Stevie Carroll (stevie_carroll) wrote,
Stevie Carroll

An Evening at Beaulieu

Yesterday was a day for museums. After a daytime visit to the little local museum in town, I headed off with Mum and Dad to the National Motor Museum at Beaulieu. First off we admired displays outside the lecture room on motoring fashion and local people's motoring memories. Then it was into the lecture room for a presentation on the Heritage 100 Project and specifically the plans to encourage more female visitors to Beaulieu. Ironically the proportion of women at the event last night was even lower than the 30% they estimated for regular visitors.

After that we had just over an hour to look around the museum itself, before the main event on our tickets. I got to have a good look around the current exhibition of James Bond vehicles, which I've been wanting to see since it was first advertised. Some of the cars used in stunts were impressively scratched and beaten up, but my absolute favourite was the 2002 Ford Thunderbird (it has the rear porthole-style windows like my beloved earlier models). Sadly it would never fit in my garage.

Another rather pretty car, although more notable for the stories I got to hear (and later verify online) about its owner, was the red Austin Healey 100/4 that used to belong to the 4th Earl of Wharnecliffe and may have competed in hill climbs (although Dad disputes that last part). In the 'I'm not completely over-the-top in what I write' category, the Earl was even wilder than a certain fictional Duke in my big WiP. Not only was the Earl convicted of driving and alcohol related offenses, he had been variously a drummer in a rock band, a pub landlord and the president of various car and motorbike clubs. One anecdote to go with the last: at least one club would book meals at the Millstone in Hathersage and wait for him to arrive before they started eating, but he never used to turn up.

I also had a good look at various land-speed record breakers, and single seater racing cars, including an Allard J2, although not one that had ever belonged to anyone I know.

Back in the lecture room we listened to a highly entertaining talk (in two halves) by Barry 'Whizzo' Williams. The first half was mainly about his early years as an engineering apprentice and racing driver, while the second half mainly concerned his years of racing classic cars. Far too many stories to report here, but look him up and try to hear him speak sometime. Dad will be finding out alternate versions of some stories for me, as he knows the other people involved.
Tags: for reference, inspiration, real life, truth stranger than fiction
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