National Motor Museum, Beaulieu

The National Motor Museum arose out of the collection of the previous Lord Montagu (3rd Baron Beaulieu).  It is housed at the Montagu family estate at Beaulieu in the New Forest.   Lord Montagu’s father was a keen early motoring enthusiast and his personal vehicles started out the collection.

Starting with the five original cars in the 1950’s the museum has expanded out to hundreds of cars, representing all parts of British Motoring history.   Today the museum is run by a separate trust.    The museum is probably best known for its racing cars and expensive collection of Edwardian vehicles.

As well as visiting the museum, it is possible to tour the grounds and manor house on the Beaulieu estate.   Various guides are on hand to explain features of the house.   The house started out as a monastery until it was dissolved by Henry VIII.   These origins can still be clearly seen in the older parts of the house.

Some highlights of the museum for me were:

  • The excellent collection of Edwardian cars
  • The 1914 Rolls Royce 40/50 Continental ‘Alpine Eagle’ that I had a demo of
  • Two interesting Bugatti cars, including the oldest one in Britain
  • The wide collection of racing cars and motorbikes, including Formula 1
  • A blower Bentley

They have also done a nice job trying to make the cars look like they are in their natural element.

I was able to visit the museum as I had a free Saturday afternoon on a work trip.  It was an easy drive from Heathrow and the museum can be seen in a couple of hours.

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