Alford based Grampian Transport Museum opens its doors for the 2022 season on Friday 1st April with two very special cars on loan from the Royal collection at Sandringham Estate with the kind permission of Her Majesty the Queen in this, her Platinum Jubilee year.

The 1900 Daimler Mail Phaeton 6hp ordered by the Prince of Wales (later King Edward VII) was the first ever Royal car and began a trend of Daimler Royal cars which extends to the present day. It also gave the Royal ‘seal of approval’ to this new form of transport, which did a lot of good for the new British motor industry originally established by forward thinking engineer FR Simms at the end of the nineteenth century. The Daimler 6hp is also a car with significant relevance to Alford and the Transport Museum, which is located close to the original railhead around which the town grew.

History tells us that in 1895 Simms was so impressed by Daimler engineering that he founded the ‘Daimler Motor Company Limited’ in order to manufacture Daimler engines and cars in Britain. In 1896, prior to the first cars rolling out of the new factory in Coventry, he imported a German built demonstrator for himself which he brought to Aberdeen on July 18th and ‘paraded up and down Union Street’. It was seen by Dr Howie of Strathdon who immediately purchased it. That Daimler, only the second car ever in Scotland, was transported by rail to Alford, arriving right next to the very site on which the museum now stands!

The second Royal Daimler on loan is the magnificent (and very large) 1924 57HP Daimler Shooting Brake, commissioned from coachbuilders Hooper and Co of Piccadilly for the personal use of King George V at Sandringham and Balmoral. It could accommodate up to eight people and had the then advanced feature of brakes on all four wheels ‘providing additional stopping power and protection against skidding’.

Museum manager Ross McKirdy (pic Ross) is delighted to have these cars for his first full year leading the team at Alford “It is a great honour to have been loaned these magnificent Royal cars, each with a special significance to the area, in this Platinum Jubilee year. They are at the centre of an exhibition which features many more new attractions amongst the favourites for our visitors to enjoy.

“For example, we have the Snowmobile ridden by George Clooney in the 2020 Netflix film ‘The Midnight Sky’ in which he starred and also directed.  (Pic Snowmobile from film..) There are a number of ‘new to us’ historically significant cars on display, from a superbly restored rare Mini pick-up to a magnificent V12 E-type Jaguar coupe. For the motorcycle enthusiasts we have the only display in Scotland of the rare and beautiful machines from the British Motorcycle Charitable Trust, this year joined by the grass track and ice racing motorcycle collection of the late Scottish star Andy Ross, including his very distinctive blue Austin A60 pick-up (pic) in which he transported them around the UK and Europe. There is also the most beautifully restored BSA 500cc Gold Star engined ‘Metisse’ scrambler as featured in the ‘Classic Dirt Bike’ magazine.

“These new attractions, added to favourites including the unique Guy Martin Collection, ex-police Rover SD1 and BMW motorcycle, the Robert Davidson ‘It’s Electric’ story of how the electric vehicle transport revolution began in a Canal Street workshop in 1839, and much more, means that 2022 will be one of the best years ever to visit our amazing museum in the heart of Donside.”

A popular addition to the museum is a new shop and enlarged entrance area (pic) which is now accessible to the public without necessarily visiting the museum. Ross adds “We have opened up this area so that anybody looking for an interesting gift can now come into the museum reception and shop at their leisure. On offer they will find an exciting new range of gifts and GTM branded goods, from fridge magnets of the ‘Outspan Orange’ to souvenir dog collar bandanas! Whilst there you can also access a number of our exhibits which give a flavour of what the museum contains for visitors.”

GTM, which is a dog-friendly museum, re-opens from 10am Friday 1st April and is open 7 days during school holiday periods and Thursday-Monday at all other times April-October.