Published: 18/05/2011 20:00 - Updated: 18/05/2011 19:58

History repeats itself

The 2011 re-enactment in Cameron Square on Monday morning saw Neil Tuckett's Model T set off from the exact spot in Cameron Square from where Henry Alexander drove away on his successful epic to conquer Ben Nevis.Here are the two pictures, taken a century apart.And you'll see from the really up to date photographs taken on Wednesday afternoon that Model T history had repeated itself on the summit of the Ben.
The 2011 re-enactment in Cameron Square on Monday morning saw Neil Tuckett's Model T set off from the exact spot in Cameron Square from where Henry Alexander drove away on his successful epic to conquer Ben Nevis.Here are the two pictures, taken a century apart.And you'll see from the really up to date photographs taken on Wednesday afternoon that Model T history had repeated itself on the summit of the Ben.

Weather mixed.

That's if you compare the fresh snow on the Ben with the May midges!

T time

LET'S muse about Model Ts.

You'll have seen the car cavalcade in and around town to mark the centenary celebration of the conquest of Ben Nevis in May 1911 by Henry Alexander in his S1871 registered Model T.

So here's a wee, potted history of that event of 100 years ago:

l Monday, May 8. Henry Alex-ander left Cameron Square in his 20hp four-cylinder Model T.

l Tuesday, May 9. Began Ben Nevis ascent from Torlundy, reaching the 1,400 feet point by nightfall.

l Wednesday, May 10. Model T driven to the Ben's Halfway House.

l Thursday, May 11. Attained the 3,000 feet mark.

l Friday, May 12. Arrived at the snowfield, just short of the top of the Ben.

l Saturday, May 13. History was made as Henry Alexander drove Model T, S1871, onto the summit plateau of Britain's highest mountain.

l Wednesday, May 17. Start of the descent, reaching Halfway House.

l Thursday, May 18. Completion of descent, arriving in Fort William at 1pm

Press pack

THROUGHOUT most of those 10 days, journalists, photographers and cinematographers had "ascended" on Fort William many of them from London.

Ponies took them up the Ben, although most of the media men weren't dressed in suitable style for the excursion. Indeed, The Times' representative was "thrown from his mount into a bog, resulting in his nasal organ becoming cut, and a couple of his teeth being knocked out".

On the Wednesday evening, May 17, with the Model T still on the mountainside, Henry Alexander, representatives of Ford, "numerous local gentlemen", and some of the surviving scribes dined in the Caledonian Hotel in that Cameron Square from where Alexander had set out. He was presented with a silver cigarette case as a souvenir of his "remarkable performance".

And when he drove into Fort William at 1 o'clock next day, sunshine welcomed the occasion.

The High Street shops closed for the afternoon; the townspeople turned out in their hundreds.

The Town Council, Merchants Association and Fort William Pipe Band formally met the conquering hero and his retinue at the Alexandra Hotel.

A hundred years on and the Alex is the May 2011 HQ of the Lochaber visit by the Model T Register of Great Britain.

Final summary

THIS final paragraph should sum up the feat for posterity:

"The guides who had assisted Henry Alexander walked in front of the car and, preceded by the respective deputations, band and general public, and followed by other cars of the Ford manufacture (containing the pressmen!) the procession paraded through the High Street, and assembled where it all started in Cameron Square".

On the spot

AND so it was that on Monday of this week, Neil Tuckett, registrar of the Model T Ford Register of Great Britain, set off from the very spot in Cameron Square from where Henry Alexander sallied forth in May 1911.

Neil was aiming to drive, via Torlundy and along the lower reaches, to the Ben's "Halfway House".

He got to the 1,250 feet mark, by which time his motor was covered in peat.

So at the time of writing this, early on Wednesday afternoon, the Volunteer Corps are carrying in pieces an engine-less Model T up the Ben, having set out from Achintee at 7am.

The plan for around 1pm is for the Model T to be assembled on the summit, to provide a photocall for members of the latter day press corps.

How they are planning to reach the top of the Ben is another story.

But there will be plenty of tall tales to tell.

And we'll be listening.

Down here!

