As a young boy back in the UK during the 1960s, summer always saw the Walton family packing up their swimming togs for a fortnight’s summer holiday in North Wales. During the early half of the decade, a B&B in Harlech was the most usual destination but, as the 1960s swung further, we moved further afield to Anglesey and, more specifically, Amlwch, the island’s most northerly town. During the many long hot summer spent in Amlwch, our family became part owners of a fishing boat – the Vivienne. I can still recall fishing off the coast and returning to Amlwch’s picturesque port with the stern of the Vivienne full of mackerel. Fans of heavy metal music will be familiar with Amlwch as the late Lemmy of Motorhead fame spent time at school in this small Welsh town.

By the early 1970s, having gone my own way, family holidays were a thing of the past but many happy memories remain. Indeed, our first dog – a black Labrador named Judy – was born in Anglesey.

During those holidays spent in Anglesey, we explored many of the island’s beaches, including Red Wharf Bay – although we referred to it as simply ‘red beach’. This large sandy beach disappears completely at high tide, only to reappear like magic as the sea recedes. It was a great place to visit, you just had to make sure you got there when the beach wasn’t submerged beneath the Irish Sea.

What I didn’t know about Red Wharf Bay whilst strolling along it in the 1960s was that, in the immediate post-WWII years, a gentleman by the name of Maurice Wilks had actually sketched out a design for a vehicle on the very sand I was walking over. At that time Wilks was Rover’s Technical Director and, of course, the vehicle whose outline he scratched out on the sand was the Land Rover.

British Answer to the Jeep

As well as his work at Rover, Maurice Wilks also maintained a farming property in Newborough (or Niwbwrchm, for those who speak Welsh) in Anglesey. Wilks used an old ex-US Army Willys-Overland Jeep as his farmyard hack. His brother, Spencer Wilks, also held a position at Rover – in fact he was the company’s president from 1929 to 1960. One day when the two brothers got together, Spencer asked Maurice what he’d do when his old Jeep died. Maurice simply replied that he’d just have to go and by another one.


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