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Driving in St Helena

Keep left…mostly

Speed has never killed anyone. Suddenly becoming stationary; that’s what gets you.{c}

If you want to see all St Helena has to offer it’s best if you drive

Driving in St Helena

Please note: the following is a light-hearted view of driving and car hire on St Helena. In particular please observe that if you want to faithfully observe all the rules of the road you need to buy a copy of the Highway Code{1}. Most drivers don’t bother.

Your vehicle

As an experienced world traveller you are doubtless used to hiring cars. But whether you prefer Hertz, Avis, Budget or some other company, don’t bother trying to book your St Helena car from them. All car hire on St Helena is done by small local businesses, and even by individuals. Forget Lamborghini, Ferrari and McLaren. You may not get the latest model but you can be assured of friendly and personal service, and that counts for rather a lot! If you contact the Tourist Information Office in advance of your visit you may be able to pre-book one of the more modern vehicles - maybe even one made in the last 10-15 years.

When you collect your vehicle upon arrival check merely that it has four wheels fitted with reasonably sound tyres, at least one opening door (unless you are good at crawling in through the window) and the other essential features - working brakes, some lights, etc. Treat everything else as optional. And don’t worry about small imperfections in your vehicle’s paintwork. If you can find a vehicle on St Helena in pristine condition (other than the Governor’s official car), do please contact us.

If your vehicle has air conditioning, switch it off and open the windows instead - you’ll save loads of fuel and it makes it easier to chat to pedestrians or other drivers as you pass them. Cars on St Helena apparently don’t have to conform to the sort of exhaust emission standards common in Europe and the USA; if these were ever introduced 95.7% of the vehicles would need to be scrapped immediately, so don’t be surprised if your departure leaves a cloud of smoke to mark where you previously were. And it does sometimes rain on St Helena, so if you anticipate rain during your visit make sure your vehicle has at least one working windscreen wiper or obtain a cloth and a piece of stick. Also make sure it has at least some fuel in it. Some car renters provide a map, but if not you can buy one from the Post Office in Jamestown. You might also want to buy and read our Highway Code. Then load in your bags and you’re ready to go!

Driving Technique

Below: BasicsTips & TricksDriving rules - the Highway CodeMore advanced drivingRush HourSpeed BumpsIf you break downFuelWant to be mistaken for a local?Few ‘fascinating facts’

More about the origins of Jamestown’s roads on our page Roads.


The first, and by far the most important rule, and also one that will not come naturally to you at first so you will need to practice, is that you must wave at every passing driver or pedestrian you encounter. It doesn’t matter if you don’t know who they are, and they will have no idea who you are either. Always wave. This is an absolute and must be obeyed, even if you ignore every other rule of the road{2}.

Keep Left?
Keep Left?

In St Helena we drive notionally on the left. This means that in the few roads where there is width enough for cars to pass, you should pass on the left of the oncoming vehicle. But as 95% of our roads are single-track, most drivers stick to the middle and only move over if they encounter an oncoming vehicle (the rules for this are explained below).

30mph Limit


The maximum speed you are permitted to achieve anywhere on the island is 30mph. But in Jamestown, most of Half Tree Hollow and several other places the limit is 20mph. Do not expect these restrictions to be signposted - they often are not. Speed signs are erected apparently at random across the island. The presence of a sign indicates a speed restriction, but the absence of a sign does not mean there is no restriction - just simply that there wasn’t enough spare budget for a sign. The UK Foreign & Commonwealth Office says Speed limits are signed across the island but, perhaps intentionally, does not claim that the signs are necessarily where you might expect them to be - i.e. at the beginning and end of the restricted area. If you read the Highway Code{3} you will discover that there is a 15mph limit between the Chapel and Blarney Bridge and a 20mph limit between Longwood Gate and the water tank, which is not much help if you don’t know where any of these places are. So to avoid falling foul of the Police the best bet is to stick to 20mph everywhere. That way you can also enjoy the scenery while driving. Don’t worry that you might delay somebody - they’re used to it (also see notes about overtaking under ‘More advanced driving’ below); for some St Helena drivers even 20mph is wildly excessive. Don’t forget that there is no point in being anywhere on time! And beware of the speed bumps in Jamestown.

Wrecked car

Do not crash into anything{4}. That may sound obvious but Police practice here is to ignore most driving offences unless you crash. Then they arrive, breathalyse everybody in a two mile radius and prosecute all the drivers/pedestrians/animals/etc. vaguely involved. So it’s best to avoid collisions at all costs, even ones that are not your fault.

