Nov 262015
Glassel Dark Mist and Ian Lockhead Anderson

Glassel Dark Mist and Ian Lockhead Anderson, (Claire Lockhead’s son/Sir Moir Lockhead’s grandson)

With thanks to Martyn Smith.

When William McCombie established the first prize winning herd of Aberdeen Angus cattle at Home Farm, Tillyfour, in 1832, little could he have imagined the impact that would have on the history of Alford and the highly acclaimed Grampian Transport Museum.

To the North East farming community the story of Aberdeen Angus is very well known but the links may come as a bit more of a surprise.
When McCombie’s herd began winning prizes, interest rapidly grew and there was an increasing flow of cattle between the North East and the rest of Britain.

This, combined with the quarrying activities at Kemnay and Tillyfourie, led to the extension of the railway line, in 1859, from Kintore to a point two miles east of the hamlet now known as Bridge of Alford.

At the time there was very little where the line stopped but the village of Alford rapidly grew around the railhead, whose main business was transporting mainly cattle and agricultural materials to and from Aberdeen. This link between Alford and the Aberdeen Angus breed is commemorated by the bronze statue of the bull ‘Jeremy Eric of Bridgefoot’ at the entrance to the village on the A944.

In 1896 there was a fascinating twist to this story. The motor car industry had very recently been born in Germany and a man widely referred to ‘The father of the British motor industry’, engineer FR Simms, had been importing Daimler engines since 1890 to power launches. In 1895 he founded ‘The Daimler Motor Company Limited’ to manufacture Daimler engines and cars in Britain.

F R Simms165

FR Simms with his car in London just before it came to Aberdeen

A factory was established in Coventry and the first Daimler engined cars rolled out in March 1897.

Prior to these British Daimlers being built  FR Simms imported a German built demonstrator for himself in 1886 and showed it in London and then sent it to Aberdeen. When it arrived it was just the second car in Scotland. On Saturday 18th July 1986 It paraded up and down Union Street and was seen by Dr Howie of Strathdon, who immediately purchased it.

The car was delivered to Alford by the railway (which had been established to transport William McCombie bred Aberdeen Angus cattle) and was driven off to Strathdon.

Therefore the second car in Scotland ended up in Alford thanks in part to Aberdeen Angus, and Alford is the site of one of the country’s best transport museums. Established in 1983 the museum is now being extended with the help, once again, of the world famous Aberdeen Angus.

On this occasion the breeder is Sir Moir Lockhead and his daughter Claire, from Glassel Farm, Torphins. Sir Moir is Patron of Grampian Transport Museum and his gift to the funds for the new visitor reception is the beautiful bull, Glassel Dark Mist, which is to be auctioned at the Thainstone Christmas Classic Sale on the afternoon of Tuesday 1st December.

In another amazing twist to this story, Glassel House itself, the residence of Sir Moir and Lady Audrey Lockhead, was purchased in 1915 by no less a person than the Chairman of Daimler, Arthur wood, who lived there until his death in 1935.

Now Glassel Dark Mist, whose involvement has brought this historic tale full circle, will be remembered forever in a beautiful painting by highly respected local artist, Howard Butterworth. This painting will also be auctioned at the sale with the proceeds added to the generous donation to Grampian Transport Museum.

When admiring the painting in years to come what a story the lucky owner will have to tell!

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Oct 082015

The Grampian Transport Museum will be welcoming visitors this October with a number of special activities taking place during the school holidays. With thanks to Martyn Smith.

GrampianTransportMuseumImage1A special guest exhibit will be on display in the museum from Monday 12th October.

Helping to celebrate 30 years since the original Back to the Future movie, the museum will be displaying a DeLorean DMC-12 – the car popularised in the cult movie trilogy. In the second instalment of the film the central character, Marty McFly, travels forward in time to Wednesday October 21 2015, the date our guest exhibit will then be departing on.

Alongside a standard DeLorean vehicle a number of replica props will be on display, including a detailed replica of the Hoverboard used in the movie.

