You can get any colour you want so long as it’s bronze

Sculp­tor salutes moun­tain-top Model T Ford

The Sunday Post (Newcastle) - - NEWS - By Mur­ray scougall

Its in­spi­ra­tion was driven to the sum­mit of Bri­tain’s high­est moun­tain.

Now it is hoped a sculp­ture of a Model T Ford will drive tourists to Fort Wil­liam.

The statue will be un­veiled on Satur­day in the town’s Cameron Square and com­mem­o­rates the 1911 as­cent of Ben Ne­vis by Henry Alexan­der.

Henry Ford might have said cus­tomers could get his land­mark car in any colour they liked as long as it was black, but Lochaber’s lat­est mon­u­ment only comes in bronze.

His grand­son, Mike Munro, will at­tend the un­veil­ing af­ter al­most £55,000 was raised lo­cally and by Model T en­thu­si­asts around the world, in ad­di­tion to a £35,000 grant, to fund the full-sized sculp­ture.

Chris Robin­son, chair­man of the Bronze Ford Project, said: “Peo­ple will know Fort Wil­liam be­cause of this model, just as peo­ple are at­tracted to the Falkirk area by the Kelpies.”

The ge­n­e­sis of the sculp­ture, which weighs more than three tonnes, can be traced back to 2011, when 77 peo­ple each car­ried a piece of a Model T Ford up Ben Ne­vis to mark the cen­te­nary of Henry Alexan­der’s feat.

They as­sem­bled it at the sum­mit and it was later re­assem­bled to go on dis­play at the town’s West High­land Mu­seum.

Five years ago, an ar­chi­tect com­mis­sioned to re­design the square saw the car in the mu­seum and sketched a pic­ture of a Model T in the re­vamped town cen­tre.

The owner of the car, Neil Tuck­ett, con­tacted his friend, Ayr­shire sculp­tor Mark Stod­dart, who con­firmed it would be pos­si­ble to make a bronze model of the ve­hi­cle.

Ed­in­burgh foundry, Pow­der­hall Bronze, was given the com­mis­sion and over the last eight months has been tak­ing each in­di­vid­ual part of the orig­i­nal ve­hi­cle and cre­at­ing a mould from it.

“I’ve never known for some­thing to be cre­ated in this way,” said Mark, who has had com­mis­sions from, among oth­ers, the king of Saudi Ara­bia, Buzz Aldrin and El­ton John.

“Ev­ery­thing was used for a mould. I’m as­ton­ished at the de­tail, right down to a ripped seat.

“It’s great that it was done in Ed­in­burgh, where Henry Alexan­der set off from.”

Henry was the son of Scot­land’s first Ford dealer and thought it would be great pub­lic­ity to drive the Model T to the sum­mit of Bri­tain’s high­est peak.

It took him five days, cross­ing burns, nav­i­gat­ing track­less rocky hill­sides and ne­go­ti­at­ing bogs.

When the car be­came stuck in a peat hag at the half­way point, sticks of dy­na­mite were used to de­stroy the hardy turf!

Hav­ing reached the 4,411ft sum­mit of Ben Ne­vis, Henry de­scended to be met by huge crowds and the achieve­ment made head­lines around the world and boosted car sales for his dad’s busi­ness.

The dare­devil drove to the top of the moun­tain again in 1928, this time in a Model A Ford.

Mike said: “What he did was re­ally dan­ger­ous. There were times when it could have gone cat­a­stroph­i­cally wrong.

“A run­ning joke in the fam­ily was that his fa­ther told him his pocket money would be stopped un­less he did the drive. He was 22 at the time!

“To us three grand­kids he was Poppy. He would take me fish­ing and vis­ited us every Sun­day. I would show him my wal­let to prove I was sav­ing and he’d give me a 10-bob note.

“It will be a proud mo­ment on Satur­day when the sculp­ture is un­veiled, al­though I don’t know what right the Royal Fam­ily thinks it has or­gan­is­ing a wed­ding when we’d booked that day first!”

Mark added: “I think this will be a huge tourist at­trac­tion.”

The Model T, which will also have a model of Henry Alexan­der be­hind the wheel, is the lat­est ad­di­tion to Fort Wil­liam’s Bronze Trail, which also in­cludes the Com­mando Me­mo­rial, the Bronze Fur­nace, which is a statue of a worker at the lo­cal alu­minium fac­tory, and Sair Feet, a model of a man nurs­ing his feet at the end of the West High­land Way.

Sculp­tor Mark Stod­dart has cre­ated a three-tonne bronze model of the Model T

The car and the Ford logo could not be used

on the statue with­out per­mis­sion from the mo­tor in­dus­try giant but, help­fully, through Dys­lexia Scot­land, Mark knows Sir Jackie Ste­wart and asked him if the race­track leg­end could help. He said: “Jackie had a long re­la­tion­ship with Ford, so he got in touch with them and the next thing I knew I had a let­ter grant­ing us per­mis­sion from Wil­liam Clay Ford Jr, great-grand­son of

Henry Ford.”

Henry Alexan­der drove a Model T to the sum­mit of Ben Ne­vis in 1911

The statue

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