THE OPENING OF HALKIRK HERITAGE AND VINTAGE MOTOR CENTRE


WITH ITS STAR EXHIBIT 1959 STANDARD 10 “BLUEBELL”

The Classic Car Weekly Classic of The Year 2018, which appeared on the front cover of the Standard Car Reviews of December 2017 and February 2019, and on other occasions, has found a new home.


All Standard enthusiasts will recall Bluebell and the harrowing pictures of her in 2017 looking immaculate under the grab of a scrapyard in Thurso, Caithness, Scotland, having been traded in for a brand new Ford Transit under Ford’s scrappage scheme.


As a result of the ensuing outcry that such a fine historic car had stood a good chance of ending up as a cube of scrap metal, the policy of scrappage schemes in the U.K. has been changed forever.


In the case of Bluebell, she achieved countrywide fame, making appearances at the Classic Car Show at the NEC and at the National Motor Museum at Beaulieu before finding a temporary home in Dundee Museum of Transport and the home of the Club’s Scottish representative, Bob Alexander, just North of Perth.


However she was still some way from Caithness, where she had spent all her life and everyone involved with Bluebell, the Club included, was of the view that she should be exhibited and lead an active retirement there.


Happily, a former MG Rover dealer in Halkirk, Caithness, the late Edward Sutherland and his late wife Jesse, had a collection of cars and premises and so was established the Halkirk Heritage and Vintage Motor Centre which after a lot of hard work by a lot of local people and organisations, finally had its official opening on Easter Saturday 16th April 2022.


Needless to say, the club were invited to the opening and I attended as Chairman, as did Bob Alexander and several Scottish members.


Sadly Review editor Steve O’Hara, who had hoped to attend with me, was taken ill and could not attend and so my brother Graham took his place at the last minute.


I would have liked to attend in a Standard but decided that a 1300 mile 5-day round trip with an uncertain weather forecast was just too far, so we went in my modern classic, a 2004 Smart Roadster. It was not entirely inappropriate, as the Roadster was brought out by Smart’s parent Mercedes as a modern-day successor to cars such as the Triumph Spitfire, originally developed by Standard before the Leyland takeover.


I was in good company, as James Walshe, the assistant editor of Practical Classics magazine, also attended the event in his Roadster. Both James and his magazine played a great role in saving Bluebell and publicising just how inappropriate the scrappage scheme was for classics such as Bluebell. Perhaps in due course for, Smart Roadsters!


The opening was performed in a traditional Scottish way with a piper, followed by speeches by two of Mr. Sutherland’s cousins and various dignitaries and by Bob Alexander and myself.


A superb cake was then cut and the Museum was thrown open for local people.


It will be staffed by volunteers and initially open two days a week. It is well worth a visit with a fine selection of car exhibits as well as automobilia and exhibits with a local theme too.



Bluebell will not be a static exhibit as in the care of the Caithness and Sutherland Vintage and Classic Vehicle Club it is intended that she will visit various local rallies though I can’t see her making a Club International Rally, but who knows.


If any member would like a trip to Caithness, the scenery passed through to get there is fantastic as is the area itself, and the people are wonderfully hospitable.


Look out for further articles on the event in the Review and in Practical Classics.


The Piper alongside James Sutherland’s cousins and centre, the Chairman of the Caithness and Sutherland Classic Vehicle Club


The Smart Roadsters of James Walshe of Practical Classics, left, and my own in the Museum Car Park. Without them, the trip would not have been possible.



Bluebell, the 1959 Standard Ten in pride of place.

A general view of the Museum.

Part of the wall of fish at the entrance with donors’ names on them, showing that of the main donors, Edward and Jesse Sutherland.

One of the display cases of automobilia








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