British Motor Museum Volunteers

British Motor Museum Volunteers

Monday, 6 July 2020

Still volunteering, but this time at home

Stay at Home is a slogan we’re all now very familiar with, but the opportunity has not been wasted on around a dozen or so of the Museum’s volunteers, who’ve been working on a programme of talks and presentations on motoring related subjects.

With one already completed - The Mini - Wizardry on Wheels, the others currently in progress are: - The History of British Sports Cars, The Evolution of the British Motor Industry and Royal Cars.

When things return to normal these talks will be presented by the volunteers, either out in the community, or at the Museum. It’s planned for talks to last around 45 to 50 minutes, accompanied by a wealth of interesting slides and the occasional video clip.

As can be imagined, with the Museum’s large collection of over 300 British - manufactured vehicles and its renowned and comprehensive Archive, we’re not short of information or resources. The task is of course to collate all the research, pick out the defining moments and present it in an interesting and entertaining manner.

Opening slide from the Mini talk
The talk on the Mini, which celebrated 60 years in 2019, was presented at the Museum just before lockdown to a group of 40 people from Caversham Heights Society. This talk was very well received, having been presented and largely put together by volunteer Roger King. Roger, a BMC apprentice from 1960 to 1966 and a former Director of Public Affairs at the SMMT, is a big admirer of the Mini.

The other talks in progress are very much the work of groups of between three and four volunteers, who have an interest in their particular subject. Whilst lockdown has slowed things down a bit, the wonder of Zoom has come to our rescue with regular discussion groups. In fact the history of the British sports car has recently had a complete initial Zoom run through, including the slide presentation.

From the Mini talk - One of several early Issigonis sketches
There have been some interesting debates amongst the various groups on their subjects, particularly on content and format. Whilst the Mini is a fairly straightforward and well documented story, the others are wide ranging and need more detailed research and structure. An example for instance was our original debate on sports cars. What is your definition of a sports car? Ask half a dozen car enthusiasts and you’ll probably get several different answers (we did), but we hope you’ll agree with our final definition.

We’re fortunate that the Museum contains many of the vehicles that played a key part in the evolution of the British motor industry – telling the story in a simple and entertaining way is now the challenge. Royal Cars is somewhat different, allowing us not only to talk about a wide range of vehicles, 16 of which we have in the Museum, but also stories related to their royal owners.  Unfortunately at the moment, planned research trips to the Royal Mews and Sandringham House have had to be postponed, so we can’t complete the talk for now.

The Museum, even with little or no promotion, has already received quite a lot of interest in these talks, so new ones are already in the pipeline.  As with the other talks, the Museum is well stocked with vehicles and information relating to the subject matter, particularly car sales brochures from yesteryear.

When things return to normal we’ll be able to give you more details about our talks programme.  The volunteers will then be able to deliver them at a venue of your choice or maybe at the Museum itself, where a tour of the collection can be part of your visit. Keep your eye on the Museum’s website and Facebook page for further announcements, or contact community@britishmotormuseum.co.uk

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