Wednesday, August 24, 2011

At the Beaulieu Museum

I visited the UK National Motor Museum also known as Beaulieu since it is located in an estate by that name (the locals strangely pronounce this "Beewooleeoow", not using the French pronounciation). It used to be known as the Montagu museum as it was founded by Edward Douglas Scott-Montagu, 3rd Baron of Beaulieu. It is a bit far away, in the outskirts of Southampton. One takes a two hour train ride from London to a little village known as a Lymington. I recall reading one of the legendary Enfield riders of the 1920's (Barrow, Greaves, etc) was from Lymington, but I don't remember which. From there one takes a bus. To my dismay, the bus runs rather infrequently. I got up at 7am in London to make it to Lymington at 9:30 (the museum opens at 10) only to find out the first bus in the morning ran at 10:50! So I had a great English breakfast at a French bistro (go figure!) in the town.

The museum is primarily a car museum, but it also has motorcycles. Let's go over the Enfield collection at it. To begin with there is a 1959 Crusader 250cc. This was the first production Enfield with unit construction engine. This particular one had served as an educational aid to the Police Force Driving School of Durham Constabulary. Notice how the engine has pieces cut out so one can see inside. They also removed the badge from the tank.
Then was the 1945 Ministry of Supply prototype. In 1944 the MOS decided to lay down some basic requirements for a purpose-built solo service motorcycle. Up to then manufacturers just provided slightly modified versions of their civilian machines. Enfield came up with a 350cc vertical twin with innovative features like an oil filled primary and final chain case.

The AMAL monoblock carburetor and the exhaust were on the same (front) side of the cylinder head.
The Enfield did not fare too well in the tests and in the end a Triumph TRW was chosen, but later the whole project was scrapped anyway.

Then came the 1919 experimental four cyclinder 850cc machine. It had hand starter, suicide shifter, horizontally split crankcase and a massive oil sump that did not require a pump. It was deemed too costly to produce,

Here is a view of the right side, showing the massive oil sump and the distributor in the back,
and finally a view of the AMAL carb,
In this picture we see three little decompressing knobs on the cylinders. I wonder what they would use them for?
Bike was road legal till 1921

The last bike is the third best placed ever Royal Enfield in the Isle of Man TT. That was the year Cyril Pullin (no relation) won the race. It was ridden by F. J. Walker, who died tragically upon completion. Apparently he fell close to the end and suffered a concussion but kept on riding. He arrived at the finish line disoriented and didn't realize the race ended and kept on going and crashed on a wall hitting his helmetless head. They removed part of his skull to relieve the pressure but in the end a blod clot took his life.

The bike is a 3hp, 346cc V-Twin with a beautiful Motosacoche engine,
Here is one of the last pictures of F. J. Walker with his bike, just before the race,

The museum also hosts a Royal Enfield quad, but we will devote a special post to it.


  1. Outstanding item! That MOS prototype twin is just ghastly. The Triumph TRW was not much loved, but at least it looked better than this. The carburetor in front is typical wrong-think. "That will make it easier to replace when it get knocked off." Thank you for showing it.

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