Reopening – Saturday 15th February 2020

Following our winter closure, the museum re-opens on Saturday, 15th February, for the 2020 season.
The week before re-opening is always a busy one as final preparation of new displays is underway and the “big clean” takes place. This year, on the Wednesday before re-opening, there were at least 16 museum staff and volunteers beavering away. Everything looks bright and shiny and a few spiders are now looking for new homes.
What is new for 2020? Well to a casual observer wandering around the museum this week, the Paved Paradise gallery has been shuffled with the Imp, Herald, Mini and Volvo moving around and being joined by a Sinclair C5.
The Toy Galleries have had a lot of work done having been completely emptied over the winter and now showing new paint, floor coverings and a refreshed display.
As you leave the final gallery, a completely new, computer-controlled sound and light display tells the story of Boundless, the club which owns the museum. If you like mirrors and lights, this will be a real attraction.
We look forward to welcoming old friends and new visitors in 2020.

DOWNLOADS from the Museum Website

Anyone browsing the museum website could easily overlook the DOWNLOADS tab on the home page. This could be a mistake! Bear with me, please let me explain why.

Museum web page showing DOWNLOADSIn 2008 the museum started to publish brief documentation on the website that supported on-going museum displays. One of the very first documents, in 2008, showed that even then, we felt that the rising levels of carbon dioxide emitted by cars was an impending problem and a museum display reflecting this situation was first launched in the same year. Here is one of the graphics that we used.

2008 image of co2 emissions

Since that time, other documents, including “The Impact of Motoring”, “Our Motoring World”, “Tell-Me-More”, “Email-Me-More” and “A History of Motoring in 10 Objects” have all been available to download from the website – albeit sometimes a bit tricky to locate within the site – and accompanying an associated museum display.

Twelve years later, whilst celebrating the magnificent contribution that the museum collection makes to the history of motoring, we continue to recognise that big changes have to occur if the damage inflicted on the planet by our addiction to fossil fuels is not to be catastrophically irreversible: that, of course, includes changes to the world of motoring.Covers of two downloadable documents

Currently, we have two sets of documents behind the DOWNLOADS tab on the website. “The Direction of Travel – Motoring from The Past to The Future” is a set of five ebooks that, following a short introduction, look at the environmental, social and technological influences that have resulted from 130 years of the motor car and which concludes with a look to the future of motoring. Will hydrogen be the future or battery electric? Just how many vehicle manufacturers brands that we recognise today will still be around in even 10 years time or will new arrivals have disrupted the scene?

Our second, concise ebook addresses “The Impact of the Internal Combustion Engine over the last 130 years and its future in the 21st century”. It directly relates to an on-going display in the museum and tries to answer, at both a European level and a global level, questions that relate to our use of oil and the health and environmental impact of that consumption.

Oh, and that reference to plastic dinosaurs (made from oil)? Well, sorry, you will just have to click the DOWNLOADS tab to find out!

The Dunlop Tyre

Continuing our series of posts based on a museum exhibition from a few years ago entitled “The History of Motoring in 10 Objects”, this post gives a brief summary of the contributions made by John Boyd Dunlop, Charles Goodyear and the Michelin brothers. Yes, it’s tyres and the global demand today is approaching 3 billion every year.

It seems plausible that the word “tyre” derives from the wheelwright’s habit of referring to the steel rim around a wooden spoked wheel as the item that ‘tied’ the wheel together. Or perhaps it derives from ‘attire’ meaning a covering. Nevertheless, it is a method of construction that can be traced back over 2000 years.

In 1844 Charles Goodyear invented a means of stabilising natural rubber making it strong, flexible and suitable for solid tyres. In 1888 John Dunlop had the idea of wrapping an inflated tube of canvas around the wheel rim to create a more comfortable ride for his son’s cycle. But he was not the first to come up with this idea, 43 years earlier fellow Scot, Robert Thomson, patented and demonstrated a pneumatic tyre for use on carriages and bicycles, but it was expensive and the market was not receptive. The Michelin brothers demonstrated how this technology could be used on cars and Dunlop was able to sell his tyre to the growing automobile industry. By the mid ’50s, Dunlop had almost half of the market share in Britain and remains, along with Goodyear and Michelin, a leading brand today.

