With a total over 1,800 accredited museums in the UK, two things are clear. We Brits love museums, and that there's massive potential for great motor-focused museum exhibitions, events and showcases. Including such locations as the historic Brooklands Museum of London, the Beaulieu National Motor Museum in New Forest, Coventry's Transport Museum and the Heritage Motor Centre at Gaydon, British car fanatics have plenty of choice for interesting and educational day-trips.
Here are our picks for the top UK motoring museums:
Beaulieu National Motor Museum
Location | Brockenhurst, Hampshire
Admission | £20 (Adult), £9.95 (Aged 5 - 12)
Website | www.beaulieu.co.uk
Phone | 01590 612345
Beaulieu is an award winning family visitor attraction at the heart of the New Forest National Park operated by Beaulieu Enterprises Ltd. There are over 800 years of heritage to be seen on the Beaulieu Estate, which has been in the ownership of the Montagu family for over four centuries. From these humble beginnings, encouraged by a new public interest in motoring heritage, the Montagu Motor Museum would develop. Supported by the British motor industry and enthusiasts, the museum continued its expansion, becoming the National Motor Museum in 1972.
Since 1972, the National Motor Museum has been governed by The National Motor Museum Trust, an independent charity. It boasts a world famous collection of vehicles and associated motoring archives. With over 250 vehicles, the museum tells the story of motoring on the roads and circuits of Britain, from pioneering origins to the present day. The stylish, the elegant, the fast, the famous and the plain functional are all on show at what is the most well renowned motor museum in the UK.
Location | Weybridge, Surrey
Admission | £11 (Adult), £6 (Aged 5 - 16)
Website | www.brooklandsmuseum.com
Phone | 01932 857381 (Ext. 221)
Brooklands was the world’s first purpose-built motor racing circuit, constructed at Weybridge, Surrey in 1907. More than a great sporting arena, Brooklands was also the birthplace of British motorsport and aviation, home of Concorde and the site of many engineering and technological achievements throughout eight decades of the 20th century. The Museum displays a wide range of Brooklands-related motoring and aviation exhibits ranging from giant racing cars, motorcycles and bicycles to an unparalleled collection of Hawker and Vickers/ BAC-built aircraft, including the Second World War Wellington Bomber, Viking, Varsity, Viscount, Vanguard, VC10, BAC One-Eleven and the only Concorde with public access in South East England.
The Brooklands Museum hold a wide range of special events, mainly on weekends and during school holidays. These include car club visits (often with Test Hill in action), Auto Italia Italian Car Day,The Brooklands Double Twelve Motorsport Festival, aviation events and car rides on weekdays during school holidays. See our Events pages for further details. Brooklands Museum Trust is an independent charitable trust whose aims are to preserve and interpret the heritage of Brooklands and to use that heritage to inspire and educate future generations.
Coventry Transport Museum
Location | Coventry, West Midlands
Admission | Free
Website | www.transport-museum.com
Phone | 024 7623 4270
Coventry Transport Museum houses the largest publicly owned collection of British vehicles in the world, and tells the fascinating story of Coventry and its people through the rise and fall of its biggest industry. Now fully reopen after a £9.5m redevelopment programme, this huge museum offers a whole day out of fun and discovery for visitors of all ages – all in an iconic city-centre building, and all completely free.
Get within touching distance of some of the most amazing vehicles ever invented. See the cars your parents and grandparents drove or explore what you might be driving in the future. Get caught up in the real-life stories of Coventry’s innovators and entrepreneurs. Coventry Transport Museum isn’t just for transport enthusiasts: it’s for storytellers and escapists; speed freaks and thrill seekers; history buffs and culture vultures. It offers a uniquely human perspective on the city’s motoring heritage, and is one of the Midlands’ best days out.
Haynes Motor Museum
Location | Sparkford, Somerset
Admission | £10.95 (Adult), £5.95 (Children)
Website | www.haynesmotormuseum.com
Phone | 01963 440804
The Haynes International Motor Museum is dedicated to restore, retain and preserve motoring and motorcycling items of historical and cultural interest in England. It is an International Motor Museum taking the view that the complete history of the automobile and motorcycle can only be covered by looking at the developments from all over the world. Nearly every car in the museum is driven at least once a year. We believe that to preserve our motoring heritage properly all vehicles must be maintained in full working order.
The museum offers a host of familiar names such as Austin, MG, and Morris. Whilst for those seeking something more exotic there is a vast array of performance cars, from modern classics such as the Dodge Viper and XJ220, to the more historic Jaguar E Type and AC Cobra.
With more than 400 cars and bikes displayed in stunning style, dating from 1885 to the present day, it is the largest international motor museum in Britain.
Heritage Motor Centre
Location | Gaydon, Warwickshire
Admission | £12 (Adult), £8 (Aged 5 - 16)
Website | www.heritage-motor-centre.co.uk
Phone | 01926 641188
The Heritage Motor Centre is home to the world’s largest collection of British Cars; it boasts nearly 300 cars in its collection which span the classic, vintage and veteran eras and is a mecca for car enthusiasts. The Heritage Motor Centre opened in 1993 and it began as the amalgamation of the British Motor Industry Heritage Trust’s preserved car collection, which was previously split between offices in Studley in Warwickshire and a museum in Syon Park in London. The Trust decided that the car collection and artefacts were outgrowing its two locations and a dedicated purpose-built residence was needed to give the collection pride of place and open for public viewing. It was the Trust’s mission to keep the memory of the British motor industry alive and to tell its story to all, starting from the beginning of the 20th Century to present day.
The Heritage Motor Centre is known for having one of the top car collections in the world but it is much more than just a motor museum. From a comprehensive archive and picture library, education and learning programmes, a spectacular calendar of specialist motoring events, clubs, rallies, group visits, to weddings, corporate team building and conference facilities, there is a lot more at the Centre to be discovered. This is a museum with a difference, unique and versatile; the Heritage Motor Centre offers something for everyone, even those not so passionate about cars!
Lakeland Motor Museum
Location | Windermere, Cumbria
Admission | £7.95 (Adult), £5 (Aged 5 - 15)
Website | www.lakelandmotormuseum.co.uk
Phone | 015395 30400
The fascinating Lakeland Motor Museum nestles in the picturesque Leven Valley, at Backbarrow, close to the southern tip of Lake Windermere. A diverse and unique road transport collection of some 30,000 exhibits assembled over a period of almost 50 years is thoughtfully displayed alongside many non-motoring additions, in fully DDA compliant state-of-the-art premises with a beautiful riverside setting.
Significant investment has been made in all aspects of activity which impact on the quality of the visitor experience to ensure an enduring and positive memory. We offer something for everyone and are much more than just a motor museum. For details of our various exhibitions and the many interesting stories which the museum relates, using a variety of interpretation methods.