100 years in the making! How a Shed and their Skeoch car are transforming lives

Dalbeattie is a small Scottish rural town, a stone’s throw from Dumfries. 4300 people and an estimated 23 people per hundred square kilometres, it’s socially deprived in many ways no fire engine, no swimming baths, no police station, no banks…

In February two years ago, a small Dalbeattie Men’s Shed embarked on a challenging and hugely ambitious project – replicating a functional Skeoch Car based on 100 -year-old designs!

The designs were based on the blueprints of an innovative 1920s inventor named James Baird Skeoch. His designs targeted the budget motor car market, aiming to make a“reliable and economical small car” using motorcycle parts.

the blueprints of an innovative 1920s inventor named James Baird Skeoch

Tragically, James Skeoch’s dream of manufacturing this exciting new line of cars ended abruptly when a fire decimated Burnside Motor Works in Dalbeattie in December of 1921…

In February of 2018 Dalbeattie Men’s Shed took on the challenge to revive Skeoch’s car. “a replica car in the town where it all began almost a century ago and where it dramatically ended so soon after”.

Tragically, James Skeoch’s dream ended when a fire decimated Burnside Motor Works in Dalbeattie…

Their journey has seen them raise up to £20 000 through commissions and donations from locals alone. The project has raised community spirit a source of great pride for the Town of Dalbeattie. In particular, one man’s story captured our hearts and minds, demonstrating the power of Men’s Sheds to transform lives.

Their journey has seen them raise up to £20 000 through commissions and donations from locals alone.

UK Men’s Sheds caught up with Dalbeattie Shed’s Geoff Allison to learn more.

“About one year into the project we were designing the front axle and wondered if early Austin 7 parts could play a part. We knew of a retired Dalbeattie garage owner, Tom Parker who lived nearby.

Geoff on the wheel!

He kept an Austin 7 Special which he had built. Tom was suffering from advanced Parkinson’s, he was quite isolated and housebound he couldn’t walk far.

It was when we took the drawings along and showed him what we were doing, that he perked up suddenly. He was interested in our plans and let us measure up his Austin’s front geometry.

Tom visited our Shed in January 2019 to see our Skeoch project and became a regular thereafter. Tom’s knowledge, experience and contacts were welcomed by the Skeoch team, the pace on the project picked up to stretch our funds and resources. This not only enthused the team but had a profoundly beneficial effect on Tom’s mobility and wellbeing too.

Early in 2020 the Skeoch rolling chassis, the engine and transmission were essentially complete, we had procured tools and materials to start on the coachwork when Tom’s health took a turn for the worse. The project slowed down, then in March stopped as COVID lockdown hit the Shed. Tom got home from the hospital, but his recovery was slow, his spirit dampened.

We decided to relocate the Car, along with essential tools and materials to one of Tom’s garages so that he and a few socially distanced Shedders could work on the project as therapy.  This has been immensely successful – the project is now ahead of plan, and Tom has regained his mojo.”

UK Men’s Sheds caught up with Tom, who was upbeat about how Sheds keep him active and give him a reason to leave the house, of his new Shedder comrades he tells us “They’re very helpful they look out for me, they make sure I’m okay.”

Work on the Skeoch is expected completed soon, keep watching this space! In the meantime click the links below for a deeper dive into all things Skeoch.

Listen to Geoff Alison talking about Tom’s journey with the Shedders Dalbeattie ps. there may be a short delay as it loads up.

Click to Watch the Skeoch in Action!

Learn more about the Skeoch at https://dalbeattiemensshed.co.uk/skeoch



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