‘Our vision is a simple one: that we will engage and inspire people with the story of motoring.’
Jon Murden, 2nd October 2022.
For fifty years, the National Motor Museum has been educating, entertaining and enlightening people from all over the world, sharing with them the story of motoring and what better place to celebrate the half century than at the Royal Automobile Club in London on the occasion of the 2022 Beaulieu 100 dinner, the twelfth in its history.
Lord Montagu was there of course, as was NMM Trust Chief Executive Jon Murden, joined by both the President of the RAC, His Royal Highness Prince Michael of Kent, and the Chairman Ben Cussons who met guests at the reception. The guest of honour though was arguably a little older: the 1922 land-speed record Sunbeam 350hp in Sir Malcolm Campbell’s ‘Blue Bird’ colours in which he was the first person to officially set a record at over 150mph. Its blue paintwork and polished engine cover sat glinting in the lights of the Rotunda, surely one of the most impressive cars ever displayed there.
The evening was a chance to celebrate what had been achieved in the past 50 years. After a wonderful dinner and the novel experience of raising a loyal toast to His Majesty the King, the Motoring Personality of the Year Award was presented to Henry Pearman and Young Pioneer of the Year Award to Jack Groves, at 22 the youngest person to ride around the world on a motorcycle which he managed despite crashing on the way to Dover, experiencing wildfires in Australia and being stranded in Peru for many months due to the Covid-19 pandemic.
Lord Montagu then spoke of the vision of his father, Edward, and recalled watching in awe as a small child as the main collection building, then a very advanced structure, was erected and opened to the public by the Duke of Kent in 1972. Over 21 million people have entered the gates since then, and Lord Montagu acknowledged the support of sponsors and other groups that made this possible.
Jon Murden was then asked to talk about the future of the Museum. The story of motoring was changing, he told those present, and Beaulieu’s role was to celebrate everything about motoring and look to its future. ‘That last point is vital,’ he said. ‘Just as the Museum currently stands at a crossroads, so too does the whole of motoring. All across the world, people are talking about electrification, driverless cars and climate change. As a museum, we must engage with all these issues and questions, reflect the technology in our collections, be a forum for debate and offer insight and perspective on the future of mobility drawn from the history of our motoring past.’
The Museum would be developed to meet these challenges and opportunities, Jon explained. More modern exhibits that would resonate with younger visitors must be procured, with opportunities for more dynamic interaction with them, encouraging kids to be enthused about STEM (science, technology, engineering and maths). Digital, multi-media experiences were key, he said, as was the need for an exhibition space that could be used to house temporary exhibits. The right partnerships must be forged and the Museum structure updated to enhance the experience of visitors and display the wonderful archive that doesn’t currently offer open public access.
He explained that this would be a four-stage, £20M project. First, the Museum’s welcome experience would be updated, starting next year, at the same time as the maintenance backlog was being addressed. Then, in around 2024/25 the Collections Centre would be opened to the public and in 2026, the underground ride experience called ‘Wheels’. Finally, between 2027 and 2030, a significant new museum extension would be built. He was delighted, he said, that the Trustees had decided to invest in the expansion of the Development Office and fundraising team.
For many reasons, the 2022 Beaulieu 100 Club dinner was a very special event and one that will be remembered fondly for many years. As ever, it was great fun, the charity auction raised a significant amount of money and the members departed with a sense of reassurance that the National Motor Museum was in safe hands for the next 50 years of its life.
In the very early hours of the morning (zero 500 hours!)on 20th September, the NMM workshop team Stan, Mitch and Doug worked hard at getting The Sunbeam into the Rotunda of the Royal Automobile Club on Pall Mall…and back out again on the 3rd October after the B100 dinner event. Going up ramps on the street, through revolving doors (now removed) and then up a ramp elevated at some 25 feet extended over the stairs into the Rotunda …
…and then the same again on the 3rd when the star of the night was whisked back to Beaulieu…
A very big thank you to the team’s great efforts – It took a lot of Brass but they managed it!
Further thanks to the following :
Many thanks to John Mayhead for this fabulous account of the evening!
Duncan Moir for his entertaining auctioneering which raised £6065 for the Museum.
Beaulieu Estate and the National Motor Museum Trust, Mercedes Benz World, Don Wales, Douglas Samuel, and Simon Hoy Classic Racing Spirit for their auction lots.
Saffron and Paul Cable, along with Jon Horsley for their help during the Auction.
Ian Hunter from Formhalls for the Awards presented on the night.
Jack Groves and Henry Pearman our Award winners.
The Royal Automobile Club for the fabulous opportunity to host our Annual Dinner at Pall Mall.
And you, the members, for making it all possible.