Museums

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I have seen many motor museums, in the course of duty as it were, and the other day I added another, namely, the Wellington Aviation Museum and Art Gallery at the British School House at Moreton-in-the-Marsh, Glos, on the A44. It is impossible to describe all the aviation items on display: parts of aeroplanes and engines, framed photographs, propellers, sculptures, squadron shields, accessories, models, and fine paintings and books, for sale. All nicely presented in this museum of Wellington artefacts. Profits from sales go to the RAF Benevolent Fund.

The museum was founded by Gerry V Tyack FIMI, and what drew me there was the story of how, when he was in Germany as the war was ending, with 5301 MSU operating OBOE with the 2nd TAF No 2 unit, they were halted as night fell, and happened to camp some 1½k from the Nurburgring. Discovering this from a signpost in the morning, Tyack asked his CO if he could borrow the Company Jeep, and in it set off to find the derelict clubhouse. Therein were photographs of the racing activities of Mercedes-Benz and Auto-Union, and of motorcycle racing, strewn about the floor where the advancing American Army had torn these from the walls and trampled on them, to show its contempt of all things German. Tyack scooped up what he could and they now fill two volumes in the museum’s collection.

You can spot the building by an Alvis Leonides radial aero-engine outside. Inside among the larger artefacts, I noted a Cheetah engine, the polished crank and rods from a Bristol Centaurus, a Merlin valve cover and exhaust stubs, part of a Gipsy Six, and so on. The place is open daily, Mondays excepted, from 10 to 12 noon and from 2 to 5.30pm.

It was a day of traffic congestion after Evesham caused by a Sentinel steam-wagon towing a trailer (which we didn’t mind) and by much returning Bank Holiday traffic, road works, the Moreton Fair and Flower Show and many “mimsers” (which we did mind). Returning, I stopped off at the remarkable Cotswold Motor Museum at Bourton-on-the-Water, another crowded town. I have described it before. The amount of memorabilia it packs in is quite remarkable. Over 800 period advertising signs, for instance, and every conceivable nostalgic item, crowded together haphazardly. You step round the artefacts and vehicles, a confusing but quite astonishing array, — a big collection of childrens” pedal-cars, model boats, tin toys (two “Golden Arrows”), aeroplane toys and models, half-scale A7 Chummy and TD MG, prams, an enormous model traction engine, motorcycles, petrol pumps and cans, bicycles, and thousands of bits and pieces. It just has to be seen!

But the cars are there too — a real TD MG, Alvis Speed 20, Rover 8 van, eight different A7s, a racing Riley Six, the miniature 50mph Riley once driven by Percy Maclure’s young son, an Austin London taxi, a smart 327 BMW, more Rileys, Morris Minor, Standard 8 dh, Mk V Jaguar, Fiat 500, 1½-litre Invicta, etc, with the owner Mike Cavanagh in charge. As they say, and I quite genuinely, “don’t miss it”.

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