Atwell-Wilson Motor Museum – Review

Tucked away in the Wiltshire village of Calne you will find the Atwell-Wilson Motor Museum. Being honest, I have to admit that I had never heard of it until very recently. But the feedback I’d heard and read was very positive. So I decided to check it out for myself.

Hidden gem

Upon arrival you are greeted by the sight of what appears to be a domestic bungalow. Only an old forecourt petrol station sign draws you around to the back of  building, where you soon see the museum building and entrance proper.

Park up and initially the museum seems simple and compact externally. However when you enter you immediately go into a small but inviting entrance lobby and tea-room. Many bikers love a good tea-room and I am no different! Things are looking promising already!

Cough up the very reasonable £10 entrance fee to a friendly member of staff and in you go: Wow! I wasn’t expecting that.. the place is WAY bigger than it looks! The collection has it’s focus on cars, rather than bikes, but I’m a big petrol head in general, so I was more than happy. The exhibits range from a works Mini in full 1960’s rally specification, a Williams F1 car, loads of American tin and a hall of cars like those our parents drove: Vauxhalls, Fords etc. I loved it.

The museum has some great exhibits

But what about the bikes? Well as you work your way around the halls you double back on yourself and are greeted by a neatly presented hall dedicated to all thing two-wheeled.  Laid out in two precise rows, the collection consists of around two-dozen bikes spanning from the early days of biking, right up to more recent machines form the 70’s and 80’s that I can relate to more.

Soft Spot

A late 1970’s Suzuki GS1000E caught my eye straight away. A beefy bike that I have always rather liked. They seem to sit in the shadow of the Kawasaki Z1 somehow. Unfairly in my view. A friend of mine rode one back in day and even rocked up to my wedding on it. My wife and I had some of our wedding pictures taken with it.

Suzuki GS1000G. Cool and capable

Honda CB125T  Superdream. The thinking man’s choice

Other notable bikes for me included an Ariel Square Four sidecar outfit. a lovely 1969 Triumph 500 and a Honda Cub.

Honda Cub, I had some great fun on my example as a snotty teenager

Gorgeous ’69 Triumph


Legendary Square Four. Plenty of grunt to move the chair about

Very tidy Ariel

Honda Vision. My wife had one, and I was once part of a team that rode one from John O’Groats to Lands End!

Lovely old Douglas

The Mystery Machine

I even came across a bike that I have never heard of. Produced in Russia (or more correctly the USSR) the Voskhod 175 dated from 1972. It looked a neat enough bike, in the spirit of a Bantam or James.

Voskhod 175. A What?

Drop in When You’re in the Area

Overall then, the Atwell Wilson Motoring Museum is a cracking set up. The ideal place to to drop in for a cuppa and a gander the next time you’re riding a loop in the area. Just remember that it is closed on a Monday.

Words and Pictures: Tony Donnelly