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Caister car museum near Great Yarmouth UK


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#1 mariner

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Posted 01 February 2007 - 10:54

I wonder if any of the forum members have been to this museum.

Without wishing to knock any museum this one is a bit odd but has a wide range of cars.

I say odd because you are not allowed to take any photos, apparently this is a rule of the owner.

The range of exhibits is wide but the the general condition is, to be honest, poor.

What interested me is that they appear to have a Lotus T25/33 on display as well as a BRM.

Now given that the T25/33 is not only one of the rarest racing cars in captivity one also one of the most important I am wondering if anybody knows the history of the car on display.

I would show a photo but they don't allow them!

When I went last year the 25/33 was just as you enter the main "U" shaped car display hall.

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#2 David McKinney

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Posted 01 February 2007 - 11:44

R14
It's been there for years

#3 Gary C

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Posted 01 February 2007 - 13:13

in 2005 I tried to get permission from the museum owner to film a piece for my set of 'Yesterday's Racers' historic racing videos. The guy was in no way interested in ANY publicity for his own museum! I do know for a fact that Clive Chapman at CTL has tried to buy the car back, all to no avail.
FYI : when I first tried to contact the museum, I couldn't find any internet presence for it, and indeed, had to go through the Norfolk Tourist Board to get the phone number !!!

#4 Gary C

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Posted 01 February 2007 - 13:16

see this thread : (it was 2004!!) http://forums.autosp...&threadid=71799

#5 Pullman99

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Posted 28 May 2010 - 11:43

R14It's been there for years


Just found this Caister Museum thread and with the Snetterton event now very close, I thought that it would be worthwhile highlighting this thread in case anyone might wish to incorporate a trip there as well.

(From Macca on the Greatest gathering of Lotus F1 cars thread) A thought occured to me.........Snetterton is not a million miles from Caister Castle near Great Yarmouth, where the last-ever Lotus 33, c/n R14, resides in their motor museum - might Clive Chapman have contacted them to see if it could be borrowed for the weekend, perhaps with the offer of loads of free publicity as an incentive? Paul M

I replied (modified):

Lotus 33 R14 was / is a totaly original example of the type. It was used in the early races of 1966 until the 43 was ready. I vividly remember Jim Clark's heroic drive in the Dutch Grand Prix (covered on British TV). Jimmy finished third, two laps down, behind Jack Brabham and Graham Hill but it was a magnificent race and possibly one of Clark's finest drives. For quite afew years afterwards it had resided on display with the other motor vehicles housed at the Herbert Art Gallery (predecessor of today's Coventry Transport Museum) in Coventry having been presented by Colin Chapman to Leonard Lee, the MD of Coventry-Climax (as a "thank you", I suppose). I first went to live in Coventry in 1970 and visited the museum almost straightaway. If anyone remembers the illustrations by Peter Griffin in "Car" in the 1960s and '70s, a number of the cars featured were from the Herbert Art Gallery (Sir Alfred Herbert, of machine tool fame, was an important benefactor to the arts in Coventry).

When Lee died, the Lotus, as well as an early GWK car (built in Maidenhead but using a Coventry-Simplex engine), were put up for sale and I know that the Museum were investigating whether or not Chapman's "presentation" to Coventry-Climax had actually allowed its Managing Director to claim title to it. There was apparently no question that this was the case and as a result both cars were put up for auction. Coventry City Council was either unable or unwilling at that time to raise the funds to keep one of its most iconic products in the City where it had been made and the Lotus was bought by the Caister Castle Car Collection.

I believe that there have been several previous attempts to purchase this car (I have noted the comment on this thread that Clive Chapman had been attempting to do so for some time), and I know that one well known historic racing car dealer approached them after I mentioned its whereabouts. I could never quite understand why the owner of the Caister museum acquired it as it seems to be totally out of context. It would be fascinating to learn more but I sincerely hope that this chassis remains in the original condition in which Clark raced it. Would be great to see it at Snetterton!.

More details on the museum here:

Caister Castle Car Collection

Unusually for an attraction nowadays, it's not open on Saturdays. Still, perhaps, seen as the traditional "changeover" day in resort areas - like Great Yarmouth - but annoying if you want to visit prior to going to Snetterton on the 20th June!

