Jim Clark left Loretto in 1952 aged 16. He was needed back at the farm. He once said he left when his father realised he was not studious, but there was something apologetic about his assertion that: “Father had no qualms about taking me away from school. He thought I would learn more on the farm than I would from school books.” Dessin de Boivent Duffar from Champion magazine 1965 portrays him at 17 minding sheep but thinking of motor racing.
Yet he may have been doing himself a disservice, and although he often said he was indifferent to lessons at Loretto School and got into trouble through playing truant, he was quick-witted, intelligent, relatively hard-working, and certainly no delinquent.
Perhaps the real reason he disparaged his privileged education was to relieve his father of any obloquy, which might have arisen from removing him from school early. It was, after all, done to suit the family business, and Jim may have been more sensitive to leaving school prematurely than he appeared.
The reason for quitting Loretto was a family crisis. His uncle and grandfather died within a fortnight of one another and the succession had to be settled. Jim was plucked out of school, given responsibility for Edington Mains, and as soon as he came of age was taken on as a partner in the family firm. Following the deaths, Jim’s father found himself with three farms.
Edington Mains covered 1,240 acres with a further 200 of woodland. It had between 700 and 800 breeding ewes, three pedigree flocks; Oxford Downs, Suffolk Downs and Border Leicesters, and fattened around 500 cattle a year for sale in local markets. There were usually about 500 acres under the plough, on which the Clarks grew barley, wheat, oats, potatoes, and turnips.
Had he not left school so early Jim Clark might easily have gone to college to read engineering, for which he had an aptitude. During school holidays Jim moved cattle, tended sheep, and looked forward to harvest time with the family.
Jim Clark: Tribute to a Champion.
Dove Publishing Ltd.
£22.50, Publishing April 2017