Triple Formula One champion Sir Jackie Stewart OBE officially opened the new Jim Clark Motorsport Museum in Duns yesterday (Thursday).
Following a tour of the premises, Sir Jackie unveiled a plaque to mark the occasion and took part in a Q&A session with other invited guests, including fellow patron of the Jim Clark Trust and three-time Le Mans winner, Allan McNish.
Sir Jackie said: “I would like to congratulate everybody who is responsible for being able to bring together enough money to do something as nice as this. Really, you should all be very proud of it and I think a lot more folk are going to come to Duns to see it.
“Because this goes round the world: Formula One is a global sport and, therefore, anybody who knows anything about it knows the name Jim Clark, so I think you are going to attract all those people because it is so well done – it is beautiful.
“I think you are going to have a great success from it. I’m sure everybody in Scotland will be pleased they have something as important as this in the Scottish Borders.”
Sir Jackie added: “When Jim Clark was racing, he was my hero and forever will be. He was certainly the best racing driver I ever raced against. We had a great life together and he was an enormous help to me and taught me so much about the business. The manner in which he drove racing cars was just different to everybody else, so I had somebody very good to learn from.”
The museum, which opened to the public in mid-July, has already welcomed more than 5000 visitors in that time. It honours and charts the life and racing career of the Scottish Borders farmer and double Formula One World Champion Jim Clark, a close friend of Sir Jackie.
Doug Niven, cousin of Jim Clark and trustee of the Jim Clark Trust, added: “Sir Jackie has given the museum and the redevelopment project a huge amount of support and encouragement over many years and I was delighted to show him round the finished product and see his reaction.
“The official opening was an opportunity to thank all those people, from across Scotland and the rest of the world who backed this project, financially and with contributions to the new exhibitions. It was particularly pleasing to see so many people here who had a close connection to Jim, either through racing or his life here in Berwickshire.”
Funding for the £1.6million partnership project has come from Scottish Borders Council, the National Lottery Heritage Fund, Museums Galleries Scotland and the Jim Clark Trust, the latter including a grant from the Fallago Environment Fund and individual donations from around the world.
Euan Jardine, Scottish Borders Council’s executive member for culture and sport, said: “Today’s event marked the culmination of the efforts of so many people from various organisations over a significant period of time.
“Having Sir Jackie here, along with other Jim Clark Trust patrons, Jim’s family, friends and racing compatriots, was fitting not only to officially unveil this outstanding new museum but also reflect on Jim’s enduring legacy and the inspiration he has provided, and continues to do so, to so many people.”
The museum, operated by charity Live Borders, includes two of Jim Clark’s race cars, new image galleries, film footage, interactive displays and a simulator. There is also expanded exhibition space showcasing memorabilia and the trophy collection.
The facility was designed by SBC’s architects and delivered by local company James Swinton and Co, with many local sub-contractors also supported.
Ewan Jackson, chief executive officer of charity Live Borders, said: “We are absolutely honoured that Sir Jackie made the special trip to Duns to to see the new museum and carry out the official opening.
“The visitor numbers and the feedback from them has been fantastic and we look forward to welcoming many more visitors, from near and far, to this must-visit attraction.”
Adult admission to the Jim Clark Motorsport Museum costs just £5, with visitors able to return as often as they like for free for the following 12 months. There is a small additional cost for the simulator. For more information, visit www.jcmm.org.uk
Jim Clark won the Formula One championship in 1963, becoming the then youngest ever World Champion. He followed it up with victory again in 1965 and in the same year won the prestigious Indianapolis 500 in America. He remains the only driver to have won both the Formula One and Indy 500 titles in the same year.
Clark tragically died at Hockenheim in Germany in 1968, at the age of just 32. He was much admired for his modesty and humility alongside his remarkable natural ability in all forms of motor racing. He is still considered one of the greatest ever racing drivers and remains to this day one of Scotland’s most admired sporting heroes.
VisitScotland director of industry and destination development, Riddell Graham, said: “The opening of the Jim Clark Motorsport Museum is a fantastic addition to the region’s tourism offering, propelling the Scottish Borders into the spotlight and helping to attract new visitors and a destination and customer experience worth talking about.
“The museum celebrates the life of one of the greatest racing drivers of all time and we hope people young and old will feel inspired to visit, stay and explore the region where he lived.
“Scotland’s reputation as a quality destination relies on continued investment to ensure current provision meets future demand. Tourism is leading economic transformation in the south of Scotland – an area which has everything our visitors seek in abundance.”
Riona McMorrow, acting head of the National Lottery Heritage Fund Scotland, said: “Thanks to players of the National Lottery, Jim Clark now has a visitor attraction worthy of its his sporting greatness.
“The museum will be a huge boost for the Borders’ tourist ecomony, attracting motorsport enthusiasts from from across the globe and inspiring future generations, as they follow the story of a tractor driver who became the greatest Formula 1 racing driver of his time.”
The Jim Clark Motorsport Museum is open Monday to Saturday (closed Wednesday) 10am-4.30pm, and Sunday 1pm-4.30pm.