|I last visited the British Motor Museum, Gaydon, Warwickshire in April 2016.
I was invited to join a group of fellow Warwickshire Record Office (owner of the Healey Motor Company archive) volunteers to visit the BMM and especially its archive facilities. The visit was organised for Tuesday 16th 2018.
There are many great car oriented museums around the World, I have been to a few of them myself; the BMM certainly ranks among the best in terms of its presentation style, facilities and friendliness/knowledge of its staff. There is one feature which some might think of as being either a weakness or a strength – it is dedicated to British made cars with a strong bias towards cars that are identified with BMC and British Leyland. Don’t go there expecting to see Ferraris, Lamborghinis or even Cadillacs but if you are interested in the history of British cars , especially Jaguars, this is the place for you.
Even better, if you are an automotive researcher, the Museum has an extensive archive of documents and photographs pertaining to the different marques that constituted the BMC and British Leyland companies.
Our visit began with a tour of the Archive facilities, our guide was Mollie and we were expertly ‘corralled’ by Liz. Mollie was a source of great knowledge as to how the archive system works and what was kept where and why. She had to field some searching (excuse the unintended pun) questions from our group and did so with aplomb. She was particularly helpful to me in guiding me to specific Austin Healey material.
On this occasion, we did not tour the exhibits in the main museum but after the tour of the Archive facilities we were taken by a guide, Dennis, straight to the Museum Collections building. This is a relatively new facility, opened about three years ago to house the Jaguar/Daimler Heritage Collection and the reserve BMM collection of cars. The Jaguar collection is on the ground floor and the ‘reserve’ collection is on a mezzanine floor. The lighting is superb, showing the cars off to their best advantage.
Dennis was an excellent, very genial, guide. I will always remember this visit for the story he told of the time he was working at Daimler’s Radford, Coventry, factory in the 1960’s: he told us of the time when management had introduce ‘day work’ payments to replace ‘piece work’ and the scams the workers got up to in order to maximise their pay. Such behaviour, lack of investment and poor management, laid the foundations for the demise of the British motor industry of the time. Fortunately lessons were learned, if a little belatedly and the U.K. once more has a motor industry to be proud of, even if most of it is foreign owned.
Here are some of the photos that I took –
The BMM ‘reserve ‘ collection