History on Wheels Museum

At Eton Wick, just to the west of Windsor, is the excellent History on Wheels museum. What makes this museum excellent is its collection of scarce and unique vehicles, many of which have been used in television and filming.

While all of the vehicles housed at the museum are special I have some particular favourites which we can look at first.

Krupp Protze L2H 143 Truck
I’ve had a soft spot for this vehicle ever since Tamiya released their 1/35th scale plastic model kit back in 2003. There’s a saying that ‘if it looks right it is right’ which I think applies to this vehicle. Specially impressive are the features to assist the vehicle should it become bogged down:

  • an indicator, painted red, is included on the steering column to show which way the front wheels are pointing.
  • the 2 spare wheels just behind the cab are in fact attached to an extra which can help to give extra ground purchase.

Accompanying this vehicle is a towed 2cm anti-aircraft gun.

Renault UE – AMX Infantry Supply Carrier
This French vehicles originates from the 1930s when a number of countries produced light, tracked armour. It is powered by a 4 cylinder, water cooled, 356bhp petrol engine and weighs just 2,100kg, proving popular even after production ceased the museum reports it’s great fun to drive even today.

In service this vehicle sometimes a towed an armoured trailer an example of which the museum is still on the lookout for. The Tank Museum at Bovington has a static example of this scarce vehicle with the trailer and I have included 2 pictures of this example showing the trailer.

SdKfz 222 Armoured Car (replica)
This vehicle was used in the hit BBC TV series ‘Allo ‘Allo and know as Gruber’s Little Tank. It is in fact a replica SdKfz 222 German armoured car from WW2 built, I believe, on a Land Rover chassis.

My final picture above shows Gruber, played by the actor Guy Siner, on the cast of Alo’ Alo’ riding in his ‘Little Tank’.

Douglas McArthur’s Cadillacs
Two completely unique vehicles owned by the Museum are American General  Douglas McArthur’s Cadillacs. General McArthur had these cars shipped out to the Philippines in 1941 when he was made commander of U.S. Army Forces in the Far East. Less than a year later the Americans were defeated by the armed forces of Imperial Japan and General McArthur was evacuated by fast motor boat leaving the cars behind. The Japanese general in command of the Philippines took the cars for his own use until in 1945 General McArthur’s forces  retook the islands and possession of his cars. Although strictly speaking they were General McArthurs cars, in fact the Japanese general used them for longer than McArthur.

One thing worthy of note is that these cars are almost a time capsule having received very little in the way of restoration, even keeping their original paint finish.

Staff Cars et al
Leaving my favourites aside it’s fair to say that the remainder of the collection is also pretty unique and impressive including as it does a  1938 Mercedes Benz Type 320 that featured in Alo’ Alo’, a Austin Staff Car that featured in an episode of Dad’s Army and a 1925 Crosslety Kegresse, ancestor of the modern half-track. Brilliant and historically significant vehicles all.

Round and About the Museum
The museum is well laid out and includes a tea bar (with a panoramic view of Windsor Castle), a cycle collection and display cases containing military uniforms and memorabilia. But for me the best ‘supporting act’ is the cinema showing a movie about the major vehicle exhibits and featuring seating from a Channel Islands cinema now long demolished.

And Finally….

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As Bert Pigeon says the History on Wheels museum is a great place to visit for casual visitors, families and the enthusiast, there’s something for everyone.

History on Wheels is a non-profit making, unfunded museum dedicated to educating folk of all ages. Given its status the museum is not able to open every day but instead has specific visiting days spread throughout the year, the Museum website lists the open and special event days.

I would like to dedicate this page to the founder of the Museum Tony Oliver. Sadly Tony is no longer with us but his work in preserving these vehicles and sharing them with others is a fine legacy. I should also like to thanks Tony’s son Peter who has now taken on the task of maintaining the museum and makes all visitors very welcome….