Apr 222016

With thanks to Martyn Smith, Marketing & Events Organiser, Grampian Transport Museum.

GTMToylander (2)The Grampian Transport Museum is delighted to announce a new addition to the museum’s popular Junior Driving School.

A fully operational scale model Land Rover – known as a Toylander – has been built by the museum’s Young Engineers and will be put to use supervising youngsters on the popular Junior Driving School.

Based on a Police Land Rover, with livery derived from a 1985 Rover SD1 which is currently on display in the museum, the team received a donation of £1,000 from Peter Vardy, to assist with the purchase of the electric powered Toylander kit.

The Young Engineer team meet at the museum every Saturday morning and work on a number of projects, including the design and construction of their own electric vehicles for the annual Greenpower F24 racing series. Over the past few weekends the team, lead by a number of experts from the world of engineering, have constructed the Toylander, giving them vital hands-on experience.

A number of the team’s former vehicles are now on display in the museum’s new Visitor Reception, allowing visitors to see their work, which has remained largely unseen until now.

Commenting on the new addition, Museum Trustee Paul Lawson, who oversees the team, said:

“After a very successful season of racing with two cars in the top 15 in the world we decided to build the Landrover model over the Winter; the team have learned lots of new skills and we’re looking out to see the car in action at the driving school”

Peter Vardy, CEO of Peter Vardy Ltd commented:

“Getting involved with the local community is one of our key values and when the Museum contacted us with their idea we were delighted to be able to assist. The Toylander looks great and I’m sure the children will get lots of enjoyment out of it. We might even have to look into getting our own version for our new Jaguar Land Rover dealership when it opens in August!”

Grampian Transport Museum is now open daily from 10am – 5pm. Further information, along with the museum’s full events programme, can be found at www.gtm.org.uk.

Mar 242016

GrampianTransportMuseumImage1With thanks to Martyn Smith, Marketing & Events Organiser, Grampian Transport Museum

Next of Kin, an exhibition created by National Museums Scotland, opens on 2nd April at the Grampian Transport Museum.

It presents a picture of Scotland during the First World War through treasured objects from official and private sources, passed to close relatives and down through generations.

The exhibition was previously shown at the National War Museum in Edinburgh Castle, and Grampian Transport Museum will be the fifth of nine touring venues around Scotland.

It is supported by the Heritage Lottery Fund and the Scottish Government. Each of the host venues will be adding material from their own collections to tell local stories which reflect the themes of the exhibition.

Next of Kin will tell the stories of those directly involved in the Great War, including Colonel Frank Fleming. Colonel Fleming was taken prisoner, and his experiences will now be brought to life with a number of personal effects, including his officer’s pass to leave the prisoner of war camp for recreational purposes. Colonel Fleming’s cell wall calendar will also be displayed – prisoners were denied all information including what the date was, so he kept his own record.

Canadian Lieutenant James Humphrey’s story will also be told for the first time; Lieutenant Humphrey was awarded the Military Cross for gallantry and was wounded in action. While recovering in hospital he met his future wife when invited by her parents to their home for Christmas. The Next of Kin exhibition will include items belonging to Humphreys, including his wounded man’s kit label. Invalided out and very nearly losing his right arm, he was sent back to a London hospital – just one of tens of thousands of injured soldiers.

The exhibition will be supported with further displays including a Foster Wellington traction engine, affectionately known as Olive, which was originally commissioned by the War Department. The museum’s 1914 Sentinel Steam Waggon, used by local carrier Alexander Runcie, was new at the outbreak of war and helped to provide a much needed morale boost.

Runcie utilised the Sentinel to provide excursions for local groups of children.

A horse-drawn Aberdeen tram will also be decorated in the period style, harking back to the days when such vehicles were used as recruitment vehicles.

Goliath, a 10hp McLaren Traction engine, will also be on display for the season, having been used to pull heavy guns on the Western Front. Goliath would go on to become a Showman’s Road Locomotive, before being preserved by an enthusiast from Aberdeenshire.

Grampian Transport Museum Curator Mike Ward said:

“The First World War had a profound influence on Aberdeenshire. The depopulation of the Cabrach was partly due to the rush of young men to volunteer in 1914, thinking it would be a great adventure together and that they would be home by Christmas. The war memorials testify to the losses suffered by local families, in some cases three sons from one family.

“This is a sensitive subject and the museum is keen to take a look at what happened in our locality on the home front. There are many very sad stories but also some of great relief as ‘missing in action’ became ‘taken prisoner’.”

Stuart Allan of National Museums Scotland said:

“The First World War separated millions of people worldwide from their families and homes. The impact of the conflict was felt by families and communities in every part of Scotland as individuals served in the war in different ways. For those who experienced the conflict, keeping objects was a way of remembering this extraordinary period in their lives, or coping with the absence and loss of their loved ones.