In a single-track road (i.e. on 95% of the roads you will travel) the rule about giving way is simple - the car descending the hill gives way to the car ascending the hill. What happens on a flat road? you ask? Well if you can find a piece of flat road on St Helena please contact us. Giving way involves reversing backwards to an official passing place, or to somebody’s driveway, or to a place where there is a wide grass verge, or if necessary all the way to the road junction you passed twenty minutes earlier. And don’t assume that if the ascending vehicle is just past a passing place and you’re a long way from one that the driver will take pity on you; they might but they probably won’t. They’re not being awkward, it’s just instinct to check if you are ascending or descending and act accordingly, with no other factors considered. And don’t be surprised if the other vehicle dives into a passing place on the wrong side of the road, forcing you to pass on the right; left and right are, it would seem, relative terms.

Tips & Tricks

Jean Gurr and the nice police officer
Jean Gurr and the nice police officer
Jamestown traffic jam
Jamestown traffic jam
Ladder Hill Road
Ladder Hill RoadWhy you don’t park at The Seaside
Why you don’t park at The Seaside
Unexpected road hazardsWatch out for unexpected road hazards{d}
Try not to crash
Try not to crash

Parking sign in Jamestown
Observe all rules
Illegal to park on the pavement
It’s illegal to park on the pavement
double-yellow lines (2)
double-yellow lines (2)
Always respect double-yellow lines
Considerate parking
Always park considerately

There are very few flat roads on St Helena, so when parking always securely apply the handbrake and, in case that doesn’t work (which is probable) also leave the car in gear (1st Gear if facing up the slope; Reverse if facing down). Otherwise you could end up talking to a nice police officer like former Governor’s wife Jean Gurr (Photo, right) who was given a verbal warning for not pulling the handbrake whilst parked on a gradient (there was no suspicion of alcohol).

Expect the unexpected. If rounding a blind corner, do not assume that nobody will be parked half way across the road on the other side, even if to park there would be completely stupid and bordering on insane. Expect to encounter stray dogs, cats, chickens, pheasants, donkeys, cows etc. in the middle of the road. If you encounter a Mynah bird in the road it is acceptable to swerve to try and run it over, but you must avoid running over Peaceful Doves and definitely never flatten Wirebirds.

You may encounter two cars stationary and blocking the road while their drivers have a chat. You should wait patiently for the conversation to finish. You may want to switch off your engine, to save fuel. If you have food on board treat this as an opportunity for a picnic. Whatever you do don’t hoot at them and/or make angry gestures - they won’t have the faintest idea what you’re getting so irate about and so you will end up raising your blood pressure to no effect. (See also Jane Durnford’s comment in The Sentinel.)

When parking your vehicle, try to leave enough road for another vehicle to squeeze past. This is optional, but is considered a courtesy. If you can’t find such a place, park wherever it is most convenient for you; if someone wants to get past they will track you down and politely ask you to move your vehicle. In general, ignore such things as double-yellow lines, park wherever you fancy and you will be assumed to be a local. But if parking in Main Street, Jamestown observe the rules (see photo, left and article, below) - if you can figure out what they mean. (More parking tips in panel, left.)

Incidentally, if you choose to park in the carpark on Maldivia Road (behind the General Hospital) you may be impressed to learn that this carpark was officially blessed by the Bishop of St Helena at its opening in 2022, though to protect against what was not clear.


Your horn is not for warning other road users of your approach, whatever it may say in the Highway Code. It is an alternative to waving, where for example your waving hand is occupied with your cigarette, apple, drink can, etc. Some drivers also sound the horn whenever they encounter a corner. It can be used to warn traffic that you are about to reverse blind into the road and it also has other meanings, including you look good in that skirt.

The island has many buses. You would expect, therefore, that it would have bus stops - places reserved where a bus can pull off the road to load and unload passengers. This is not the case. Buses stop wherever they want to. Blind bends and narrow parts of the road where there is no room to pass are particular favourites. Do not be surprised or upset by this; wait patiently until the bus has finished loading/unloading and chatting to a passing pedestrian and moves off. Also be aware that buses are often an exception to the passing rule (above) and will assume right of way simply because they are larger than you.

If following a lorry or other delivery vehicle up a hill, keep well back. The load is unlikely to be well secured and you need time to swerve round the cans, vegetables, washing machines or two tonne rocks that may suddenly descend on you.


