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Beaulieu Motor Museum Review

Beaulieu in Brockenhurst, Hampshire is home to the National Motor Museum, as well as Palace House and Beaulieu Abbey.  Whilst its strap line reads “More Than a Motor Museum”, this, I’d imagine, is ultimately the reason that most people visit.

The land speed record breaking BluebirdThe National Motor Museum houses over 250 vehicles featuring examples from the earliest days of motoring including cars from the world of motor sport and world famous land speed record breakers such as the Bluebird.  Within the Museum is a full-size replica of a 1930’s garage, showing the transition from horse drawn carriages to the earliest examples of motorised vehicles.  The museum itself is split between two levels, with a third area dedicated to motorbikes through the ages.  New for 2009 is the Auto Glym and Jaguar sponsored “Jaguar Jamboree” which includes old and new Jaguar cars alike including a fine (and enormous) XJ220.  If you’re a fan of road legal supercars, there’s also a Ferrari F40, a rare TVR Speed 12 and an original Ford Mustang Shelby GT500.

The museum itself is positioned near to the entrance to Beaulieu and with the exception of the stairs-only accessed motorbike raised area, all is fully accessible to those in wheelchairs or with pushchairs.

James Bond Experience

The James Bond area features a variety of cars and vehicles from the Bond franchise including the gun-toting Jaguar XKR Roadster used in the 2002 film Die Another Day and the white Lotus Submarine car from The Spy Who Loved Me.  These are interesting cars for those that hardcore Bond fans or passive Sunday afternoon repeat watchers can enjoy.  It does however feel a bit muted and despite flashes of Daniel Craig in the looped video clips, there are no vehicles from recent Bond films, although this could be more indicative of the shift away from physical vehicle effects to CGI.

The Jaguar XKR Roadster from the 2002 film Die Another DayThe Lotus Submarine Car from the 1977 film The Spy Who Loved MeAston Martin Volante from the 1987 James Bond film The Living Daylights

The World of Top Gear Enormodrome

TopGear Presenters - Jeremy Clarkson, James May and Richard HammondFans of BBC’s Top Gear will enjoy the “challenge” exhibit at Beaulieu, which displays a number of vehicles from the series, including all three stretched cars from the Limo challenge and other recognisable favourites.  The “experience” element of the Top Gear exhibit involves entering the “Enormodrome” which is mocked up to look like the Top Gear studio, including the Cool-Wall and large screens.  More cars from the various challenges in the series are on display, alongside a specially filmed short video featuring Jeremy Clarkson, James May and Richard Hammond presenting in their usual flippant style.  The film also includes clips from the Top Gear challenges related to the vehicles on display.

 TopGear's Stretch MG at BeaulieuTopGear's Stretch Fiat Panda at BeaulieuTopGear's Robin Reliant Rocket at Beaulieu

Summary

Beaulieu and the National Motor Museum are a must see for real car fans, especially those with an interest in motor history.  Whilst the Top Gear, James Bond and replicas of cars from films such as Chitty Chitty Bang Bang and the DeLorean from the Back to the Future series cater for a wider audience, Beaulieu will ultimately always be synonymous as a motor museum. 

Replica of the Chitty Chitty Bang Bang carThe DeLorean from the Back to the Future series The yellow "Trotters Independant Traders" Robin Reliant from the Only Fools and Horses TV Series

There are interesting factoids on display about all of the exhibits and lots of information to take in, so could keep an enthusiast busy all day.  We took our two year old son during our visit and more time was spent retrieving him from behind barriers than reading all of the information available, so the lack of interactive elements should be taken into account if you’re taking young children.  A short ride in the 1912 Veteran Bus and on Beaulieu’s monorail also lets you see more of the grounds and breaks up a visit for those with a short attention span (or kids), plus there is a small play area and large green areas to enjoy.

We didn’t make it as far as Palace House, ornamental gardens or the Beaulieu Abbey ruins, other than a brief view from the monorail but these would be a great way to spend at least part of your day here.  In summary, Beaulieu offers a nice day out and the indoor exhibits means that it can be enjoyed if the weather isn’t great, but car and motor enthusiasts are much more likely to enjoy their time there.  Tickets cost £16.75 per adult, children under three go free but we’d recommend checking out tourist brochures for discount vouchers such as “Hampshire’s Top Attractions” – view the site for prices and opening times.

Beaulieu, Brockenhurst, Beaulieu SO42 7ZN
Information: 01590 612345
Email: info@beaulieu.co.uk
Website: www.beaulieu.co.uk

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