Tucked in a corner of the Cotswold Motoring Museum is a petrol pump which, despite being bright red and 190cm high, is not particularly imposing and could be passed over quite easily. But missing it would be a pity because this pump has earned its place as the first of ten objects in our history of motoring. Made in the 1920s by S.F. Bowser & Company, the device was operated by turning a large crank handle. The pump’s history can be traced back 40 years earlier to when the company’s founder, Sylvanus Bowser, invented a safe and efficient means of delivering fuel. The original was used for pumping kerosene for heating and lighting, but that was in 1885 and the world was about to change.
The introduction of the motor car greatly increased the demand for fuel. In 1888 Bertha Benz set out on a pioneering 65 mile journey from Mannheim to Pforzheim in her husband’s new automobile. The Weisloch town pharmacy, which still exists today, supplied the fuel and for many it is regarded as the world’s first filling station.
The practice of buying motor fuel in two-gallon cans from chemists, blacksmiths, hardware stores, and even hotels, became the standard practise. However, as motoring became more popular and the demand for petrol increased, providing a quick and safe means of storing and delivering fuel became a priority. As a result, kerbside fuel pumps began to appear outside the newly established filling stations and ‘country garages’. Storage tanks were placed underground and the pumps were moved to a central island. Our modest, hand-cranked, machine was soon replaced by electric giants that were effortlessly capable of gushing gallons of petrol to quench the automobile’s insatiable desire for fuel.
Back in 2012, the Cotswold Motoring Museum & Toy Collection held an exhibition entitled “The History of Motoring in Ten Objects”. It was inspired by the 2010 British Museum Exhibition and Radio Four programme describing the history of the world in 100 objects. We sifted through the many thousands of motor-related objects in the museum to create our own list of nine items for our own exhibition. We then asked visitors to select a tenth item to complete the selection. More than 1000 people took part, with satellite navigation winning the tenth spot by a clear margin.
Over the next few months, we will reprise the ” Ten Objects” in this blog, starting with the Bowser Pump or, as it is better known today, the fuel pump! They were not always quite as smart as today’s electrically operated, precisely calibrated dispensers of petrol and diesel.
For more detailed information on this item plus our “Impact (of Motoring) on the World Today” exhibition, download the free eBook from our website. As well as looking at the impact that motoring has had on our planet, this fascinating book also considers the decisions that we as individuals can take to reduce that impact, with suggestions as to how the current century of motoring may unfold.
At the time when I first became a celebrity, admittedly a few years ago now, it was just the Queen who used to deliver a Christmas message but, I have realised, that many others do this as well. So, after the enthusiastic reception to my words last year about Autonomous Cars, I thought I would share a few more with you all.
Just going back to the topic of autonomous cars that have continued to be so newsworthy over the last 12 months, I am a lot calmer now. I realise that it could still be quite a few years until grown-up cars can drive around a city, avoiding other cars, stopping for pedestrians and understanding the gestures of other drivers: all things I could do brilliantly when I was allowed on to the road. Also, since Graham explained the meaning of the word “crusher”, I have decided not to mention the topic again. Unless, …….., no, never again!
So, what has been happening in the museum? Well, there has been quite a lot going on around me this year. There is the on-going restoration of the Austin Seven pick-up truck; this will be displayed outside the museum once the fine weather returns, hopefully in the Spring of 2018. Then there’s the restoration of the red rickshaw, on display in front of the museum – that was completed. We have some new volunteers who help with restoration tasks and work behind the scenes to ensure that everything continues to work and look presentable. But, best of all, I heard Michael say that we had an all-time record number of visitors this year; overtaking the previous record set in 2002!
Maybe they didn’t all come to see me, but one couple certainly did. The other morning Graham came to open the museum and found a couple who had come all the way from Australia just to see me, I’m sure that is what they said. So, Graham took pity on them and opened early just so they could come and find me. What an honour, I’m still famous! I also heard them saying something about cricket and Ashes and I’m sure I heard that word “crushed” again but I didn’t really understand.
Finally, just between ourselves, I saw all that lovely snow last week and decided to sneak out for a quick spin across the common; I didn’t even tell Graham that I was going and was back before anyone missed me. As you can see from my picture, I was having a great time, then I saw this notice about cars found driving on the common. It said, if found they could be “impounded and crushed”. Oh dear, not again! I must learn to keep a low profile.
Have a lovely Christmas and my best wishes for 2018. Don’t forget to come a see me when we re-open on Saturday 10 February. Toot toot!
Graham kindly provided this photo taken during the final fling of Ophelia (the storm that is). We have had a few ideas for a caption, can you do better?
So far we have:
“The Museum is popular whatever the weather”
“No matter what the weather, the queues just keep growing”
“Who said it never rains in Bourton?”
For many years the museum has encouraged school groups of all ages to visit the museum and enjoy a range of hands-on learning opportunities. These include workshops on transport and toys, quizzes, games even an opportunity to sit on the grey Fergusson tractor.
Given the museum’s enthusiasm for providing a location, away from the classroom, for an enjoyable learning experience for all school-age children, it seemed relevant that when invited, the museum should become a partner with ‘Get Kids Out Learning’.
‘Get Kids Out Learning’ is a scheme run by a company called Tutorful who specialise in web-based tutoring. Founded by a primary school teacher Tutorful claim 8,500 tutors across UK, with half a million visits to their website each month and a record of working with 50,000 families.
Through ‘Get Kids Out Learning’, Tutorful are encouraging more families to switch off the smartphone and laptop and head outside to create learning experiences, memorable for years to come. Children love being outdoors – learning through play and being inspired to explore the world around them. A visit to the museum could be just one such opportunity.
The Tutorful website provides an easy way for families to find local fun days out which provide great learning and educational opportunities for the children. The website allows parents to quickly search any particular region to see all the information they need to plan a great day out! Any parent searching for days out in Gloucestershire will now find the museum as one of their choices.
Although the summer holidays are now fast becoming a distant memory, the scheme has year-round significance and the museum is looking forward to the partnership with ‘Get Kids Out Learning’. We couldn’t think of a better way to promote learning outside of school, than this not-for-profit initiative!
Since we heard from Luke back in March, about the other Brum that he is building, he has clearly been very busy and he has been keeping our Graham up-to-date. In August he wrote to Graham to say that his Brum was progressing very well and that he could now “go places”! Luke wondered if, at some point, he might bring him for a short visit to the Museum so that the “cousins” could meet. An enthralling prospect! Meanwhile Luke tells us that his Brum now has motor power and servos for the steering and steering wheel. He also has working lights “so he isn’t blind driving along the pavement”.
Great work Luke and thanks again for keeping us in the picture – talking of which your latest picture is below.
A recent visitor to the museum was particularly interested in seeing Brum and he also had an interesting tale to tell. Apparently, he and his Dad have been building another Brum. To prove the point, when he arrived home he sent us some pictures and here they are:
He tells us that his Brum is 120 x 60 x 80 cm and just look at that front suspension; it looks very professional and could make our Brum quite jealous!
Luke, we would love to see more pictures as your project progresses and a few words to tell us about your work would be great.
Thanks for contacting us and sending your photos.