Is this Norfolk’s oldest new car owner? Jean, 94, gets a new motor.

Ninety four year old Jean Marriott who has just bought herself a new car and enjoys driving. Photo:

Ninety four year old Jean Marriott who has just bought herself a new car and enjoys driving. Photo: Steve Adams

King George V was on the throne, the first Donald Duck film was made and bank robbers Bonnie and Clyde were killed in the year Jean Marriott first sat behind the wheel of a car, aged 15.

Jean Marriott pictured in her early 20's. She is still driving age 94. Photo: Steve Adams

Jean Marriott pictured in her early 20's. She is still driving age 94. Photo: Steve Adams

Nearly 80 years on, great grandmother Mrs Marriott is not only still driving – she's just splashed out on a brand new Nissan Micra, bought from north Norfolk dealer Crayford and Abbs.

In a long driving career Mrs Marriott, now 94, has managed an almost unblemished record, clocking up just one speeding fine and not a single accident over the decades.

She remembers the day, during a holiday in Northumberland, when her motor engineer father persuaded her to 'give it a go' at the controls of the family's Austin 12 Tourer.

'He was a keen motorist and he just wanted me to get started,' she said. 'There was a complete lack of traffic and the roads were beautifully cambered. I remember feeling very excited.


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'I can still remember the registration – WW 999. It always made me think of spending a penny urgently!' Mrs Marriott, who lives close to the seafront in Sheringham, has mixed but fond memories of picnics and outings in the tourer from the family home near Skipton, in Yorkshire, to the Lake District and Blackpool.

She said: 'My younger brother and I always had to sit in the back. It was jolly cold with the top down. We would cower behind the cellophane screen, wrapped in rugs.'

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In 1936, the year after the driving test was introduced in the UK, Mrs Marriott took it and passed first time. She was just 17.

But she remembers that it did not go without incident. While trying to reverse up a steep hill, the clutch became very hot and she had to abandon the attempt. She recalled: 'It was the car's fault, not mine, so the examiner passed me – plus he was a friend of my father!

'In those days you used to be able to tell the type of car by the sound it made going up hill – whether it was a Clyno, a Jowett, a Hillman or an Austin.'

And Mrs Marriott also remembered that when negotiating particularly steep hills, passengers would climb out of a car, a large stone would be placed behind a back wheel to stop it rolling back, and the driver would then attempt a hill start without the extra weight, while the passengers followed on foot.

Mrs Marriott can also picture an old police Humber she and her husband owned when she was a young mum. She said: 'You could lift a big pram straight onto the back seat.'

Her one brush with the law came when she was in her 80s and was driving to Hertfordshire to visit one of her three children. After a long wait in a traffic jam, she was finally able to get going but was booked and fined £60 for driving at 35mph in a 30mph limit.

Nowadays she uses her car to visit her daughter, Barbara Veitch, in Wiveton, or to shop and see friends in Cromer and Holt.

'I enjoy driving and I think I'm quite good at it although I'm more cautious nowadays,' she said.

She hopes to continue driving as long as her health will allow. And, as a keen former sportswoman who sailed at Blakeney until she was over 80 and only gave up golf three years ago, the chances are she may still be behind the wheel on her 100th birthday. 'I'll have to buy another new car if that happens,' she said.

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