Friday 17th March, at the British Motor Museum, saw the cumulation of four years of work on the Broadspeed Collection for David Harris. It is a very long story that I will not go into here but the key elements are –
- Both Ralph Broad, founder of ‘Broadspeed’ and David had retired to the Algarve, Ralph in the 1980s and David in 2007, that is where they met. Ralph, together with fellow ex-pats Ted Eves and Alex Wilson had formed a car club called the ‘Monday Club’ because it met on the first Monday of every month. David joined this club.
- Ralph died in 2010 leaving a collection of Broadspeed Memorabilia (trophies, cups, photographs etc.) plus his unpublished autobiography. The person to whom Ralph had left these items asked David for advice and assistance as to what to do with this material.
- David, being a car enthusiast himself and cognisant of the esteem in which Ralph Broad and ‘Broadspeed’ was held due to their saloon car racing successes of the 1960s thru’ the 80s, was happy to take on this responsibility.
- But as with all such tasks, it wasn’t easy, one of the first and most difficult jobs was moving the Collection from Portugal to England. There were a number of false moves, involving the Silverstone Museum, on the way. However, as soon as David started talking to Stephen Laing, Head of Collections at the British Motor Museum, his path became much clearer. Stephen’s innate enthusiasm for British car history and the Museum’s fantastic facilities were harnessed in order for the Broadspeed Collection to be revealed to invited guests on Friday 17 March 2023.
What follows is a summary of that presentation –
Guests gathered in the Museum’s Lecture Room No. 2 at 11.00 am. They were warmly greeted by Museum Curator Cat Boxall and her assistant Amy Forster-Smith. There was a refreshment table where coffee, tea or orange juice was available. The number of guests attending exceeded expectations with more than forty present. The majority were previous employees of Broadspeed when it was based in Southam, Warwickshire. Both David and I were particularly pleased to see Alex Broad there. Alex is the son of Ralph’s brother, Eric and still lives in Birmingham where the family originally came from.
At 11.30 am we were invited to take our seats for Stephen Laing to give an overview of how David had brought the Collection to the Museum and how it had been received with enthusiasm. Stephen was followed by Keith Fell, a former Broadspeed employee, who gave a brief insight into what it was like to work for the meticulous and deeply focused Ralph Broad. We were then free to continue looking at the memorabilia and engage in many stimulating conversations. I certainly did, I met some very interesting people with very diverse backgrounds. I look forward to following up on some of the connections made.
So, well done David for sticking with it, you must have been delighted with the outcome. As I intimated earlier, I hope that this is just the start of giving Ralph Broad and Broadspeed the proper recognition his and his team’s successes deserve.
Here are some photos of the memorabilia on display and other aspects of the day –
** This photo baffled me at first, I couldn’t identify the car and yet I should have done given my association with the Warwick Healey Archive in recent years. My excuse is that I would not expect to see this photograph in the Broadspeed Collection. I have done some research and although I haven’t found a direct contact with this car, I have discovered a collaboration between Healey and Broadspeed on another, later, car. I have written about that in the ‘Broadspeed Summary‘ section.
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