These have been painstakingly re-created by Barry Thackery of Aberdeen, who has also turned his hand to creating an operational flying DeLorean, using a scale model of the movie car which has been married up to the chassis of a radio controlled drone.

Also taking place during the October break is the museum’s final rides afternoon of the season – Full Steam Ahead, which takes place on Thursday 15th October, from 1.30pm – 3.30pm.

The museum’s 1914 Sentinel Steam Waggon, the oldest fully functional Sentinel still in existence, will be offering museum visitors a ride around the outdoor circuit and will be joined by a 1:3 scale Burrell Steam traction engine, built in Ellon by blacksmith Willie Gill. The Burrell was purchased by Aberdeen City Council and was run regularly in the city’s Duthie Park, where it proved especially popular during the summer months.

A number of static displays will be on show too – a live steam 3.5” gauge Stevenson’s Rocket will be on show alongside a selection of miniature traction engines and railway locomotives.

Then the fun continues with a special Halloween Activity Afternoon on Friday 23rd, from 1pm – 3.30pm. With Halloween activities, quizzes and crafts plus face painting, balloon modelling plus the museum will also welcoming Diana from ‘Once upon a tune’ who will be providing lots of fun through song and story.

Entry to these events is included in the museum’s standard admission which is £9.50 for adults, £7.50 for concessions and 2 children admitted FREE with every adult.

Grampian Transport Museum remains open daily from 10am – 4pm up until Sunday 25th October, giving visitors the chance to see fantastic displays including the Made in Scotland exhibition and Ferrari Enzo supercar, the only example in Scotland. There are daily quizzes for younger visitors to enjoy and the Travellers Rest tea room is open daily from 10.30am – 3.30pm.

Sep 182015

GrampianTransportMuseumImage1With thanks to Martyn Smith.

Grampian Transport Museum will again be offering motoring enthusiasts the chance to clear out the garage or workshop with this year’s Autumn Autojumble.

The annual event, which takes place on Sunday 27th September, sees traders from across the country converge to sell a wide range of automotive parts, memorabilia, miscellanea and even vehicles.

One vehicle which is to go on display for sale this year is a 1987 Ford Fiesta XR2i which has been part of a key display inside the museum in 2015.

The Fiesta has spent the season next to the museum’s Rover SD1 Vitesse police car. The Rover found fame on the Channel 4 show ‘For the Love of Cars’ when broadcast in April.

Alongside the traditional categories this year’s Jumble has now been extended to include general car boot, trade and craft stalls ensuring there really is something for everyone. As well as providing the opportunity to clear space in the garage or shed, the Autojumble provides the ideal opportunity to find a new winter project.

Gates open to the public at 9am with admission just £3 for adults and children under the age of 16 are admitted free of charge.

The museum will also be offering reduced price admission, meaning visitors can enjoy the 2015 exhibition including the Made in Scotland display or the only Ferrari Enzo on show in Scotland – one of only 400 ever produced!

Anyone who wishes to book a stall can do so for just £12 in advance, which includes 2 complimentary passes to the museum. Entries will be accepted on the day at £15 on a first come, first served basis.

Sep 142015

With thanks to Martyn Smith.

GrampianTransportMuseumImage1The Grampian Transport Museum (GTM) Young Engineers Club is enjoying another successful season following a podium finish at the Scottish heat of the Greenpower F24 championship.

The race, which took place at East Fortune on Sunday 6th September, saw the Alford team finish both races in 1st place with the Alford Bullet, while the team’s second vehicle – the Alford Spyder – finished in 2nd place.

The Young Engineers Club was formed in 2008 and competes annually in the international Formula 24 (F24) race organised by Greenpower. 

Teams race against each other over two 90 minute races with the winner being the team that goes furthest using a standard set of batteries and motor. The team will now compete with both vehicles at the world final, which takes place at Rockingham racing circuit in Northamptonshire, on Sunday 11th October.

The team would like to thank all their supporters and helpers together with their 2015 sponsors which include BP, EnQuest, TAQA, Scots Bearings, Whittaker Engineering and the Rotary Club of Alford and District.

