Foundation

WO Bentley 1888 - 1971

The WO Bentley Memorial Foundation was founded in 1998 for “the advancement of public knowledge and appreciation of the Bentley motorcar and its history by the establishment and maintenance of a museum, library and archive for the preservation, exhibition and study of the Collection.”

This is the Stated Objective of The Foundation as found in the Deed of Trust. The history is of particular relevance as it is inexplicably linked to WO's background and engineering training and is the reason for the engineering excellence of the car he produced.

WO Bentley

The engineering background of WO is well documented and is a major part of the Collection covering his early days as an engineering apprentice in the Railway Industry, through his motorcycling competitive days where his engineering skills began to be honed, then on throughout the DFP racing days during which his development of the engine in particular gave him the experience which was to be so effective in the development and production of his Rotary Aero Engines, saving the lives of so many WW1 Pilots.

Young WO Bentley

His application of his knowledge, the relationships formed and the discipline of the work for the Admiralty he had gained during those early days were so important when he eventually designed and built his first car.

The Collection and Archives

The Foundation is responsible for the storage and safe custody of many historic records and documents from Bentley's Cricklewood days, principal among which are the individual chassis build and service records for every Bentley built between 1919 and 1931, together with literally thousands of blue-prints detailing individual engine and chassis components of WO’s cars.  These priceless artefacts were given to the Bentley Drivers Club many years ago by Rolls-Royce Ltd, to whose generosity and foresight the Foundation today continues to be grateful, as it does for the chassis order cards for the Bentleys produced at Derby in the thirties, and those produced at Crewe from 1946 until 1965.

All of these documents have been carefully copied and are now held electronically for easy access and study, but as with all research it is sometimes necessary to actually see an original and with specific arrangements these are available for scrutiny.

There are also scrapbooks of contemporary press cuttings, produced by both the original Bentley Motors Ltd, and also by Woolf Barnato, former chairman of the Company, in which he had invested significant personal wealth.  Add to these a photographic archive indexed by chassis number, numerous personal records, artefacts and documents donated by works staff and/or their descendants, not to mention a significant motoring library and a collection of Bentley memorabilia.

The acquisition of the Model of the Eddie Hall car B35AEis an important addition to the Collection and an example of the Foundation’s quest for Bentley related memorabilia.

Eddie Hall Model Bentley

Publications

The Foundation, as part of its remit, publishes books and monographs on related topics. The first of these was 'The Motorcycling Bentleys' as a 48 page monograph, written by the late Vaughan Davis, with David Burgess-Wise. This work describes WO Bentley's first foray into motor sport, on two wheels, at the end of the first decade of the last century.

 Over the last fifty years or so, much has been written about the Cricklewood manufactured Bentleys, much of this humorous. However, until the Trustees decided to remedy this matter, this particular aspect had never enjoyed publication in its own right. 'Bentley - Lighter Moments with our Heavy Metal' brings together the best of Bentley humour, including contributions from Brockbank, Thelwell, Red Daniells, Harry Charnock and Sir Henry Hotstuff.

More recent publications have extended the activities of the “Bentley Boys” who looked after the race cars, delved into the “Fun” that members had on closed roads in Belgium, and the major Reference Book on Bentley Rotary Engines by Dr. Tom Dine.

Books published by the WO Bentley Memorial Foundation

Books are currently available through the Club Office at Wroxton, and watch out for further projects, currently in the planning stage.

The Archive Working Party

Thanks to the regular meetings of the BDC's volunteer Archive Working Party, the individual chassis photographic files continue to be augmented, as does the computerised index of the library and other documents. Indexing of photographic negatives has also begun.

The Archive Working Party also deals with requests from Bentley owners for information and sometimes, photographs, of individual cars and their history.

Why We Need Your Support

All this motoring history is housed in our brand new club building at Wroxton in Oxfordshire, which is also the administrative headquarters of the Bentley Drivers Club.  

Save for the gift of all this archival material mentioned above, from the Bentley Drivers Club, the Foundation was started from scratch in financial terms and, as a Charitable Trust, is wholly dependent on donations.  These will enable the Foundation to acquire more contemporary Bentley material, as and when this becomes available.  Donations and gifts will also facilitate the holding of seminars, as well as the publication of historical and technical records likely to be of interest to a wider audience of engineering and motoring enthusiasts.  Your support in this direction would be greatly appreciated.

The recent bequest from the estate of a long standing club member is a good way to ensure that the Foundation gets funds to continue its work, and to reduce the tax liability of their estate while putting the money to a good cause.

 A new scheme has been introduced for Life Associates and Friends of the Foundation.

Go to the application form to become a Life Associate >>

Trustees

The trustees of the Foundation are:

Ken Lea(Chairman) Dr. Tom Dine
Ron Warmington Alan Bodfish
David Rolfe Alan Shaw
Nigel Smith

 

For more information about our activities please go to the WOBMF homepage >>

Walter Owen Bentley, MBE

 

 The W.O.Bentley Memorial Foundation, W O Bentley Memorial Building, Ironstone Lane, WROXTON, Banbury, Oxfordshire, OX15 6ED, England.  

Tel: +44(0)1295 738886, Fax: +44(0)1295 738811,     

Email: info@bdcl.org  or   alan.bodfish@bdcl.org

                                          

© 2008, 2009, 2010, 2011, & 2012 W.O. Bentley Memorial Foundation. All rights reserved.