Edited by Pullman99, 14 August 2012 - 16:40.


#6 Joolz

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Posted 28 May 2010 - 18:41

My uncle's 1934 Humber drophead tourer was donated to the museum about 20 years ago when it became unfeasible for him to continue running it properly. I haven't been there for a long while now, but another family member visited half-a-dozen years ago and reckoned it was looking a bit sorry for itself, desperately in need of a bit of TLC. I got the impression this applied also to the museum as a whole.

#7 John Saunders

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Posted 29 May 2010 - 14:58

They now have a web site www.caistercastle.co.uk not that it tells you much.
The museum only about a mile from me but I have never been, I will try & call in next
week.

Not open on Saturdays.

Phone number on web site is not the Castle (Oakham Leics code)

#8 Pullman99

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Posted 29 May 2010 - 15:15

They now have a web site www.caistercastle.co.uk not that it tells you much. Phone number on web site is not the Castle (Oakham Leics code)


Curiouser and curiouser. :(

Edited by Pullman99, 29 May 2010 - 15:15.


#9 arttidesco

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Posted 29 May 2010 - 21:28

Is there any significance in the world's 'very first Ford Fiesta' being listed ahead of 'Jim Clark's Lotus' in the list of attractions given on the Caister Castle web site ?

#10 gkennedy

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Posted 29 May 2010 - 23:01

Without wishing to knock any museum this one is a bit odd


I say odd because you are not allowed to take any photos, apparently this is a rule of the owner.


The range of exhibits is wide but the the general condition is, to be honest, poor.


Unusually for an attraction nowadays, it's not open on Saturdays

Sounds like Basil Fawlty has moved into the museum business. Maybe you need to be a doctor to be made welcome there - better still, two doctors.


#11 Gary C

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Posted 30 May 2010 - 00:30

please see my post number 3.

#12 David McKinney

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Posted 30 May 2010 - 05:52

I believe a museum does not have the same tax liabilities as private ownership. Might be a clue there...

#13 coupekarter

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Posted 08 June 2010 - 22:41

Great Yarmouth being my favourite holiday spot (sad, I know), I've visited the Caister museum many times. A few years back, I was constructing a scale replica of a lotus 25 so had a close look at Caisters R14 (bought at auction for just £36k outbidding Wheatcroft), to the point due to the strange ban on photos, of climbing over the rope barriers and getting on my hands & knees to look under it. I would have to say that, given that R14 was the last & supposedly least used, of the 33's, the chassis looked surprisingly battered. I may well be wrong, but I think this may be another case of Chapman having swapped chassis plates around.

#14 Nick Savage

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Posted 06 August 2010 - 08:24

The Caister Museum is owned by Alderman (he was always very particular about titles) P.R.Hill, JP. He must be well into his nineties now, if still alive.In the early 1960s I visited the collection when it was in Wymondham (the Rutland Wymondham, not the Norfolk one) in a large collection of stone barns adjacent to Mr Hill's bungalow. I would have been about 15 and at school locally. From then on I visited regularly but discreetly. The restorere's instructions were to make myself scarce if Mr Hill turned up.

Even then, he was somewhat reclusive. At that time he owned a sage-and-onion stuffing factory locally and spent all his cash on cars.

He employed one engineer/restorer who, when I went to visit, was creating two new replica wooden chassis for a pair of 1909-ish Stanley Steamers, and very slowly rebodying a post WW1 RR Silver Ghost. At that time his interests were purely pre-1931 cars. As his personal car Mr Hill used a 1928 twin-cam Sunbeam. Also lying there unrestored were a vast Minerva saloon, an Albert, a pre-WW1 Singer, a Stoewer with a papier-mache open 2-seater body, an Ansaldo, a six-cylinder Napier landaulette (1910 ?), a very early skimpy-bodied Napier racer, and many other cars.

I kept a list at the time, but threw it away accidentally when having a clear-out as a student. His restorer drove a vintage Morgan , thus enabling me to experience the joys of three-wheel motoring.

