1 February 2018back

Grampian Transport Museum Trust & Norco Energy Ltd

It’s Electric!
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Celebrating the work of a great engineering pioneer

The project

Part of Grampian Transport Museum’s ‘It’s Electric!’ exhibition during 2018/19, the sponsored project involved making full-sized working replicas of Robert Davidson’s battery and reluctance motor of 1837. Researched and manufactured by the Museum’s own engineering volunteers with specialist help from Norco Energy, TDC and Whittaker Engineering of Aberdeen, the replicas provided a critical historical aspect to the exhibition that recognized and celebrated Davidson as a great engineering pioneer.

Grampian Transport Museum Trust & Norco Energy Ltd

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Norco Energy’s financial contribution, match funded by CBFS enabled the project team to purchase rare materials for complete historical accuracy, including Swedish pure iron and cotton-insulated wire. And there is no doubt that this support encouraged the involvement of both TDC and Whittakers, who enthusiastically contributed skilled precision engineering expertise and materials as sponsorship in kind.

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The partnership

Norco Energy Ltd not only shared Grampian Transport Museum’s enthusiasm for the project but also saw the work of Robert Davidson as directly relevant to them. Robertson was a notable Scottish inventor, and a lifelong resident of Aberdeen, who built the first-known electric locomotive in 1837, at the age of just 33. Norco Energy Ltd – headquartered in Aberdeen but operating internationally through the UK, Europe and the Middle East – are specialists in stored electrical energy systems, supplying and managing fleets of industrial traction batteries such as forklifts and electric vehicles.

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The partnership offered clear benefits to the Museum, allowing them to raise awareness of the role of Aberdeen in the introduction of electric traction in 1839. Initially, the Museum had considered approaching Norco for specialist help and support, but with the opportunity to tap into CBFS match funding, were inspired to ask for financial support too. From Norco’s perspective, their role as business sponsor allowed them to publicly share their pride in the engineering heritage of this area of Scotland, reaching new audiences beyond their traditional customer base.

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The impact

Grampian Transport Museum estimate that the project reached around 500,000 people during the course of the exhibition with 29,800 directly engaged. As well as receiving good coverage in specialist magazines such as Old Glory and Vintage Spirit, the exhibition was also covered in local and national press, through STV and also via BBC Radio, Waves Radio and Northsound Radio.

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“The partnership between Norco Energy and Grampian Transport Museum not only unlocked funding but also cooperation, enthusiasm and wider engagement with industry, in the interests of the Aberdeenshire community and visitors to the area. Ultimately, it has helped to lift the veil on the work of Robert Davidson, which is now fully documented and understood by a much wider world community of historians of technology.”

Mike Ward, Grampian Transport Museum Trust

“The partnership helped to raise interest in our work and our staff enjoyed putting battery technology into a local historical context.”

Len Robertson, Norco Energy Ltd