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The Day the Queen Came to Town
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The Day the Queen Came to Town

To mark the completion of the chassis of the 1948 Royal Daimler, the National Museum of Australia held an advance screening of the yet to be released  movie The Day the Queen Came to Town.

The completion of the chassis is a milestone in the restoration for the museum’s modest 36 bhp, six metre long, and four tonne 1948 Royal Daimler Landaulette.   Purchased in 2009 from a South Australian owner the vehicle had passed through a number of hands and was in a dilapidated state but complete condition when the museum took possession of it.

The Royal Daimler Project restoration started in 2012 under the supervision of Canberra motor engineer, Ian Stewart, who started working first two days a week but this soon became a five day a week passion.  Work has now started on the body.

Total cost of the restoration is $300 000 and the museum is seeking a public contribution of $60 000, of which they have raised $45 000 and need the remaining $15 000 by the end of July 2014.

The Daimler was one of a four vehicles purchased by the Australian Government for a planned visit by King George VI but he fell ill and the tour was cancelled.

The vehicles was not used until the newly crowned  Queen  Elizabeth II and her husband Prince Phillip, toured all the Commonwealth countries including Canada, Tonga, Fiji, New Zealand and Australia  In 1954. The Australian section of the tour took in all state and territory capitals, 97 rural and regional centres. The Queen inspected coal mines, steel works, opened eight Parliaments and brought 100 dresses with her.

Around the same time as the restoration of the Daimler started a film production company found in a parcel of British Pathe Newsreels of the Royal Tour footage of the South Pacific shot in Technicolor. Naturally the Daimler featured quite frequently in the Australian section of the tour.

The film production company interviewed around 100 people from around the country who were present 60 years ago, when the queen visited their city/ town, and obtained, on camera their memories of the day. The film is due for release later in 2014. 

The Museum is inviting people to get on board the Royal Daimler Project to help preserve this grand old car for future generations.

Visit nma.gov.au/Daimler doorknock to make a donation.

Graham Gittins