Photograph of Beryl Hindley next to Austin 7 in April 2018.
Sometimes, when I’m wandering around the Museum of Liverpool, just before the doors open to the thousands of visitors we welcome in each day, an object will catch my eye. Just a quick glimpse of something, although not actually from my own past, can magically transport me back to memories of family days out or sitting in my Auntie’s house drinking tea from a beautiful china cup.
For me, this is what defines Social History. Although it is a field of history that looks at the lived experience of wider society, it can also in the same instance be very personal, invoking strong, emotional memories.
So when visitor Beryl Hindley came to visit the museum a few weeks ago, she not only saw an object on display that recalled an old holiday memory, the object really was from her childhood!
Beryl saw the Austin 7 Pearl Cabriolet, currently on display in the atrium window at Museum of Liverpool. She recognised the vehicle and knew that this car had had some exciting adventures, before it finally settled into retirement in our Land Transport collection.
Beryl, aged 5, sitting on the Austin 7 Pearl Cabriolet with her father Ernest, on their way to Nottingham to visit friends.
Beryl’s family lived in Tuebrook and her father, Ernest Millington, worked at the Post Office in Bootle. Ernest was looking for a car to hire for family holidays and a colleague at the post office, Jimmy Hollinrake, had a friend at work who owned a 1935 Austin 7 Pearl Cabriolet, registration ADD 151. Jimmy had borrowed the car from his friend on a previous occasion and suggested Ernest approach the owner.
The first time Ernest borrowed the car was Easter 1958. He went on a journey to visit friends in Nottingham.
In the summer, Ernest took his family on holiday to North Wales, staying in a small cottage south of Caernarfon in the village of Rhosgadfan. Having the Austin gave Beryl and her family the chance to explore and travel around North Wales to places like Betws-y-coed, Porthmadoc and Nefyn.
Village of Rhosgadfan in summer 1958. The car cover over the lower part of the front grill helped to prevent cool morning air entering the engine, enabling the engine to warm up quickly.
As winter was approaching, Mr Millington once again borrowed his colleague’s car to take his family to see the Blackpool Illuminations. Beryl remembers driving along with the car roof down, gazing up at the beautifully lit decorations.
Beryl’s father said that the Austin 7 Pearl Cabriolet ran like an absolute dream and they all cherish the memories of the times they spent driving on adventures.
The Austin 7 was an affordable, economy car which was produced by the Austin Motor Company Limited from 1922 until 1939. Lord Herbert Austin was responsible for the original design of the car and its effect on the British market was similar to the Model T Ford in America. Based on the ‘Ruby’ Saloon design, the Pearl Cabriolet was manufactured in 1935 and had an opening roof. At one time, the Austin 7 was one of the most popular cars produced for the British Market. It was also licensed and copied by companies all over the world.
For the chance to see more classic cars on display, join us on Saturday 30 June 10am-4pm for the Phoenix Classic Car club gathering at the Museum of Liverpool.