I visited Caister Castle Museum in the 1990s, but did not recognise many of the exhibits from my visits to Wymondham 30 years earlier. The condition of the cars was dry but neglected - all R14's tyres were flat.
Nick

#15 Pullman99

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Posted 06 August 2010 - 09:10

The Caister Museum is owned by Alderman (he was always very particular about titles) P.R.Hill, JP. He must be well into his nineties now.....I visited Caister Castle Museum in the 1990s, but did not recognise many of the exhibits from my visits to Wymondham 30 years earlier. The condition of the cars was dry but neglected - all R14's tyres were flat.Nick


This all sounds rather sad. I keep missing the opportunity to visit - not helped by the museum being closed on Saturdays - but hopefully will get there before this season closes. From your post and earlier ones, it does sound as if there could be some quite serious conservation issues surrounding the Lotus and BRM items. Collections like this are very rarely sustainable in the long-term and, whilst often offering a splendid alternative to the mainstream museums like Beaulieu, they should be regarded as just that. Collections - where there is usually a degree of "trading" to effect change - rather than musums. It still begs the question as to why the owner purchawsed R14 in the first place as it would appear to be somewhat outside their original field of interest.

I guess it's a matter of "watch this space" for now. The no photography rule is just bizarre and I would imagine must be off-putting to most visitors.

Edited by Pullman99, 14 August 2012 - 16:37.


#16 john ruston

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Posted 06 August 2010 - 12:50

R14-Purchased it because he wanted it and/or could afford it.
As its been there for 15 or so years and grown in valve 100 fold wasn't a bad idea.

#17 Pullman99

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Posted 06 August 2010 - 14:51

R14-Purchased it because he wanted it and/or could afford it.As its been there for 15 or so years and grown in valve 100 fold wasn't a bad idea.


More like 35 years ago! I haven't seen R14 since its Coventry days but from what others have posted here, even if investment was the only criteria, the car is clearly not being looked after at all well. At the Herbert Art Gallery & Museum (predecessor of today's Coventry Transport Museum) it was in totally "ex-works" condition (although I realise that can be interpreted widely) and was, externally at least, immaculate. Shades of 38/1 when it was with Ford? Anyone know about the F1 BRM also displayed there? Plus the BRM H16 engine - reputedly from Lotus 43/1 - that they have as well?


#18 Leigh Trevail

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Posted 06 August 2010 - 15:54

Don’t be too hasty to criticise the museum and its owner. Presumably the Lotus has had nothing done to it since Colin Chapman gave it away, it may not be very well looked after and definitely deserves better, but equally; it has not been messed around with!




#19 Pullman99

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Posted 06 August 2010 - 16:36

Presumably the Lotus has had nothing done to it since Colin Chapman gave it away, it may not be very well looked after and definitely deserves better, but equally; it has not been messed around with!


As I have stated, I have not been to the museum (an omission soon to be rectified) but the views expressed in this thread by those that have visited would seem to offer a consensus. I think that these museums are generally charming and I greatly enjoy visiting them. I also fully accept that it is the owner's call whether or not they acquire a particular vehicle and how it is treated over succeeding years. I also take the point about it not having been messed around with. To find any vehicle that is as original as R14 apparently is - some 43 years after it last saw active service (in the Tasman series) - is wonderful.

It was the circumstances of its original sale by the family of Leonard Lee after having been gifted by Colin Chapman - and that the purchaser was a small museum in Norfolk that was, at best, viewed as very much a private collection and something of a tourist catchpenny - that was surprising at the time as it removed the car from a location that had very close connections with its achievements. At Coventry they simply did not have sufficient funds to allow the museum to purchase the car.

Edited by Pullman99, 07 August 2010 - 05:21.


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#20 coupekarter

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Posted 06 August 2010 - 20:15

I can confirm that Alderman Hill died around 10 years ago, and from conversations with some of the staff, it would appear that his will put the museum and all the exhibits into some sort of trust that forbades any of them to be sold, so don't hold your breath waiting for R14 to re-appear on the circuits.

