A particularly sociable Sentinel

Sentinel steam waggon acquired by Grampian Transport Museum in 2000 with an NFA grant of £15,200. Mike Ward wrote about the acquisition of the Sentinel in a post published on 19 March. Now he’s back with an update on what has been a busy summer for this popular vehicle as it took part in events to commemorate the outbreak of the First World War.

Of all historic vehicles, steamers are most often credited with ‘being alive’. There is something about steam … it is almost a natural, living source of power and if that’s true perhaps steam vehicles are the most likely to have personalities.

Fifteen years ago the NFA helped Grampian Transport Museum purchase V 3507, a 1914 Sentinel steam waggon (Sentinel’s spelling!) It turned out to be the sole surviving complete and working Glasgow-built example, new to Alexander Runcie, a Carrier from Inverurie close by the museum.

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The Sentinel steam waggon out on the road

We coaxed the old steamer back into safe working condition and decided to treat it as a working exhibit. After some careful thought it was agreed that with safe mounting steps and temporary seating it could give passenger rides on special occasions. This was a great success from the outset, although some among us thought it a little irregular to give rides on the back of a lorry.

Imagine our surprise, therefore, to discover as our researches continued, photographs of V 3507 giving rides to large groups of school children during the First World War. This old steamer had done it all before and on a huge scale. During the war government took over the railways and all pleasure excursions were banned. This was particularly significant in the Aberdeen area as the town was a vitally important port and railhead for supporting the Grand Fleet at Scapa Flow. The Great North of Scotland Railway’s network was overloaded with traffic. As losses mounted on the Western Front, Sandy Runcie stepped in and began to organise outings for local children to lift the mood and boost failing morale. He did this throughout the war with picnic excursions to local beauty spots, even carrying up to 145 people to church on Sundays. After the war this unofficial home front war work was commented on in the press.

Rev John Cook with Sentinel crew on a tour of local war memorials, 3 August 2014

Rev John Cook with Sentinel crew on a tour of local war memorials, 3 August 2014

With the centenary of the start of the war on 3rd August 2014, V 3507 had its own commemoration. The waggon carried our local Minister and members of his congregation on a tour of the local war memorials where services of remembrance were held. All agreed that the old waggon was like a ‘living’ link to those dark days. It seemed like a natural thing for this particularly sociable Sentinel to do.

 

Mike Ward MBE
Curator
Grampian Transport Museum
www.gtm.org.uk

 

 

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Two GGs in Our Waggon

Sentinel steam waggon acquired by Grampian Transport Museum in 2000 with an NFA grant of £15,200.

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Sentinel steam waggon on the road

When I worked at the Bass Museum of Brewing in Burton On Trent, one of the key vehicle exhibits was one of three Daimler Worthington White Shield bottle cars, advertising vehicles built in 1923 in the shape of a bottle. In my present post at the Grampian Transport Museum I managed to borrow one of the other two from Beaulieu. It was like welcoming back an old friend and I wondered if GTM could ever aspire to the jewel in the Bass Museum’s vehicle fleet at that time, a 1917 Standard Sentinel steam waggon.

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Sentinel steam waggon at night

It was a strange coincidence that about a week after receiving the bottle car we were tipped off about a very early Sentinel that ‘belonged’ to Aberdeenshire and had languished in a barn near London for 30 years.

Research confirmed that this particular Sentinel was the one for us. It was built at Polmadie, Glasgow in 1914, works No 753, and registered by the firm V 3507. It was new to Sandy Runcie, a carrier in Inverurie who published a photograph of his new Sentinel as a Christmas card that year. Changing hands twice in the county, it worked finally as part of the McIntosh of Forgue fleet as late as 1942; spanning two world wars. It transpired that we had found the world’s oldest known surviving complete Sentinel and the sole surviving Scottish built example with a strong local provenance and wonderful local stories to tell.

A price of £40,000 was agreed and we began a fundraising appeal. The perfect fit to our Collecting Policy and encouragement to proceed from Glasgow Transport Museum oiled the wheels and both the Heritage Lottery Fund and NFA responded positively to our appeal for help. After a few short weeks the Sentinel joined the bottle car and my sense of déjà vu went critical. The only real problem in applying for funds was explaining that ‘waggon’ was not a mis-spelling. It was how Sentinel described their products!

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Sentinel volunteers outing

Mike Ward MBE
Curator
Grampian Transport Museum
www.gtm.org.uk