Currently Viewing Posts in Blog

Help us solve the mystery of our latest exhibit

A new car at Great British Car Journey has the attraction’s team scratching their heads.

The latest exhibit to join the 140-strong collection of classic cars – a 1974 Vauxhall Victor FE that has travelled just under 100 miles in 50 years and is in pristine condition – comes with a mystery to solve.

The car was discovered following the owner’s death – a Mr Milner. It was purchased by him in the summer of 1974 from Mercury Garage in Ilkeston. Six years later the car was taken to Derby to undergo Ziebart rustproofing – a popular option at the time – and then put back into storage. It was finally unearthed following Mr Milner’s death.

 Before being stored away, the brightwork had been removed, covered in oil and bagged up and the interior was covered in polythene; all of which served to keep the vehicle in pristine condition over the years.

A range of spare parts for the vehicle, a number of petrol storage containers and a Haynes manual were all found in the boot of the car and remain there where it is on display at Great British Car Journey.

The museum’s social media has blown up since details of the mystery car was shared on it, with people speculating that Mr Milner bought the car, didn’t like it so confined it to storage; the odometer is broken; that it was Bully’s Star Prize on the 80s gameshow Bull’s Eye, and even alien abduction of the owner!

Richard Usher, founder and owner of Great British Car Journey, said: “We would love to know more about this Victor and why the owner never used it. It really is a one of a kind story that we’re desperate to know more about.

“If the name of Mr Milner or the car description rings any bells, please get in touch with us as we would love to solve the puzzle of this mystery car.”

The award-winning visitor attraction and Drive Dad’s Car experience are open throughout the year. Currently operating reduced winter opening hours, Great British Car Journey will open seven days a week during half term from Saturday 11 February until Sunday 26 February.

Plan your visit here

Founder’s Blog – January 2023

Well Done Spireites!!

Twenty five years ago, when I was responsible for Sales and Marketing at Chesterfield-based Auto Windscreens, I was very involved in British football. Auto Windscreens was the shirt sponsor of Derby County, Birmingham City, Bristol City,  Dunfermline Athletic and one or two more UK clubs as well as sponsoring the Auto Windscreens Shield (previously sponsored by arch-rivals Autoglass), which culminated in a final at Wembley which I attended on at least three occasions.

The Shield was a knockout competition for teams playing in what were then League Divisions Three and Four and I went to the old Saltergate ground a few times to see Chesterfield play in the early rounds.

I have never played football in my life and, until yesterday (Saturday 7th January), I had not been to a match for well over 20 years…but what a match!

An early goal from “The Baggies” (West Bromwich Albion), who play in “The Championship” so are ranked way ahead of non-League Chesterfield, looked ominous but Chesterfield were soon level and with only a few minutes to go they were ahead by three goals to two. There was sustained pressure WBA and in the end a mistake in defence (one of very few) allowed them to equalise so there will be a replay which I think will be at The Hawthorns in West Bromwich.

It was a thrilling encounter and my heartiest congratulations to Town who played brilliantly and were never over-awed by their very strong opponents. I am seriously thinking that I need a ticket for the replay!!   Go you Spireites!!!

Watch the match highlights here https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=VAj73H1Gl_E

EPC-UK donates life-saving defibrillator to Great British Car Journey

A lifesaving defibrillator has been donated to Great British Car Journey.

The defibrillator has been donated to the museum by EPC-UK, a leading UK company in the field of commercial explosive and blasting services based in nearby Alfreton.

To ensure easy access, the new defibrillator is situated within the attraction’s main display at Ambergate. Staff at Great British Car Journey have also received training on how to use the life-saving piece of equipment.

There are around 60,000 out of hospital cardiac arrests that occur every year in the UK. Research has shown that deploying a defibrillator within 3–5 minutes of collapse can result in survival rates as high as 50–70%.

The donation was prompted by Great British Car Journey’s driving instructor, Tony Bird who assists with the Drive Dad’s Car experience at weekends. Tony is also an employee of EPC-UK where he is the Driver Training Manager and Emergency First Aid Instructor.