The composite image below shows just some of the enamel signage relating to tyres that is scattered around the museum.

Montage of signs

If you would like to read more about the history, construction and possible future of the humble tyre, you might be interested to download “The Direction of Travel: Motoring from The Past to The Future – Part 3 – Technological” from the museum website.

Our Austin Seven

It is good to see the museum’s Austin Seven gracing the forecourt of the museum on most days this summer. With the hard work of museum staff and volunteers, it underwent a significant restoration during the winter months and is now looking fabulous once more.IMG_20190725_164318 - low res

New for 2019

The museum opened again for the 2019 season on 16 February and our first visitors of the year enjoyed the sunny days of the school half-term that followed the re-opening. All is looking sparkling and dust free after a great effort from our museum volunteers during the preceding week. Thanks to all.

One major change that regular visitors will spot is the completely refurbished Blacksmith’s Shop.

The Blacksmith’s Shop and Woodworking Shop are now on opposite sides of the gallery and the blacksmith and wheelwright keep each other company throughout the day, chatting about their work and ‘these new-fangled motorcars’ and making very life-like movements. Don’t be alarmed, yes, you really did see them move!img_20190228_123911.jpg


Still to make a full appearance, is our new display on the “Impact of the Internal Combustion Engine”. After a fleeting look back over the first 130 years of internal combustion and its impact on both our climate and our health, it looks ahead to when the sale of vehicles powered solely by internal combustion engines will be banned. More details will be posted shortly once all material is in place.

The Internal Combustion Engine

Continuing with our series of significant objects in the history of motoring, this latest object is really a bit of a ‘no-brainer’! Vehicle technology has been dominated by the next object: the internal combustion engine. It became successful because it proved to be dependable, convenient and affordable. There was also an abundant fuel supply which could be delivered to the vehicle in seconds. Modern engines are cleaner and much more efficient than their predecessors. Today however, there are compelling reasons to find alternatives. There are grave concerns about of the effects of pollution and fears over global warming. We are aware that the supply of easily recoverable oil will not last for ever; it will become more expensive to find and extract. Governments and city authorities are setting emission-free targets and manufacturers are pressing ahead with hybrid or all electric vehicles. Yet the internal combustion engine will not suddenly disappear while issues around battery technology – like the reliance on rare metals, low range on each battery charge and excessively long recharging time – remain unresolved.


This is a standard four-stroke, four cylinder engine, as used in millions of cars around the world. This cut-away picture demonstrates the classic engine cycle showing intake, compression, ignition and exhaust – otherwise known as suck, squeeze, bang, blow! Other engines in our cars and motorcycles include the straight six-cylinder, single cylinder two-stroke, the V-twin and the V-eight, but they are all versions of the internal combustion engine.

More detail on the history of the Internal Combustion Engine, plus other topics in our series of articles on the Impact of Motoring, can be found on our website under the DOWNLOADS tab.

Indian Motorcycle 1915

For the second object in our story of motoring we have chosen the Museum’s 1915 V-twin engine Indian Scout. Motorcycling was an affordable gateway into the early days of motoring and played an important role in the establishment of the Civil Service Motoring Association (CSMA): owners of the Cotswold Motoring Museum and Toy Collection.


During the 1910s, Indian was the largest motorcycle manufacturer in the world with an impressive racing success. In more recent years the bike gained appreciation in the film ‘The World’s Fastest Indian’, released in 2005 and starring Anthony Hopkins as a determined New Zealander, Burt Munro, who ultimately sets a land speed record for under 1000cc bikes of 201.851mph at the Bonneville Salt Flats in the USA.

While for many, the thrill of riding a powerful two-wheeled machine could not be exceeded, for others riding a motorbike was a less expensive alternative to car ownership. Frank Edwards the founder of CSMA, along with many of the original members, was a keen motorcyclist. He had some notable success in competitive racing, but also saw the bike as practical transport. Edwards died just one year after the club’s inauguration and we have very few photographs, so the two with his 1920s Harley Davidson are special to us. Harley Davidson were direct competitors to Indian eventually surpassing them in popularity.Edwards low resEdwards Family