A still from the British Film Institute movie of the Model T Ford on Ben Nevis

A still from the British Film Institute movie of the Model T Ford on Ben Nevis

Britain’s official film charity has unearthed footage of the remarkable journey of a vintage car down the UK’s highest mountain.

The five-minute film of the 1911 publicity stunt by Edinburgh Ford dealer Henry Alexander driving a Model T down Ben Nevis is available to view on the British Film Institute’s website.

The silent black-and-white film shows the early automobile pioneer making his journey across the snow-capped 1,344m (4,409ft) mountain summit, in the company of a crowd of tweed-clad supporters and numerous ponies, presumably used to get the car to the top of the Lochaber mountain.

The whole venture took more than two weeks, with 10 days spent getting the vehicle to the summit and six days driving it down, in a stunt to demonstrate the mass-produced car’s ruggedness.

The Model T in the film is equipped with chains on its slender wheels, which help it plough though snow and then bogs lower down, though Alexander’s supporters are seen dynamiting a peat hag at one point to ease the route, a practice of which the John Muir Trust, owners of most of the mountain today, would undoubtedly disapprove.

Model T owner Neil Tuckett, left, and JMT chair John Hutchison in a Model T during the  the 2011 commemoration on the summit

Model T owner Neil Tuckett, left, and JMT chair John Hutchison in a Model T during the the 2011 commemoration on the summit

The 1911 event was commemorated in 2011 when 60 volunteers carried a Model T to Ben Nevis’s summit for it to be reassembled, minus its engine, on the summit. The original plan was to push the veteran car up the tourist track, or airlift the vehicle in by helicopter, but the John Muir Trust vetoed the idea on environmental grounds.

The car’s owner Neil Tuckett of Buckinghamshire put the car back together next to the ruined observatory, to mark Henry Alexander’s feat, which is shown in the BFI footage.

The 2011 ascent formed part of the week-long Ben Nevis Centenary Tour organised by the Model T Ford Register of Great Britain.

The summit of Ben Nevis has been a magnet for several oddities, including a piano unearthed by JMT volunteers in a cairn and a wheelchair found buried on the zigzag path leading to the summit. Glasgow University medical students also pushed a bed to the top, accompanied part-way by the late newscaster Reginald Bosanquet.

The 1911 film can be seen on the BFI’s Britain on Film website.

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