One of Scotland's earliest motor cars - which hit top speed of 18mph - returns home in a blaze of glory

One of Scotland’s earliest motor cars, which in its prime reached a top speed of 18mph, has returned home to the place where the dream of building it began.

The Albion Dog Cart was manufactured at Albion Motor Company, founded in Finnieston Street, Glasgow, in 1900, with the firm going on to become the biggest manufacturer of cars in Scotland.

Now the car has been returned to Biggar where its first owner, John Lamb Murray, whose son Thomas co-founded the business, belonged.

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The car, which was only the second to be manufactured by Albion, has made the journey back to South Lanarkshire and gone on show at the Biggar and Upper Clydesdale Museum after it was conserved and put on long-term loan by National Museums Scotland.

The Albion Dog Cart with engineering conservator Gemma Frew at National Museums Scotland. PIC: Phil Wilkinson.The Albion Dog Cart with engineering conservator Gemma Frew at National Museums Scotland. PIC: Phil Wilkinson.
The Albion Dog Cart with engineering conservator Gemma Frew at National Museums Scotland. PIC: Phil Wilkinson.
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Meredith Greiling, senior curator of transport at National Museums Scotland, described the Albion Dog Cart as “one of the most important vehicles” in the national collection.

She said: “We are delighted to have conserved it to a condition where it can be displayed and we’re particularly pleased to have brought it ‘home’ to Biggar where its first owner came from.”

Thomas Blackwood Murray received financial backing from his father to set up the businesses, with a loan taken out on the family farm near Biggar to free up some capital. Thomas co-founded the firm with his brother-in-law Norman Fulton.

In a testimonial for the Albion Dog Cart in a company sales brochure, Thomas’s father commented that “on a fairly good road and no obstacles, I can easily accomplish an average of 14 to 16 miles an hour … I find the mechanism extremely simple and my coachman has picked up the driving and management of the machine very readily and is now an efficient driver.”

The Dog Cart was sold in 1906 and taken to the Motor Museum in London where it remained until 1922 before being gifted to what became National Museums Scotland.

After an overhaul at the Albion Scotstoun works, the car was driven to its new home in Edinburgh during which it reached a top speed of 18 miles per hour.

Albion Motors – its radiator symbol a rising sun and its marketing slogan was “sure as the sunrise” – did big export business with its first ever car going to Malaya, now Malaysia, with large trade also done with Australia, New Zealand and Canada.

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The firm was sold off to Leyland Group in 1951 and, while exports were still high, the Albion name was eventually rubbed out of company history.

Elaine Edwards, manager curator of the Biggar and Upper Clydesdale Museum, described the Dog Cart as an “iconic vehicle”.

She said: “Its arrival has generated enormous enthusiasm in the town and amongst Albion enthusiasts. We can anticipate a wave of visits from those who visit Biggar on an annual basis to attend the Albion Vintage Car Rally.

“And I must say we are very appreciative of all the work carried out by National Museums Scotland in conserving the car and lending it to us, and also the support of local engineering company James A. Cuthbertson Ltd in helping to bring this project to fruition.”

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