30 years ago | Shevington Moor – South Woodham Ferrers, Essex | 27th March 1993
Thirty years ago, I spent a weekend in Essex, visiting family. Just over two years after passing my driving test, it was by far the furthest drive I’d done at that point. And it involved the setting of something of a milestone which I doubt I’ll ever come close to repeating…
The weekend before Easter 1993, I nipped down to Essex. To avoid traffic, I set off at about 10pm. This was not an uncommon practice; the M6 Toll was still years away and the M6 between Walsall and Birmingham was notoriously liable to congestion at most times of day.
The other major difference to the roads in those days was the lack of speed cameras. With so many miles to cover and so little traffic, it was also not uncommon to make the best of the conditions – and the anonymity. And so it was that, in this Ford Sierra, I completed the journey to Essex in by far the shortest time it has ever taken me.
It may be thirty years on but I’m still not going to say how quickly it took me to cover the 241 miles – or the average speed I worked it out to have been. The only detail I will add is that I was only overtaken once throughout the whole journey: by a police car with its ‘blues and twos’ on, around Walsall. Call me cautious but it felt like the safest course of action all round, to slow down and let him pass.
It’s important to say that I’m not particularly proud of this ‘record’ and I include the story more to highlight the differences between those times and today. Given the amount of road surveillance added over the years since, it’s probably safe to conclude that it’s almost impossible for anyone to attempt to do anything similar – which is probably better for everyone using the roads.