According to the UK Foreign & Commonwealth Office Drink drive laws are strictly applied with a limit of 50 micrograms of alcohol per 100ml of breath. This is actually quite correct and you should not drink & drive.

Your rental vehicle will probably contain a notice saying you must not park it at The Seaside. This doesn’t mean you can’t visit Sandy Bay. The Seaside is the area in Jamestown stretching from Donny’s Bar to The Wharf. If you park there in rough seas the waves will spray your car with salt water and speed up the rusting process (picture, right). We don’t keep our Classic Cars running here without a few precautions!

St Helena’s first ever Zebra crossing was created on 13th June 2018, across lower Market Street behind The Cannister. Be careful as you come off the mini-roundabout heading South (up-town) - it’s behind a blind bend.

Finally, beware of vehicles bearing a number plate beginning with the letters ‘SHG’. These are government vehicles, so they really do own the road!

A heart-warming tale…

a true story illustrating that St Helena drivers really are polite.

Driving off the mini-roundabout in Jamestown and heading down towards Grand Parade a woman has to brake because a car suddenly pulls out into the road ahead of her. Instinctively she hoots her horn.

You might expect rude gestures or even an in-the-street argument, but instead the drivers exchange waves. And when she arrives at work her phone rings and it’s the other driver, calling to apologise for not looking before pulling out.

Only in St Helena…

Paul Mark Gunnell of Varneys was fined £5 plus costs of £6 after having pleaded guilty of careless cycling.{5}{e}

Driving rules - the Highway Code

The Highway Code{6} makes for interesting reading. Apart from the speed limits, mentioned above, you can also learn that you should:

Drive carefully and slowly…near a cinema during closing time (Rule 33)The last cinema on St Helena closed in the 1980s
Before riding a horse on the roads, make sure you can control it in traffic (Rule 84)There have been no horses on the island since the 1980s
The ‘Fog Code’ (Rule 32) advises to slow down in fog, but under Overtaking (Rule 45) it just says to be particularly careful at dusk and in fog or mistHow one is supposed to achieve these is not explained
‘Use of the Horn’ (Rule 67) says you should not use your horn when parked unless there is danger due to another vehicle moving, but Road Traffic Regulation (1985) 22 says that before driving you must ensure that your horn is in working order
Road Traffic Regulation 38 says that before driving you must ensure that your speedometer is in working order
Three out of four pedestrians hurt or seriously injured are either under 15 or over 60 (Rule 34)Actually three out of four people on St Helena are either under 15 or over 60

Highway code illustration

There are also some useful diagrams at the back illustrating the use of a vehicle’s lights, but as these are reproduced in black-and-white they don’t make a lot of sense (right):

Finally, guess how old your child must be before they are allowed to walk near or on a road unaccompanied. The answer’s here.

The Highway Code you can buy says it is the Revised Edition, July 1987.

Just to be serious for a moment…

The following information was issued by the Government of St Helena in November 2015{7}:

The dimensions of a motor vehicle shall not exceed those set out below:
(provided that the Licensing Officer may give permission in writing, subject to such conditions as he may impose, for the use of a motor vehicle of greater dimensions)
⋅ Overall width 8 feet 6 inches
⋅ Overall length 25 feet
⋅ Wheelbase 13 feet 7 inches
⋅ Height, exclusive of hood or covering 11 feet 6 inches
In these regulations, ‘overall length’ means the length exclusive of any starting handle{8} and of any hood when lowered. And ‘overall width’ means the width measured between vertical planes parallel to the longitudinal axis of the vehicle and passing through the extreme projecting points thereof, exclusive of any mirror conforming with the provisions of Regulation 26 of these regulations.

This sign puzzles us. Why erect it here? Surely this applies to at least half the roads on the island? Why not erect just one sign, maybe somewhere in Jamestown, to apply globally across the island?

More advanced driving

Car out of control

Overtaking will almost certainly never be necessary but if you’re determined to try it (even in fog, apparently), pass on the right of the vehicle you are overtaking. Don’t be surprised if said vehicle fails to move over to let you pass, or the driver looks at you with a mixture of surprise and horror - overtaking is unusual here, possibly because so many of the roads are not really wide enough for two vehicles, particularly when travelling at speed.

