BBC Homepage World Service Education
BBC Homepagelow graphics version | feedback | help
BBC News Online
 You are in: UK
Front Page 
Northern Ireland 
UK Politics 
Talking Point 
In Depth 

The BBC's Charles Rhodes
"Humber owners included prime ministers and royalty"
 real 28k

Wednesday, 26 April, 2000, 14:03 GMT 15:03 UK
Remembering the Humber

The Humber car was a royal favourite
By the BBC's Charles Rhodes

Kings and queens loved them, as did prime ministers.

The Humber motor car was once the favourite limousine of the aristocracy and ruling classes.

After the Second World War, King George VI ordered 47 to be sent to British embassies and consulates around the world for royal tours.

These days this classic car has been largely forgotten, but now a potato merchant from Hull hopes to change that with a museum dedicated to the Humber.

Marshall has the world's largest Humber collection
Alan Marshall inherited his love of Humbers from his father, who drove them as army staff cars during the war.

After learning to drive in a Humber, Alan now has 41, the largest collection in the world, and wants help from Kingston upon Hull City Council to open a museum dedicated to what he believes is one of Britain's greatest cars.

He says: "There seems to be a great deal of nostalgia for the Humber. There was the Great in Britain when this type of car was being made."

While around 80% of Rolls Royces have survived, the car that became know as the "poor man's Rolls" because it cost less than half as much as its more prestigious rival, has fared less well. Fewer than one in every 100 Humbers made it into the 21st Century.

Many of the survivors have made it to the unlikely surroundings of Mr Marshall's potato warehouse in Hull.

Here they are lovingly restored to former glories, made roadworthy and hired out for weddings.

This car used to ferry the Queen Mother to church
Alan Marshall loves them all, claiming he could sit in anyone of them blindfolded and recall its registration number.

Among his favourites, a car once used by the Queen Mother to go to Church. According to Alan, who has its MoT records, the car travelled just seven miles in one year.

It is fitting that Alan wants to open a museum in Hull - Thomas Humber who started the company was educated in the city.

A bicycle in 1868 first carried the Humber badge, before Thomas Humber turned his attentions to cars in 1896, building limousines for those who preferred understated elegance to ostentatious displays of wealth.

Edward VI and Wallis Simpson also liked the privacy afforded by a tiny back window on their Humber Snipe as it ferried them around London before his abdication in 1936.

The Humber bike came first

Found in a barn with its leather seats covered in Mildew and mice living under the floor, it is Alan Marshall's latest acquisition and after restoration, he promises it will take pride of place.

Kingston upon Hull Council, which has spent 10m over the last decade on their museums, are less enthusiastic about the what a Humber museum could do for Hull.

But with a new boss about to take over the museum department, the council has promised to offer any advice it can to Mr Marshall.

And he is keeping his fingers crossed that the car nicknamed "old faithful" by its owners will at last be given the recognition he believes it deserves.

Search BBC News Online

Advanced search options
Launch console
Internet links:

The BBC is not responsible for the content of external internet sites

Links to other UK stories are at the foot of the page.

E-mail this story to a friend

Links to more UK stories