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Photograph of the hall
Photograph of the hall

Paving the way for new exhibition space

The Halkirk Heritage and Vintage Vehicle Society was established by enthusiasts in Halkirk in 2006 to preserve the character and history of vintage motors and associated memorabilia.

The group carries out several regular activities such as an annual summer exhibition which enables the school children and the wider community to learn about and experience the customs and history of the local area, community quizzes, raffles, coffee mornings and reminiscence afternoons. The purpose of these events is to keep people engaged in the history of Halkirk and offer a valuable socialising opportunity for like-minded people.

However, the Society has been working on a large-scale capital project ambition to establish a designated space to exhibit memorabilia. Initially, a new build was assumed to be the way forward. However, a Committee member identified the Old School as a potentially suitable solution, and a proposal was drawn up to take this into community ownership. The Old School House, on Sinclair Street, Halkirk and associated land was transferred to the Society members in 2017. 

Since then, progress has been steady. A new steel shed has been erected adjacent to the Old School, which will house the vehicles being exhibited while the School House will exhibit other memorabilia. There is a list of around 100 vintage vehicles that will be loaned for the purpose, and these will be rotated as necessary to keep the exhibitions fresh. 

The Achlachan Wind Farm Community Fund made a small but significant award in February 2020 of £2,097.83 to seal and paint the concrete floors in the newly built steel building and the old gymnasium, now part of the heritage and vintage motor centre. Whilst concrete already provides a durable floor surface, painting it with the correct paint can lengthen its life and reduce its maintenance. It is also easier to keep clean than bare concrete as it will absorb fewer stains, for example, if there were an oil spill. As the areas in question were being designated to house vintage vehicles, this project seemed like a sensible next step for the centre.  

Once opened, memorabilia will be on display which people from across Caithness can visit, and people who are happy to have their private items on display will have an outlet for this. Additionally, the Village of Halkirk will benefit from a currently disused building being brought back into public use, 

The Committee has celebrated the award with a poster on-site detailing the work which the fund has supported. Despite the award being made immediately before the March 2020 lockdown, the Committee has progressed the work. One of the Society members purchased the materials and arranged for her work 'bubble' to paint the floor over a few weeks, allowing the first coat to dry before adding a second coat.  

Committee Member Jane Mowat said

“The Society are still working on finishing the refurbishment of the Old School which will allow it to open to the public with a vintage motor display and associated memorabilia as well displays of the local heritage of Halkirk.  The painting of the concrete floor which will house the vehicle display will enable it to withstand any possible leak of fluid from vehicles. The grant has meant a significant step towards the setting up of the vintage vehicle display as now that the floor has been sealed and painted the Society can move forward with their plans. The grant towards the floor painting will have a lasting benefit for locals/visitors and the next generation of Society members.”

To find out more about the Halkirk Heritage and Vintage Motor Centre, visit their Facebook page.