Paul Lawson, vice chairman of the Grampian Transport Museum Trust said:

“The GTM is very proud of the achievements of the Young Engineers Club which is an important element of our educational programme to promote science and technology; we wish the team members and their supporters well for the final in October and thank all our sponsors for their support”

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Jul 162015

GrampianTransportMuseumImage1With thanks to Martyn Smith.

The Grampian Transport Museum in Alford will be welcoming surviving examples from the Scottish Motor Industry to a one off event this Sunday.

Made in Scotland – an event running in conjunction with an exhibition of the same name in the museum building – will showcase everyday cars, such as the Hillman Imp – which were produced at the Rootes plant in Linwood, Paisley.

A 1973 Davrian Imp racing car, owned by renowned Imp expert Dave Cooper of Midhurst, West Sussex, will also be on display and will in fact be driven some 600 miles to the event.

Dave will also be talking to the museum’s Young Engineers team and offering advice on how best to restore the museum’s own 1965 Hillman Imp.

The First Group Heritage Trust and Aberdeen & District Transport Preservation Trust will display a number of buses, once operated in Aberdeen and bodied by Alexander of Falkirk. The museum’s 1914 Sentinel Steam Waggon – the oldest fully functional example remaining – will offer museum visitors the chance of a ride around the circuit, as well as demonstrating the difference between steam and motor lorries of its era.

A 1927 Rolls Royce 20HP, which was bodied by Claud Hamilton of Aberdeen and now owned by Tom Muir of Kirkcaldy, will be making the journey north for Made in Scotland and joined by a pair of stunning Arrol Johnston vehicles which are also a part of the family collection.

A purpose built single seater racing car, the GWR Raptor, designed by former F1 Lotus designer Martin Ogilvie and built by former Scottish Champion and 2 time British Hillclimb champion Graeme Wight Junior, will be taking part in a demonstration on the museum’s circuit.

Made in Scotland takes place this Sunday, 19th July, from 12noon – 4pm and is included in the museum’s standard admission, £9.50 for adults, £7.50 for concessions with 2 children admitted FREE with every adult. More information can be found online at

May 292015

With thanks to Martyn Smith.

Outlaw Anglia dragster2

Outlaw Anglia dragster.

Enthusiasts will soon be heading to Aberdeenshire for the annual SpeedFest, ready to be thrilled by the largest gathering of rare supercars, exciting performance cars, and historic racing cars in the North East of Scotland.
The Organisers are delighted to welcome back Park’s Motor Group of Hamilton who will be showcasing another iconic collection of McLaren, Bentley and Maserati sports cars.

They also wish to welcome back Town and County Porsche who are returning with a very exciting stand for 2015.

Additionally, the Organisers are thrilled to welcome The Leven Car Company (Aston Martin & Rolls Royce), Murray Motor Company (Lotus) and Sytners (Lamborghini and Ferrari) to the event for the first time.

SpeedFest is an established flagship event organised and hosted by Black Dog Events and held at the Grampian Transport Museum in Alford. SpeedFest always generates a huge amount of excitement and this year will showcase over 100 specially selected and invited cars to make up what the Organisers believe will be the best entry list ever seen in the North East.

All cars participating in the event shall be made as accessible as possible to the public.

The hub of the event is the short oval road circuit, which will play host to the famous ‘Alford Pursuit’ along with a new event for 2015, the Kinghorn Bodyshop-sponsored ‘Alford Drag’. As well as seeing the cars being put through their paces, spectators will have the opportunity to experience the thrill of on-track action for themselves by riding ‘shotgun’ in some fast car rides (available for the first 150 ‘Early Birds’ through the gate before the event gets fully underway).

However you can ensure you get an Early Bird Fast Car ride by purchasing a advanced ticket via our website

Organisers James Parker and Tony Yule comment that Alford SpeedFest15 is ready but are keeping their lips (mostly) sealed regarding what spectators can hope to see at the event:

“It’s going to be a pretty full programme of on-track activities,” says James. “We will be featuring some old favourites such as the Drifters, the dragsters and the aerobatic display, but we will also have some new and exciting things to showcase too – such as karting and mini-moto demonstrations along with a rather special finale – a specially designed rally super special stage featuring some very impressive rally cars!”

