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Buses, Brakes and Bibendum – the 2022 Spring Seminar weekend

The SAHB Spring Seminar returned to the British Motor Museum at Gaydon (we were last there in 2017) with an encouraging attendance (what with one thing and another still keeping numbers down) of 47.

But let’s start with the visit on the Saturday to the Transport Museum at Wythall. Around 15 members and guests were treated to a fine tour round the collection by the Wythall team. The museum contains many historically important buses (and a wonderful collection of electric milk floats!) from the Birmingham and Midlands area – but it is so much more. There is a focus on sparking the interest of visiting families in the social history of transport, by allowing people to experience, for example, what it was like to go to school on a bus (now almost unknown to young children), and to explain the disciplined training and continuing high standards of the bus driver in an era when this was a life-long career for many of them. And families can see what a crate of milk bottles looks like – also a rarity nowadays…

At Gaydon on Sunday, the start was delayed by the morning arrival of over 800 BMWs for an event, blocking the entire route from the motorway. But we appreciate that the museum needs to host as many events as possible as it recovers from the commercial depredations caused by COVID – and we did get to see and hear the sound of BMWs of many types being revved up by (mostly young) enthusiasts as they waited in the queue, amplified by an eclectic mix of aftermarket exhausts. The M3 and M5 drivers seemed to be silent, no doubt thinking of the cost of an engine rebuild.

There were six excellent presentations:

  • Stephen Laing:  An introduction to the British Motor Museum and its archive – with some stunning examples of the materials available to researchers and visitors
  • Anders Ditlev Clausager: The Motor Car and Safety – an Historical Perspective” – a fascinating illustrated journey through the dangers of motor cars and the development of solutions that protect us
  • Guy Loveridge: Guy presented a film produced by him on the development of the disc brake and the role of Mintex in it, in the form of an historically important interview by Simon Taylor of Stirling Moss and Norman Dewis, who gave recollections that can now never be repeated
  • Peter Grimsdale: Superveloce – How Italy, beaten and broken by war, drove the rest of the world off the road with the fastest, sexiest cars on Earth” that lovely title led us into a thoughtful and exciting analysis of the reasons why Italian cars took over the world, from humble Fiat 500s to dramatic Lamborghinis
  • Pat Jeater: “GRP33: History & Restoration – Things I did during Covid lockdown” – Pat brought his legendary sense of humour to a polished, hilarious and sometimes quite racy tale, not just of his restoration of his Franay Rolls-Royce 25/30 (Off Test at Derby 30 June 1937) but also of his deep research into the colourful owners of the car. Why racy? because wealthy owners of Rolls-Royces tended to have mistresses who then wrote autobiographies…
  • Paul Niblett: “Michelin advertising history in Britain” – We could not have asked for a better person to present this thoroughly researched, copiously illustrated and captivating talk on the promotional history of Michelin in the UK from the very beginning to the modern era. Paul worked for many years in a senior communications position in Michelin UK, and it showed.

Our thanks are due to all the speakers, and the organisers and staff from the SAHB, the Wythall Transport Museum and the British Motor Museum.

Here are some photos from the Saturday and Sunday events:

Guy Loveridge, SAHB chairman: “Do you know who I am?”


When you start a bus museum, remember that everything is bigger…


For those of a technical persuasion: the dropped rear axle from a Bristol Lodekka. The clue is in the name…


Solid evidence of the high standards demanded of bus drivers. I don’t think we meant that type of cap…


One of the fine presentations. This is Peter Grimsdale and a slide on the roots of Italian style: the Manifesto of Futurism (1909) by Filippo Tommaso Marinetti


Another excellent presentation. Pat Jeater with a slide of his car at the 1937 Paris Salon, near the beginning of its mysterious and fabled life

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