Kenilworth Castle is opening its doors to the public on the weekend of July 22nd for an event celebrating the achievements of an automotive heavyweight.
John Davenport Siddeley, 1st Baron Kenilworth CBE, was a pioneer of the motor industry in 20th Century. He started out by producing racing bicycles before going on to manufacture luxury motor cars and aircraft engines.
Known for larger motor cars with aircraft names such as the Lancaster and the Hurricane – due to their affiliation with the aviation industry – Siddeley included the elite and wealthy in his clientele. King George VI himself drove the Queen Mother to their honeymoon in his Siddeley in 1923.
In 1932 Siddeley was knighted due to his support during the first world war and his commitment to the automotive trade and five years later he was elected president of the Society of Motor Manufacturers and Traders for 1937-1938 which was the highest honour the British Motor Industry could bestow. In 1937, he purchased Kenilworth Castle and invested a considerable amount of money to carry out necessary repairs.
Kenilworth Castle has been at the centre of England’s affairs for much of its 900 year history and these days visitors can climb tower built to woo Queen Elizabeth I and marvel at the imposing Norman keep.
Exhibits over the weekend will include a Grand Prix d’Honneur trophy won by one of Siddeley’s cars in the 1931 Monte Carlo Rally; an anvil made from a yew tree which stood beside the Parkside Works until it was felled during an air raid in November 1940; and Sphinx mascots and items relating to Siddeley’s glamorous cars.
Visitors will also be able to get up close to a special 1937 painting of Siddeley – loaned by the Siddeley family – by celebrated artists Frank Salisbury, renowned for his portraits of The Queen and Winston Churchill.
The exhibition will suit all of the family with a chance to design your own Armstrong Siddeley car and participate in a game based on an epic 1933 journey by William Bradley and daughter Margaret from London to Istanbul in a Siddeley Special car.