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Grampian Transport Museum to showcase exhibit donated by ‘knowledgeable’ visitor Prince Philip

The Duke of Edinburgh inaugurating a steam engine at the Grampian Transport Museum in 1992
The Duke of Edinburgh inaugurating a steam engine at the Grampian Transport Museum in 1992

A north-east attraction will showcase a prize exhibit donated by the late Duke of Edinburgh when it reopens next week.

The Grampian Transport Museum (GTM) is preparing to reopen its doors after months of hard work behind the scenes over the winter lockdown.

The management of the Alford-based tourist attraction have received funding to make the site more environmentally friendly, and the cash is already being put to good use with new initiatives such as the installation of new solar panels.

Curator Mike Ward with one of the new for 2021 motorcycle exhibits, a sparkling and rare Triumph X75 Hurricane. GTM.

And although the museum is looking forward to years to come, with new exhibits in 2021 including a hydrogen bus, it will still also be cherishing the history of transport, with a newly-introduced 1924 baker’s van.

Local Ford Model T baker’s van.

Visitors returning to Alford for a Covid-safe tour of the museum after it opens on April 29 will also be able to see a very special machine, which has gained new significance with the recent death of Prince Philip.

In 1992, the GTM’s curator Mike Ward welcomed the Duke of Edinburgh for a visit, where the royal officially inaugurated the Birkhall steam engine which he had donated to the museum in 1985.

The fully-restored 1942 Marshall Portable Steam Engine was built as part of the war effort, and powered a sawmill at Birkhall on the Balmoral Estate until the early 70s when the facility shut.

The familiar vehicle has been a mainstay at the museum ever since, entertaining visitors with steam on most weekends and at events throughout the season.

Mr Ward said: “A career highlight for me was showing him around the museum for nearly an hour, I recall he was genuinely interested and knowledgeable about many of the topics we cover, horse vehicles in particular, and fast cars.

“He then went on to inaugurate the Birkhall steam engine, making many amusing comments. He was a lovely guy.”

He added: “Over the winter we have been hugely supported by Museums and Galleries Scotland (MGS) who have provided grants from their Recovery and Resilience Funds enabling us to look forward to the future with great optimism.

MANN Steam Tractor. Alford.

“One of the funded projects is the installation of a 27kw bank of solar panels with battery storage and two air to air heat source pumps.

“We believe this technology will make GTM the country’s first ‘off grid’ museum over the winter months, being fully renewable energy self-sufficient, greatly reducing our carbon footprint and our running costs.”

He continued: “Regular museum visitors will know that GTM always has a Ford Model T on display as the most significant car ever built in the history of motoring.

“This year’s version is of special local interest as it is a completely original 1924 local baker’s van.

“With his inspirational car, Henry Ford was credited with ‘killing off the original electric car revolution’.

“However, electric cars are once again the future and are evolving very quickly therefore our unique ‘Probing the Future’ exhibition has been fully updated.

“All the latest available technology developments are explained with the help of global industry leaders including BMW, BP and Mapix.

“Designed to help visitors to understand the current transport revolution, the reaction to this exhibition has been tremendous, as the museum uses the past to help to illustrate the future.”

The GTM will open from April 29 from 10am to 5pm, five days a week, Thursdays to Mondays inclusive.

As Covid restrictions will be in place, tickets for a time slot must be booked online from www.gtm.org.uk

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