#21 mfd

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Posted 07 August 2010 - 00:33

...into some sort of trust that forbades any of them to be sold

I find this sort of thing weird beyond comprehension

#22 Pullman99

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Posted 07 August 2010 - 05:58

...it would appear that his will put the museum and all the exhibits into some sort of trust that forbades any of them to be sold, so don't hold your breath waiting for R14 to re-appear on the circuits.


Thank you so much for that additional information. There does seem to be a certain degree of mystery surrounding this museum but, even if the collection was transfered to a family trust, it does not necessarily mean that it is safeguarded. As an entity, the trust would still need to remain viable and, depending whether it has been registered as a charity (not evident from the website), would be liable for all the usual financial outgoings as a business including business rates. There is a history of museums and collections being dispersed even when a controlling charity exists. To re-iterate one of my original points; it is essential that adequate conservation measures are employed to ensure the long-term survival of the vehicles in this museum's care. The contributors on this thread seem to support the view that the museum is not currently pursuing that ethos.

It is my personal view that many museums in the UK, whether or not they are owned or supported by charitable trusts or funded by local or national government agencies, are potentially facing the severest financial constraints not seen for several decades. This is particularly true of museums that are concerned with transport preservation for all the usual reasons not least sheer physical size of the objects but also the complexity and cost of restoration and conservation. This situation is likely to be accelerated by the outcome of the government's spending review and already several national museums are reviewing their "free admission" policy introduced under the previous administration. No museum is immune from these constraints and, although I believe that there is a place for the Caisters of this world, no museum - or any other visitor attraction for that matter - should be content with just carrying on as before. For some it will be a case for survival. Unless the Caister museum truly does have a bottomless pit of financial resources then it would seem to me that rationalising exhibits to create a stronger product would be a way of ensuring continuity. Given such circumstances, R14 would seem to be an obvious candidiate for disposal. It would be nice to think that someone from the Caister museum may be aware of this Forum and even better if they respond. All of this is conjecture on my part, and is very much a matter of Caister's own business, but it would be interesting to see what happens in the long-term.

I am trying to find a pic of R14 at Coventry as I know that the Herbert Art Gallery produced a postcard of it at that time. I will post when/if I find a copy but if anyone has a pic or two I would be delighted to see them on this thread.

Edited by Pullman99, 07 August 2010 - 10:19.


#23 coupekarter

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Posted 07 August 2010 - 09:50

I could be wrong, but I'm sure I remember reading that immediately prior to being auctioned, R14 was actually on display at Donnington.
Incidentally, the museum staff also told me that the collection was actually much bigger than could be fitted within the Caister buildings and that the rest were in storage somewhere, but wouldn't tell me where........Nick Savage's post probably holds the answer!

#24 David McKinney

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Posted 07 August 2010 - 10:50

I could be wrong, but I'm sure I remember reading that immediately prior to being auctioned, R14 was actually on display at Donnington.

Well, at Donington, anyway :)


#25 Allen Brown

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Posted 08 August 2010 - 11:39

I wasn't aware that Percy Hill had died. I spoke to him back in the 1980s but he wasn't very forthcoming.

What's wrong with a car being held in trust with a condition that it should not be sold. It's accessible if you care to make the visit and if it was sold it would probably end up in historic racing with the resulting loss of originality. There's nothing to stop the trust lending it to other museums or exhibitions from time to time.

Edited by Allen Brown, 08 August 2010 - 11:39.


#26 Pullman99

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Posted 08 August 2010 - 13:25

What's wrong with a car being held in trust with a condition that it should not be sold. It's accessible if you care to make the visit and if it was sold it would probably end up in historic racing with the resulting loss of originality. There's nothing to stop the trust lending it to other museums or exhibitions from time to time.


Absolutely. Except that the sentiments expressed in this thread would seem to suggest that although R14 is exhibited within a publicly accessible museum anyone wishing to discover more about this car (and possibly other vehicles in the collection) seems to be met with a swift refusal. And, as we know, photography is seriously verboten. I do know, personally, of at least one instance in the mid-1980s of a very well-known and respected historic car specialist contacting Caister at my suggestion (they had a client who wished to acquire a Lotus 33) only to be on the receiving end of an extremely angry response indicating that the car was not for sale. I am not sure if any other museum has enquired about borrowing R14 at any time. Normally this type of loan arrangement goes on all the time. The 1 1/2 litre F1 years, and essentially R14 belongs to that period of design, when British manufacturer interest arguably came of age is somewhat under-represented in museums. The National Motor Museum for instance does not have a single car from that period.

