Tag Archives: cars

British Auto Legends

A new set of stamps issued today celebrates some of the most stylish and ‘cool’ British motor vehicles revered throughout the world. 2013 sees the 150th anniversary of the birth of Sir Henry Royce, motoring and aviation pioneer who founded Rolls-Royce with Charles Stewart Rolls. It is also the centenary of the founding of Aston Martin.

The stamp issue British Auto Legends explores two kinds of legendary cars – the thoroughbreds from the 1960s and 70s, many of which feature in experts’ lists of the greatest cars of all time, and four British workhorses – all classic and iconic vehicles.

British Auto Legends - The Thoroughbreds

British Auto Legends – The Thoroughbreds

British Auto Legends - The Workhorses - 1st Class: Morris Minor Van, Royal Mail; Austin FX4, London Taxi; Ford Anglia, Police; Land Rover, Coastguard.

British Auto Legends – The Workhorses – 1st Class: Morris Minor Van, Royal Mail; Austin FX4, London Taxi; Ford Anglia, Police; Land Rover, Coastguard.

Superb examples of the six thoroughbreds were located in virtually factory fresh conditions, and all were photographed by the expert car photographer James Mann, involving specialist lighting and set up to capture the classic lines of the vehicles.

British Auto Legends - The Thoroughbreds - 1st Class: Jaguar E-Type, 1961

British Auto Legends – The Thoroughbreds – 1st Class: Jaguar E-Type, 1961

British Auto Legends - The Thoroughbreds - 1st Class: Rolls-Royce Silver Shadow, 1965

British Auto Legends – The Thoroughbreds – 1st Class: Rolls-Royce Silver Shadow, 1965

British Auto Legends - The Thoroughbreds - 1st Class: Aston Martin DB5, 1963

British Auto Legends – The Thoroughbreds – 1st Class: Aston Martin DB5, 1963

British Auto Legends - The Thoroughbreds - £1.28: MG MGB, 1962

British Auto Legends – The Thoroughbreds – £1.28: MG MGB, 1962

British Auto Legends - The Thoroughbreds - £1.28: Morgan Plus 8, 1968

British Auto Legends – The Thoroughbreds – £1.28: Morgan Plus 8, 1968

British Auto Legends - The Thoroughbreds - £1.28 Lotus Esprit, 1976

British Auto Legends – The Thoroughbreds – £1.28 Lotus Esprit, 1976

One of the workhorses, the Morris Minor van in Royal Mail livery, is the contribution to the PostEurop theme of 2013 (the Post Van).

British Auto Legends - The Workhorses - 1st Class: Morris Minor Van, Royal Mail

British Auto Legends – The Workhorses – 1st Class: Morris Minor Van, Royal Mail

For a country of such small geographical stature, Great Britain’s role in shaping the history of the automobile cannot be underestimated. From the kernel of the ‘horseless carriage’, grew an industry that once accounted for a quarter of the world’s car production and almost half of all vehicle exports. Today, car manufacturing remains a significant part of the British economy with several marques currently enjoying record sales. However, the road to prominence was littered with potholes.

An astonishing 221 firms entered the industry between 1901 and 1905. From this jumping off point, the British motor industry began to flourish, with the likes of Herbert Austin and William Morris applying mass production techniques as they bid to bring motoring to the masses. However, it was only after the end of Second World War that the UK truly became a car manufacturing powerhouse.

Initially afflicted by shortages of raw materials, the British motor industry soon found its feet as governmental controls channelled the supply of steel to firms that exported 50 per centlater 75 per cent – of production. The term ‘Export or Die’ was seared into the collective consciousness.

By contrast, France, Italy and Germany’s motor industries had suffered grievously and took considerably longer to recover from the conflict. British firms were all too happy to exploit this situation and export sales surged with demand in Europe, as well as North America, resulting in record production figures. Add in commonwealth countries where there was a ready-made market and it is little wonder that the British motor industry was in the driving seat.

Unfortunately, this situation could not last. A mixture of political intrigue, shotgun weddings between former rivals and union unrest served to bring the industry to its knees. Sell-offs and plant closures would become watchwords in decades to come, culminating in the collapse of MG Rover in 2005. Yet for all the pain and pratfalls, the British motor industry continued to build landmark classics while also creating and exploiting niche markets – this is the nation that invented the sports car after all.