He explained: “I’m only too aware, through my professional role, of just how vital CPR training with access to a defibrillator can be in an emergency cardiac arrest situation. Having the right skills and equipment can enable an individual to instigate an immediate and often life-saving response until a paramedic or ambulance team arrives.

“I spoke to EPC-UK’s Head of Human Resources, Julie Wootton, who champions and organises our defibrillator fundraising efforts, and requested one of the donations be made here. Supporting my passion for both the museum and public safety, she didn’t hesitate to help.”

The defibrillator donation to Great British Car Journey is one of 25 that EPC-UK has made to date to benefit public-use facilities, thanks to the fundraising efforts of the company’s employees, partners and associates.

Julie Wootton said: “We’re extremely pleased to be able to provide the museum with our latest, fundraised piece of defibrillator equipment, enabled as a result of money raised at our 2022 EPC-UK Charity Golf Day. Our employees, partners and associates will be nominating more public use organisations, like Great British Car Journey, who will benefit from receiving both a defibrillator and user training from EPC-UK.”

With thousands of people visiting the attraction each year, the new defibrillator is a welcome addition to the popular attraction. Richard Usher, founder and CEO of Great British Car Journey, said: “We are delighted, thanks to the kind generosity of EPC-UK, to now have a defibrillator at Great British Car Journey. In the same way that British car designs transformed motoring across the world, so too has another Great British invention – the portable defibrillator.  It seems a fitting fact that the very first model created in 1965 by Frank Pantridge operated from car batteries.”

The defibrillator handover took place during a EPC-UK teambuilding event at Great British Car Journey. Senior managers from the company enjoyed an off-site management meeting at Great British Car Journey, which included a Drive Dad’s Car experience. The team drove the 1938 Wolseley, a classic Mini, Ford Capri, Morris Marina, Austin Allegro and Jaguar V12 from the Drive Dad’s Car fleet.

Ben Williams, Managing Director of EPC-UK, drove the Wolseley. He said: “I liked the idea of driving a pre-war car, also, it’s given me an excuse to wear my peaky blinders’ hat!”

EPC-UK MD Ben Williams got to wear his Peaky Blinders cap in our Wolseley.

 

Ben Coppock, General Manager Blasting and Explosives at EPC-UK, drove the Jaguar V12. He said: “I’ve never driven a Jag or a V12 so this has been my chance to enjoy this classic slab of British engineering.”

Ben Coppock with our ‘classic slab of British engineering’.

Great British Car Journey is the ideal venue for a  a unique and nostalgic corporate event, which is perfect for bringing teams together and both interesting and challenging experiences. Whether it’s a stand-alone event or part of a conference or annual outing, our packages are suitable for groups of up to 80 people and include entry to the museum with an interactive tour, as well as the opportunity to drive at least one of the 38 cars in our ‘Drive Dads Car’ fleet.

Learn more about our corporate packages here or to book a personal drive, visit Drivedadscar.com.

The award-winning visitor attraction and Drive Dad’s Car experience are open throughout the year. Visit www.greatbritishcarjourney.com to find out opening times.

Founder’s Blog – November 2022

I was absolutely blown away by the attendance at what was going to be our last Gathering of 2022 on Saturday 19 November.

This was the first time we have run the event in daytime, and it attracted a phenomenal crowd of classic cars, and many visitors took time to visit the attraction as well as the café and gift shop.  Our enthusiasts are obviously made of stern stuff and although some cars will have been laid up for the winter, it appears that our club motto of ‘Classic Driving Pleasure’ is an all-year-round pursuit for many.

As a result, we have decided to have one last event in 2022 on Sunday 18 December. This will be the last chance to mingle with classic enthusiasts over a festive beer or mulled wine.

At the festive Gathering, as our own version of Black Friday, all attendees will be entitled to 10% discount off any last-minute shopping in the gift shop. As usual tickets will be £5 either in advance via Eventbrite or on the gate.

The first Gathering event of 2023 will be on Monday 2 January (Bank Holiday Monday). Get rid of the excesses of Christmas and New Year with a gentle drive to Ambergate. At this event we’ll also be announcing a new name for all future Gathering events. Read on to find out more….

Help us come up with a new name

Next year The Gathering returns but under a new guise – and we want you to help us come up with a new name for it.