Talking of overtaking, in the late 2010s one of the island’s taxi drivers gained a reputation for driving very slowly and never pulling over to allow anybody to pass. Eventually the other taxi drivers found an elegant solution. When stuck behind Mr X they simply called him on his mobile phone. This forced him to pull over so he could answer the call (hands-free mobile telephones being unknown here). Following this, in September 2020 the Police actually issued a formal advice to slow drivers to move over and allow faster drivers to pass.

Pothole cartoon

Pothole cartoon

Be aware that our roads are not particularly well maintained. Expect potholes!

Your vehicle will probably have working indicators, but do not worry if these are defective - they are rarely used here. Drivers know when the vehicle in front is about to pull in and park because they recognise the car, know who’s driving it and know that this is his house. If you have working indicators and are in the habit of using them then nobody will object; just don’t expect the same from any other vehicle you encounter. (See also Jane Durnford’s comment in The Sentinel.)

Drivers of very low cars (sports cars, etc.) should note that on Ladder Hill Road (and elsewhere) the walls are high and there is no clear view ahead. It is common practice for low vehicles to carry a flag on a pole (a whip antenna is ideal) so that other drivers are aware of your presence before the last minute…

Rush Hour

Rush Hour, such as it is, applies only in Jamestown and is between 08:00 and 09:00 and again between 15:45 and 16:30, which coincides with the normal office opening and closing. There is another ‘blip’ between 16:45 and 17:30 when the shops close. At these times the roads are full of cars and buses, so are best avoided.

It’s also worth noting that it is effectively impossible to enter Jamestown from any direction between 16:00 and 16:30 on weekdays. The reason is that this would involve driving down Ladder Hill Road, Constitution Hill or Side Path. But as these are all single-track roads, and descending traffic has to give way to ascending traffic, you will simply spend the entire half-hour waiting in a passing bay.

Maybe rush hour traffic on Ladder Hill Road would be worse if it wasn’t for the fact that some Saints completely refuse to descend into Jamestown using this route at any time of the day or the night, going instead by the very circituitous route via the W Road and down Side Path. Either they don’t like reversing or maybe it’s a vestige of the days when cars were generally older and less reliable, particularly in relation to the brakes!

Speed Bumps

Speed humps cartoon, Herald 18 June 2004
Cartoon, St Helena Herald 18th June 2004

St Helena has two speed bumps to be careful of; both outside Pilling Primary School, one just above and one just below. They were installed in 2004, not because there had actually been any serious accidents there, but just in case. They’re relatively severe, and drivers adopt one of two approaches to them:

Note that no other school has speed bumps outside it. There are other speed bumps (e.g. just above the Redgate junction) but the Pilling ones are the most severe.

If you break down

You do not need to lock yourself in the car and call the emergency services on your mobile phone (which quite possibly won’t work anyway{9}). Just lift the bonnet (even if the trouble is nothing to do with the engine) and the next passing vehicle will stop to offer assistance. It will probably be carrying jump leads, a tow rope, tools, water, oil and possibly a fully-equipped vehicle maintenance kit and a selection of spare parts.

But try not to break down late at night on a rarely used piece of road or you could end up sleeping in your car.


Naturally, at some point you will need some. Be aware that there are no 24/7 fuel stations on St Helena and there are also no card-operated self-service stations{10}. Fuel is available only from Solomons, in three locations:

Fuel sold on St Helena is not branded and the only choices are petrol (unleaded) or diesel. Station opening times vary; the most current information should be at solomons-sthelena.com/‌retail-stores. The following was retrieved 7th December 2019:

Jamestown Fuel Station
Tel: (+290) 22259
Mon, Tue, Thu & Fri: 08:00-17:00,
Wed: 08:00-13:00,
Sat: 09:00-13:00 & 18:30-20:30,
Sun: Closed

HTH Fuel Station
Tel: (+290) 23170
Mon, Tue, Thu 08:30-17:00,
Wed: 08:30-13:00,
Fri 08:30-18:00,
Sat 09:00-17:30,
Sun 10:00-13:00

Longwood Fuel Station
Tel: (+290) 24679
Operated by the Rose & Crown Group
Opening times the same as the Longwood Supermarket

Fuel Stations{f}

The island’s fuel supplies are stored at the Bulk Fuel Installation (sometimes referred to as the Bulk Fuel Farm) in Ruperts, but you can’t actually buy it retail from there. Ruperts beach is usually closed when the fuel tanker is delivering supplies of fuel. Similarly there is fuel stored at the Airport but you can’t buy it from there unless your vehicle can fly…

Fuel used to be sold in the island’s chemists. The first filling station was at The Market, and can be seen in the photographs on our Historic Buildings, Jamestown.

