AIM had a special connection with Lord Montagu of Beaulieu, whose death was announced on Bank Holiday Monday, 31 August – fittingly, the height of the tourist season.
A champion of the historic vehicle movement and founder of the National Motor Museum, major player in the preservation of England’s historic houses and the development of the UK tourism industry, chairman of the newly named English Heritage, and patron of AIM, an organisation which he supported and helped nurture from the start – Lord Montagu was inextricably a vital part of our sector.
Edward, 3rd Baron Montagu of Beaulieu was the devoted custodian of his family’s 7,000-acre Beaulieu Estate in Hampshire. He opened a first small collection in 1952, the very first motor museum, enlarging it in 1956 to become the Montagu Motor Museum – and again in a major development in 1972, as Britain’s National Motor Museum run by the newly established Beaulieu Museum Trust. The museum won the coveted National Heritage Museum of the Year Award in 1974, one of the first independent museums to be so recognised. It continued to grow, in particular building one of the largest reference, photography and film libraries on automotive subjects in the world.
At this time he was closely involved with the early days of the Association of Independent Museums, lending his energetic and forceful personality to its development and activities. He remained AIM’s patron for the rest of his life.
Lord Montagu was to become renowned as the champion of the historic car movement, and spoke frequently in the House of Lords on motoring, tourism, museums and historic buildings. The Historic Houses Association was founded at his instigation in 1973, and he was a dedicated proponent of the importance of tourism, holding the presidencies of the Tourism Society and the Southern Tourist Board. He also set up the advisory group that became the Federation of British Historic Vehicle Clubs, was president of the Museums Association in 1982-84, and established a new museum devoted to maritime history at Buckler’s Hard on his estate. In 1983, in recognition of his innovative approach and commercial success, he was invited to chair the Government’s new Historic Buildings and Monuments Commission, which he renamed English Heritage.
A full obituary will appear in the October issue of the AIM Bulletin. An estate funeral is to be held at Beaulieu, followed by a memorial service at St Margaret’s, Westminster.