All suggestions for a new name will be entered into a free prize draw, and the winner will receive a 12″ x 18″ Autocar canvas of their choice.

You can enter the competition a number of ways – at The Gathering on Sunday 18 December, by email to to [email protected] or via Facebook Messenger.

Entries close on Sunday 18 December. We’ll then compile a shortlist and put it to a public vote on Facebook. Voting closes on 31 December and the winning name will be announced at the event on Monday 2 January 2023.

Get your thinking caps on!

Looking forward to seeing you all Sunday 18 December.

Richard Usher

Founder, Great British Car Journey

A tribute to Her Majesty The Queen

On Thursday (8th September) It seemed entirely appropriate that by chance I had parked our Daimler Majestic Major Limousine outside the entrance to Great British Car Journey for our Great British Car Club monthly meeting.

As the sad news from Balmoral percolated through the members, I could not help but reflect on how the Daimler marque mirrored the boundless qualities of the monarch who has presided over the UK for the whole of my life.

Her Majesty the Queen‘s first state car was a Daimler DE27 and in the following eight decades there was always a Daimler somewhere in the royal car store. Classic in the true sense of the word, dependable, under-stated, reliable and ever-ready to serve are just a few of the qualities I associate with both the car and with Queen Elizabeth II.

Powerful, solid, but with immense magisterial presence…the list is long and encompasses unglamorous but dutiful virtues which lie at the very heart of greatness.

Virtually all the cars on display and stored at Ambergate are Elizabethan in the temporal sense but few, if any, could aspire to the values espoused by our late Queen.

Today will be a day for quiet reflection on a life undeniably well-lived tinged with sadness that an era has passed.

Richard Usher

CEO and founder, Great British Car Journey

Great British Car Journey wins 2022 Tripadvisor Travelers’ Choice Award

Just 13 months after opening, Derbyshire’s indoor classic car visitor attraction has become a favourite on Tripadvisor.

Great British Car Journey, which is based in Ambergate, has been recognised by Tripadvisor with a 2022 Travelers’ Choice award winner for its excellent visitor reviews.

The award celebrates businesses that have received great reviews from travellers around the globe on Tripadvisor over the last 12 months.

The attraction consistently receives five-star reviews on the world’s largest travel guidance platform with one recent reviewer even claiming, ‘I would give it 10 stars if I could’.

The attraction, which opened on 22 May 2021 in the middle of the pandemic, has wowed more than 40,000 visitors who have travelled from throughout the UK to see the unique collection of more than 130 British classic cars and even drive some of them with the Drive Dad’s Car experience.

In addition to the Tripadvisor award, Great British Car Journey and Drive Dad’s Car have picked up numerous other awards, including Gold, Silver and Bronze in the 2022 Peak District and Derbyshire Tourism Awards earlier this year.

As well as car marques that have long since disappeared from the UK’s roads, like Austin, Morris and Hillman, the collection boast cars with a very special story, like Lord Baden Powell’s former Rolls Royce (Jam Roll) and Elton John’s Bentley Continental T.

“Car museums can be very dull and that’s definitely what I didn’t want to create when I established Great British Car Journey. My team, and the many volunteers who work here, have done a brilliant job at helping create a memorable experience for everyone who visits and the Tripadvisor award certainly points to that,” explained the attraction’s founder Richard Usher.

Visitors to the attraction are guided around the display with a unique handheld audio device which tells the fascinating story of Britain’s once booming car design and manufacturing industry.

Richard added: “The cars we have on display at Great British Car Journey have played a big part in many people’s lives. Great British Car Journey is so much more than a car museum it is a trip down memory lane and, that, sets us apart from other motoring attractions and is helping us gain such fantastic Tripadvisor reviews. It’s great to see so many people love the collection and whole experience as much as I do.”

“Congratulations to the 2022 Tripadvisor Travellers’ Choice Winners,” said Kanika Soni, Chief Commercial Officer at Tripadvisor. “The Travellers’ Choice Awards recognize the best in tourism and hospitality, according to those who matter most: your guests. Ranking among the Travellers’ Choice winners is always tough — but never more so than this year as we emerge from the pandemic. Whether it’s using new technology, implementing safety measures, or hiring outstanding staff, I’m impressed by the steps you’ve taken to meet travellers’ new demands. You’ve adapted brilliantly in the face of adversity.”

