I'm a freelance writer based in Perth, Western Australia, who enjoys writing about the things I love: travel, nature-based activities, the arts, spirituality and creative, fun activities for children.
Published September 6th 2014
Take a nostalgic road-trip into England's motoring history
Ever since I was very young I've been a romantic at heart so when I finally made my first trip to England late last year, one of the places at the top of my 'to see' list was the Cotswolds. For years I'd heard all about the lovely green rolling countryside (so different from my home in Western Australia), the quaint honeycomb-coloured villages dotted here and there, and of course, the delicious cream teas. Being a history enthusiast, I also love visiting museums so when I saw a brochure advertising the Cotswold Motoring Museum at Bourton-on-the-Water, I knew that it was somewhere I definitely had to visit. I wasn't disappointed.
Of all the villages in the Cotswold region, Bourton-on-the-Water is reputed to be one of the loveliest. Also known as the Venice of the Cotswolds, due to the many picturesque stone pedestrian bridges crossing the meandering River Windrush, it's a great spot to head for, whether you're a local person looking for a relaxing country drive or an international visitor searching for the 'real England'.
Located on Sherborne Street in the Old Mill, the Cotswold Motoring Museum offers a nostalgic journey into Britain's motoring history that visitors will be sure to enjoy, whether they're automobile enthusiasts or not. Encompassing several themed galleries, the museum traces the history of transport in Britain from the days when horses and buggies were the only means of transport through the early years of the twentieth century, and on to more recent times. Each gallery has been lovingly decorated to reflect the specific era it represents, with vintage posters adorning the walls and items such as old-fashioned petrol bowsers and jerry cans strategically placed here and there.
Be sure not to overlook the display cabinets that hold smaller motoring ephemera, as there are some real gems there as well. However, naturally the cars are the main focus for visitors and the beautifully restored models on display will be sure to sweep you away to days long gone by. Some, such as the Jaguar XK120 and Austin 7 Swallow, are truly luxurious, clearly demonstrating that once upon a time motoring was exclusively a pastime of the very wealthy.
Other items of interest include a collection of vintage motorcycles and several lovely old retro caravans, dating back to the 1960s and 70s, all of which will certainly bring up fond memories for many museum visitors. Also fascinating are the old-fashioned blacksmith's workshop, full of all the tools of this ancient trade, and Jack Lake's Garage, a recreation of one of England's old country garages that served the needs of early motorists.
One thing I particularly loved about this museum was the fact that it's extremely child-friendly. A comprehensive collection of vintage toys is an intrinsic part of the museum's contents, and a couple of rooms are completely dedicated to the display of gorgeous old toy cars, many which have antique teddy bears and dolls placed in the driver and passenger seats - a cute touch that both adults and children will love. The Cotswold Motor Museum is also home to Brum, the superhero car who starred in the famous BBC children's series, and children will enjoy having their photo taken with him. Finally, if your children are craving more interaction with the objects they've seen, there's a great little kids' corner where they can play, draw and learn, and a gift-shop where you can purchase all sorts of wonderful toys, as well as mementos and other souvenirs.
In a nutshell, a visit to the Cotswold Motoring Museum is a nostalgic journey into England's motoring history, and a day out that the whole family will enjoy. Although I'd only planned on spending an hour there, I ended up staying for three, as there was so much to see and do. Approximately two hours from London by car, or an easy trip by train to nearby Moreton-in-Marsh (from where you can catch a connecting bus or taxi), Bourton-on-the-Water is a lovely spot to visit, either for a day-trip or a weekend getaway. Go to the Cotswold Motoring Museum and Toy Collection website to learn more.