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British Industrial History

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Henry Alexander: Ben Nevis

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Note: This is a sub-section of Henry Alexander

In 1911 Henry Alexander drove a Ford Model T to the top of Ben Nevis. They found a moorland route to Halfway House and then continued up the zig-zag path which is now the main walking route to the top. Each night the car was left on the mountain and the party of some twenty persons returned to base.

1911 May. Article with details.[1]


1911 May 08th. (Mon). Demonstrated car at Fort William. Aborted attempt from behind the Distillery but can became bogged down.

1911 May 09th. (Tue). Began ascent in Glen Domhanaid, one-mile east of Torlundy and reached 1,400 feet, short of Halfway House.

1911 May 10th. (Wed). Reached Halfway House.

1911 May 11th. (Thu). Reached 2,900 feet.

1911 May 12th. (Fri). Reached the snow line.

1911 May 13th. (Sat). Reached the Summit and remained there for four days for the arrival of the reporters.

1911 May 17th. (Wed). Descended to Halfway House

1911 May 18th. (Thu). Arrived in Fort William at 1pm.

1911/05/16 Dundee Courier.[2]

When wiseacres prophesied that the attempt to reach the summit of Ben Nevis by motor car could only end in failure they reckoned without the man at the wheel.

For the past week Mr Henry Alexander, with his Ford touring car of 20 horse-power, has been prospecting on the mountain for a track which could accomplish the object of scaling Britain's premier height by motor, and yesterday his energy was crowned with success.

Through the courtesy of P. L. Perry, general manager in Britain for the Ford Car Co., large company of London and provincial pressmen, pictorial artists, photographers, cinematographers, and others ascended Ben Nevis on pony back witness the car which had been taken the summit negotiating the descent of the mountain. Top snow still lies to depth of ten feet, and the sight of an automobile alongside the dismantled observatory appeared somewhat incongruous.

To watch the car, steered by Mr Alexander, surmounting all difficulties of snow, boulders, and swamps was an education even to the initiated, and the feat was one which will rank high in the annals of automobilism. the descent was proceeded with the services of the cinematograph men were called into requisition, and the resultant films should prove interesting to any audience.

The vagaries of acute angles of the track were negotiated with apparent ease, although at times Mr Alexander thought nothing of running his motor on to the porphry-strewn slopes, and the engine was all times under the most complete control.

Descending to an altitude of 2,000 feet the car was left for the night, and the company journeyed to Fort-William, where they dined.

The route taken by the car in making the ascent was traversed by the party on the upward journey.

See Also


Sources of Information

  1. The Autocar 1911/05/27
  2. Dundee Courier - Thursday 18 May 1911
  • The Ford Model T Register of Great Britain