Tucked away in the Derbyshire peak district town of Bakewell, is a real gem of a biker’s paradise. Run in aid of charity, and housed in Tannery House, an old Bakewell Tart bakery in the centre of town, the collection is well put together and presented, some machinery having enjoyed lavish restorations, while others are in as run trim, lending an authentic feel and aroma to the proceedings.
The Museum came about in 1997,and was founded by two friends, Peter Mather and Phil Crosby, the former being an established collector of all things two-wheeled and the latter being the owner of the empty bakery, albeit with a keen interest in engineering, that admits to becoming an enthusiastic biker in more recent times. Now with over 50 machines on display, from the very beginnings of biking, to the heyday of the British industry, the collection is presented in as near to its natural environment as is possible indoors. From the moment you approach the museum you are met with memorabilia adorning the entrance area, an original AA box is used as the box office, while an old red telephone box and countless tin advertising hoardings create the right image. Once inside the museum is packed with period pieces, clothing and all manner of accessories, tools and even biking essentials of the time on display.
Peter Mather adds “What we have tried to reflect is the development of the motorcycle over the years, for instance with engine configurations, we have a V4, an inline 4, and a square 4 in the collection, which is an enviable representation of machines. It is the same with all other types and styles of power plants too, from the early single cylinder engines, often built into a wheel of a bicycles, to all manner of gearbox and transmission ideas.”
”It also goes right back to the early days of motorised transport” Phil added “We are lucky enough to have a very rare 1899 Gaillardette 800cc side valve tricycle that was in the science museum for many a year, and alongside that the 1901 200cc Singer that features a very futuristic cast alloy rear wheel with the engine placed within. We have many more ground breaking machines too, including a 1924 Big Port 350cc AJS and the 7R racer of 1949, to the actual 250cc NSU SportMax that Herman Paul Muller rode to the world title in 1955. We take the collection all the way through to the late 60s, which also turned out to be the last throws of the original British motorcycle industry, so it’s a convenient stopping off point.”
The collection currently ends in 1969 with the 370cc AJS Stormer. “We have had to make a decision based upon space issues” Pete added “But there can be no doubt the Japanese onslaught of the next decade did give us some superb machines, if only we had to space to display them. Its not only space, its time to keep on top of the many jobs that already need doing, a good proportion of the machinery on display is kept in running condition, with many registered for regular road use too, recent beneficiaries of this has been the Hairy Bikers, who featured the museum and tested a pair of our Brough Superiors for their television show.”
When asked about the numbers who attend Phil said “Year on year we have seen the visitor numbers increase, over the last ten weekends that we opened we saw over 6000 people pass through. There are always at least two officials in attendance, more when possible, as most people are keen to find out more or just want to stand and reminisce about the machinery. We get a lot of return visitors, and surprisingly the percentage of older visitor to the younger ones has changed over the years. As the word spreads we are attracting the more modern biker to see what we have here, and visitors often pack the wife, or partner, off to see the delights of Bakewell, while they enjoy the bikes and memorabilia on display here.”
The museum opens at weekends and bank holidays throughout the summer while parties and groups are welcome by prior arrangement. “We are always willing to do private visits when possible” said Phil “We had one call recently, well out of season, asking if we were open for a visit and when asked where they were coming from the caller said Canada, apparently a group wanted to visit us while their wives continued on to Paris for a shopping trip, we simply had to accommodate their wishes after all that effort.”
The museum is quite unique in its approach and well worth a visit when in the area, the entrance fee is just a couple of quid and all the proceeds go to the local Bakewell and Eyam Community transport charity (BECT), which in turn provides minibus transport for people with the peak district national park and to date well over £60,000 has been raised for this worthy cause. Check out the website for the opening dates and times for 2010 as well as further details of the many machines on display.
M & C Museum
Tel 01629 815 011
M&C Classic Bike Museum Gallery