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The day after my trip to Caen Hill, my friend Mary came down from London. We were planning to visit the recently opened Newt in Somerset. We had joked about making sure we had gloves with us, the weather had been so awful on her previous visit in June, when we had stuck to our plans to go round the Bishop’s palace and Gardens in Wells, but the pictures were so dull and grey and cold that I didn’t write it up. In the event it was even worse. Perhaps not so cold, but it was raining continuously, and only forecast to stop mid-afternoon. So we abandoned those plans to another day, and decided to visit the Haynes International Motor Museum, just a short drive from Castle Cary Station where I had picked her up.

First though, a stop in the town for a coffee at the George Hotel, opposite the Market House.

Although I had been vaguely aware of the Museum, in the eight years I had lived in Somerset I had never visited it. Established in the 1980s, with its 400 cars and motorcycles from many countries it truly merits the epithet ‘international’. It was quite amazing, and, though neither of us has the slightest interest in motor vehicles, we had a great day out.

I do apologise to real motoring aficionados for the undoubted mislabelling which will have occurred from time to time below. I tried to keep track but fear I may well have made some errors. Corrections, and suggestions for filling gaps, if added in Comments will be gratefully noted and acted upon.

There were a few cars in reception, and this one caught our eyes.

But I didn’t make a note of what it was.

As you go through the dark doors, you are plunged into ‘The Dawn of Motoring.’

This then greets your eyes. Nearest is Veteran and Vintage. Where do you start?

1905 Daimler Detachable Top Limousine

We turned off to visit The Red Room.

1929 6C Alfa Romeo 1750 Gran Turismo
1956 AC Ace
1980 Maserati Merak SS
1958 Facel Vega HK 500

Back to Veteran and Vintage.

1900 Clement Voiturette

A reconstruction of a WWI car turned into a tank.

I took photos of quite a lot of car mascots.

1929 Lanchester 30hp Sports Tourer

A byway into Minis and Micros

And back into vintage cars.

1934 Austin 10 Four Door Saloon, and …
… its mascot

No yellow room, but a collection of yellow cars.

1951 Jaguar XK120

I’m pretty sure that my (state) primary school headmaster, Mr May, had one of these (below) in the 1950s. Perhaps head teachers were paid more, in real terms, in those days.

1949 Jaguar 3.5 litre Saloon

There was a whole section, on a first floor, for motorcycles, which we didn’t visit – there are limits – but this magnificent Harley Davidson made it to the main British Marque showroom.

1992 Harley Davidson Fatboy
1928 Jordan Playboy Roadster

I think I’m rather glad that steam cars didn’t last for more than a few decades. The Stanley Twins started making this model in 1897.

1924 Stanley Steam Car
This car brought Mary a little nostalgia. Her father had something like it at one point.
1937 Ford V8 Model 78 Deluxe ‘Woody’
1909 Reliable Dayton (we’re in the US section now.)

Plenty of displays on the walls as well.

More mascots, or hood ornaments.

It was time for a bite of lunch, in the café just off the reception area.

While Mary held a place in the lengthy queue – they apologised profusely for the delay, explaining that the tills had gone down, but were now up and running again – I went back to reception, and found my very first car, a Wolseley Hornet, only mine had been a pale turquoise.

After lunch we found ourselves in the ‘other foreign cars’ section. We looked at this and virtually chorused that it must be Russian. We were right. (I suspect that we actually had some deep memory of the car.)

1959 Gaz M13 Chaika

Aggressive or what?

In 2010, most unexpectedly I found myself the sole tourist occupant of a white Ambassador for three days in Uttar Pradesh, India. Sadly, the Mumbai massacres had just taken place, so instead of having only a driver with me, I had some army fellow with a rifle as well, for my ‘protection’. I sat scared in the back, and had to ask for the rifle not to be pointed so near me over the shoulder of the army man, who sat in the front passenger seat. I really would have preferred not to have been ‘protected’ in that way.

This Ambassador seems much more peaceful. I understand that, prestige cars as they have been seen in India for a long time, they are now being phased out, heavy polluters that they are.

1992 Hindustan Ambassador

We seem to have wandered back into the British car section.

1969 Jaguar 420G

And now into The American Dream once more.

1968 Pontiac Superior Ambulance
1959 Ford Edsel
Cadillac Model 452A Madame X Imperial Cabriolet

More hood ornaments.

The above-mentioned Cabriolet
1917 Haynes Light 12, rescued from a jungle in Java ‘where it lay hidden for 30 years in an overgrown, wooden warehouse’.

Hall of motorsport. My dad, who never drove, would have loved this section. He used to spend hours in front of the TV watching the cars going round and round.

1989 Reynard 893 Alfa Romeo Formula 3
1950 Healey Silverstone

Motor scooters (but few of them British).

Ambassador, made in Berkshire, UK, from 1960 to 1962
This Lambretta was the only exhibit in the whole museum we noticed without a label. So our curiosity went unsatisfied.

There was a section on The Morris Story

1938 Morris Eight Saloon
1935 Morris Minor Van

There was a large section called Memory Lane.

1974 Vanden Plas 1300
1959 Ford Popular 103E
The indispensable picnic set for those ‘Let’s go for a drive’ days, when we didn’t think, or indeed know, about the environment.

But I still hadn’t seen my favourite car, the MG Midget that I had owned in the mid-1970s. I had seen this car.

1930 MG Midget

And a 1947 MG.

1947 MG TC

But not my little pride and joy, in whatever colour.

Towards the end of our visit we found ourselves back in The Red Room, near a couple of Museum employees chatting to each other. I asked them about ‘my’ Midget. We were led to it, not far away. Mine had been white and a model just few years later than this one, but here it was, nearby in The Red Room, and overlooked earlier by me. I was invited to step over the rope barrier and examine it more closely.

1968 MG Midget
What fun it would be to be driving it again! They stopped making it in 1979.

Here’s a photo my dad took (and subsequently developed, enlarged and printed) on 11th June 1976, as he carefully noted on the back. I wonder what he would have made of it’s being out there in The Cloud 43 years later!

No wing mirrors!

A cup of tea and a cake, and it was time for Mary to be taken back the short distance to her train (in my Skoda Citigo, just awarded best city car of the year by ‘Which?’). What had been just something to do on a wet day had turned out to be a very enjoyable experience indeed.