“We look forward to touring the exhibition and bringing these stories from the National collection to people across the country and we particularly look forward to the stories which our partners will tell alongside ours.”

The material on loan from National Museums Scotland looks in detail at eight individual stories which both typify and illustrate the wider themes and impact of the War on servicemen and women and their families back home in Scotland. Objects include postcards and letters, photographs, medals and memorial plaques.

Examples include;

  • Two autograph books in which Nurse Florence Mellor collected drawings, watercolours, verses, jokes and messages from the wounded soldiers in her care at Craiglockhart War Hospital.
  • The pocket New Testament which Private James Scouller was carrying the day he died at Cambrai in 1917, returned to his family by a German soldier on the eve of the Second World War.
  • Drawings and postcards by Henry (Harry) Hubbard, an architectural draughtsman in Glasgow who contracted illnesses so severe that he ended up spending 16 months in hospital.
  • The last letter home from George Buchanan, Seaforth Highlanders, a railway plate-layer from Bathgate who was killed in action on the first day of the Battle of Loos, along with his memorial plaque and service medals.
  • The shell fragment which wounded Private William Dick. He kept the fragment after it was removed from his leg, but later died from the wound.

As the exhibition tours, the host venues will develop additional content using their own objects and stories related to their respective local areas. The results of these additional contributions will be captured and preserved in the exhibition displays and a digital app interactive.

Learning activities exploring the exhibition themes will take place at each venue. School and community groups will be able to interact with a bespoke handling collection made up of original and replica objects. There will also be an associated training programme to develop new skills among the participating organisations.

The tour starts in Dumfries and then the exhibition travels to Rozelle House Galleries (Ayr), Hawick Museum, Low Parks Museum (Hamilton), Grampian Transport Museum (Alford), Inverness Museum and Art Gallery, Perth Museum and Art Gallery and the Black Watch Castle and Museum and Orkney Museum.

The full list of partner organisations and touring venues can be found here: http://www.nms.ac.uk/nextofkin

Explaining the importance of the HLF support, the Head of HLF in Scotland, Lucy Casot said:

“The impact of the First World War was far reaching, touching and shaping every corner of the UK and beyond. The Heritage Lottery Fund has invested more than £60million in projects – large and small – that are marking this global Centenary. 

“With our grants, we are enabling communities like those involved in the Next of Kin exhibition to explore the continuing legacy of this conflict and help local young people in particular to broaden their understanding of how it has shaped our modern world.”

Next Of Kin Exhibition
2nd April 2016
Grampian Transport Museum, Alford.

Feb 112016

Vauxhall Cavalier Mk2

With thanks to Martyn Smith.

A car show celebrating the forgotten classics of the motoring world will return to Alford on Sunday 22nd May.

Now in its second year, How Many Left? was a new addition to the events programme at the Grampian Transport Museum in 2015 and returns by popular demand.

Unlike conventional car shows, How Many Left? shines the spotlight on mass produced cars which may now be considered ‘endangered species’ due to there being less than 500 licensed examples remaining, according to DVLA statistics.

Vehicles will descend on the Aberdeenshire village from near and far, with over 60 cars already confirmed to attend. These include a 1993 Peugeot 504 pickup, a 1981 DeLorean DMC-12 – the car immortalised in the Back to the Future franchise – and a rare Granada Ghia Coupe – thought to be the only licensed examples on the road in Scotland.

A 1985 Fiat Panda 45, which participated in last year’s London to Brighton Rally, will also be making the trip north to take part in How Many Left?, with Panda enthusiast Vernon Hibberd making the 600 mile trip from his home in East Hampshire.

Building on the feedback gained from the inaugural event in 2015 a strong trade presence will give enthusiasts the chance to pick up sought after spares, consumables and detailing products to help ensure their cars remain in tip-top condition.

The museum’s Marketing & Events Organiser, Martyn Smith, commented:

“We’re delighted with the level of interest in How Many Left. It was clear at the end of last year’s event that it struck a chord with true enthusiasts and it simply had to return in 2016. One of the highlights for many of our visitors and participants was the Parallel Auto Test, which was truly entertaining to watch.”

Entry forms for How Many Left? 2016 can be downloaded via the museum’s website – www.gtm.org.uk/whats-on or by emailing events@gtm.org.uk

Jan 282016

GTM CannstattDaimler142With thanks to Martyn Smith.

The Grampian Transport Museum has, at various times, published the remarkable story of the arrival of what is thought to be the second motor car in Scotland, in July 1896.

It was purchased by a truly remarkable GP, Dr P. E. Howie of Strathdon.

The German Daimler was previously owned by F.R. Simms, the ‘Father of the British motor industry’, who founded the Coventry Daimler concern that year.

Fortunately the training session given to Dr Howie in Alford Main Street at the dawn of the motoring era was photographed which in itself was quite a notable event.

