National Motorcycle Museum (UK)
|Visitors||250,000 per year|
The National Motorcycle Museum occupies an 8-acre (32,000 m2) site in Bickenhill, Solihull, England and holds the world's largest collection of British motorcycles. In addition to over 850 motorcycles, which cover a century of motorcycle manufacture, the museum has conference facilities. It is located close to the junction of the A45 and the M42, very close to Birmingham Airport.
The founder of the museum, construction entrepreneur and self-made millionaire Roy Richards, started collecting good examples of British motorcycles in the 1970s. The museum opened in 1984 with an initial collection of 350 machines.
The museum was developed to include conference facilities in 1985. The museum has become the largest collection of British motorcycles in the world, with over 250,000 visitors a year.
The museum was severely damaged by a fire which broke out shortly before 5pm on 16 September 2003. West Midlands Fire Service investigators concluded that a cigarette thrown away in a designated smoking area was responsible for igniting a pile of cardboard boxes containing old air-conditioning filters. The fire spread very rapidly inside the museum's dropped ceilings which, though conforming to safety regulations, did not contain a sprinkler system. The building did have smoke detection and fire alarm equipment which contacted the fire service within minutes of the fire starting, however the fire had taken a strong hold before it was discovered on site. Staff and people attending a conference helped to save more than 300 historic motorcycles but three of the five exhibition halls were completely burnt out. 120 firefighters were needed to put out the inferno which was visible for 15 miles (24 km). Fire crews were delayed by rush hour traffic and hindered by an inadequate hydrant on site, but the fire was extinguished after about an hour and a half. Many of the museum's rarest and irreplaceable exhibits were destroyed, with the loss of 380 motorcycles. The cost of the fire was estimated at over £14 million.
After fifteen months and a £20m rebuild which included installation of a £1.2m sprinkler system, the museum was reopened on 1 December 2004. 150 of the motorcycles that had been destroyed in the fire were fully restored for the re-opening. Many of the fire damaged motorcycles were restored to showroom condition.
The museum is affiliated to the British Motorcycle Charitable Trust. The motorcycles on display represent examples of well known makes, such as BSA, Triumph and Norton as well as less well known makers including Coventry-Eagle, Montgomery and New Imperial.
Golden Dream Brough
One of the most valuable motorcycles in the world the Brough Superior Golden Dream, which is the only example of George Brough's show model for the 1938 Olympia show. Handbuilt by Brough and Freddie Dixon, the Golden Dream has two pairs of horizontally opposed cylinders, one above the other, with two longitudinal crankshafts to give vibration free running. The two crankshafts shafts are geared together, with one driving the rear wheel and the other driving the oil pump and magdyno. Two Brough Dream Fours were built but World War II stopped development. The second Brough Dream has a black and chrome finish and is in private ownership.
Wilkinson Luxury Tourer
Built by the Wilkinson Sword company before the First World War the first 'Wilkinsons' were aimed at military use. Optional accessories included a sidecar complete with Maxim machine gun, and a steering wheel instead of handlebars. The model displayed in the museum was built in 1912 and is the top-of-the-range four-cylinder water-cooled shaft drive version. Originally air-cooled, the Wilkinson TMC engine was water-cooled from 1911 and described as a ‘Luxury Touring Motor Cycle’.
- Brooks, John (2000). The National Motorcycle Museum. Jarrold Publishing.
- "History of the National Motorcycle Museum". Retrieved 2008-05-21.
- Duckworth, Mick (November 2003). "Gutted!". Classic Bike. Peterborough: EMAP Automotive (286): 10–15.
- "Fire destroys motorbike collection". BBC News. 2003-09-17. Retrieved 2008-05-21.
- "£14 million bill for motorcycle museum blaze". Retrieved 2008-05-21.
- "National Motorcycle Museum reopens". Retrieved 2008-05-21.
- "British Motorcycle Charitable Trust". Retrieved 29 November 2009.
- "Brough Golden Dream". Retrieved 2011-11-16.
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