Why does the Stirling Smith Art Gallery and Museum have two sample bottles of North Sea Oil, when Stirling is quite a distance away from the North Sea? As always, the answer lies in Stirling’s geography, right at the heart of Scotland, and a crossing point of all major roads. The need for improved transport has always been a major factor in Stirling’s history, and for generations, it was a coach building town, the major company being William Kinross & Sons. 150 years ago, one of their rivals, Stevenson & Elliot of Stirling, won the commission to build a 6 horse carriage for the Viceroy of Egypt. Some of the earliest motor cars were also built in Stirling, and Stirling had the first asphalted roads in Scotland, the Trinidad and Tobago Asphalt Company setting up a plant here for that purpose.
Stirling’s reputation as a place of quality garages has always been high, and in 1974 – 75, when the first oil was drawn from the North Sea, the oil company flew Sandy Morrison of Morrison’s Garage, Whins of Milton, (established 1927) and President of the Scottish Motor Traders’ Association, to the Auk Platform to witness the historic moment. The two bottles, now in the Smith, are a souvenir of the trip and an indicator of Stirling’s importance in Scottish transport history.