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Classic cars at Mouldsworth Motor Museum go under the hammer

14:53 12 March 2013

Jim with a vintage motorbike

Jim with a vintage motorbike

Classic cars at Mouldsworth Motor Museum go under the hammer this month, but owner Jim Peacop still has plenty to smile about. Words by Carl Nagaitis Photography by John Cocks

When classic cars and automobilia from Mouldsworth Motor Museum go under the hammer at auctions later this month (March), Jim Peacop, founder of the popular tourist attraction and venue for thousands of family days out, could be forgiven a little smile of relief.

For although circumstances may have combined to force him to close the beloved museum that he created more than four decades ago, the classic car enthusiast is determined to hold onto his vast collection of motoring art that he hopes, one day, to exhibit in his own gallery.

Although it was sad to close up the museum, I can now look forward to the possibility of establishing a motoring art gallery in the future, said 68-year-old Jim from his home in Frodsham.

Ive retained my collection of motoring art and now that I am retired, Ill have plenty of time to consider other projects, added the man who has been dubbed Cheshires Mr Motor Car.

Many of the tens of thousands who have visited Jims museum, just outside the village of Mouldsworth near Chester, have been captivated by his enthusiasm for anything connected with cars and the internal combustion engine.

And when asked where that passion came from, the graphic artist and one-time college lecturer admits he probably inherited it from his father Charles, a Blackpool butcher, and his uncles who invested in a number of classic vehicles when he was a child.

I was fascinated by anything connected with motor cars and always wanted to know more, recalled Jim. I suppose my dad and my uncles encouraged my interest and its remained with me all these years.

Jims devotion to the motor car stayed with him when he left home for art school where he qualified as a graphic artist. His skills then took him to the Fleet Street head office of the Daily Express where he worked as an illustrator and designer before moving into graphic design in advertising and the world of commerce.

After meeting his wife Christine in London, Jims work eventually brought him back North, first to Liverpool and then to Cheshire where he eventually became a lecturer at the Mid Cheshire College in Northwich.

It was here that he started his beloved motor car collection which grew rapidly and soon included gems such as a 1934 Alvis Speed 20 and a 1932 Morris Minor McEvoy Special.

My collection quickly filled my domestic garage and I was desperate for more space. Then I got talking about the problem with a friend and fellow collector Eddie Farrell and we decided to seek out a larger space to house our vehicles.

Jim eventually found the ideal home for his collection, a disused water-softening plant owned by the then North West Water Authority six miles east of Chester near Mouldsworth. The authority agreed to allow Jim and his friend Eddie to keep their vehicles in the art-deco designed 1930s building.

That was in 1971 and it wasnt long before our car collections started to grow, said Jim who soon saw Ferraris were sitting alongside Jaguars, Austins, Triumphs and Rileys and even a 1900 Veteran as other car enthusiasts asked for their vehicles to be stored there.

Eventually we had more than 60 cars, a selection of motor cycles as well as an eclectic mix of Dinky Toys, car mascots, badges, old petrol cans and even a car shaped teapot, explained Jim.

Word of the huge collection spread and before long car lovers around the UK, and some from overseas, were asking to come along and view the marvels of Mouldsworth.

We charged visitors a 1 entry equivalent to the price of a pint back in 1974 and they flocked in. As visitor numbers grew, we added areas of special interest including a selection on model cars which included a toy garage, made for me by my dad along with my childhood collection of toy cars.

Mouldsworth Motor Museum motored into 2012 as popular as ever but talks with the buildings owners, United Utilities, about the cost of repairs and maintenance revealed a potential problem.

The financial risk was such that we decided we could not continue, explained Jim, who as the sole owner of the museum, after buying out his former partner, felt it was time to retire.

I explored finding other premises but without any luck, so reluctantly called in an auctioneer to sell our collection.
I just hope most of these vehicles will stay in the UK but in reality there is a risk overseas buyers will try to snap up the best.

In the meantime Jim continues to look to the future in the hope that his dream of a motoring art gallery might at last be in sight.

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