the car he sat his test in back in 1959.

Ian Fraser was called downstairs after his wife Joan had been looking through the John O’Groat Journal on Friday, April 26 and came across the vintage photograph reproduced below, instantly realising the significance of it.

The Looking Back archive picture that stirred up memories for Joan and Ian Fraser. The vehicle in the middle, heading towards the cafe, is the same car Ian sat his driving test in over 60 years ago.
The Looking Back archive picture that stirred up memories for Joan and Ian Fraser. The vehicle in the middle, heading towards the cafe, is the same car Ian sat his driving test in over 60 years ago.

“I was in my element and fair delighted,” said Joan who lives on Leith Walk with Ian.

“Ian looked and told me the story of how he passed his driving test in that same black Somerset car. It was owned by Danny Bain the bus driver who was a really, really nice man.

“Ian had his own Somerset when we were courting but I won’t tell you what happened in it,” she laughed with a twinkle in her eye.

Ian and Joan Fraser at their home in Wick's Leith Walk. Picture: DGS
Ian and Joan Fraser at their home in Wick's Leith Walk. Picture: DGS
Ian with his vintage cars parked outside his home in Wick. The vehicle at far left is a Mini 1000 and the car next to him is an Austin A40 Somerset similar to the one he passed his test in. Picture: DGS
Ian with his vintage cars parked outside his home in Wick. The vehicle at far left is a Mini 1000 and the car next to him is an Austin A40 Somerset similar to the one he passed his test in. Picture: DGS

The photograph shows three cars on the north side of the Service Bridge in Wick and it is the middle car, heading towards Cabrelli’s cafe, that they recognised as the same Austin A40 Somerset due to the number plate of BSO 53 being clearly legible.

Ian said he passed his test in the same car in late 1959 and though there are no details with the picture he believes it was probably taken in the early 1960s.

Ian Fraser recognised one of the cars in the Groat's archive feature and recalled borrowing it for his driving test. Picture: DGS
Ian Fraser recognised one of the cars in the Groat's archive feature and recalled borrowing it for his driving test. Picture: DGS
The Austin car is highlighted with a red circle and is heading towards Cabrelli's cafe.
The Austin car is highlighted with a red circle and is heading towards Cabrelli's cafe.

The sprightly 81-year-old still tinkers about with engines and has two old cars that he takes to local vintage rallies, one being an aqua-green Mini 1000 from 1971 and the other a blue Austin Somerset from 1952 that he bought nine months ago as a birthday present to himself.

The 1952 Austin is the same model of car that he passed his test in and which appeared in the Looking Back Groat article.

Ian Fraser with his Mini 1000, at left, and an Austin Somerset A40 that is similar to the car he passed his test in. Picture: DGS
Ian Fraser with his Mini 1000, at left, and an Austin Somerset A40 that is similar to the car he passed his test in. Picture: DGS

“I’ve had the Mini since 1988 and I bought it from my late father and resprayed her,” he said. “I was a mechanic at Kirkhill Motors that used to be on Green Road and then landed up at Mowat’s Garage on George Street. I was 22 years in each.”

He talked about his memories of the Austin Somerset from the old picture. “I passed my test in it. Danny Bain from Highland Buses had it – we were good mates. He gave me a lend of the car for the test which I passed when I was 19 in Wick.”

He said he used the garage Land Rover from Kirkhill Motors for his first driving test and then the Austin Somerset from his friend for the next two tests and passed on his third attempt in 1959. In the early 60s he borrowed the Somerset again to take his sister Margaret to her wedding in Canisbay.

Though the car in the picture has ‘53’ on the number plate, Ian thinks the vehicle dates to 1954. He says he has a soft spot for the Somerset and went on to buy two of them in the 1960s that have since been scrapped.

The couple have been together since 1966 and were married in 1970. “We had our Golden Anniversary [in 2020] and we’ll have our Emerald next year for 55 years,” said Joan.

Ian showed a picture of his dad, Clair Fraser, and believes he is one of the children with him.
Ian showed a picture of his dad, Clair Fraser, and believes he is one of the children with him.
Arnie the couple's parrot was vocal throughout the interview calling out, 'Arnie, Arnie, Arnie, arse!' Picture: DGS
Arnie the couple's parrot was vocal throughout the interview calling out, 'Arnie, Arnie, Arnie, arse!' Picture: DGS

“We’ll have a party in the house for the family next year. I’ve got three children, nine grandchildren and will have four great-grandchildren by then.”

She recalled that their wedding car was a red Ford Anglia that they left in the Nethercliffe Hotel’s car park overnight. “When we got up in the morning the tin cans were on it and ‘Just Married’. We went up to my mum’s on Dunnet Avenue and my dad [Ian Mackay] had taken a turn. They said he was drunk but he didn’t drink. We didn’t want to go away.”

Ian Fraser with his vintage cars that he shows at vehicle rallies. Picture: DGS
Ian Fraser with his vintage cars that he shows at vehicle rallies. Picture: DGS
Ian and Joan Fraser will be celebrating their Emerald Wedding Anniversary next year after getting married in 1970. Picture: DGS
Ian and Joan Fraser will be celebrating their Emerald Wedding Anniversary next year after getting married in 1970. Picture: DGS

They eventually decided to go down with Joan’s sister and her husband to East Kilbride after it was confirmed that her father’s illness was not life-threatening and turned out to be a hernia.

“It was just lovely seeing the old picture in the paper and it bringing back all these memories,” added Joan.

Ian put paid to any chance that the old Somerset in the picture may still exist, saying: “Danny Bain scrapped it. He gave a lend of it to a chap who smashed it and it was written off.”

Arnie, their African grey parrot, had the last word, calling out, “Arnie, Arnie, Arnie, arse!”, as the interview wrapped up.


Do you want to respond to this article? If so, click here to submit your thoughts and they may be published in print.



This site uses cookies. By continuing to browse the site you are agreeing to our use of cookies - Learn More