The water softening plant at Mouldsworth, built in 1937, ceased to function in the 1960's. This was partly due to the corrosive action of salt on the machinery (salt was brought in from Northwich by railway to soften the water), and the use of an alternative source which became available - Lake Vyrnwy in North Wales.
James Peacop, the Museum's proprietor, met a fellow motoring enthusiast in 1970 and approached the Water Authority with a view to using the disused building for vintage car storage. In 1971 planning permission was granted and after a few months they had 10 cars in storage for friends and fellow enthusiasts.
The first replica garage was built to coincide with the Chester Vintage Enthusiasts Club use of the site for driving tests and this led to the opening of a Museum. The core of the exhibits was provided by Eddie Farrall and his collection of SS Jaguars.
Over the years, the museum exhibits have been expanded: not only vehicles but motoring memorabilia including old pumps, signs, mascots and garage paraphernalia. The museum has also been the subject of several radio and TV programmes and the vehicles have been loaned to property buyers for use in period dramas.
Radio Stoke produced a number of memorable 'Sounds of Mouldsworth' programmes whilst Granada TV covered the museum's acquisition of the 1964 Ford Anglia which was the family car of Mr Hughes of Chester. This distinctive Caribbean Blue classic now doubles as a Harry Potter car, as a similar vehicle was featured in the second film 'Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets'. In 1997 the museum featured in the TV series 'Hart Davies on History'.
The present-day collection is very much down to the character and industry of proprietor James Peacop. James has greatly enlarged the now famous collection of automobilia as well as providing 'hands on' activities with children in mind. He is particularly aware of the educational value, and there are reference works, rubbing-down tables and a very popular quiz with prizes.
James is also kept busy with popular talks on motoring mascots (a particular interest), collecting automobilia, and motoring art. He is especially knowledgable on the latter and brings his expertise as head of graphic design at one of the major Cheshire colleges and a lifetime of experience as a commercial artist. He also works as a cartoonist and illustrated the popular Rivers Fletcher motoring book series.
The Museum is very fortunate in that it has been able to feature a number of very special vehicles over the years. These include the 1933 Alfa Romeo 8C owned by Ferrari (valued at over one-and-a-half million pounds) and, more recently, the world-famous 'BABS' - the fastest car on the planet when Parry Thomas broke the land-speed record in 1926.
One of the main features of the Museum is the always-changing nature of exhibits and ongoing development work. A recent and popular addition is the collection of Art Deco teapots by Sadler of Stoke on Trent, whilst the resurfacing of the flat roof (aided by the Water Authority) has provided a warmer and dry interior.
Mouldsworth Motor Museum,
Smithy Lane, Mouldsworth, Cheshire CH3 8AR
Tel. 01928 731781