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THE NATIONAL MOTOR MUSEUM, BEAULIEU
Tuesday 12 April 2016

Our visit to Beaulieu was fully booked and those lucky enough to go saw parts of the museum that they would never have been able to see in the normal course of events. The museum is home to 190 cars and motorcycles, 48,000 motoring objects and 300,000 items on paper making it the largest motoring reference library in Europe, and it's all contained on 345 metres of shelving.

Our party was broken down into small groups and we were given a guided tour of each department. First for our group was the Reference Library and Motoring Archives where a number of items were put on display for us - No.1 of The Autocar from 1895, a catalogue of the first Motor Show in 1896 described as the International Horseless Carriage Exhibition.

We also visited the Photographic Collection where there are 1,500,000 photographs and where we saw how one particular photograph had been preserved from a crumbling glass negative.

The Film and Video Archive where we were treated to an old 1950s film on the new cars of the day, just one of 450,000 films if I'm to believe my notes!

Our final department of the morning was the Motoring Object Collection that housed badges, models, mascots, toys and games, petrol pumps and many of the larger motoring pieces. The museum houses the 'Shell' art collection as well as the collection of paper items from the 'Caravan Club'.

  Catalogue of the first Motor Show in 1896

Members' cars on display

After lunch in the Brabazon Restaurant we had time for a quick photo call with our cars lined in horseshoe fashion and then it was on to the workshop - here Lord Montagu's two Silver Ghosts were being worked on as well as an old Rover and the engine from the Sunbeam, the first car to break 200mph barrier.

All that just left us time to look round the museum exhibits before we headed home.

It really was a most illuminating visit and one that everyone thoroughly enjoyed. Gary Wragg did a splendid job organising everything which was no mean feat as there was so much to see in so little time.

Ben Grew - Section Magazine Editor

Photos: Ben Grew