You may have seen some of the magnificent cars of The Cognoscenti featured in the press over the past couple of months.One of the smaller articles appeared in the Dundee Courier just after Christmas and focused on our collaboration with Charles Palmer and his staff at Classic Restorations in Alyth, Perthshire. Whilst the piece was a generous article both in terms of size and outlook, we didn’t think a great deal more about it until about three weeks afterwards when we were approached by The Scottish Office to discuss the possibility of hosting a visit to Classic Restorations by The Secretary of State for Scotland, Michael Moore. Would we be interested? Who would he meet? What would he see?
Despite making a point of our political neutrality, we were naturally keen to meet with Mr Moore to explain more about The Cognoscenti and our long term plans. We approached Charles Palmer who was equally enthusiastic and confirmed his willingness to be involved.
Forward several weeks to a freezing yet bright Monday morning in mid-March. Mr Moore arrived with his team of four in the ministerial Volvo to be met by The Cognoscenti co-founder Raymond Gray. Fellow founder David Goodwin had a pre-arranged appointment in Barbados and couldn’t be there, much to his annoyance… Ray, beautifully attired in bespoke country wear kindly supplied by our latest partner Brook Taverner, made all the initial introductions to Stewart Reid, Classic Restoration’s General Manager. Stewart would, along with Ray take Moore around the workshops and be given an explanation of the various current projects and the type of work Classic Restorations carry out.
The Secretary of State was very keen to hear about Palmer’s policy of passing on the traditional restoration skills to future generations through his successful apprenticeship scheme. He wanted to meet the three current apprentices and hear their stories. Stewart Reid introduced Gordon Ford who had taken the morning off school for the event as he wasn’t due to start his apprenticeship until after the Easter holidays! Ewan Mitchell and David Ramsay were the two other apprentices to be introduced. It’s fair to say that all three were extremely impressive and came across as having a great deal of enthusiasm and knowledge of classic cars.
Stewart Reid then took Moore through the various departments – bodyshop, upholstery shop, engineering, electrics and paintshop explaining the various processes and skills along the way.
Mr Moore chatted to more seasoned staff through his trip including Frank Bell, now into his forties, who has worked at Classic Restorations since leaving school.
Ray had ample opportunities to chat with Moore throughout his visit. He was equally as enthusiastic to hear about The Cognoscenti and our plans to showcase Scotland to the world through the medium of prestigious classic cars. His only regret was that he won’t be able to join us for the (sell out) lunch at Drummond Castle this Sunday – maybe another time!
Also at the Classic Restorations visit was Martyn Hollingworth, the newest member of the Cognoscenti team. Martyn is a freelance news and documentary cameraman who has interviewed some of the biggest names in the country during his long career at Sky TV. Despite a dislocated knee, Martyn was able to film our day in Alyth which can be viewed on our Youtube Channel. Not only will Martyn be making a welcome return to The Cognoscenti on Sunday, but we will also be joined by Dougie Vipond and the production team from the BBC rural affairs programme, Landward. Once the day is in the can, we’ll give you all plenty of chance to set the videos as soon as we know when it will be transmitted. We also aim to have Martyn’s short film available for download early next week, so please keep an eye on this site and our YouTube channel.
Other news hot off the press! We will shortly announce details of our first ever overnight tour when we aim to take a leisurely drive through some of Scotland’s most stunning scenery when we will be heading for the Highlands. Watch this space for details!