Today, there are just seven volume producers and they are all foreign owned. Nevertheless, these and other, smaller manufacturers continue to build cars that appeal on the global stage; brands that marry style with ingenuity and quality with refinement.

The British Auto Legends stamps can be ordered online at www.royalmail.com/autolegends and by phone on 08457 641 641. They are also available in Post Office Branches across the UK.

Fawley Hill Steam and Vintage Weekend

Last weekend we went to the Fawley Hill Steam and Vintage Weekend, Henley on Thames. We took our 1927 Mail Rail car to the Weekend to raise awareness about our exciting plans to open a new postal museum in 2016.

The Weekend took place on Sir William McAlpine’s private grounds. Entertainment included a biplane flyover, traction engines, models, vintage buses, Morris dancers and a ‘heritage’ steam-driven fairground. Below are some we took at the event. You can find more photos on Flickr.

BPMA Campaign Director Jeanette talking to guests about our plans to turn Mail Rail into a visitor attraction.

BPMA Campaign Director Jeanette talking to guests about our plans to turn Mail Rail into a visitor attraction.

Camels dressed up in their finery, waiting for the afternoon race.

Camels dressed up in their finery, waiting for the afternoon race.

A Morris man dons an animal costume from a by-gone era.

A Morris man dons an animal costume from a by-gone era.

‘Boris’ the polar bear was on display: a life-size sculpture cast entirely in bronze, created to highlight the plight of polar bears.

‘Boris’ the polar bear was on display: a life-size sculpture cast entirely in bronze, created to highlight the plight of polar bears.

An old-fashioned gypsy caravan.

An old-fashioned gypsy caravan.

Display of wartime ephemera.

Display of wartime ephemera.

Pre-1970s Brabham Formula 1 racing car.

Pre-1970s Brabham Formula 1 racing car.

This steam driven fairground is over 100 years old.

This steam driven fairground is over 100 years old.

Flyover from a vintage biplane.

Flyover from a vintage biplane.

A vintage steamroller on the move.

A vintage steamroller on the move.

Open Day with the Post Office Vehicle Club

This summer marks the 50th anniversary of the Post Office Vehicle Club (POVC) whose members document, preserve and operate a wide range of postal and telephones vehicles. On Saturday 15th September there is a rare opportunity to see some these vehicles exhibited alongside items from our own collection at an Open Day at our Museum Store in Debden, Essex.

The Museum Store is where we house our larger exhibits, including letter boxes, sorting equipment, furniture and vehicles. Until we are able to provide a full museum experience at our new home at Calthorpe House the Museum Store offers the only opportunity to get up close to our collection. We run regular guided tours of the Store but these are very popular and only a few tickets are available for the remainder of this year. The Open Day will offer a great opportunity to see items from our collection as well as some of the vehicles preserved by POVC members.

Morris series Z telephone utility in original wartime colours with blackout markings.

Morris series Z telephone utility in original wartime colours with blackout markings.

On display will be 18 vehicles from POVC members including a wartime Morris series Z GGY 20 telephone utility (in original wartime colours, complete with blackout markings), the unique Commer Avenger/Harrington mobile telegraph unit SLO 24, a newly restored Minivan mailvan PTV 231M, and a Bedford HA mailvan KCJ 759P. A selection of Morris Minors and BSA Bantam telegram motorcycles are expected, while two Morris JB mailvans from the 1950s are promised along with a restored Dodge Spacevan television detector van CNJ 423T in arctic blue livery.

Dodge Spacevan television detector van in arctic blue livery.

Dodge Spacevan television detector van in arctic blue livery.

The Open Day with the Post Office Vehicle Club is a free event to which all are welcome. For the enthusiast there will be illustrated presentations from POVC members and our Curator Julian Stray, whilst children will be able to enjoy a range of family-friendly activities.

Pillar boxes at our Museum Store in Essex.

Pillar boxes at our Museum Store in Essex.

For further details of the event and information on how to get to the Museum Store, please see our website.