Public electric-vehicle charging points?

Keep dreaming…

Want to be mistaken for a local?

Apart from ignoring all the rules in the Highway Code, one other thing will make people assume you are a local driver; but it will require you to modify your vehicle, so best only consider this if you will be here for a while…

Car with enormous ‘sub’

If P-Puff Diddy Dumbo Rapper JZ (feat. K Y Jelly and Brain I A’int) is not to your taste, the Crossroads of Life by Mick Flavin will do just as well. For the benefit of everyone else it should also be noted that earplugs and noise-cancelling headphones can sometimes be bought on the island.

If you try hard enough you may be able to convince people in the houses you pass that they are encountering an earthquake

A few ‘fascinating facts’

Fords, 1991

According to the vehicle registration authority, as at first quarter 2014 there were 2,867 vehicles registered on St Helena; that’s roughly two for every three people on the island. (Despite this the roads are never crowded and traffic-jams are unheard of.) Of these, 117 were government vehicles (4%); the rest were privately owned{12}.

The total number of Fords registered was 935 - around 33% of the total. The assumption that the standard ‘Saint’ car is a Ford Escort, illustrated by the 1991 photograph (right), was probably still true!

As of March 2016 there were 3,191 vehicles registered for regular road use on St Helena, an 11% increase since Q1 2014. By comparison, in July 1984 there were 194 motorcycles and 876 other vehicles, a total of 1,070, registered and insured on St Helena, and earlier still, in the late 1940s, there were just 80 ‘motorcars’ and no mention of motorcycles.

This from the 1929 The ‘Blue Book’:

At the end of the year regulations with regard to motor traffic were promulgated and the first motor-car, an Austin Seven saloon imported by the Honourable H. W. Solomon, O.B.E., made its appearance. It was followed shortly after by a commercial vehicle, a 30 cwt. Chevrolet lorry, imported by the St Helena Corporation. It is anticipated that within a short time there will be about twelve cars and half a dozen lorries running in the island.

How old must your child be before they are allowed to walk near or on a road unaccompanied? The answer is FIVE. Do not allow children - up to the age of five at least - out alone on the road. (Rule 4).

How it all began

In 1919, eying developments overseas and concerned to protect the island’s way of life, motorised transport was prohibited by Ordinance on St Helena. For five years this was uncontested but in 1924 islanders began debating whether mechanised transport should be allowed on the island. The opponents maintained that St Helena had got on very well in the past with horses and donkeys and in any case they considered our steep and narrow winding roads unsuitable for a motor vehicles. Governor Charles Henry Harper was strictly neutral in the discussions, but did report to the Colonial Office that after all, time is rarely of the essence of any undertaking in St Helena and thereby let out a hint of his own private opinion.

Postage Stamp, first car

The dispute raged on until 1927 when, in the face of considerable local feelings and opposition, the 1919 Ordinance was repealed and a new Motor-Car Ordinance was passed, making it lawful to import motor vehicles to the Island. To be ready for the rush of cars, in 1928 some 100Km of road were prepared. The following year, St Helena’s leading and most enterprising inhabitant, Mr Humphrey Solomon, imported an Austin 7 RK, the first motor vehicle to run on Island roads. Registered as number 1, and sold to and operated by a Mr Withecombe, the car was fondly referred to as ‘the Number 1’. You can’t see from the photographs but Number 1 was (initially, at least) pale yellow.

To learn more see our page Classic Cars.

The Road Traffic Ordinance (No. 1 of 1935) made provision for the regulation and licensing of traffic on roads and of motor vehicles and otherwise with respect to roads and vehicles thereon. It also made some provision for insuring third parties against risks arising out of the use of motor vehicles, but this was not made compulsory until 1962.

