Balmoral Show: Hillbilly Ray a real character

Hillbilly Ray with his rebuilt 1920s Austins
Hillbilly Ray with his rebuilt 1920s Austins

Balmoral Show is full of interesting characters, though you’ll do well to find one more eye-catching than Raymond Anderson.

The 62-year-old from Sixmilecross – known as Hillbilly Ray – has recently begun putting his joinery skills to use in building a fleet of restored Austin vehicles in a “rough and ready” hillbilly style.

Channelling the spirit of everyone’s favourite hillbilly, Jed Clampett, Ray has put on a special display of his vintage motors at Balmoral Show to raise money for Cancer Focus.

He explained how his hobby transformed into a business.

He said: “I worked in the building trade, I’m a joiner by trade.

“This last 35 years I’ve been restoring 1920s Austin cars as a hobby. Some of them I started doing weddings and funerals with.

“And then in this past four or five years I thought of building an old Hillbilly wagon – something a bit more rough and ready than the other cars.”

He now has a collection of four fully functioning Hillbilly automobiles built from scrap including a hearse follower’s car. He said: “All I really need is the tax book, the running gear – engine, chassis, bonnet, radiator – and the rest is all done just with whatever I’m able to form up out of my head.”

Mr Anderson’s madcap inventions incorporate timber from a 200-year-old church, a pot stove, tree bark and a lot of his father’s horse regalia.

He said: “This is only my second year doing this, and the first year these cars have been out. It’s something new for me. It’s something different.”

His hillbilly auto collection proved a big success at Christmas when he dressed as Santa Claus and created his own Clampett’s grotto.