The History on Wheels Museum...
...at Eton Wick, Berkshire
Windsor may be one of the best known for the castle and the Royal connection, but within sight of the castle is another well hidden jewel in the crown of Berkshire, but this time for military vehicle enthusiasts and film buffs. One of the smaller and less well known museums is privately owned, and is the 'History on Wheels' collection of Tony Oliver (who sadly passed away since my first visit) at Eton Wick, not far from Windsor in Berkshire. Visitors to the annual War and Peace Show at Beltring may be aware of it, as Tony has a marquee there each year. The museum itself though is open just one day a month, on the last Sunday of each month, plus bank holidays through the year. One way or another, even though it is only a relatively short distance from home, it has taken me ages to finally manage to get to see it, which I did today.
Tucked away down a narrow lane, TLO has a site at the end of the road, where they have specialised in providing vehicles and props for the film and television industry. Tony himself has retired and the business is I believe operated by his son. Now in their 70s, Tony and his wife continued to look after their museum however. It started back in the 1960's, when Tony was a technical advisor on the film Battle of Britain. Old wartime vehicles were more readily available then, and travelling round Spain, where much of the filming was done, he amassed some 30 German wartime vehicles, still scattered around Spanish armed forces bases, left over from the days of the Condor Legion in Spain. Once the filming was over, he was able to keep those vehicles and brought them back to the UK, where they enabled him to create a business where he hired them to film and television companies over the years. Many of those original vehicles have since been disposed of, but a few of them remain. There are 4 in particular, with a Phanomen Granit Ambulance which is still quite original, even in the back, and which featured in the film Battle of britain. Three others were all Mercedes, a staff car and 2 Kubels, all of which were in the film. One of the Kubels stops at a cross roads as a convoy passes by with pontoon boats. Tony was the driver!
Staying with the film theme, then a Citroen truck at the far end of the shed featured in Indiana Jones and the Last Crusade, and within arms reach of that, a dummy Sdkfz 222 look alike, better known to TV viewers of 'Allo, 'Allo as Lt Gruber's 'Little Tank'. In the centre block of vehicles, 2 large black US cars, and one that has the provenance as that used by General MacArthur in the Philipines and in Japan when MacArthur took the Japanese surrender. As well as MacArthur himself, there is photo evidence of Admiral Chester Nimitz riding in it as well. Fully restored, this is a huge, and stunning motor car.
As for other cars, then not only a Humber Staff Car, but the radio body version as well, still with seats and radios in the back. Add to this a GAZ 67, a Renault UE infantry carrier, a Krupp Sdkfz 69 Boxer, Opel Blitz and a Horsche Kfz 69. How about folding bicycles, the Cushman and Welbike parachute motorcycles, NAAFI van and so much more. Sprinkled throughout the collection are other displays such as umpteen jerricans, food containers, ammo boxes and lots lots more. Armour is limited to an M5 Stuart and the Renault UE.
Outside in the entrance hall are display cases with uniforms badges and more memorabilia. Then through to a small cafe, with lovely home made food and tea/coffee, plus a small shops with old books and other small items for sale. Then behind that a long room full of motorcycles, bicycles and radio equipment. Far too much to describe, you really ought to go and have a look.
So are there any other surprises? Well, only that all the vehicles are in full running order! There are lots of photos in the album below, but trust me, there are still others I haven't illustrated for you so really well worth it to go and see for yourself.