“We don’t want to give too much away,” adds Tony, “we have to keep our powder dry a bit… But we are just so excited by this year as it should be one to remember – we have gathered together a fantastic range of manufacturers to display their current models, along with some interesting and exciting trade stands…. Not to mention all of the on-track stuff which has taken months to organise and arrange. We’ve ordered good weather for the event!”

Colin Millar from ‘Flyin Fyfer Drag Racing Team’ will be on hand to demonstrate his 1150bhp nitrous powered ‘Outlaw Anglia dragster in an ear splitting, earth shaking and tyre burning display of POWER!! The Anglia can cover the fabled quarter mile sprint in an amazing 7 seconds.

Alford SpeedFest 2014

SpeedFest15 will also play host to 2 returning cars loaned to the event by Mr E. Dean Butler: the ‘Jim Robbins Special’ Indycar which took pole at the 1955 Indianapolis 500 and the Charles Bang Special’ slingshot dragster powered by a flathead Ford V8 with Offenhauser heads which set the US ‘D’ class quarter miles record at 10.32 seconds in 1966.

Historic racer Chris Williams returns to SpeedFest15 with another unique and powerful Bentley.

Fresh from his demonstration of the ‘Packard Bentley’ in 2014; Chris will unleash the might of his ‘Napier Bentley vintage racing car.

The Napier is a one-off special built on the chassis of a 1929 Bentley. It features a 24-litre Napier Sea Lion W12 boat engine that develops approximately 550bhp through the rear wheels (which are almost constantly smoking!!) whilst the stubby exhausts emit sparks, flames and smoke! The sound of this car is not to missed – having been likened to a World War I bi-plane or a cluster of mortar bombs being detonated!!

Both James and Tony promise a great day for enthusiasts and families with exciting non-stop action on the circuit, and a range of side stands and activities for families.

Local and national companies are providing support for the event, including Park’s Motor Group, Sytners (Edinburgh), The Leven Car Company, Town and County Porsche (Aberdeen), Murray Motor Company, Kinghorn Bodyshop, Glack Attack mud run, EDB Racing, Autoglym, Quantum Remapping, Aberdeen Alarm Company, AM Details, Fennel Media and Terraclean.

Alford SpeedFest15
Sun 5 July 2015:  11:00am- 5:00pm
Grampian Transport Museum, Alford, Aberdeenshire AB33 8AE
Adult £10, Child £5, OAP £7, Family £25

Jun 272014

Asleep at the wheelBy Duncan Harley

There are well over 25 thousand museums in the UK, ranging from national institutions such as Glasgow’s Burrell collection, to the likes of the Maud Railway Museum, with many others in between.

Some museums are open 24/7 and are free to all comers.

Others are subject to a voluntary donation and are open mainly during the summer months, except on Wednesdays, unless of course there is a Q in the month; but I digress.

Funding, or the lack of it, dictates opening hours, and unpaid volunteers are the mainstay of most such museum enterprises. In the main they are a sterling effort, but often difficult to access due to these constraints. There is no criticism intended here, only comment.


Fortunately for us in the North East of Scotland, the Bon Accord Steam Engine Club is in the habit of bringing heritage right to our doorstep.

Hosted by the Scottish National Trust flagship property, Castle Fraser, the Bon Accord Steam Fair of 2014 was by all accounts a flagship event. With over 50 thousand gallons of water and a good few tons of coal on tap, the magnificent engines which drove the industry of both Victoria’s last decades and the early years of the 20th Century fairly wowed the crowds.

Steam power is of course nothing new, and the history of the steam engine stretches back to the First Century AD, with the first recorded rudimentary steam engine being the Aeolipile described by the Greek mathematician and engineer Hero of Alexandria.

