The Bass Museum

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The Bass Museum at Burton-upon-Trent was opened on July 16th by Sir Alan Walker, President of the Bass Charrington Group, to commemorate their 200 years of brewing. This compact but all-embracing museum is situated in an 1866 building within the Bass brewery at Horninglow Street. It tells of the history of brewing from the earliest days, and how the various brewing processes operate. The brewing at Burton Abbey, the importance of Burton well-water, the importance of the Trent Navigation and the Trent and Mersey canal to the Industry, the Baltic Trade, East India Pale Ale and the Indian market, the coming of the railways and then road transport, all are depicted. The developments in brewing, up to present-day techniques, pubs and advertising through the ages, the remarkable social life of the Company, including organised employees’ holidays from 1865 involving closing the entire rail-network from Burton and Liverpool, to various coastal resorts (Bass had a substantial railway investment), etc., are all well covered.

Although beer, along with any alcoholic drink, must be sensibly allied to driving, so many motorists, especially the vintage fraternity, enjoy the brew, that this Bass Museum should prove a rewarding place to visit. It is open seven days a week (10.30-4.30 weekdays, 11-5 at weekends and on Bank Holidays) admission costing 30p for each adult (which includes a pint of Bass), and 15p for each child. On weekdays parties can also be taken on a tour of the brewery (phone Burton 45301).

Museum exhibits include some transport items. Thus there is a Bass Daimler “bottlevan”, soon to be joined by one on loan to the NMM. I was told that five of these were made from 1923-25, four on 30 h.p. sleeve-valve Daimler chassis, one on a Rolls-Royce chassis. The former cost £1,300 each and were used to convey advertising material from Burton as far afield as Scotland, etc. The bodies are of 3/8-in. boiler-plate. The example now on show is London-registered and has been repainted in 1923 livery, with the correct HM King George V “White Shield” Bass labels. It is on Dunlop 7.00 x 21 tyres. Repairs and repainting were done by A. G. S. Coachworks, the sign-writing by Slynns signs. The barrel-body exposes the gearbox, transmission brake, propshaft and underslung worm back-axle; rear suspension is 3/4-elliptic. Other such exhibits are a 1920s Sentinel steam dray, still steamed but at present suffering from a cracked cylinder, horse and motor fire-engines, a horse-dray, and a 1902 Neilson 0-4-0 loco, No. 9 on the Bass fleet, which was in use into the 1960s, on the 17 miles of railway within the Bass factories, which opened in 1839. It is attached to a Director’s coach and is standing in a typical 19th-century cask loading-bay. The level-crossing gates guarding it were in use in Burton High street up to 1963 and the rotating-arm signal is a relic of the Midland system before that railway went over to drop-signals, Bass never altering theirs. A Robey compound steam-engine is to be added, housed in the very building where for years a single-acting steam-engine drove the machinery housed in what is now the Museum building, by means of an unbelievably long underground shaft, huge exposed bevel-gears, and overhead pulleys and belting. A late-Victorian miniature brewery will also soon be shown, of the kind that had a 5-barrels’ capacity and was used to make sample brews. A tasteful shop, restaurant, etc. are part of this Bass Museum building.—W.B.

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Another Anniversary

Following on the excellent idea of the Ulster Vintage CC, to celebrate the Golden Jubilee of the Ulster TT race in August 1978 (page 674, June Motor Sport)— and we hear that encouraging support is coming in, including the offer from Anthony Blight to take over four Team Talbots—the Vintage SCC of Australia and the Phillip Island ARC propose to celebrate, next March, the 50th anniversary of the first Australian Grand Prix. This race was run over the 6 1/2-mile public-road Phillip Island circuit from 1928 to 1935. The celebrations are to include demonstration runs over the original course on Saturday March 11th, by surviving AGP cars, those of similar type, and cars of the pre-1936 era. Drivers and mechanics from that era are invited to ride in these cars, and pre-war motorcycles will also take part. Following a dinner at Cowes, an all-vintage/historic race-meeting will be held at the modern 3-mile Phillip Island circuit on the Sunday, featuring a 10-lap race and supporting 4-lap races. This course is 130 km. NE of Melbourne. The Monday is a public holiday. It would be nice if some VSCC members and their British supporters flew out for the occasion.

The VSCC of A honestly stating that in 1928 the race was, in fact, called the “100-Mile Road Race” and not the AGP, and that in 1937 this race, held on Boxing Day 1936 anyway, was called the “S. Australian Centenary GP”, has compiled a list of all drivers and cars who took part in all these pre-war races, in the hope of finding survivors, to which end the present whereabouts of as many cars as possible are listed. This makes very interesting reading—those pre-war Australian GPs were contested by all manner of cars, from AC to Wolseley Hornet, including 20 Austin 7 entries (and three Austin 12s), 31 Bugatti entries, and many MGs and Rileys, etc. with such rare starters as Mathis, Metallurgique, Miller (the ex-Zborowski car), Opel Scap, Schneider, etc. One notices a blown Standard Nine, rare enough here, and four Triumph Super Sevens, two of which were blown, one being a 750 c.c. version, but no 30/98s, only a solitary Vauxhall 14/40.

One hopes that both these anniversaries will be strongly supported. Details of the former are obtainable from The Lord Dunleath, Ballywalter Park, Co. Down, N. Ireland, details of the latter from the Australian GP Jubilee Committee, PO Box 214, S. Melbourne, 3205, Australia.—W.B.

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How do I get there?

Collins’ New Edition Road Atlas is the answer. Each page, 15 in. deep by 11 in. wide, not too large for the car but large enough to see, presents a map 4 miles to the inch, with overlap.

Two pages of Motorway junctions, a page of symbols and noad signs, most town centre plans and an index of some 25,000 place names. Up to date, even the M11 is in, and all this for only £ 1.95.