To find out more about Great British Car Journey and purchase your tickets, visit greatbritishcarjourney.com Or, for those looking for the ultimate trip down memory lane, visit drivedadscar.com to learn more and book a drive.

Part-Time Cook

Job description

Great British Car Journey features over 145 British classic cars and celebrates the pioneers who created a British industry which was a world leader in its field.

The Role:

Reporting directly to the Catering/Duty Manager, your role will include the following:

  • Measure and prepare ingredients for menu items
  • Work with the Catering Manager to prepare meals during our dining hours
  • Maintain accurate food inventories
  • Properly store food items at appropriate temperatures
  • Rotate stock items as per established procedures
  • Restock kitchen for subsequent shifts
  • Ensure that the food prep area and kitchen are cleaned and sanitised at the end of your shift

Qualifications/Skills:

  • Kitchen experience preferred but not essential as training will be given
  • Good knowledge of food handling procedures
  • Able to work as part of a team in a busy kitchen atmosphere

 Basis of employment:

  • Start Date: ASAP
  • Good rates of pay
  • Hours to be confirmed

To apply, please send a current CV to [email protected]

FOUNDERS BLOG: JUNE 11TH 2021

Another busy week!

Another busy week at GBCJ  with some great Classics visiting today from Staffordshire and beyond.  Groups are always very welcome and hopefully as Covid recedes, we will be able to host Club meets in both the attraction and our licensed café . Like most hospitality businesses , we are struggling to recruit catering staff so if you fancy working in a place for the car-intoxicated and you have some catering experience , PLEASE get in touch by emailing [email protected]

Practical Classics has done us proud in the July edition so thanks as ever to Danny Hopkins for his infectious enthusiasm. I have also seen an advanced copy of the next EVO which has a review by my old friend John Barker.

I hope everyone is enjoying this overdue warm spell and that it remains hoods down for the foreseeable future.

Don’t forget Fathers Day …why not buy him a Drive Dad’s Car Experience?

Stay Safe

 Just one of the beautiful cars popping in to visit today!

FOUNDERS BLOG: MAY 31st 2021

End of May round-up

Feedback from visitors has been fantastically positive and we look forward to welcoming many more in the coming weeks. The Drive Dads Car fleet has been well driven over the weekend and apart from a rather large nut falling off the Sunbeam Rapier, the cars have behaved as well as the drivers.

Our resident mechanical wizard : Doctor Mark Lawrence will no doubt be able to advise what said nut should be doing but I am afraid that the Rapier is currently in the sick bay!!  We have been visited by many superb classic cars ranging from a magnificent pre-war Lagonda to Citroen 2 CVs and a rather lovely Volvo P1800 as driven by Roger Moore in “The Saint”.

Please feedback to us with any criticisms (or otherwise) and do join us on all the usual social media channels. Above all, thanks for coming and we hope to see you again.

Richard

FOUNDERS BLOG: MAY 27TH 2021

From one Extreme to the other!

I doubt anyone else on the planet has driven two cars at the extreme end of the spectrum as I have today.

Our 2000 Reliant Robin is one of the last ever made and always makes me smile. I did a couple of laps of the Drive Dads Car driving route today and it whistled along in its own slightly terrifying way!

The gear change is slightly eccentric, the handling is slightly scary but it goes quite quickly and is a very light and easy way of getting from A to B. At over 8 grand  20 years ago, it was quite an expensive proposition and sadly the end was almost nigh.

Tonight, on a beautiful (at last) Spring evening I took the McLaren for dinner with Mrs Usher at the marvellous Lathkil Hotel in Over Haddon. The contrast with the Reliant makes chalk and cheese look like twin brothers. It is an epic car and probably one of the last true Supercars to unashamedly gulp fuel at a truly prodigious rate when driven with spirit. I think it will need a bit of a clean before it goes back on display tomorrow.

So we have almost completed our first week. Thankyou to well over a thousand people who have already paid us a visit and I look forward to meeting plenty more of you over the weekend.

Reliant and McLaren in one day : I truly do love cars!!!