And on the subject of history, the following was published in the St Helena News Review on 11th January 1980:

In the Magistrates’ Court on 22nd and 31st December 1979 seven persons were found guilty of traffic offences: Peter Paul Feeny of Upper Jamestown was fined £3 with £2.40 costs for failing to show two white lights to the front of his vehicle when driving during the hours of darkness, and failing to stop when directed to do so by a police man on duty. Three persons were guilty of driving without due care and attention. They were Lionel George Peters of Deadwood (fined £5 with costs of £1.80), Robert Crowie of Deadwood (fined £3 with costs of £2.20) and Harry Edward Yon of Briars Village (fined £5 with costs of £4.80). Cyril Williams of Pounceys was charged with driving when unfit to drive through drink. He was fined £10 with 90p costs and disqualified from driving for one year. Lennard Augustus of Briars Village was fined £2 and 60p costs for allowing a vehicle to remain on a road and causing unnecessary obstruction. Frederick George Isaac of China Lane was fined £5 for driving a vehicle on the road with an inefficient braking system, an inefficient steering gear and an inefficient windscreen wiper.

In another first: The first ever all-electric car, a Nissan Leaf, arrived on the island at the end of March 2019. However, as at the time of writing there are no public electric-vehicle charging points.


Below: Jamestown Parking Proposals, November 2016How we scrap cars - the ‍Artificial Reef‍Land Rover Day

Jamestown Parking Proposals, November 2016

SHG crest

In November 2016 the Government started public consultation on outline proposals to manage parking in Jamestown. The proposals were cast in a background where there would be no funding available for significant works to increase the number of parking spaces in the town (i.e. covering and parking over The Run or building a multi-storey car park{13}). Any scheme would therefore need to be entirely self-financing.

The following summarises the proposals and adds, where relevant, some issues raised, primarily by the residents of Jamestown:

Comments on the proposals were to be made to the Secretary of the ENRC, Mr Nicky Lawrence, committee@enrd.gov.sh. No time limit was set for the consultation and it was clarified that amended proposals would be brought back for public consultation in due course. years later, they still haven’t been. The proposals were discussed in Committee in January 2019 and several outstanding issues were reported. At the time of writing there has been no further progress.

How we scrap cars - the ‍Artificial Reef‍

Clearly on an island of only 122Km², there isn’t a lot of space for storing old cars after they have finished their useful life or are damaged beyond repair, and we have no heavy industry so recycling all the materials is not an option. The cost of freighting scrap metal off to, for example, South Africa, would be considerable and the island only needs so many chicken houses…

In fact old cars are cleaned, with all the fuel, oil and other contaminants removed{15}, and then dumped in an area of the sea just off Breakneck Valley, in an attempt to create an Artificial Reef - a form of re-purposing. You can explore the Artificial Reef while Diving. There are some photos below of the operation:

Who knew we’d see the day when St Helena would export cars!{g}

The other thing, that was tried once in 2005, but has sadly never been repeated, is to hold a ‘Stock Car Rally/Race’. A dirt-track near the Millennium Forest was marked out and a collection of vehicles that could no longer be kept roadworthy was assembled for an afternoon’s competition (actually finishing seemed to be the winning activity). There are some pictures below of some of the competitors. Photography was almost impossible during the actual racing due to the clouds of dust…

Land Rover Day

Given the terrain and the often poor state of our ‘made-up’ roads, a Land Rover is a pretty good vehicle to have on St Helena, and there are lots of them, varying from old, well-battered, passed-down-through-generations workhorses to some of the newer and more sophisticated models. Recently, usually around Christmas, many of the owners get together for a meet and a cruise around. The photograph below is from ‘Land Rover Day 2023’.

If you’re coming to St Helena for a while and wondering what car to bring, see our page Could you live here?.

And finally…

With just an inch to spare…
With just an inch to spare…

Road hazard…
Road hazard…

Most people agree that once you’ve driven on St Helena you will never want to drive anywhere else ever again. Yes, Ladder Hill Road can be a bit ‘exciting’, and your arms may get a little tired as you haul your car around the 1,000th corner - this morning, but there are no speed cameras{16}, traffic lights, congestion charges, toll roads or car-jackers and you can park your car all day in the centre of Jamestown without paying a penny{17}. What more could you ask for?

You can see a video of some of the island routes.

Read More

Below: News item: Jagged JaguarArticle: Meet the Island’s First Electric CarArticle: Don’t stay too long at St Helena’s craziest attraction…Article: …poor driving standards of some motorists on island

News item: Jagged Jaguar

By Liam Yon, SAMS, published in The Sentinel, 19th October 2023{18}

Governor’s car
Governor’s car

On Thursday, 12th October, Police were called to Lower Jamestown to attend the scene of a road traffic collision. The vehicles involved included a maroon St Helena National Trust Landrover, registration 5589, and the official vehicle of His Excellency the Governor, Nigel Phillips CBE, a silver Jaguar XF, which sustained quite some damage to its left side.

