43. Cotswold Motoring Museum, Bourton-on-the-Water

Located in the picturesque village of Bourton-on-the-Water,Some of the vintage vehicles and signs at the Cotswold Motoring Museum. the Cotswold Motoring Museum & Toy Collection provides a truly fascinating journey through the 20th Century.

The museum is overflowing with vintage car collections, classic cars and motorcycles, caravans, original enamel signs and an intriguing collection of motoring curiosities.

The bulk of the collection dates from the period between 1920 and 1950, with a particular focus on the 1930s, although in recent years the collection has been expanded to encompass the 1960s and 1970s.

The museum owns 36 cars dating from 1922 to 1973, most of them made by British manufacturers including Austin, Rover, Riley, MG, Jaguar, Sunbeam and Invicta, but BMW, Fiat and Volvo are also represented.

Two cars are on long-term loan to the museum: a 1911 Alldays & Onions and a replica of Ford’s original quadricycle.

The museum also displays 24 motorbikes and scooters dating from 1919 to the 1970s, and three caravans.

The bicycle collection comprises of 35 cycles and includes a wooden ‘boneshaker’ (1867), a 'penny-farthing', some interesting early ‘safety bicycles’ and a number of more recent examples from leading British manufacturers.

The museum's most prized exhibit is TV's little 'super hero car' Brum who became famous through the show on children's television. Brum's adventures always start and end at the museum.

The museum is also home to more than 800 signs – mostly enamel signs related to motoring. It also has a substantialThe museum's star attraction - Brum the "super hero car" with his own TV show. collection of petrol pumps, tools and other miscellaneous forecourt paraphernalia dating up to 1950. 

There is a huge selection of toys and games, including pedal cars, bicycles, aeroplanes and even a pedal snail. In addition, there is an activity roadshow aimed at young children with brass rubbing, feely boxes and giant jigsaws. 

The museum buildings encompass a former mill with several outbuildings, including the original 'motor house' of the neighbouring manor.
The museum was founded in 1979 by Mike Cavanagh, a private collector who amassed a substantial collection over a period of 20 years whilst living in South Africa. 

When he returned to England, he shipped his entire collectionThere are old wheels aplenty at the Cotswold Motoring Museum. over with him and was lucky enough to find the Old Mill in Bourton-on-the-Water disused and up for sale. The mill building and its location made an ideal home for the collection and so the museum was born. 

Mr Cavanagh ran the business himself and continued to collect for another 20 years before retiring and in 1999, he sold the whole enterprise to the Civil Service Motoring Association (CSMA), a not-for-profit leisure organisation with a long history of motoring.

Mike Cavanagh’s collection remains the core collection of the museum today and as such, the museum largely represents the personal interests and preferences of this enthusiast.

So as well as motoring memorabilia, the museum displays miscellaneous items of general historical interest including cameras, gramophones and radios, cigarette boxes and other product packaging, and small Victorian household items.

More information

Cotswold Motoring Museum & Toy Collection
The Old Mill, Sherborne Street, Bourton-on-the-Water, Gloucestershire GL54 2BY 
01451 821255
Open from 10am-6pm seven days a week from mid-February to early December

© Loving The Cotswolds. 2022.