Another Media day!

Another Media day!

After a stormy night, it’s been mainly dry at Ambergate today which is a relief as we have had film crews shooting both inside and out.

As public open day gets ever closer (May 22nd), our willing team of contractors are starting to clear the building and leave the GBCJ team to fettle the cars and the displays. Foremost amongst the team are our wonderful volunteers who have been hard at it with the Autoglym which has been kindly supplied free of charge by the company…it really is a quality range of products.

Similarly, Fuchs who were of course once a Company called Silkolene based down the road in Belper have been very supportive and we are proud to recommend and sell their range of classic lubricants.

Our McLaren 650S has also arrived safely and if you see a bright orange one on the road between Ambergate and Longcliffe, the man grinning at the wheel is probably me, just checking that everything is functioning as it should.

New employees join us daily and particular thanks to the cleaning staff who are busy making sure that we are and remain super-clean whilst ever Covid is still a threat.

Stay safe. 

Richard

FOUNDERS BLOG: MAY 10TH 2021

Doesn’t Monday come around quickly!

Lots of purpose evident at Ambergate today.

Thanks again to the volunteers hard at work making the cars look their best. Helped by some great product from AUTOGLYM continuing a relationship going back over 20 years when they supplied glass cleaning products to AutoWindscreens and the RAC.

Mark has been busy in the workshop but young Luke is down at Brooklands so we have missed him today.

We had a good project meeting this morning with our chairman and our biggest single shareholder working hard all day to make sure t’s are crossed and I’s all dotted by next week.

Builders , electricians, plumbers and other contractors are now in sight of the finish whilst Elite Signs from Gainsborough continue to tweak all the attraction signage. Huge thanks to you all.

Meanwhile our payroll continues to grow with janitorial, kitchen and reception staff all receiving inductions today. Welcome to you all and lets hope we enjoy the journey together.

Didn’t drive the McLaren today but pushed a Range Rover and commuted in my Rover Streetwise …the first ever urban crossover in the UK.

Lovely evening now but more like April than middle of May.

Stay safe         

Richard.

Founder’s Blog: May 9 2021

Weekend Update

Thank goodness its stopped raining and it feels a bit warmer outside this morning.

Jane and I spent a few hours at Ambergate yesterday and Jason and Kirby (our catering manager) were also in evidence as we continue preparations for the grand opening.

Driving Experiences are selling well so if you want to be amongst the first few hundred people to take a “trip down memory lane”, book now to avoid disappointment. What a great Father’s day present : buy your Dad a drive in his old car !!!

I was lucky enough to drive our McLaren 650S yesterday although streaming wet roads meant that discretion was the order of the day.

Thanks to Bill and all the team at Woking for getting her to us safely and rest assured that she will be well cared for and admired in her new home in Derbyshire.

The BTCC starts at Thruxton today and is in full swing, live on ITV4. I was involved with this back in the early 1990s and have fond memories of great battles between the likes of John Cleland and Steve Soper. We were sponsoring the Peugeot team with Rob Gravett, Patrick Watts and Eugene O Brien. Another Grand Prix aswell although sadly no home crowd to cheer on Sainz and Alonso. 100 poles for Lewis : a truly staggering achievement.

Anyway, really looking forward to meeting visitors in less than two weeks. Stay safe and see you soon!

Richard.

Founder’s blog: May 7 2021

Another week closer!

So, another week ends, and we are another step closer to opening our doors to the public. All the cars are in the hall and final adjustments are being made to put them in their position within the ‘journey’

This week we have had our volunteers with us and they have been fantastic giving up their time and getting stuck into anything and everything we have thrown at them!

The hard work doesn’t stop there though and we will be in over the weekend getting the café into shape!

Next week is looking just as packed, with a number of media visits planned, some press and some TV so do keep an eye out for us on TV or in print as we motor even quicker towards May 22nd.

Enjoy your weekend everyone and we look forward to welcoming you in very soon.

Richard.

Don’t forget, you can pre-book your entry tickets here: ticket sales

FOUNDERS BLOG: MAY 20TH 2021

Late Blog update!

Wow!  What a busy week!  Great British Car Journey has been fully road tested this week with a “friends and family day” on Tuesday and our Press Day yesterday, followed by more journalist visits today.