SHG said that thankfully there were no injuries and confirmed that the Governor was not in the car at the time. They further add that due process will be followed regarding establishing the circumstances of the collision.

Article: Meet the Island’s First Electric Car

By Andrew Turner, SAMS, published in The Sentinel, 28th March 2019{18}

Meet the Island’s First Electric Car
The Nissan Leaf

Silence. That is what hit me as I was driven down the wharf in the island’s first fully electric car. After my Sentinel comment last week on the possibility of electric cars being introduced to St Helena, I was fascinated to find out that the very car I had written about as an example, a Nissan Leaf, had actually just been brought to the island by Tara Murphy and Damon Millar. Tara is working on-island as a psychologist and her husband Damon is an car enthusiast who was willing to let me have a nose around in his very important vehicle and give me an idea of what it’s like to drive the Leaf every day.

The electric car seems a natural fit for a small island that plans to have 100% renewable energy, Damon said. It doesn’t make sense to import tankers of fuel when energy is literally falling from the sky. Many of the people Damon has spoken to about the car have been keenly interested but, understandably, cautious about how an electric car would actually fare day-to-day on the island. Their main question is Will it have enough power to get up the hills? It definitely does.

The Nissan Leaf has roughly the same power as a 1.6 Ford Fiesta but thanks to the torque (pulling power) of the electric motors, which are three times that of a normal car, the Leaf accelerates very quickly. On the practicality front, the car can be charged from a wall socket at home. The car charges from empty to full in about 7 hours and on full charge has a range of 142 miles although the hills of St Helena do reduce that a bit.

Hills, though, are also beneficial because the Leaf has an energy recovery system that charges the battery as you drive downhill. Damon said the car uses 20% of its battery charge to drive from Jamestown up to St Pauls, but charges the battery by 5% on the drive down. The lifespan of the battery (number of miles before the battery needed replacing) was a problem with early electric cars but according to Damon his Nissan Leaf has done 60,000 miles and the battery is still at 100 percent capacity (meaning the battery can still hold 100 percent charge after each charge). So chances are Damon won’t run out of charge whilst out for a drive around the island, particularly as his car gives him a range estimate on the dashboard. But if he does run out of charge, he could be in trouble if he isn’t near a power socket (and someone willing to let him add to their electricity bill).

Another risk I wrote about in my comment last week is the risk that if an electric car broke down on-island, getting it fixed could be difficult as most local mechanics have not worked on electric vehicles before. Although [electric cars are] less likely to break down, if it does break down things will be more awkward because the mechanics on the island aren’t yet experienced with electric cars, Damon said. For most parts of the car, that shouldn’t be a problem - the body, brakes and wheels are the same as any modern car. For the transmission, though, some learning will be needed. Damon and Tara brought the service manuals and an engine fault code-reader for the car to aid the local mechanics should the car develop a fault.

So let’s look at costs; and I must issue a warning, because it’s time for some maths.

In the UK, where electricity is cheaper, charging an electric car costs £2-£4 for 100 miles. This means running an electric car at full charge works out to about a quarter of the cost of running an equivalent petrol car off a full tank. In St Helena, electricity is just over twice the price it is in the UK at £0.34 per kWh.

This means running an electric car at full charge is around half the cost of running an equivalent petrol car off a full tank.

Compared to a regular petrol car, an electric car costs more to buy but less to import.

A Nissan Leaf costs between £8,000 to £15,000 to buy second-hand in the UK. However, because of SHG’s emissions-based import tax, electric and hybrid cars are charged at 15% import duty (compared to 45% for the most polluting cars).

But shipping the car isn’t entirely straightforward, as the batteries that power the car are considered a dangerous good and are subject to some restrictions.

Insurance too is slightly more costly. In the UK electric cars are usually cheaper to insure, but according to Damon on St Helena insuring his electric car actually cost him more.

People often ask Damon if the car is dangerous - because the car is so silent, people won’t hear you coming. But as Damon pointed out, most of a car’s noise is tyre noise; and as an added safety feature the car has a small speaker outside that makes a quiet grinding noise to attract attention.

As a precaution we use the horn a bit more on blind corners, but electric cars have fewer crashes than average, and people living beside roads will appreciate the lower engine noise and lack of toxic fumes, he said.