I do take the point, and I ceratainly support this view, that this car would suffer loss of originality if released into historic racing. Due to the car having "escaped" a post F1 career, R14 remains - as far as I am aware - in "as raced" condition very much like 38/1. From that standpoint, it is unique and, immediate conservation issues aside, I believe that it is absolutely essential that R14 should remain as such.





#27 Macca

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Posted 13 August 2012 - 11:21

I visited this strange place a couple of days ago - here are photos of Lotus 33 R14 and BRM P83 8303 (I think) that I managed to sneak

Paul M

Posted Image

Posted Image

#28 Allen Brown

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Posted 13 August 2012 - 11:51

Well done Paul!

#29 alansart

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Posted 13 August 2012 - 13:06

Posted Image


Strange roll over bar and seat belt position.


#30 mfd

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Posted 13 August 2012 - 13:26

Anyone know about the F1 BRM also displayed there? Plus the BRM H16 engine - reputedly from Lotus 43/1 - that they have as well?


If 83-01 is in Australia & 83-02 is the Donington car, the Caistor H16 must be 83-03, the car Stewart finished second in at Spa.

#31 Allen Brown

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Posted 13 August 2012 - 14:35

Strange roll over bar and seat belt position.



Presumably from when it was raced in libre with a Rover V8.

#32 Alan Cox

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Posted 13 August 2012 - 16:14

Well done Paul!

Agreed, Paul. Thanks for your undercover endeavour. What a sad place - is that a spare H16 on a stand to the left of the BRM?

#33 molestrangler

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Posted 13 August 2012 - 17:20

What an incredible cheek to try and tell Caister Museum what it can or cannot do with it`s cars. Good luck to them! As regards lending cars to other museums there seems to be a lot of bad history of disputes over ownership in some of these cases, perhaps someone could post an example or two.

#34 Supersox

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Posted 13 August 2012 - 17:44

Presumably from when it was raced in libre with a Rover V8.

Yes I have an oil painting on the wall here done of and for Peter Gerrish when he raced it at the Nurburgring and the seat back/rollover bar is just the same

#35 Pullman99

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Posted 13 August 2012 - 18:57

Agreed, Paul. Thanks for your undercover endeavour. What a sad place - is that a spare H16 on a stand to the left of the BRM?


Yes! Well done to Paul for this amazing contribution to - primarily - the Lotus 33 R14 content of this thread. :up: (whisper) We won't tell...

Interesting to see the alleged BRM 83-03. Was this car ever displayed in the now closed Totnes Motor Museum in the '70s and '80s? Must look out some old pics. R14 looks better than I thought it would given some of the comments from earlier in this thread.

Edited by Pullman99, 14 August 2012 - 08:20.


#36 Pullman99

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Posted 13 August 2012 - 19:06

What an incredible cheek to try and tell Caister Museum what it can or cannot do with it`s cars.


No offence intended by anyone here I am sure. As I stated in an earlier Post, I personally enjoy the great variety of museums in the UK and elsewhere. Most are charming although some leave you wondering whether the contents are being properly cared for and will continue to exist longer term. You are quite correct that there are many examples of disputes arising out of ownership throughout all museums. Several have been aired on this Forum already. I do wish Caister well with its very long established collection and I also, personally, feel that R14 - and possibly others too - are totally out of context there but it is the apparently continual refusal to let these cars be seen by a wider public that seems to upset a number of people.

Edited by Pullman99, 14 August 2012 - 08:23.


#37 mfd

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Posted 13 August 2012 - 20:35

Interesting to see the alleged BRM 83-03. Was this car ever displayed in the now closed Totnes Motor Museum in the '70s and '80s? Must look out some old pics.

It was P115-1 that was displayed at Totnes.

#38 Allen Brown

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Posted 14 August 2012 - 10:03

"alleged"? Why "alleged"? The car has a continuous history from new.

