New exhibition ready for the reopening of Beaulieu

Posted  01.07.2020
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When Beaulieu reopens the doors to the National Motor Museum on Saturday 4th July, visitors will get their first glance at an exciting new exhibition, Motoring in Miniature – the Toys of Your Childhood.

Visitors will be able to relive the joy and excitement of their favourite childhood toy cars when this fun-filled family exhibition opens in the National Motor Museum, showcasing more than 800 toy cars and pedal cars to celebrate miniature motoring memories and much-loved playthings of the past.

Most of us have early motoring memories from before we learned to drive – and that’s the shiny toys we gazed at in the toy shop window and spent hours ‘driving’ across the living room carpet or in the garden outside. These were the toys you were told to clear up, the toys you were proud of, the ones that you loved.

The exhibition will be packed with toy cars of all shapes and sizes from the 1920s to the 1990s, from tin plate and wooden toys to die-cast and slot cars. See pull-alongs and pedal cars, radio control cars and scale models, motoring board games, jigsaws and computer games. No matter if you are five or 95, these are the toys of your childhood.

Be amazed by historic pedal cars loaded onto their own car transporter. From exciting racing cars and glamorous sports models to rare veteran cars, the iconic Austin J40 and even Chitty Chitty Bang Bang, all manner of period-perfect pedal cars will take pride of place.

Take a closer look at Lord Montagu’s own childhood pedal car, modelled on a vintage London bus, while a child-sized replica of the Golden Arrow Land Speed Record breaker will be parked up alongside the real machine. See more of these pint-sized pedal-power autos lined up in Jack Tucker’s Garage, waiting to be serviced, while in Palace House find the motoring toys of the Montagu family on display.

Follow the giant roadway packed with toys by much-loved favourite brands including Corgi, Dinky, Scalextric, Matchbox, Hot Wheels, Triang and many more. How many of these brightly coloured treasures are just like the toys you used to own, which were raced and crashed into the skirting boards? See these miniatures displayed decade by decade, showing how they developed from crude toys to sophisticated replicas, then a peek through the child’s eye-view window at larger toy buses.

Remember your Green Cross Code and look left and right before stepping along the roadway’s zebra crossing, then see nostalgic displays of slot cars, tinplate roadways, I-Spy and Ladybird books and annuals, motoring-themed travel games and period-perfect artworks. Spot emergency services-themed playthings on show, as well as construction classics such as Airfix, Meccano and Lego, as well as scale model caravans and campervans in the Caravan and Motorhome Club showcase.

Watch archive Hot Wheels adverts and see nostalgic photos of pedal cars and their owners from yesteryear, then learn about the conservation work of the National Motor Museum Trust to preserve and restore exhibits.

Members of the Beaulieu One Hundred have been helping the curatorial team with the enormous task of preparing hundreds of toy cars for the exhibition. From the largest battery-operated child-sized racing car, to the smallest Matchbox toy, each one has been painstakingly cleaned in readiness to go on display.

Be sure to visit the Beaulieu gift shop where you can find the perfect toy car to take home from the wide selection on offer, including models from the Corgi range.

The National Motor Museum’s collection of over 280 vehicles is world-famous, along with its extensive range of motoring artefacts, photographic images, specialist reference library and film and video library. For more information about its collection and services see

Following careful preparation and measures aimed at keeping both its visitors and staff safe, the attraction has been awarded the ‘We’re Good To Go’ industry standard from Visit Britain, which means they are following Government and industry Covid-19 guidelines and have processes in place to ensure social distancing and cleanliness.

From Saturday 4th July, visitors can once again enjoy all of the features of the attraction with a ticket to Beaulieu, including entry to the National Motor Museum, On Screen Cars, World of Top Gear, the ancestral Montagu home Palace House, Secret Army exhibition, Beaulieu Abbey and its grounds and gardens.

Tickets are available to pre-book online from 10am on Thursday 2nd July here.

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