In November 2002 the Vice-Chairman of the Alvis Owner Club, Nick Walker, announced that the Board has decided to set up a legal trust, named the Alvis Archive Trust, to take possession of the many items of an archival nature which it owns – photographs, catalogues, drawings, correspondence and so on. The thinking behind this is that, no matter what unspeakable things may happen to the Club itself, the archives will be protected. For example, should the Club be wound up, they would no longer form part of the assets and therefore could not be sold off.
The objects of the Trust as stated in the trust deed are “to preserve the archives which prior to this deed have belonged to the Company” [ie to AOC Ltd] “and to obtain and preserve such further archives as the trustees think suitable and desirable and to allow access to the archives by the beneficiaries at such times and upon such terms as the trustees shall reasonably decide”. These “beneficiaries”, incidentally, are “the members of the Company and anyone with an interest in Alvis vehicles”.
Thus it can be seen that the Trust will actively seek to acquire additional items which it feels should be preserved. Naturally, since the Trust has no income of its own, the trustees hope that this will come about in many cases through donations from Club members and others. They hope that there are people who will feel that they can now do this and ensure that their precious collections remain in safe hands.
The first trustees have been appointed – John Wheeley, Nick Walker and Jim Pearce. They are turning their attention initially to the related aspects of storage and access. It will not be sufficient to have legal title to these precious items unless they can be both stored safely and made available for researchers and others. This in turn will require that everything is catalogued, which is now seen as the first priority.
The illuminated neon sign which used to grace the Alvis dealer showroom
The following year it was announced that the Club has made a major step forward in safeguarding its archives.
“Now we have agreed with the Coventry Archive office that these assets can be held at their premises, on what is known as “long term deposit”. This means that the Trust retains ownership of them, but that they are available for inspection – by any member of the public – during normal working hours. Photocopying facilities are also available. The arrangement costs us nothing, although we have said that we will show our gratitude by donating money from time to time.
A professionally run archive office is the ideal place to safeguard precious items. Those of you who have visited such an office will know that their stock is recorded, stored and handled with the utmost care. The Coventry location is ideal for us as well, not only because of the city’s connection with the Alvis company but because it lies at the centre of the UK’s motorway system.
The transfer will take place during the next few weeks. At present they are all in the personal care of John Wheeley, who is the Club archivist. They consist at present of such things as photographs, cine films, instruction books, spares catalogues, technical drawings and memorabilia such as presentation plaques. It is our hope that the combination of the formation of the Trust and the new storage arrangements will now trigger many more donations to the archive.”
Schedule of items deposited with Coventry Archives in 2005
1. Lancefield Coachwork: 1934 illustrated catalogue describing “Parallite” Streamlined Coachwork, as fitted to an Alvis Speed Twenty saloon. Plus illustrations of same as applied to Wolseley Hornet and Armstrong-Siddeley.
2. Hermann Graber: copy of “Automobile Quarterly”, Vol 41 No 3 (2001) containing an article on this Swiss coachbuilder and his work on, amongst others, Alvis chassis.
3. Two photographic prints of the Alvis front-wheel drive car, one with Capt Smith-Clarke, together with covering letter from Alvis Ltd dated 7 October 1965.
4. Ten Alvis-related photographs from the collection of S C H (Sammy) Davis, former patron of the Alvis Owner Club, together with supporting documentation.
5. Numerous photographs of the first Harvey Memorial Weekend organised by the Alvis Owner Club in Cornwall, 1998.
6. A collection of cartoons presented to former Alvis Owner Club President Ernest Shenton, to commemorate Alvis participation in the A.1. Tour of Denmark in 1982.
7. Instruction book for Alvis 12/50 model, together with invoice and covering letter from Alvis Car & Engineering Co Ltd dated 31 August 1936.
8. Four CD’s forming the masters for the Alvis Owner Club 50th Anniversary commemorative book for the Three Litre model.
9. Alvis Owner Club car badge.
10. Four Alvis Ltd camshaft drawings (four-cylinder).
11. Programme for the 1957 Alvis Day at Heston Aerodrome.
12. CD containing photos of two Glasgow Police Alvis cars.
13. Collection of instruction books etc for Alvis TA 16.95 Silver Eagle.
A full up to date list of deposits is available on request and on the Herbert’s website.
The new Alvis logo used by the current Alvis Car Company and is reproduced here with due acknowledgement
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