The 2012 Festival of Black Country Vehicles was held at the Black Country Living Museum on 29th July, the last Sunday of the month.

The unique event celebrates vehicle manufacturing in the Black Country, a once vast industry that employed many thousands of people, and produced large numbers of vehicles, ranging from bicycles and motorcycles, to cars, lorries, and buses. Older visitors could take a trip down memory lane to relive their motoring past, and youngsters could discover what their fathers and grandfathers used to drive.

Some of the older vehicles alongside the Newcomen engine.

Around one hundred locally-made vehicles were on display, many produced by companies that were once household names. The older cars included models manufactured by Bean, Clyno, Jensen, Star, Sunbeam, Swallow, and Turner. Also present were more modern cars built by Rickman, Quantum, and Westfield.

The wide range of motorcycles included vehicles made by A.J.S., DKR, DMW, Sprite, Sunbeam, and Swallow. There were Guy and Daimler commercial vehicles, and several old bicycles, including a Sunbeam Roadster from 1888.

Some of the many motorcycles that were present.

A fine collection of Turner sports cars.

The museum's 1912 Star Victoria. A type of car much favoured by doctors because of its large boot.

The visitors greatly enjoyed one of the highlights of the day, the unforgettable series of cavalcades, during which many of the vehicles were driven around the 26 acre site, to recreate the once familiar sights and sounds of a bygone era.

The many visitors included John Meadows, grandson of engine and car manufacturer Henry Meadows, and also David Owen whose family ran Rubery Owen in Darlaston. Rubery Owen manufactured vast numbers of vehicle chassis, and wheels, and greatly improved production techniques. The first cold-pressed car chassis in the country were produced there, which paved the way for affordable, mass-produced vehicles. The Stevens family who ran A.J.S. in Wolverhampton were well represented by Jim and Joan Stevens, and Peter Stevens, who were delighted to see the A.J.S. machines.

Archie Beggs riding the 1928 Sunbeam T.T. machine.

The museum’s Star Victoria was on display to celebrate its centenary, and Chris Habgood’s lovely 1914 Star Tourer made a spectacular sight as it travelled around the museum.

The motorcycles included the 1928 Sunbeam T.T. machine that won the 1928 Senior Isle of Man T.T. ridden by the late Charlie Dodson. It did a lap of honour around the site before the motorcycle cavalcade, to celebrate the centenary of Sunbeam motorcycles, which first went into production in the autumn of 1912.

Another interesting motorcycle, which had a tragic start to its life, could be seen on the terrace. It is Bob Higgs’ A.J.S. R10 from 1930, which is believed to be the machine on which Freddie Hicks lost his life in the 1931 Senior T.T. He appeared to have suffered from a heart attack, and ran into the post office at Union Mills. It was later rebuilt and successfully raced by Phil Heath in the 1960s.

The motorcyclists prepare for the cavalcade.

Chris Habgood's 1914 Star Tourer.

Bill Lucas's 1950 Guy Otter lorry.

Peter Lockley's 1955 Swallow Doretti.

Brian Rollings at the wheel of the 1912 Star Victoria.

The oldest vehicle present was Paul Watton’s 1888 Sunbeam Roadster, the oldest known surviving Sunbeam bicycle.

Trevor Davies in charge of the cavalcades, with Derek Spencer at the wheel of the museum's A.J.S. Tourer.

Vehicles came from as far afield as Kidlington, Leyland, Milton Keynes, Nailsea, Runcorn, South Wales, Wigan, Swindon, and Welshpool. Indoor attractions included displays about local vehicle manufacturers by David Evans, Bev Parker, Paul and Yvette Webb, and a sale of second-hand books by Roy Lote. There was also a sale of old tools by the mine, and background music provided by a traditional jazz band.

There was much to see and do at the museum, but all too soon it was over. As usual it had been an enjoyable and successful event, greatly enjoyed by all.

The traditional jazz band.

Three Guys, and a Bean.




Some of the indoor displays.

Roy Lote and his book stall.

Some of the older cars.

A large array of motorcycles.

The tool sale that was by the mine.

The event was made possible thanks to the hard work and dedication of a team of museum employees and volunteers. Special thanks must go to the museum’s Events Coordinator, Jane Allcock, who worked tirelessly to ensure that everything was in place on the day, and that nothing had been forgotten. Thanks must also go to the event organiser Brian Rollings, to Trevor Davies who controlled the cavalcades in the pace car, and to members of the museum’s vehicle volunteer group who booked-in the entries, and acted as marshals throughout the day.

Another view of the older cars.

Some of the motorcycle owners viewing the exhibits.

A final view of the motorcycles.


 More Photographs

1. Cars 1
2. Cars 2
3. Car Cavalcade
4. Motorcycles 1
5. Motorcycles 2
6. Motorcycles 3
7. Motorcycle cavalcade
8. Commercial vehicles

The end of a perfect day.

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