August 9, 2023

AMHT25: Behind the Scenes

“The Trust will have a major role to play in keeping alive the wit and ingenuity, the innovation and dedication and the sheer imagination of the men and women who made Aston Martin what it is.”

So said Walter Hayes, inaugural Chair of AMHT on our foundation in 1998.

Exhibition panel with images and text which tell the story of the beginnings of the Aston Martin Heritage Trust and what it does now

Since the Trust was established by members of the Aston Martin Owner’s Club (AMOC) all those years ago, we have continued to grow as an independent organisation and develop a collection and museum which captures the story of this iconic British marque. So when it came to thinking about how to celebrate our 25th birthday at the museum, an exhibition capturing all of this seemed like a perfect way to mark the occasion.

Creating an exhibition is always a lot of fun, if also a huge investment of time and research, but it’s so rewarding to be able to share everything you’ve found come opening day.

A great deal of archival research went into finding out about how we ended up in this beautiful Grade II* listed barn and the journey AMOC went on to find a new home. There is so much information and it really is quite a story. The barn is the oldest surviving non-religious structure in Drayton St Leonard, dating from the 14th to early 15th centuries. It once fell within the Bishop of Lincoln’s medieval Dorchester estate, has been used for thrashing corn and even as a base for a seaweed fertiliser business… yes, that does say seaweed.

In the late 1940s the barn was purchased by the Bonniksen family who used it for milling seaweed to produce Alginure, a fertiliser the locals swore by. Amazingly, we have a tin of it (tightly sealed!) leant to us by a resident of the village for the display. Alongside original wooden rivets for holding the barn’s timbers together you can also see the 14th century piece of pottery that helped to date the barn.

A tin of Alginure and associated marketing material on display in the AMHT25 exhibition

There are some ‘heritage highlights’, key moments and events, that we wanted to shine a light on too. Amongst them is the restoration of one of the most important vehicles in our collection, A3, the oldest surviving Aston Martin in the world. After purchase at auction, possible due to a donation from His Excellency Sheikh Nasser al Sabah, the decision was made to restore A3 to her former glory given her run-down state. In 2008 the work began and was based on original photographs from the collection, the intention being to return A3 to as close to her original appearance as possible. Three original features remain on this amazing car; the chassis, engine and steering wheel.  

A3 during the early stages of restoration, she is photographed just as a body shell, with no wheels, engine or other fittings
Photograph of A3 in the later stages of restoration. The car is stripped back to bare metal but is starting to look like a car

Another highlight is of course our Aston Martin Heritage Festival, the third of which will be taking place this weekend at the British Motor Museum. If you’re coming do stop by the tent to say hello. We’ll have some of the AMHT25 exhibition panels with us so if your interest has been piqued do come and have a look.  

With the final part of our exhibition we’ve come full circle to Walter’s quote. To show the wit, ingenuity, innovation, dedication and imagination of Aston Martin and all those who have made the company what it is, we wanted to shine a light on objects that demonstrate this.

25 Years in 25 Objects was conceived to celebrate not just the breadth of the collection but to spotlight the different cars, people, skills, and social impact of Aston Martin. Each object, whether it be a race car, a LEGO DB5, a paint sample or a brick, tells us a story of design, innovation and hard work, and the enduring legacy of a very British marque. Each object will also make its own appearance on social media and you can follow them with the hashtags #25Years25Objects #AMHT25.

Two members of staff dress a costume mannequin
25 Years in 25 Objects information panel, showing 25 objects from the Trust's collection that tell the story of Aston Martin

I’m so excited to share these objects with people, but thanks Elon for changing the Twitter logo after we went to print!

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