Firstly, let’s kick off by telling you why we’ve been recruited and who we are.
The British Motor Museum has over 300 vehicles in its collection at Gaydon, yet currently only has space to display around 170 of them in the main museum. However, plans are now well advanced to build a new Museum Collections Centre adjacent to the existing site – completion hopefully being towards the end of 2014.
The new Collections Centre will be a working museum where the public will be able to view the repair and restoration of vehicles as they occur. All of the reserve collection of vehicles, in their current good or bad state of repair, will be housed in the museum for public display. And this is where the volunteers come in.
We have already surveyed the condition of all the vehicles in the HMC collection and created photographic records of their current state. We are now in the process of acquiring full technical details of each vehicle as well. Another project has been conducting interviews with people who have worked in the British motor industry in order to compile an audio history. Alongside these activities we have also been let loose on some interesting and diverse restoration projects – more details of which will be described in forthcoming blogs. Other duties include manning the HMC stand at the NEC Classic Car Show and when the Collections Centre opens we will also be involved as tour guides.
So, who are we?
Well, probably the majority of us, in all honesty, are retired grey haired old men. This isn’t compulsory though and we do have two lady volunteers and several younger members who are still in employment. We number around 50 people and were recruited by HMC curator Stephen Laing and volunteer co-ordinator Sonja Dosanjh in July 2012 with the new Museum Collections Centre very much in mind.
One thing we all have in common is we love cars and messing about with them. A large number of us have worked in the motor industry, or related trades and professions. Amongst our number are an RAC man, a gas turbine engineer, a Rootes Group technician, a rally competition manager, a Rover Group research engineer, an RAF engine technician, a Ferrari/Jaguar restorer, a physicist, an expert on steam engines and an ex-MP.
Furthermore, probably almost half of the volunteers have classic or vintage cars of their own which they’ve restored. Our own mini classic car show is therefore being planned for next summer.
Future blogs will give details and photos of the restoration projects we have so far undertaken as well as an insight into some of the other activities we’ve been involved with.