In August 2015 Warwickshire County Record Office (WCRO) announced that it was in negotiations with the late Geoffrey Healey’s family to buy the remainder of the Healey Motor Company’s (HMC) archive. To give additional publicity to the proposed purchase Sam Collenette and Rob Eyre, from the WCRO, attended the August 2015 Retro Warwick classic car show which is held annually in and around the historic County Town’s market square. I went along and introduced myself to them as someone who had been following the Healey story from a Jensen Motors perspective. I was employed as a draughtsman with Jensen in my youth.
One thing led to another and along with a number of other enthusiasts I became a Warwick Healey Motor Company Archive (WHMCA) volunteer. During 2017 I have mainly been involved in the ‘Oral History’ part of the project. This has meant me and others in the volunteer team, interviewing people who have had strong links with the Healey Motor Company either by racing its cars, working at one of the two Warwick based factories, or, having fond memories of owning one or more of these iconic cars. This has been an absolutely fascinating experience and has meant that the WHMCA is unique in having all these recorded memories on file to be used by researchers and for local educational purposes. It is a continuing programme and it is to be hoped that readers of this bulletin may wish to make their own contributions.
The WCRO took possession of the archive in 2015 although it wasn’t actually purchased until 2016. Members of staff started to sift through the many boxes of documents, drawings and artefacts. It had always been understood that an additional expert archivist would have to be employed, on a contract basis, in order to produce the archive catalogue. The man for the job was Gary Collins, who had worked with the WCRO on other industrial archives. The WHMCA catalogue was launched on Monday 22nd May 2017 at a specially organised ‘Launch Party’ attended by, amongst other notables, Mr. Peter Healey, nephew of Geoff and grandson of Donald.
At various stages during his work on the catalogue Gary had published a ‘blog’ on the Warwickshire Heritage & Culture website. The purpose of the blog was to inform visitors to the website about the progress being made in producing the catalogue. He also inserted photographs taken from the archive, asking if readers could help to identify them. Gary’s contract, which had been extended several times, came to an end in July 2017. I put it to Rob Eyre, the WCRO’s senior archivist and the man that has been overseeing the HMC archive project, that it would be a pity for Gary’s blog to stop; it was the one tangible element of the archive which kept it in the public’s or at least Healey enthusiasts’ eye. Rob agreed and asked if I would volunteer to host the blog or bulletin, as I will call it, on my website – carsceneinternational.com I have already posted a number of articles in support of the WHMCA on my website in the past so there is a certain logic in me continuing the blog/bulletin.
The key word is ‘volunteer’, the WCRO is a non profit making organisation, it is a department of the Warwickshire County Council and exists to provide a service, first and foremost, to the people of Warwickshire. The money to pay for Gary’s time came from the Heritage lottery fund and other similar funds plus donations from the public. There is no money available to fund a professional ‘blogger’. I enjoy this type of work and am supported by the Peugeot Motor Company, via my pension, I am therefore happy to help out.
Observations on the WHMC Archive Catalogue
Soon after the catalogue was launched I accessed it on the internet. My first thoughts were “very interesting and surprisingly comprehensive in terms of the subjects covered”.
However, in preparing for the launch of this bulletin I have gone beyond the first level topic headings and delved into the meat of the archive catalogue. My thoughts now are “what an Aladdin’s Cave of information there is on the Healey Motor Co., its people, its cars and its history”.
I have been overwhelmed by the depth of all the information contained in the archive that has been assiduously catalogued by the WCRO.
I am not an expert on all things Healey, no where near in fact; I see my role as that of a facilitator, someone who can bring the treasures of the WHMCA to Healey enthusiasts in particular, via this bulletin. Some, probably the majority, will be happy to have these items revealed in a transitory moment of delight. Others will have their appetites for knowledge about all things Healey, Austin Healey and Jensen Healey, whetted and will want to conduct further research, first into the catalogue and then into the archive itself. The catalogue can be viewed ‘online’ of course but to see the actual items to which the catalogue refers means a trip to the Warwickshire County Records Office or employing an agent to do that research work on their behalf. Whatever, to all Healey enthusiasts, this is exciting stuff.
There are a number of significant archives of Healey memorabilia in various parts of the Globe, some, like the WHMCA and the archive held by the Healey Museum in The Netherlands are readily accessible, by appointment, to interested parties. Others are in the possession of private individuals. But I confident in saying that only the Warwick Healey Motor Company Archive (WHMCA) has been professionally catalogued, to an accepted National Standard, with a catalogue that can viewed via the internet.
** Items so marked are from the Warwick Healey Motor Company Archive held at Warwickshire County Record Office. See ‘The legal stuff’ below.
Get in touch –
If you have information on the Healey Westland GWD 43 (see above) or other Healey Motor Company related information you wish to share with readers of this bulletin, then please send an email to – firstname.lastname@example.org
Gateway to the Healey Archive Catalogue –
This will take you to Gary’s previous blogs. To get to the ‘Catalogue’ click on ‘Warwick Healey Archive Bulletin’ that will take you to another page at the bottom of which is a link to the WHMCA ‘online’ Catalogue.
To see other ‘Healey’ related posts on the Carsceneinternational.com website click on this image –
The ‘legal’ stuff
- The content in these WHMCA bulletins is subject to statutory copyright law. Nothing must be used or copied from them without the written permission of the author and publisher (one and the same).
- Content will comprise of items from several sources. Those items sourced from the Warwick Healey Motor Company archive and or other files owned by the Warwickshire County Record Office have been vetted by authorised members of staff of that organisation before being allowed to appear in WHMCA Bulletins. These items are credited on the website as ‘Part of the Warwick Healey Motor Company Archive held at Warwickshire County Record Office.’ If you want to reproduce any item from their collection, you will need to contact them for permission, quoting the image reference number. Details of how to do this can be found here:
ov.uk/warwickshire-county-reco rd-office/county-record-office -access-to-information/county- record-office-copyright/
- To protect the originals’ copyright and authenticity, documents and photographs etc., sourced from the WCRO and shown in the WHMCA Bulletins, will not be replicated in their entirety. It is intended that there will be sufficient detail to make them interesting to visitors to this website. Copies of the originals may be purchased from the WCRO, subject to that organisation’s terms and conditions.
- Images may also be enhanced for reproduction on this website, therefore their appearance, on a computer screen or a mobile device, may differ to that of the original.
- Save for the authorisation of the publication of Warwick Healey Motor Company Archive material described above, this website is entirely independent of the Warwickshire Country Record Office. Views expressed in the WHMCA bulletins are not necessarily views that the WCRO agrees with. The WCRO or the Warwickshire County Council will not be held liable for any views or material appearing in the said bulletins unless it is clear that they are attributable.
- We (this website and the WCRO) operate a ‘take down’ policy in respect to any complaint we receive about a copyright issue in connection with any images featuring in WHMCA Bulletins. This means that images which are the subject of such complaints will be removed immediately until the complaint is resolved.