Hopefully, many of you will have seen the great coverage on BBC Breakfast yesterday with John Maguire really getting into the spirit of “The Journey” and what its all about. This resulted in much comment from Louise Minchin and Dan Walker who both owned Rover Metros!!!

The legend that is Bob Warman followed up for ITV with a great 3 minute piece on Central News last night.

Needless to say, the phones have been very busy and we have plenty of bookings for our first weekend  which is really pleasing after all the years of toil to get GBCJ on the road.

PLEASE remember that COVID is still out there so some queuing and delay will be inevitable to keep everyone safe but we are really looking forward to welcoming our first batches of guests. If you want to come this weekend, Sunday is less busy and has some capacity for more bookings. Those of you who are real car nuts are strongly advised to come on a weekday if possible .

The weather today has been really horrid but we were blessed with warm sunshine yesterday. The weekend is not looking great so an indoor attraction may be a good pick!!

Stay safe and I look forward to seeing you!

Richard Usher.

Founder’s Blog : May 6 2021

The developments continue…

Great piece in Autocar today: thanks to John Evans and photographer Max Edleston. 

Lots of activity this week as we count down to opening. Car Parks and roadways all lined today so now looks even more like a venue. Two new team members have joined us on the journey: Welcome Becky and Kirby and we hope that you are here to stay.

Great work by our volunteers putting show stuff together and giving the cars a good clean: Thanks so much for your enthusiastic support.

Took Luke our apprentice for a very short spin in our ex-Elton John Bentley today. Just reward for all his hard work : he and Mark our head technician still busy fettling the Drive Dads Car fleet. Mini cylinder head removals was today’s tutorial.

All in all a really good feel about Derwent Works this week. Can’t wait to open the doors to visitors in just over 2 weeks.

Stay safe and see you soon.

Richard.

Founder’s Blog: May 4 2021

First post from our founder Richard

Its’ been good to have a long weekend although I do seem to have spent a lot of time in the home office. Last week was very exciting as well over 100 cars crossed the river to their new home in Unit 4 at Derwent Works and the nine chapters of Great British Car Journey took shape. After nearly four years of planning the project which was nearly scuppered by illness and Covid, it’s great to be nearly there. Last weekend was fun with Drive It day and thanks to all those owners who dropped in. We saw well over 100 cars in the Spring sunshine and raised over £200 for Childline.  The weather today is definitely not hood friendly so I suspect most Classics will be safely in the dry. 

We are really grateful for all the messages of support and encouraged by the ticket sales for both Car Journey and Drive Dads Car. If you haven’t booked yet and you want to visit in our first week, please go to www.greatbritishcarjourney.com  or www.drivedadscar.com 

The whole team are really looking forward to our new adventure and welcoming you: our guests and introducing you to the cars and a heavy dose of nostalgia!    See you soon! 

Richard. [email protected]

Welcome to our blog.

24 Days to go!

Welcome to the Great British Car Journey Blog. You join us just 24 days away from officially opening our doors to the public and it has only been 4 years, nine months and 24 days coming!

As we start to hang the banners and move the cars in to the main hall, my vision from 2015 is rapidly becoming a reality as the building starts to fill up and take shape.

As you can imagine, with well over 100 cars in the exhibition and 32 in the Drive Dad’s Car experience there has been plenty of moving, shunting, nudging and bump starting going on!

I have added a few photographs to this blog to illustrate the ‘journey‘ we have been on, getting this wonderful venue on the banks of the River Derwent ready to deliver what we believe will an exciting new attraction in the UK for the car enthusiast and families alike.

We will be updating the blog daily from next week, so do check back for the latest updates, but for this Bank Holiday weekend my staff and I will be taking a deserved few days off to recharge our batteries ahead of the final push to get everything ready for May 22nd.

If you are planning to come and take the tour or book a driving experience during our opening month, Covid guidelines mean we have halved the daily capacity, so we would urge you to book your places as soon as possible.

Finally! If you haven’t already, head over to our Facebook, twitter and Instagram pages and follow us to get all the latest updates from the Great British Car Journey and Drive Dad’s Car.