So is this a properly useable car, or a risky experiment? Damon cited Bermuda as an example of another small island that has many electric cars.

The car industry is happy that electric cars are ready - all new Jaguar Land Rover cars will have an electric option from 2020 and Volkswagen will have 70 new electric models by 2028, he said. Our car is a 2013 model, so [electric cars have been around for enough years] that reliability is well-known. And we chose a low-mileage car with one owner and a full factory service history.

Having poked, prodded and examined the car from every angle, and having been taken for a short drive, I got back in my own petrol-powered car. I all of a sudden felt very aware that I was stepping into a car of the past, and I watched as the car of our future drove quietly into the distance.

Article: Don’t stay too long at St Helena’s craziest attraction…

By Simon Pipe, 21st March 2014{18}

Parking sign in Jamestown

In seven years of non-stop travelling to more than 140 countries, Gary Arndt has photographed some extraordinary sights: the rainbows over the Victoria Falls, a diving penguin in Antarctica, even human skulls in the killing fields of Cambodia. But on St Helena, what caught his eye was the parking sign in Jamestown.

This is what he believed to be the world’s most complicated parking zone (and he’s in a good position to judge). Within a couple of days, his shot of the 58-word No Parking sign had been given more than 50 ‘likes’ on Facebook™. Catch Our Travel Bug commented: By the time you read the sign, your time is up.

St Helena was one of 13 places around the world that Gary most wanted to visit, on a list he published on his Everything Everywhere travel blog in 2011. While on the island, he marked the seventh anniversary of the day he handed over the keys of his house to go travelling. When he left, he told friends he’d wander the world for a year, but privately thought it might be two years. He’s since taught himself to become an award-winning photographer. His website attracts more than 100,000 readers a year - many of whom will doubtless savour his descriptions of St Helena.

He was not disappointed by a gorgeous island with some of the most interesting people in the world. And perhaps, with the eye of a travel expert, Gary has identified a tourist attraction that hasn’t been properly appreciated by those whose job is to promote St Helena. World’s Oldest Tortoise, World’s Toughest Stairs and World’s Most Remote Nearly Everything are all great claims to fame, but World’s Craziest Parking Sign might appeal to an entirely new breed of tourist. Those who cross oceans to see it are unlikely, one feels, to pull up in a car.

Article: …poor driving standards of some motorists on island

‘Comment’ by Jane Durnford, published in The Sentinel, 17th March 2016{18}

I must include a comment on the poor driving standards of some motorists on island. Aside from the usual speeding and drink driving issues, basic driving considerations, affording other road users courtesy needs to improve;


This comment was discussed in the ‘Rattling Cages’ programme on Saturday 19th March, and the consensus among callers to the station was that Jane could solve her issue with ‘conversations’ by getting out of bed earlier!


{a} Into The Blue{18}{b} St Helena Travel (group){c} Jeremy Clarkson{d} Green Renaissance{e} St Helena News Review, 2nd December 1983{18}{f} Solomons{g} Anonymous, quoted in the St Helena News, 30th October 1987{18}


{1} Available from the Police Station in Jamestown, open Mon-Fri 8:30am-4pm.{2} After a while driving here it becomes instinctive; and then when you go home you will get strange looks from other motorists who can’t figure out why you are waving at them.{3} Available from the Police Station in Jamestown, open Mon-Fri 8:30am-4pm.{4} SLIDSY (Sorry,Luvvie, I Didn’t See Ya).{5} Sorry, there were no explanatory details.{6} Available from the Police Station in Jamestown, open Mon-Fri 8:30am-4pm.{7} St Helena, like the UK, has been officially metric since the 1970s but, for no reason that we can explain, these rules were issued in Imperial units.{8} Starting handle? We know St Helena cars can be quite old but…{9} See our page Communications.{10} Wireless auto-pay? Forget it!{11} No, not an underwater craft. A ‘sub-woofer’, which emphasizes the bass of whatever you play.{12} However, note that organisations like Solomons (majority owned by government) and Connect Saint Helena Ltd. (100% owned by government) are considered for these figures as private, not government.{13} Even if a suitable site could ever be identified.{14} The bays in the middle of Main Street, from the roundabout down to Association Hall.{15} And where do these go? Good question, and probably one you would rather we didn’t answer!{16} Yet, anyway. The police do have radar guns but only two, and they are rarely actually working!{17} Currently, but see the Jamestown Parking Proposals.{18} @@RepDis@@