The 2012 Festival of Black Country
Vehicles was held at the Black Country Living Museum on
29th July, the last Sunday of the month.
The unique event celebrates vehicle
manufacturing in the Black Country, a once vast industry
that employed many thousands of people, and produced
large numbers of vehicles, ranging from bicycles and
motorcycles, to cars, lorries, and buses. Older visitors
could take a trip down memory lane to relive their
motoring past, and youngsters could discover what their
fathers and grandfathers used to drive.
Some of the older vehicles alongside the
Around one hundred locally-made
vehicles were on display, many produced by companies that
were once household names. The older cars included models
manufactured by Bean, Clyno, Jensen, Star, Sunbeam, Swallow,
and Turner. Also present were more modern cars built by
Rickman, Quantum, and Westfield.
The wide range of motorcycles included vehicles made by
A.J.S., DKR, DMW, Sprite, Sunbeam, and Swallow. There were
Guy and Daimler commercial vehicles, and several old
bicycles, including a Sunbeam Roadster from 1888.
Some of the many motorcycles that were
A fine collection of Turner sports cars.
The museum's 1912 Star Victoria. A type of car
much favoured by doctors because of its large boot.
The visitors greatly enjoyed one of the
highlights of the day, the unforgettable series of
cavalcades, during which many of the vehicles were driven
around the 26 acre site, to recreate the once familiar
sights and sounds of a bygone era.
The many visitors included John
Meadows, grandson of engine and car manufacturer Henry
Meadows, and also David Owen whose family ran Rubery Owen in
Darlaston. Rubery Owen manufactured vast numbers of vehicle
chassis, and wheels, and greatly improved production
techniques. The first cold-pressed car chassis in the
country were produced there, which paved the way for
affordable, mass-produced vehicles. The Stevens family who
ran A.J.S. in Wolverhampton were well represented by Jim and
Joan Stevens, and Peter Stevens, who were delighted to see
the A.J.S. machines.
Archie Beggs riding the 1928 Sunbeam
|The museum’s Star Victoria was on display to celebrate
its centenary, and Chris Habgood’s lovely 1914 Star Tourer
made a spectacular sight as it travelled around the museum.
The motorcycles included the 1928 Sunbeam T.T. machine
that won the 1928 Senior Isle of Man T.T. ridden by the late
Charlie Dodson. It did a lap of honour around the site
before the motorcycle cavalcade, to celebrate the centenary
of Sunbeam motorcycles, which first went into production in
the autumn of 1912.
Another interesting motorcycle, which had a tragic start
to its life, could be seen on the terrace. It is Bob Higgs’
A.J.S. R10 from 1930, which is believed to be the machine on
which Freddie Hicks lost his life in the 1931 Senior T.T. He
appeared to have suffered from a heart attack, and ran into
the post office at Union Mills. It was later rebuilt and
successfully raced by Phil Heath in the 1960s.
The motorcyclists prepare for the cavalcade.
Chris Habgood's 1914 Star Tourer.
Bill Lucas's 1950 Guy Otter lorry.
Peter Lockley's 1955 Swallow Doretti.
Brian Rollings at the wheel of the 1912 Star
|The oldest vehicle present was
Paul Watton’s 1888 Sunbeam Roadster, the oldest known
surviving Sunbeam bicycle.
Trevor Davies in charge of the cavalcades,
with Derek Spencer at the wheel of the museum's A.J.S. Tourer.
Vehicles came from as far afield as
Kidlington, Leyland, Milton Keynes, Nailsea, Runcorn, South
Wales, Wigan, Swindon, and Welshpool. Indoor attractions
included displays about local vehicle manufacturers by David
Evans, Bev Parker, Paul and Yvette Webb, and a sale of
second-hand books by Roy Lote. There was also a sale of old
tools by the mine, and background music provided by a
traditional jazz band.
There was much to see and do at the museum, but all too soon
it was over. As usual it had been an enjoyable and
successful event, greatly enjoyed by all.
The traditional jazz band.
Three Guys, and a Bean.
Some of the indoor displays.
Roy Lote and his book stall.
Some of the older cars.
A large array of motorcycles.
||The tool sale that was by the
The event was made possible thanks to
the hard work and dedication of a team of museum employees
and volunteers. Special thanks must go to the museum’s
Events Coordinator, Jane Allcock, who worked tirelessly to
ensure that everything was in place on the day, and that
nothing had been forgotten. Thanks must also go to the event
organiser Brian Rollings, to Trevor Davies who controlled
the cavalcades in the pace car, and to members of the
museum’s vehicle volunteer group who booked-in the entries,
and acted as marshals throughout the day.
Another view of the older cars.
Some of the motorcycle owners viewing the
A final view of the motorcycles.
The end of a perfect day.