HAMPSHIRE: Sammy Miller Museum

Sammy Miller lr
By Tim Saunders
I’m not a motorcyclist and neither are any of my family but that hasn’t prevented us from having a fantastic day out at Sammy Miller Motorcycle Museum in the New Forest.
If you’re interested in history there are over 400 of the world’s rarest motorcycles here from manufacturers I’ve never heard of such as Rudge (By Appointment to the King), Henderson and Bultaco as well as others that I have, like Suzuki and Harley-Davidson.
“About 97 per cent of the exhibits are runners,” reveals one of the staff. And the great man himself, championship winning motorcycle racer in both road racing and trials, Sammy Miller MBE, at the sprightly age of 84, can still be found tinkering in the workshop, meeting enthusiasts and carrying out demonstrations as you can see from the videos at www.travelwriter.biz.
Sammy Miller won over 1,300 trials, nine gold medals and the International Six Days Trial. He enjoyed three victories at the North West 200 and came third in the 1957 250cc Grand Prix championship. When Ariel was absorbed by BSA in 1964, Sammy formed a partnership with Spanish firm Bultaco and went on to become the lead developer of modern two-stroke trials motorcycles. That same year he set up his own motorcycle parts business in New Milton, Hampshire and put a few of his old racing motorcycles in the corner, which later became the Sammy Miller Motorcycle Museum. In 2007 he was inducted into the AMA Motorcycle Hall of Fame and two years later was awarded an MBE.
Sammy’s museum shows how motorcycles developed from basically being pedal bikes with engines strapped to them a hundred or so years ago, with examples being the Humber Cycle and the New Hudson Autocycle, through to today’s slick machines. There’s even a Sinclair C5 and the John Ewans enclosed motorcycle.
There is no denying it is a challenge to visit the museum with three children aged 2 to 7. But we’re gluttons for punishment and Henry (2) is awkward throughout. His sisters Harriett (7) and Heidi (5) are kept occupied with finding where the teddies are hiding and adding them to their map. But unfortunately Henry is just a little too young to play this game. At the end the girls receive a certificate for their efforts. Meanwhile, Henry hangs off Caroline for the duration of the museum tour.
I walk out of the museum a better man; one who appreciates the humble motorbike much more than I did before my visit and with a greater understanding of the different aspects of motorcycle racing. There are some real works of art in there, too.
We have our picnic sitting on a bench in the museum courtyard. It is so relaxing sitting by the fishpond listening to the trickling fountain. The weather is good to us, too. As we munch some of the mechanics are working on the bikes.
The piece de resistance is after our lunch, when I am watching the children in the play area, some of the exhibits are put through their paces and Sammy Miller is riding them! These old machines make such a distinctive roar. You would never believe that the rider is 84 years old. Phenomenal and it gives us all hope.
Oblivious to this are our three little rascals merrily feeding the goats and watching the turkeys and ducks in between going on the swings and the climbing frame and slide. As I watch over the children Caroline slopes off to visit the onsite shops. “That was so enjoyable,” she says on her return half an hour later. “I never get to do some relaxed shopping normally.”
Making our way back to the car we see the alpacas and donkeys and all agree that Sammy Miller Motorcycle Museum is a great day out.   
For more information visit: www.sammymiller.co.uk
Tim Saunders on Facebook
Tim Saunders on Twitter
Tim Saunders on LinkedIn