By travelling just across the border dividing Dorset and Somerset, guests at Summer Lodge can reach the internationally renowned celebration of automobiles, the Haynes Motor Museum. Developed from founder John Haynes’ passion for motoring and opened in 1985 to showcase his collection of cars, the museum has gone on to become one of the most celebrated collections in the United Kingdom. We get an inside look with the museum’s curator Matt Piper.
Have you always been a car enthusiast?
‘Yes, I have. My father used to collect diecast model cars, buses and lorries, and from a very early age I was hooked. Being fastidious about the condition and storage of the models I then collected, with hindsight, suggested employment in this museum was perhaps inevitable.’
Is John Haynes OBE still actively involved with the Museum?
‘Indeed, he is; John (pictured below) is the Chairman of Haynes International Motor Museum’s board of trustees, and we often have the pleasure of seeing him at the museum. John is the founder of our wonderful collection and the museum built around it.’
How long has it taken to build up such an extensive collection?
‘The museum first opened its doors in 1985 with a core collection of 29 cars – in essence Mr Haynes’ private collection, which he kindly gave away – and has since grown into one of the largest motor museums in the United Kingdom. Since 1985, in just over 30 years, we have added over 300 motor vehicles to our collection, which is very impressive by anyone’s standards.’
Where do you source these cars?
‘As a charity our preference is of course is for vehicles to be given to us as donations; otherwise, they have been purchased. It is the museum’s policy to own the vehicles it has in its collection, and only a relatively small number are on loan for specific reasons.’
What vehicles have you been most excited by in the exhibition?
‘Every single one of our vehicles is exciting for different reasons. Some are more significant than others in terms of their history, engineering or rarity, and so I might mention our 1898 Daimler Wagonette, 1931 Model J Duesenberg with its Tourster coachwork, or our 2001 Manchester Special based on a 1928 lorry chassis running a 27-litre Meteor tank engine. From a personal point of view, it gives me great pleasure to be able to be so close to cars that I loved when I was a child; cars that I could never dream to now be responsible for.’
Are there any specific cars you’d like to add to the collection?
‘Yes, but the answer is rather more complicated than that. There are international marques that for various reasons we do not have represented in the collection and an example of this is Sweden’s Volvo, in particular that manufacturer’s 120 series ‘Amazon’.’
Other than the exhibitions, what activities does the museum offer?
‘At any given time, we are likely to be working on one or more vehicles in our collection to ensure its ongoing preservation. Our view is that a key aspect of preservation is operation and, therefore, visitors to the museum will often be able to see displays of cars and motorcycles from the collection being driven.’
Who does the museum appeal to?
‘The museum appeals to anyone who has an interest in any aspect of motoring, or a curiosity to know more about this fascinating and entertaining subject. The museum is fortunate to have a broad collection that appeals to an equally broad range of tastes, interests and passions.’
Guests at Summer Lodge can make the most of their visit to the Haynes Motor Museum by coinciding their stay with one of the museum’s events such as the regular Sunday fixture, the Haynes Breakfast Club, giving visitors the chance to meet other vehicle owners over a hearty breakfast.
Image credits © Haynes Motor Museum