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Issue 99 - Grampian Transport Museum

Scotland Magazine Issue 99
June 2018

 

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Grampian Transport Museum

It’s Electric! is a temporary exhibition that opened on 30 March at the Grampian Transport Museum near Aberdeen, Scotland. The show, which runs all year, details the stopstart story of the electric car from the very beginning to the present and, importantly, looks to the future. But when was the start? Who was involved? And where did they work? Well, of course, it has to be in Scotland and, in fact, the story begins in Aberdeen.

The date was 1839 and the inventor was Robert Davidson, a chemist at Aberdeen University. At the height of the stage and mail-coach era, Robert demonstrated a small carriage that carried two people in Aberdeen, then Edinburgh, then London, that was powered by ‘electro-magnetism’. Davidson was known to Faraday and is thought to have inspired a young James Clerk Maxwell, but gave up on electro magnetism following the destruction by ‘railway company employees’ of his second pioneering EV - the world’s first electric locomotive. Christened 'Galvani', it was successfully demonstrated on the Glasgow to Edinburgh railway in 1842 and a model of this 16-tonne vehicle and the passenger coach it pulled is part of the exhibition.

Little has been published about the work of Robert Davidson but this new exhibition changes that. The team at Grampian Transport Museum felt it was time to bring this lesserknown engineer out of the wings to centre stage and a book detailing his work has been launched to coincide with the exhibition. In conjunction with local companies Norco, TDC, and Whittaker Engineering, the team have even faithfully produced full-size working replicas of Davidson’s 20-cell battery and reluctance motor! This was no easy task as the motor is very large and heavy, with a fivefoot diameter flywheel!

The exhibition tells Davidson’s story in full, charts the progress of electric cars and even delves into the future to examine the electric technology of tomorrow.

Grampian Transport Museum Alford, Aberdeenshire, AB33 8AE 

+ 44 (0) 1975 562 292 

www.gtm.org.uk

 

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