One of the strangest items ever to have sold at Beaulieu’s International Autojumble was Nellie, a life-size mechanical elephant which marched around the attraction giving rides to young visitors during the 1960s.
This incredible motorised creation has surfaced in the search for memories, stories and pictures being collected from half a century of Beaulieu’s International Autojumbles to celebrate its 50th anniversary in September 2016.
If you have any memories or pictures to share, they can be part of our anniversay display at this year’s event on 3rd and 4th September 2016 and could be included in our special commemorative booklet. Just email them to IAJ50@beaulieu.co.uk or post them to: Jane Riddiford, PR Manager, Beaulieu Enterprises Ltd, Beaulieu, Hampshire, SO42 7ZN.
Sadly, Nellie lay unused for many years before being sold at the Christie’s auction at the 1995 International Autojumble. Described in the auction catalogue as “grey in parts and driven from behind the ears”, a Ford 10hp side-valve engine powered the elephant, with the legs driven to pivot in a small arch, simulating the four-legged walk of a real elephant. At the base of each leg was a wheel with a thick rubber tyre, while an ingenious system of hydraulics braked each wheel in turn, enabling the elephant to walk forwards.
Nellie was believed to have been built in 1949 by theatrical props expert Frank Stuart of Essex and was one of three elephants. Nellie’s sisters, Potsy and Jumbo, were not thought to have survived. Over the years, Nellie was used to promote the London Tyre Company, Goodyear tyres and then Ilfracombe council’s holiday amusements, before finding sanctuary at Beaulieu.
This ‘auto jumbo’ wasn’t the only mechanical elephant to have been sold at Beaulieu. Wilhemina, a much smaller but also petrol-powered elephant, was offered for sale at the 1997 International Autojumble by its stallholder owner.
We are interested in memorabilia, from old show guides and booking forms to the personal memories of exhibitors. Everything is welcome and we will return anything you share with us. The special memories will form one of the features at this year’s event.
Other features include the Automart and Dealermart with hundreds of vehicles on sale, Bonhams auction house, Trunk Traders for amateur jumblers and Practical Classics’ car rebuild challenge as well as the usual treasure trove of motoring parts, accessories, automobilia, literature, tools and clothing which make it a bargain-hunter’s paradise. Click here for more information.