Six years have passed since I last called in on this wonderful museum. I was in the area again and as I heard that some changes had been made a re-visit seemed appropriate.
Changes for the Better
I am pleased to report that the changes have been entirely positive. More importantly the great man himself is still about and as lively as ever. Hopefully, I will be that active when (if!!) I hit 90. Though, unlike my first visit he was not about today.
All won by Sammy Miller himself. Amazing
Back in 2017 I came away thinking this is perhaps the finest collection dedicated to motorcycles I have ever seen. I have visited the National Motorcycle Museum and a number of other excellent places since, but Miller’s eclipses them all.
The collection is immaculately presented and I mean immaculately. Every bike gleams. There is not a spec of dust in sight. I would even challenge the competitors in TV’s ‘Four-in-a-Bed’ to find anything!
The breath of exhibits is excellent too, spanning the years from the late 19th century to well-known race bikes from only a few seasons ago. One indicator of a good museum is discovering something new of interest every time you go. Either something new, or something you did not spot previously.
You can never have too many Yamaha Two Strokes
Mammoth by name, Mammoth by nature
The Oldest bike on display of 1898 vintage
To the newest of 2018
Some Mother’s Do Have ‘Em. Spencer’s mount…
Not quite as fast…
Taking in the Detail This Time
This time it was all the different configuration of engine layouts that caught my eye. Some were really unusual and not seen on bikes today. Such as really off-beat ideas like a stacked, four-stroke, radial. My head hurt trying to work that one out. Mind you I struggle when asked to count beyond five…
The Stacked Radial
Radial, reminiscent of a WW1 fighter engine
Air-cooled V Twin Vincent – the best looking bike engine of all time?
Longitudinally mounted inline four.
Japanese and Italian takes on the across the frame six
Traverse inline flat four
Even the genius Millyard gets a look in
All the cabinets are full of interesting trinketry (c. Henry Cole)
It really pays to absorb some of the details on many of the exhibits and appreciate the intricate engineering that has gone into their design and build.
New Galley and a Multinational Approach
The new gallery was good to see, with many of the vintage four-cylinder American bikes such as the magnificent Henderson concentrated on this level.
The New Gallery
Mentioning the American bikes reminds that bikes of many nations are on display, which is good to see.
It was really interesting to get a glimpse of the onsite workshop. Expansive and very much not a museum piece. A couple of bikes were up on bike lifts being restored and maintained to the immaculate level I noted throughout the museum.
He still likes to get his hands dirty
His workshop made for an interesting comparison with the 1930’s era dioama
An added bonus the museum boasts an on-site café that serves up a mean breakfast. The friends who I visited with really enjoyed their fry-ups immensely while sipped spring water and nibbled at a lettuce leaf.
Normally I say at this point that if you are in the area pay a visit. In this instance I will go further: Make a special journey. Get on your bike and get down there. You won’t regret it.
Words and Pictures: Tony Donnelly