Now the GTM wants to tell the story as part of a new introduction to the museum to be housed in a new reception building currently under construction. To do this properly a good copy of the Dr Howie photograph (attached) is needed that can be enlarged to be included in a photo mural.

The museum is hoping to track down a good copy or preferably an original photographic print or glass plate negative to use in the new exhibition. Does anyone out there recognise this image?

We are also keen to discover more about Dr Howie and any photographs of him or his later Daimler cars would be of great interest.

Any help would be really appreciated by all involved with the GTM.

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Jan 212016

With thanks to Martyn Smith.

Alford SpeedFest 2014

Jim Robbins Indanapolis 500 race car.

Plans are now well underway for the 7th annual Alford SpeedFest, the flagship event held at the Grampian Transport Museum.

Up to 120 vehicles, each of which has been invited to attend, will participate in a variety of activities including pursuits, where direct performance comparisons are made between pairs of performance cars.

The action will get underway at 11am with the ever popular Early Bird Rides, giving members of the public the chance to ride around the museum’s purpose built road circuit in a high performance sports or supercar.

This year’s main theme is centred around record breakers and will include record breaking motor, steam and electric cars.

The museum is in the unique position of being able to call upon a number of major UK transport museums to borrow some of their prized collections. A number of spectacular vehicles will be brought in, from all over the UK, to complement the array of vehicles entered by local enthusiasts.

Plans are already afoot to begin a run at the National Motor Museum at Beaulieu, picking up additional vehicles at a number of museums on the 600 mile drive north.

Museum curator Mike Ward commented:

“The team are really excited about SpeedFest 16 because the record breaker theme has captured the imagination of colleagues in other UK transport museums and we are being offered many truly fantastic vehicles, never seen before in Scotland“

Dec 172015

With thanks to Martyn Smith.


Vauxhall Cavalier Mk2

A popular car show, putting the spotlight on vehicles which are considered ‘endangered species’ is set to return to a top Aberdeenshire museum next year.
The inaugural ‘How Many Left?’ took place at the Grampian Transport Museum in May 2015 and unlike conventional car shows, focused on some of the cars which are not thought of – and perhaps never will be thought of – as classics.

Entry criteria was set for those cars which have less than 500 road licensed examples remaining on the DVLA database.

Especially welcome are cars that were truly popular, mass produced in large numbers making them very rare survivors.

With a mix of static displays, public passenger rides and an entertaining parallel auto test the maiden event was considered a success by both participants and the public alike and the staff at the museum, which is currently undergoing an expansion project, are delighted to announce its return in 2016.

Curator Mike Ward commented:

“’How Many Left?’ was an interesting exercise in that we turned the idea of a car show on its head and celebrated cars which don’t seem to get the attention that they deserve. Rather than making a fuss about cars which are already considered classics, we gave visitors and owners the opportunity to showcase some of the cars which we’ve all had an affiliation with and those which are fast disappearing from our roads.

It’s interesting to look at the relationship between the production runs of some of these cars and then compare the data with the number of examples remaining on our roads. The relationship between these two numbers is often very striking! It’s obvious that this was a winning formula and so we’ll be bringing back “How Many Left?” and will be looking to ensure that it’s even bigger and better in 2016!”

Entry forms for How Many Left? 2016 are available to download now from the museum’s website at www.gtm.org.uk/whats-on or by emailing events@gtm.org.uk.

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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Nov 162015

the JIM-ROBBINS-SPECIAL indy carWith thanks to Martyn Smith, Marketing & Events Organiser.

Now entering its 7th year, SpeedFest – the Grampian Transport Museum’s flagship event – takes place in Alford on Sunday 3rd July.

A unique event in the north east calendar, SpeedFest will kick off with the ever popular Early Bird Rides, giving members of the public the chance to ride around the museum’s purpose built road circuit in a high performance sports or super car.

Most eagerly anticipated will be the pursuits, where direct performance comparisons are made between pairs of performance cars.

SpeedFest 16 promises to be even bigger and better, with recent track improvements and a new ground plan. The main theme will be record breakers and will include record breaking motor, steam and electric cars.

Museum curator Mike Ward is delighted to be involved in organising SpeedFest 2016

“SpeedFest is now our second biggest event, only behind the Grampian Motorcycle Convention. Its popularity is largely due to the great selection of cars, put together by invitation and the fact that they participate in the track activities. Where else would you see a direct performance comparison between a Tesla Roadster Sport and a brand new Ferrari?

“SpeedFest really does showcase the development of performance cars from the 1920’s ‘Blower Bentleys’ to the very latest competition and supercars. The ‘record breaker’ theme in 2016 will produce some interesting cars. The fact that steam and electric cars are to be included will surprise many petrol heads, but it will evoke the long and proud tradition of record breaking electric vehicles and steamers!”

For further information on SpeedFest 2016 please contact Martyn Smith, Marketing & Events Organiser, on 019755 64517 or email marketing@gtm.org.uk.

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.