Category Archive Abingdon News

Abingdon Collection goes from Strength to Strength - The Abingdon Collection

Abingdon Collection goes from Strength to Strength

This has been the best year yet for visitors to THE ABINGDON COLLECTION, with collectors, enthusiasts and tourists arriving almost every day.

The kind remarks now being made on TripAdvisor have encouraged visitors to come along and make a day of it, particularly if they are visiting the Ulster American Folk Park.

The collection is beginning to receive some very good national publicity and we have recently seen visitors coming from America, Australia, Canada and the Continent.

Irish visitors still make up the majority of our numbers and Cancer Research UK are really benefiting from the generous donations freely given.

So if you want a day out with a difference give us a call and get an experience which is unique and also has a free history lesson included.

Nick Murray – An Appreciation

Omagh lost one of it’s true characters last week with the untimely death of Nick Murray. Nick was originally from England but will always be remembered for his contribution to the life of Omagh.

When classic car enthusiasts talk of local legends then Nick was always mentioned and in his own way, he created a mini industry and reputation for classic car restoration in the West of the Province. He was a talented engineer but also an authority on old vehicles and used his knowledge to rebuild some of the best ‘nut and bolt restorations’ in the North.

With friends he would scour the Country in the 6O’s and 70’s buying abandoned old military vehicles and wrecks, bringing them home to Jail Square and then bringing them back to life. He will be best remembered in Omagh for driving around in old American Military vehicles including Jeeps and a very rare Dodge command car and he was ahead of his time in recognising the value of saving these historical vehicles.

For twenty years he drove the countryside in his beloved 1953 black MGTD and would never miss a local classic car show. With his late wife Kathy, he drove through the towns and countryside raising a smile from the public particularly with their loving dog Ben sitting on Kathy’s knee and looking over the door of the car.

When Kathy recently died, a light went out in Nick’s eyes but they are now together again. Nick Murray is remembered by many as a gifted artist, a talented mechanic and restorer and a true friend. The classic cars he leaves behind are a lasting true legacy of his life’s work and will stand the test of time. 

He restored cars for many local and distant collectors, gave advice to many, helped many and made lasting friendships throughout the world of classic cars. If you wanted to know anything about MG’s you had to see Nick Murray and he was always there to help.

The thoughts of all his friends are with his two beloved daughters at this sad time but his memory will live on in the quality of the restorations he completed over the last 50 years and when people ask ‘who restored that car for you?’, the answer will often be…

‘Nick Murray of Omagh built it’

‘Wow, he did a fantastic job.’

From Philip Faithfull and all his friends and colleagues.

Harley Ate My Gearknob - The Abingdon Collection

Harley Ate My Gearknob!

In December 2010 I was persuaded to take in a 10-week-old Beagle from the local dog pound; an unwanted Christmas present that needed a new home.

This new addition to a house, already containing two cats who hate each other, created its own form of absolute chaos. The dog was quickly named Harley, after the motorbike, and Harley the Beagle Harrier soon began to take over the house.

In the first few weeks of living with us Harley ate furniture, skirting boards, supposedly indestructible toys, and produced enough waste to make me wonder if someone was delivering ‘take out’ food to him during the night, particularly of the extremely smelly curry variety.

Anyway, that sort of sets the scene for Harley’s arrival and the next few months saw the tiny pup grow into a 30 kilogram muscle bound monster who had to be walked by my wife or myself four miles every day. It’s a great way to lose weight, and sometimes friends, but we are lucky to live in the countryside with some great long walks only a few miles from home.

Harley loves the car and I made the mistake of commenting to my wife Hazel, that Harley was always on his best behaviour when travelling in the car. Famous last words!!

Harley loves travelling in my wife’s 2002 Garnet Red MX-5 Montana – a great car that we have put over 125,000 miles on in nine years of ownership.

It was a lovely day in August when I put Harley into the passenger seat, strapped him in and prepared for a four-mile hike in the mountains. Then I got called over by my next-door neighbour and had to leave Harley for exactly three minutes alone in the car. No problem. He had never posed a threat to the MX-5 before. Why would today be any different?

It was! Looking through the front windscreen Harley had disappeared from his usual position beside the steering wheel. I approached the MX-5 with an increased sense of dread and trepidation. Had he escaped or was he simply lying down on the passenger seat bored of waiting to get into the starting blocks for his walk?

No… I could see as I slowly looked in through the window that Harley had decided that the beautiful brown wooden Nardi Torino gear knob was ripe for destruction and was at exactly the right height to fit exactly into his mouth and was an excellent teething toy for dogs.

I opened the door, almost started to cry, and watched Harley’s big brown eyes look away from me as if to say… ‘I know something’s wrong but I’m not exactly sure what the problem is here.’

The gear knob was a mass of splintered wood gauged out by huge teeth marks, part of it already swallowed and the rest lying forlornly on the floor of the car. I could have said more but my only relief was that he had not the time to eat the wooden steering wheel and handbrake handle.

Anyway, off we went in silence for the four-mile walk with me having dark thoughts about taking him off the lead, hiding behind some trees and running to the car before he missed me!

To cut a long story short I checked eBay and found a Nardi gear knob for sale on there. I bid and bought it for £35, as new.

Harley loves the MX-5 with the window down or the roof off, ears flapping in the wind.

We also have 20th anniversary MX-5 model in red, white and blue. Will he ever get into it? Only if he learns to open the door himself!!

By the way, Harley ate the mud flap off my 1986 mint Opel Manta last week. One year on, would I change him? Not a chance.

If you are visiting Northern Ireland why not visit Harley and the Abingdon Collection in Omagh, Co. Tyrone. Check out or telephone 028 8224 3373.

By Philip Faithfull from Northern Ireland.

Reprinted with permission from Soft Top Hardtop, the MX-5 OWNERS CLUB magazine.

See the original Harley Ate My Gear Knob article or visit the MX-5 Owners Club website.