Keep the faith

I MENTIONED last week about Roamer's Column in The Sunday Times of Malta.

Well, Skeegan has just handed in the paper.

And I have had a perusal.

Fittingly, perhaps, as the Maltese Roamer writes for a Sunday paper, his constant subject is religion faith, belief, orthodoxy, secularism

Aye, and even logic!

See what you're missing in the Roamer Column in the LN.

All in the game

WELL do I remember Henrijk Madej, former Fort FC manager, enthusing over the fact that his team was "on the coupon" away back nearly a quarter of a century ago.

Yes there it was Fort William v Stirling Albion in the treble chance.

So you can imagine my delight last week,when I had a look on Ceefax for the list of forthcoming football matches.

Now, and this is true, just two games figured on the screen for Wednesday, May 18:

Europa League FC Porto v Braga, Kick-off 19.45.

Highland League Fort William v Nairn. Kick-off 20.00.

Fort's and Calum Maclean's season at the foot of the Ben was certainly going to finish with a flourish until fate intervened and the game was postponed yesterday morning because of a waterlogged pitch.

Correspondence Corner

HI Roamer,

Could you find a wee bit of space in your column for this please?

Shopmobility Lochaber will be closed for the period between May 21 and May 31. This is to allow removal of the old office and the installation of the new one.

Our mobile unit will be operating as normal to the areas as per our schedule. We will be operating a restricted service from the Nevis Centre. We will only be taking bookings as most of our equipment will be in secure storage for the duration of the closure.

Bookings on 07920 515559 must be made before 10am to ensure equipment will be available.

We apologise to all of our clients for any inconvenience this may cause, but we will be back, bigger and better than ever in our new office.

Billy Ward


DEAR Roamer,

Would you be able to give a mention in your column to our proposed weekend coach trip to an autumn music festival in Belfast? It is being held between Friday, October 14, and Monday, October 17.

The cost is 205 per person, dinner, bed and breakfast, and a non-refundable deposit of 50 is required when booking.

Bookings for seats can be taken till June 10. Enquiries to Shona Nicoll on (01397) 700413 or 07901 594498.

Many thanks,


A matter of course

That "thoroughbred" Abernethy was out on the racecourse again on Friday.

Not only was it number one in alphabetical order that day, it was also number one on the card for that race. And it came in No 1 as well, except that it had a 0 after that, making it No 10.

Of 10!

Number's up

Tam wanted to paint his house number 13 onto his two new bins. His neighbour had a better idea.

"I've got some of those large adhesive numbers you can use instead, Tam," she said.

At that she handed him two Ones in a strip and two Threes in another strip.

"That's a very nice thought," Tam declared. "But these make an 11 and a 33 and ma hoose number's 13."

No go for museum

THE West Highland Museum has entered a new era in 2011, offering free admission to attract many thousands of visitors.

So it was interesting to read of the proposal in May 1937, all of 74 years ago, that the museum building in Cameron Square, be offered for sale and the Jacobite collection rehoused in the old Fever Hospital on the Inverlochy side of An Aird as "a town centre location was not necessary".

The suggested move came from Wm Cuthbert, the solicitor, who gave as his reason the fact that property in and around Fort William High Street was very valuable and this would realise a handsome profit for the museum.

His bold bid lost on a museum committee vote.

Dora on DVD

EARLIER this year, as many of you will know, the museum launched the DVD Capturing 1950s Lochaber The George Scott Films.

The venture has been an outstanding success.

And the sequel came at the weekend.

Those of you who have seen the DVD will have listened to the poem written by The Four Indignant Typists Who Work At The Foot Of The Ben.

Well, one of that quartet of former British Aluminium Company purchasing department typists is Dora (MacNicol) Ford who, still hale and hearty at 97 years of age, lives in Fort Augustus. And at the weekend, Dora had a visit from Donnie MacMaster who albeit a bit younger also worked in the purchasing department.

A delighted Dora was presented with the DVD, which Donnie screened for her.

Lots of reminiscences of locals, especially after Donnie had convinced Dora that he was "the tall skinny fella who gave the girls in the typing pool a lot of cheek"!

And the poem certainly brought back memories and gave Dora a great laugh.

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