Cloverlands Model Car Collection
This is the story of a great lady, who loves animals and cars, and how these passions led to the assemblage of the unique Cloverlands Model Car collection. This is now in the Montgomery Institute, Arthur Street, Montgomery, Powys
Miss Gillian Rogers was given two model cars - one an Alvis, the other a Jaguar, as a twelve year old, by her father, himself an early motor fan. Gillian admits to being bom the year Brooklands closed - you work it out!
Her parents were teachers in Weymouth, and their parents - who could not drive purchased a '1929 fabric covered Wolseley on condition they were taken out in it every weekend'. Her parents own first car was a Morris Eight - they taught themselves to drive - tests were not introduced until 1934. After the war their first car was a Hillman Minx, and from that moment Gillian was smitten with motors and motoring. She listened avidly to radio reports from Le Mans Twenty Four Hour Races, went every year to Brighton, entered rallies and attended motoring events at nearby Goodwood and only moved to Powys in 1990.
She visited the London Motor Show as a teenager in 1954. There she took many photographs, including one of the Darracq Genevieve which was used in the film of the same name about the 'Old Crocks Race' more respectfiilly known as the London to Brighton Race. The film starred Kenneth More, trumpet -playing Kay Kendal, and the race itself commemorated the repeal of the Red Flag Act in 1896.Gillian passed her own driving test, and still a teenager, bought her first car - a 9hp twin carburettor 972 Singer Le Mans for £120 which she drove for forty years. Early tyres cost £4, and although the car had a major engine rebuild, it passed its first MOT in 1960, and then every year until 1998. Alongside real motoring, car modelling claimed Gillian's attention - she collected a Darracq, a Rolls-Royce, and she met Rex Hayes a renowned model designer who had made models for the Queen. She and Rex became lifelong friends. Her first Hayes model was a Maserati and he gave her invaluable advice.Gillian showed her real car at Goodwood and travelled to Grand Prix at Rouen and the Nurburgring. Inspired by early radio broadcasts - including one of the Roy Salvadori/Carroll Shelby Aston Martin Le Mans triumph in 1959, she visited and camped on site at the famous endurance circuit. Sadly, as motor racing became more commercial, her interest waned, saying 'the flame had gone - cars were just advertising machines, no longer the sleek speedsters of yore! Ironically, in the mid Sixties, Gillian's Singer known as Rosebud ,was in demand as an advertising car carrying Father Christmas, her local MP and Kenneth Grahame's Mr Toad (to publicise a pantomime), at different times. She drove at a Goodwood event, where the star was Campbell's 'Bluebird' and also drove, on part of the derelict Brooklands banking. (Please click on an image for a full size version)
Car modelling continued - she won first prize with a Bugatti one-fifth size model (fi-om a Steyning kit) at a Prescott Hill Climb exhibition, and with her work at Caffyns- a leading South Coast motor dealership, she was an articulate 'petrol head' long before the term came into general use. However, following the death of her father she left the motor trade, for better pay and pension in local government. Rosebud was no longer used for commuting but became a show car - just as interest in old quality cars was burgeoning. Clover now makes her entrance into the story. Sister Valerie was working for a local vet, and Gillian picked out a puppy - 'the little brown one (Clover)' Irom a litter of fourteen, one of eight destined to be put down. Clover became the 'sweetest dog imaginable' - a much loved pet, with a tiny white mark like a four leaf clover on her head - hence 'Cloverleaf .By the time Clover died, Gillian was aware of the 1925 Citroen 5 CV Cloverleaf, so she decided to construct a onethird scale model scaling up from an existing one-thirtysecond version, this with patience and perseverance.
Apart from the radiator, Cloette, as she became known, was built entirely by Gillian, albeit with advice from other model makers and the little car made its 'curtsey to the public' on 5th September 1981. Thereafter, Cloette attended some seventy eight events prior to a move to Powys in 1990, raising hundreds of pounds for animal charities and becoming a magnet for both children and the press. Following the move to Powys, Gillian attended with her trusty Rosebud, a Hillman Minx and Cloette, shows such as Welshpool Festival of Transport, Bishops Castle Tractor Rally, Oswestry Agricultural Show and other events. 'Chitty Chitty Bang Bang' the flying car of Ian Fleming's book (of which there is a model in the collection) appeared at Welshpool on one occasion. A small parallel toy dog museum was also set up in Powys and famous visitors included Michael Ware, former curator of the National Car Museumat Bealieu.
Sadly ,the museum was not a financial success, not because of its content or the enthusiasm of Miss Rogers and her sister, but because of its location and a lack of finds to promote it - although Gillian continued to add models to it.
In 1998, Rosebud was sold, following a very attractive offer from a younger Singer enthusiast. Gillian still sends Rosebud a birthday card, every year, which its new owner, David Allen, put on the car, and Rosebud has visited Powys en route to other shows. Miss Rogers was so fond of Rosebud she commissioned Rosette (a four foot long replica of Rosebud).
This was made by local man Danny Davis and occupies pride of place in the museum alongside Cloette and another replica of a Fiat Topolino, once owned and driven by sister Valerie.
If you would like to find out more about the model car musem, please come and visit, details below:
Afternoons: Friday, Saturday and Sunday 2.15–5.00pm
Mornings Saturday 10.30-12.45pm
Phone 01686 668004