It’s a powerful means of propulsion which the likes of Scottish inventor James Watt used to good effect, to produce rotary motion.

advanceAt some risk of injury, try placing some tinfoil over the spout of your kettle at full boil and you’ll see what I mean. Steam is indeed powerful stuff.

Steam engines powered Scottish industry for well over eighty years. Mills, ships and transport benefited from the power of steam. In fact some would argue that the empire was built on the back of it. The Clyde built steam ship Waverley and her sister ship Jeanie Deans epitomised the breed.

However at the heart of it all was the humble steam traction engine.

The Bon Accord Steam Engine Club (BASEC) was founded by Bill Barrack, an enthusiast concerned that many magnificent self-propelled steam engines were ending up as scrap. He and a few like-minded folk set about preserving them for the enjoyment of future generations. I am pleased to say that Bill’s efforts, plus those of all of his fellow enthusiasts, have not been in vain.


As if the spectacle of over forty steam-powered road vehicles entering the show ring at last Sunday’s event was not enough, one in particular caught the public’s attention.

While the Kintore Pipe Band piped “Happy Birthday” amidst the grey coal smoke and white steam of yesteryear, the veteran one hundred year old steam traction engine Finella, owned by the Barrack family since 1947, stood proudly to attention while her birthday wishes from the Queen were read out to the assembled crowd.

Her Majesty had taken time to send her good wishes to a centenarian who even in retirement continues working to bring pleasure to all who see her.

bon accord 4Founded in 1967, and with ten years under its belt at the Castle Fraser venue, the Bon Accord Steam Engine Club have proved yet again how enduring the power of steam can be.

On the drive home we followed a line of admiring petrol heads, in a long and smoky queue behind Grampian Transport Museum’s Sentinel Steam Wagon as it slowly drove along the highways and byways of the long road to Alford, at an average speed of 19 mph or less.

No one overtook the smoking monster and no one really minded the holdup.

Such is the price of heritage.

© Duncan Harley All rights reserved

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Jun 242014

XJ220With thanks to Martyn Smith, Marketing and Events Organiser, Grampian Transport Museum.

Enthusiasts will be heading to Aberdeenshire for the annual Alford SpeedFest, to be thrilled by the largest gathering of rare supercars, exciting performance cars, and historic racing cars in the north east of Scotland.

We are delighted to announce that Park’s Motor Group of Hamilton will be providing a collection of McLaren sports cars, to join the McLaren P1 supercar on display.

These will join iconic names such as Maserati, Lamborghini, Ferrari, Porsche, Lotus, Frazer Nash, Aston Martin, TVR.

SpeedFest is an established flagship event at the Grampian Transport Museum in Alford. SpeedFest generates a lot of excitement and will showcase 120 specially selected and invited cars to make up the best entry list ever seen in the north east. The cars themselves participating actively in the event are made as accessible as possible to the public.

The event is based around the oval road circuit which incorporates the famous Alford Pursuits. As well as seeing the cars put through their paces, families have the chance to join in with fast car rides for the first 150 through the gate before the event gets fully underway.

Organisers James Parker and Nick Livingstone comment ‘With 39 days to go, preparations for Alford SpeedFest14 are well underway. We are beginning collect and prepare some of our exhibits. The ‘Jim Robbins Special’, a 1951 Offenhauser engined Indycar, which was on pole position for the 1955 Indianapolis 500 has arrived, and is currently undergoing its final preparation for the event, where it will be running on track.

The car has kindly been lent to the event by Mr E. Dean. Butler. The car was last seen in public at the 2011 Goodwood Festival of Speed, where it was driven by the US Formula 1 driver, Eddie Cheever.’

the JIM-ROBBINS-SPECIAL indy carAnother EDB racing car on our track will be the ‘Charles Bang special’ slingshot dragster, which set the US ‘D’ class quarter mile record at 10.35 seconds.

Powered by a flathead V8, this car wowed the crowds at the 2008 Goodwood Festival of Speed, running in a display of vintage dragsters.

Most of the cars were shipped over from the USA, and, although the US has particularly rich pickings as far as drag cars go, the C.B. special made it into the show on its own merits.

