The Museum's History

A brief history of the Cotswold Motoring Museum.

Opened in 1978

The Cotswold Motoring Museum first opened in Bourton-on-the-Water in 1978. It was founded by Mike Cavanagh who had recently returned to England from South Africa where he worked as a print manager.

Mr Cavanagh had been collecting motoring items since 1959, when he bought a 1929 Brooklands Riley for £30. Collecting almost became an obsession, with items purchased from around the world and then transported back to South Africa. This included a 1935 Austin Taxi which he bought while in England and then had it shipped back home. The first enamel sign, advertising Pegasus Motor Spirit, was found tied to a gate in the Eastern Cape. It now accompanies more than 800 signs on display at the Museum.

Bought in 1999 by CSMA Club

When Mr Cavanagh retired in 1999 he sold the Museum to CSMA Club. Since then the Museum has continued to develop. The grade-two listed building which houses the Museum has been repaired and improved. This building dates back to the 18th Century and was once a Mill with a water-wheel driven by the passing River Windrush. The Mill was later powered by steam, and then diesel, before ceasing operations altogether in 1949. The building was then used as a store and retail outlet for a farmers' cooperative before closing down completely in the early 1970s. It lay empty for a number of years before being transformed into the Motoring Museum.

Year round showcase

CSMA Club have made much effort to improve the standards of collections care, access, interpretation and education. The collection is still growing, since 1999 CSMA Club have continued to acquire cars, motorcycles and bicycles as well as adding to the memorabilia collection. In 2005/6 CSMA Club built a new gallery which allowed the collection to expand further to cover motoring in the 1960s and 70s. This is a Museum with a fascinating history and we are hoping, a very bright future.

Download the Cotswold Motoring Museum brochure

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