#39 Pullman99

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Posted 14 August 2012 - 16:46

"alleged"? Why "alleged"? The car has a continuous history from new.


Sorry, didn't mean that there was any doubt about the car's authenticity, just picking up on an earlier post that by process of elimination, this must be 83-03.

Thanks also to mfd for the reminder that the Totnes BRM was P115-1. I'll try an post some pics when I have some more time.

Just found this!!

Journalist's comments on a visit in July 2012

Edited by Pullman99, 14 August 2012 - 17:01.


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#40 Allen Brown

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Posted 14 August 2012 - 17:03

Oh right; fair enough. Process of elimination rarely works with racing cars but on this occasion it's correct.

Doug and I did a register of all the BRMs a while back for inclusion in his BRM Vol 2 ... or Vol 3 ... or Vol 4? It might be a bit out of date by now!

#41 opplock

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Posted 14 August 2012 - 18:36

The no photography rule is just bizarre and I would imagine must be off-putting to most visitors.


This rule does seem strange but is it that unusual? An "Air Warfare" museum local to me make the following statement in their brochure

"Please note that on the grounds of both security and copyright, the use of cameras, video recorders or any other kind of recording equipment are not allowed in the museum".

#42 arttidesco

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Posted 14 August 2012 - 21:58

This rule does seem strange but is it that unusual?


Only other car museum I have heard of where photography is discouraged is the Collier museum in Florida, said to be for security reasons IIRC.

#43 Peter Morley

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Posted 17 August 2012 - 09:25

Agreed, Paul. Thanks for your undercover endeavour. What a sad place - is that a spare H16 on a stand to the left of the BRM?


Yes it is another H-16 engine.
Apparently they have Clark, Stewart & Hill items
e.g. Clark Lotus, Stewart BRM & Hill engine.

Even if they just let the spare engine go that would enable another car to run (e.g. one of Andy Middlehurst's engineless BRMs) but the museum won't let anything go.

#44 mfd

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Posted 17 August 2012 - 09:48

Even if they just let the spare engine go that would enable another car to run (e.g. one of Andy Middlehurst's engineless BRMs) but the museum won't let anything go.

I wonder if it really is one of the ex Lotus engines?

#45 Peter Morley

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Posted 17 August 2012 - 13:39

I wonder if it really is one of the ex Lotus engines?


Andy bought two BRM H-16 chassis with 1 engine and he has used the engine in the Lotus which means he probably still has 2 engineless BRM chassis.
Given how few H-16s they made I wouldn't be surprised if they all saw duty in both BRMs & Lotuses (wasn't the winning Lotus engine BRMs spare anyway).


#46 mfd

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Posted 17 August 2012 - 13:54

Andy bought two BRM H-16 chassis with 1 engine and he has used the engine in the Lotus which means he probably still has 2 engineless BRM chassis.
Given how few H-16s they made I wouldn't be surprised if they all saw duty in both BRMs & Lotuses (wasn't the winning Lotus engine BRMs spare anyway).

So what you're saying Peter, is AM has two of the three H16 P83 chassis & one of the two Lotus 43?

#47 Peter Morley

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Posted 18 August 2012 - 08:31

So what you're saying Peter, is AM has two of the three H16 P83 chassis & one of the two Lotus 43?


He bought P83 no. 8301 and the P109 which was built as a show car as well as Lotus 43-1.
The BRMs were advertised by Cheshire Classics but last time I heard they hadn't been sold.

Donington have the other P83.

#48 coupekarter

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Posted 06 February 2013 - 16:52

The "spare" H16 engine on the stand to the left of the BRM, is actually Clarks 1966 US GP winning engine.

#49 mfd

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Posted 06 February 2013 - 17:08

The "spare" H16 engine on the stand to the left of the BRM, is actually Clarks 1966 US GP winning engine.

My post 44 - so you've had it confirmed?

#50 mfd

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Posted 06 February 2013 - 17:57

I'm fascinated by the engines - excluding the 4 valve, in "History of the Grand Prix Car 66-85" Doug Nye only refers to five P75 engines. So if there's two at Caister, one in the P83 & the other separately, then another in the Donington car, one with Andy Middlehurst & one in the P115 now living in France.