Published on August 26th, 2019 | by Daniel Sherman Fernandez0
Land Rover Oxford leaves Singapore for London
At the time it was the longest of all overland journeys: halfway around the world, from the English Channel to Singapore.
In 1955, six British students set out on an epic expedition in two Series I Land Rovers. The destination was Singapore and the prize was a place in history. One team member shares his best moments.
The Last Overland expedition team started their journey from Singapore to London yesterday, in one of the most historic automotive events of the 21st Century. The team aims to recreate the original 1955 route charted by The Oxford & Cambridge Far Eastern Expedition (The First Overland).
The team of eight, including Nat George,grandson of Tim Slessor (a member of The First Overland), and Singaporean LarryLeong, will drive the original 1955 ‘Oxford’ Land Rover Series I used in TheFirst Overland.
TheFlag-of in Singapore
On an expedition to return ‘Oxford’ to itshome in the UK, the team was flagged off from the start line at the SingaporeF1 Pit Building in Marina Bay, a location fitting for the beginnings of allgrand motoring adventures. In attendance were the Expedition’s key supporters –including Singapore Tourism Board, Jaguar Land Rover Asia Pacific, Opihr Ginand AKE Group – and members of the public.
As part of the fanfare to commemorate theflag off, a record-breaking convoy of 90 Land Rovers escorted ‘Oxford’ toSingapore’s border with Malaysia. Driven by local enthusiasts, includingmembers of the Land Rover Owners Singapore, this momentous occasion is acelebration of a global love affair between Land Rover and the motoring world.
One of the three surviving First Overlandteam members – also joined the start of the journey alongside his grandson Nat.He was cheered on by Nigel Newbury and Patrick Murphy, his two survivingcompatriots from The First Overland, who were also present at the F1 PitBuilding. Now both in their late eighties, Nigel and Patrick were on hand togive some sound last-minute advice to the Last Overland team.
Tim Slessor recounts, “We (The FirstOverland) team embarked on this journey when we were in our early twenties, andat that age, you make the impossible, possible. Now, 64 years later, I amelated to be part of the team driving her (‘Oxford’) from Singapore back to theUK – overland once more. As I get older, I have been bothered by a recurringand nagging whisper telling me that you’re only here once so go for it – beforeit’s too late! It is the reason why I am here today – I am 87, and if I don’t doit now, I may never get another chance. To finally see this expedition come tofruition after many months of planning and anticipation, brings me great joy.If you like, it’s a case of ‘the Old Man helps take the Old Lady home.”
Mr. Chang Chee Pey, Assistant ChiefExecutive, International Group, Singapore Tourism Board, was also present atthe flag off. He shares, “This year, we mark the 200th anniversary of SirStamford Raffles arriving in Singapore that provided the catalyst andfoundation to pave the way for present-day Singapore, and UK-Singaporecollaborations that followed. The Last Overland aptly represents the deep andspecial relationship between the United Kingdom and Singapore, as well as thecollaboration and friendship between the two countries. We hope theinspirational story of The Last Overland, comprising core team members fromboth Singapore and the UK, will ignite the interest of many more Britishtravellers to Singapore, as well as inspire travellers to pursue their passionsas The Last Overlanders have.”
Acrossover of generations
Between 1955 and 1956, a team of six youngmen embarked on The First Overland and made history by being the first tosuccessfully drive 18,000 miles from London to Singapore in a Land Rover. Init, was a young man named Tim Slessor. Now, 64 years later, he returns to formthe team of eight retracing the original route, in reverse. Alongside Tim areAlex Bescoby (age 31), award-winning filmmaker, and Nat George (age 21), Tim’sgrandson.
An explorer at heart, Nat George, theyoungest member of the Overland team, will provide a fresh, cross-generationalperspective for the expedition. He shares his excitement about the expedition,“Growing up, I have heard so much about The First Overland from my grandfather.His passion and enthusiasm have greatly inspired me, and I am deeply humbledand grateful to be able to continue the journey that he has started. I’mexcited to visit parts of the world I never considered going to, countries thatI was aware existed but other than that knew nothing else about. It’ll benothing like anything I’ve ever experienced or seen.”
The team will also be accompanied by a teamof professional advisors, Land Rover enthusiasts and travel experts – allunited in their passion for automotive history and adventure.
TheLast Overland expedition a celebration of friendships
Travelling through multiple cities, thisexpedition not only marks the historical recreation of an iconic journey inmotoring history, but also celebrates friendships forged across borders. Alongthe way back to London, the Overland team will be welcomed by Land Roverenthusiasts from across twenty countries such as Malaysia, Thailand, Myanmar,Bulgaria and Belgium in a line-up of various major press and marketing events.
Mr Robin Colgan, Managing Director, JaguarLand Rover Asia Pacific Region, said, “Land Rover has always been synonymouswith exploration and we have never lost our spirit of adventure. For more than70 years, our vehicles have taken people to the far reaches of the world. Weare extremely proud that ‘Oxford’ is still going strong after all these yearsand is ready to do it all again. As Alex and the team embark on The LastOverland, we wish them the very best of luck on their adventures to come.”
Supporting the team on the road with safetyequipment, satellite tracking and risk advisory, will be security firm, AKEInternational and their offices in London and Singapore. AKE’s Chairman,Richard Mitchelson said, “We are delighted to be supporting the Last Overlandas they are kindred spirits who mirror the ‘frontier’ ethos of our ownorganisation. The expedition also leverages our significant operationalexperience in some of the world’s most challenging places. Robust journeymanagement is all about detailed planning and analysis. We just wish we couldjump in the AKE Land Rover and join for the entire journey!”
Providing a bit of much-needed refreshmentat the end of each long driving day is Last Overland supporter Opihr Gin.Opihr’s International Brand Director, Robert Milton, said: “Opihr OrientalSpiced Gin is proud to sponsor the Last Overland. It truly resonates with ourbrand’s values to never stop exploring, stay curious and take people on ajourney of discovery along the Ancient Spice Route.”
Back in London, another gathering ofclassic Land Rovers of record-breaking numbers will mark the end of the journeyin December 2019. Escorting ‘Oxford’ on her final leg of the trip, the finalLand Rover convoy continues the celebration of the global love affair sharedacross the motoring world.