Our 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 improved the standards of collections care, access, interpretation and education. The collection is still growing, since 1999 CSMA Club 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.


2016 CSMA Club becomes Boundless

CSMA was launched in 1923 by a group of founding members with a shared passion for motoring and adventure. Staying true to this pioneering spirit, 2016 saw the launch of Boundless, with the aim of helping members to make the most of their free time, by providing exclusive deals, perks and inspiration on everything from days out to holidays.

Special visit: HRH The Duke of Kent 2013

HRH The Duke of Kent, patron of CSMA Club opened ‘Mud,Track and Tarmac,’ the exhibition celebrating the Club’s 90th anniversary, at the Cotswold Motoring Museum, in Bourton on the Water.

The Duke, escorted by Museum manager Michael Tambini, spent the best part of an hour touring the museum’s extensive collection of motoring artefacts and took a particular interest in the Jaguar XK120 and the Austin 7 Swallow, two of the most beautiful cars in the museum’s collection.

In welcoming the Duke to the Museum, CSMA Club chairman Dave Farris said: “In 1923, Frank Vernon Edwards wanted to share his passion for motoring with his colleagues and as a result our Association was formed.

“90 years later, we’re still a Club run by its members, with a membership services and benefits that likely far exceed Frank’s imagination. We’re probably stronger as an Association than ever before, and we’re really looking forward to our 10th decade.”

After meeting some of the Museum’s army of volunteers, many of whom visit the Museum every week, the Duke was presented with a commemorative Winged Wheel by volunteer, Arthur Bartlett, who was born in the mill buildings adjoining the museum 82 years ago, and also unveiled a plaque commemorating his visit and the 90th anniversary.

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