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Invicta

Just an Idea
In 1959 the UK was entering a period of widespread change in our various modes of transport. Many superseded types of vehicles would soon be scrapped unless concerted efforts were made to preserve at least some representative examples. Steam on British Rail had entered a decline, trams and trolleybuses were rapidly disappearing and the MoT test for ten year old cars appeared likely to result in many being barred from the road. Following the example of the Talyllyn Railway
Preservation Society in 1951, railway enthusiasts had started setting up a number of preservation bodies. As independent organisations there seemed a danger of effort and goodwill being spread too thinly, while there were few bodies
dedicated to other modes of transport which might be lost by default. The answer seemed to be a National Transport Museum with some sort of federation of preservation societies covering all forms of transport.

 

Our founder, Ron Wilsdon, wrote to the Minister of Transport in 1960 concerning a museum proposal, but received no response. Eighteen months later the IMechE considered the proposal for an over-arching transport body - perhaps on the lines of the National Trust - but this did not gain support. Reactions from other bodies contacted were a mixed bag: the Vintage Sports Car Club were sceptical about the overlap of enthusiasts for different modes while the Vintage Motor Cycle Club considered themselves financially secure and were not interested in sharing the problems of others. However Prince Marshall of the Historic Commercial Vehicle Club was highly supportive and through Old Motor magazine promoted the cause to over
1000 recipients. The Science Museum, Renault and the British Motor Corporation were among those expressing a cautious welcome.

 

At this time the future of the three British Railways museums, at York, Swindon and Clapham, was threatened as the BR Board could not commit to ongoing funding and the Government was offering no assistance. With the backing of two key players,
John Scholes of the Clapham Museum and Jack Boston, chair of the consultative panel for the Preservation of British Transport Relics, there seemed to be enough support at least for an inaugural meeting.

 

The Inaugural Meeting
This took place in June 1964 at the HQ of National Benzole in Knightsbridge. The attendance of fifteen, on a sunny Saturday afternoon, was considered reasonable under the circumstances. Considerable discussion of proposals advanced by Ron Wilsdon and John Webb ensued, along with expressions of concern over the future of Clapham, and it was agreed
to appoint a committee of nine to produce a constitution, terms of reference, publicity etc and to build a bridge to the MoT.

One of the "elder statesmen" of the preservation world was Bill Skeat of the SLS who gave the embryonic Trust much valuable support. BMC, however, pulled out after one meeting and declined to give help in time or financial terms.

 

The Steering Committee
Some fifteen monthly meetings of the Steering Committee followed, in various Central London venues. It did not take long for the title "The Transport Trust" to be adopted, and artwork produced for the original logo (still more-or-less what we use today). The wording of a constitution was drafted with legal assistance, and with some reference to the National Trust
and the National Film Institute as models. The major flaw in the project was simply the question of where the money would come from.

 

The Birth of the Trust
The first General Meeting of the Trust would be the most important single event in its history, marking its birth and from its date the life of the Trust would be measured. As it turned out, 6 committee members and 26 others gathered at Caxton Hall on October 30th 1965 for the First General Meeting. It was reported that the Trust now had a bank account and printed promotional leaflets and had commenced surveys of the present state of transport preservation in various modes. The activities of the steering committee had incurred expenses of £149, covered by donations totalling £154, but subscriptions would be required from this point on.

 

The Transport Trust had bootstrapped itself into existence.

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