Historic racer Chris Williams brings his unique Packard Bentley directly from the Cholmondeley of Power, this beast spits frames from the exhausts of the 1500bhp 42-litre supercharged engine and is more powerful than a Bugatti Veyron. Other key attractions this year include Jimmy McRae’s rally cars, and Richard Pargetter’s fantastic aerobatic display in his Pitts Special.

We are planning a great day for enthusiasts and families with exciting non-stop action on the circuit, and a range of sidestands and activities for families.

Local and national companies are providing support for the event, including Park’s Motor Group, John Clark BMW, Revolutions of Perth, Glack Attack mud run, EDB Racing, Storm Windows, Crosshill Garage.

We thank these companies for their charitable funding contribution for the Grampian Transport Museum.

Alford SpeedFest14
Sun 29 June 2014:  11:00am- 5:00pm
Grampian Transport Museum, Alford, Aberdeenshire AB33 8AE

Adult £10, Child £5, OAP £7, Family £25.
Tickets on the gate: Advance sales (inc. Early Bird fast car rides from May 26; tel GTM 01975 562292)

For further information please email James Parker or Nick Livingstone.

Jun 132014

Show stopping Model completes Great Train Robbery Exhibit. With thanks to Martyn Smith, Marketing & Events Organise

Train Robbery 2b1

Scale model of the scene at the Bridego Railway Bridge, Ledburn

A new arrival to the collection at the Grampian Transport Museum has completed the line up of a topical new exhibition on the events of the Great Train Robbery.
Still billed as the ‘crime of the century’ the events which took place in the early hours of 8th Aug 1963 were only ever photographed in the hours after, when the authorities arrived to begin their investigation.

The Son et Lumiere model, which is now on show at the museum, is an absolutely accurate scale model of the scene at the Bridego Railway Bridge, Ledburn.

Recently built to commemorate the 50th anniversary of the infamous raid, it is on loan from the Luton Model Railway Club until the end of August and helps to bring together the first serious exhibition of its kind on the subject.

Having already reunited two of the actual vehicles used in the raid, Curator Mike Ward is delighted to have secured the Diorama.

“It’s great to have this show-stopping model as part of our Great Train Robbery exhibition. This has been painstakingly built, from scratch, working from the Police photographs which were taken in the hours after the raid – the only visual record of the scene of the crime which was captured.

“There was a lot of mis-information reported following the incident and the Luton Model Railway Club have done a fantastic job of peeling back the layers to get to the truth and recreate the scene of the crime. We’re very grateful to the Luton Club for allowing us to borrow the model until August. It really does put the finishing touches to our exhibition!”

 Along with the Diorama, Grampian Transport Museum was also to locate and secure on loan the actual Austin Loadstar truck which was used to flee the scene of the crime with the loot. An ex army Land Rover Series 1 was also tracked down and is also on display until the end of August.

May 232014

Grampian Transport Museum is accepting entries for its Classic and Vintage Afternoon Gathering 2014. With thanks to Martyn Smith, Marketing and Events Organiser, Grampian Transport Museum.

Classics2The Grampian Transport Museum is now accepting entries for its annual Classic and Vintage Afternoon Gathering on Sunday 20th July.
A traditional, relaxed meeting for owners of all pre-1990 cars, commercials and motorcycles, the gathering represents an excellent opportunity for enthusiasts to meet and display their cherished classic.

The event is also open to museum visitors as part of the standard admission price.

Pre-booked entry for car owners is £10; this is a donation which will be used to fund educational visits to the Grampian Transport Museum for local schools. Included in the price are admission to the museum itself and light refreshments – tremendous value considering the standard admission rate of £9.50 or £7.50 concessions.

Entry forms can be downloaded from the museum website at and should be completed and returned by Monday 7th July.

The Grampian Transport Museum features a number of exciting and exclusive additions for 2014, including a Great Train Robbery exhibit – featuring real vehicles used in the raid – and a multi-million pound HGV simulator. The event is sure to add another dimension to the museum experience for visitors.

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