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An old favourite is back on display

An old favourite is back on display

A much-loved car from the old Hawke’s Bay Museum is now in place in its new home at MTG Hawke’s Bay.

The blue Darracq Car made in 1903 in Paris, France and gifted to the Hawke’s Bay Museums Trust by Mr James Nelson in 1990, now resides in a new location in the MTG Century Foyer.

MTG staff moved the car from its offsite location to MTG last week.

The Darracq has some interesting connections to Hawke’s Bay says Curator of Social History, Eloise Wallace.

The car was originally purchased by Mr Heathcote Beetham Williams (known as HB) of Gisborne in 1907. In later life Mr Williams, in partnership with Robert Kerridge owned theatres throughout New Zealand, including the recently demolished Odeon in Hastings Street, Napier.

The car was sold to his sister and brother-in-law, Winifred and Francis (Frank) Nelson of Havelock North in 1909 and remained in the Nelson family until 1990, when it was gifted to the Hawke’s Bay Museums Trust.

People who have visited the MTG and exhibition may recognise the name Nelson. The Nelson Malden Family has had a long term association with the Museum, with a MTG first floor gallery and former galleries in Hawke’s Bay Museum & Art Gallery named after the family.

Visitors to our most recent exhibition Dr Felkin and The Forerunners: Visions of Utopia, 1900-1930 can also find out about Ruth Nelson the daughter of Francis and Winfield Nelson.

Ruth a student and then member of the Woodford House Art department, was a second generation of the Havelock Work art, craft and performing group. In the late 1920’s she carved the alter in the Woodford House school chapel, and with her lifelong friend Edna Burbury, built Taruna, a centre for Steiner’s school of anthroposophy on the hills of Havelock North, which continues to operate today.

Ruth would have travelled many a time in the car with her sister Gwen and brother James who donated the car.

In 1904 a Darracq set a new land speed record of 104.53mph (167km/h) at Ostend in Belgium. The resulting publicity saw Darracqs being sold around the world. Imported into New Zealand by the firm Skeates and Bockaert Ltd, they went on to become a popular automobile choice in New Zealand over the next few years.

“It’s fantastic to have the museum’s Darracq back on display. At 111 years old this year, this car was one of the earliest automobiles purchased in the region and is a beautifully preserved reminder of the early days of motoring in Hawke’s Bay, Ms Wallace said.


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