Every Globe-Trotter tells a story – and the six-strong collection belonging to John Evans and his family reflects a life filled with travel and adventure spanning more than half a century
Photographs kindly provided by Cathy Evans
In the mid-1950s, when the average Brit’s concept of travel was an annual trip to the seaside, John Evans began a career that saw him journey to the far corners of the world.
Mr Evans worked as a surveyor for The Directorate of Overseas Surveys (later merged with Ordnance Survey), an initiative established after the Second World War to build an archive of aerial photography, maps and surveys of former British colonies. These recordings covered large parts of Africa, the Far East and the islands of the Caribbean, Atlantic and Pacific Oceans. Mr Evans travelled extensively throughout his 33-year career, usually with his young family in tow, and always with his trusty Globe-Trotter.
‘Before setting off on his first posting abroad in 1956 after national service, my father was advised to go to a tropical outfitter in Soho, London, to kit himself out,’ explains Mr Evans’ daughter, Cathy. ‘While there he bought his first Globe-Trotter suitcase. He also bought a pair of Fox’s Puttees, which he confesses he never wore!’
Mr Evans’ work saw him and his family live in parts of the world rarely visited even by today’s most intrepid travellers. This included stints in the Falkland Islands, Uganda, Ethiopia, Antigua, Malawi, Yemen and the Solomon Islands – where his Globe-Trotter suitcase came in ‘very useful.’
‘While surveying the Solomon Islands it was necessary to use the survey ship and the suitcases went everywhere, including Gizo, Vanikoro and Auki to name a few,’ says Cathy. ‘On land they also survived attacks from ants and termites.’
Impressed with their lightweight nature and evident durability, Mr Evans soon started collecting Globe-Trotters. His second purchase came from Bainbridge’s of Newcastle (now John Lewis Newcastle) in the early 1960s, shortly after his working trip to the Falklands.
‘As time went on, more cases were acquired and when my brothers and myself went to boarding school, the suitcases were divided up between us, so we all had one,’ Cathy explains.
Because Mr Evans worked abroad continuously for months or even years at a time, Cathy, her brothers and mother would stay with him or fly out to visit during school holidays. Cathy remembers the family living in Guyana between 1967 and 1969. Although her father would undertake work field trips alone, he would often bring the children on excursions during the holidays. On one instance, the family visited an Amerindian village 50 kilometres outside of the capital, Georgetown. On another they went to see old sugar estates, and once drove along the coast to New Amsterdam. A photograph taken by their father in 1969 shows Cathy and her two brothers saying goodbye to three friends just before departing for the airport along with their Globe-Trotter cases.
Battered but clearly beloved, the Evans’ Globe-Trotters are a tangible reminder of the family’s incredible experiences. Many stickers collected from hotels and airliners still remain on the cases; each one a unique memento. A sticker from Djibouti came from a holiday won by Cathy’s parents, while a vibrant yellow sticker from St Helena is a reminder of a visit to one of the most remote islands on the planet.
In those early days of commercial aviation, the family travelled with the British Overseas Airways Corporation (BOAC), a precursor to British Airways. Cathy and her siblings were given Junior Jet Club log books to fill in on each flight, which would be signed by the captain, and recorded the children’s exotic travels. Cathy’s log book is now held at the BOAC/BA Heritage Centre in London. It details flights on a VC10 aircraft with registration number G-ASGC – this exact aircraft can now be seen at Duxford Imperial War Museum.
Just as these items are carefully preserved, the Evans family suitcases are now part of the Globe-Trotter archive. The last trip Mr Evans took with his case was to Singapore in 2004 – a whole 48 years after purchasing it. ‘My father remained loyal to the original cases,’ says Cathy. ‘Although there were many new types on the market, he favoured his Globe-Trotter. They always stood out on the baggage carousel and I remember someone once commenting on how they don’t make them like they used to.’
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