New exhibition at Kenilworth Castle celebrates motoring pioneer

Frank Salisbury's portrait of JD Siddeley. Credit: English Heritage
Frank Salisbury's portrait of JD Siddeley. Credit: English Heritage
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Car, aircraft and history lovers have all been catered for at a new exhibition which has opened in Kenilworth Castle this month.

‘Speed and Power: John Siddeley, Pioneer of the Motor Age’ is celebrating the life and achievements of John Davenport Siddeley, 1st Baron Kenilworth, who founded Armstrong Siddeley Motors.

Armstrong Siddeley 1929 poster by Guy Sabran. Credit: National Motor Museum, Beaulieu

Armstrong Siddeley 1929 poster by Guy Sabran. Credit: National Motor Museum, Beaulieu

The company used Kenilworth Castle as its drawing office when Armstrong Siddeley’s Parkside Works in Coventry was bombed out during the Blitz.

English Heritage will be showing off a variety of pieces in the exhibition. The centrepiece is a 1937 painting of Siddeley himself, loaned by the Siddeley family, by Frank Salisbury, the celebrated artist known for his portraits of the Queen and Winston Churchill.

Martin Allfrey, senior collections curator at English Heritage, said: “We are delighted to be bringing this fascinating new exhibition to Kenilworth Castle.

“It is great not only to be able to celebrate the motoring history of the area, but also explore a forgotten chapter in the castle’s history.

“We are very lucky to have been able to work with the Armstrong Siddeley Heritage Trust and the Siddeley family to bring these stories alive with items from their extensive collections.”

Other items on display include a trophy won by one of Siddeley’s cars in the 1931 Monte Carlo Rally, a 1917 letter from Windsor Castle following Queen Mary’s visit to Coventry’s Parkside Works, and equipment from the drawing office which was once housed within the castle gatehouse.

Chris Allen, director of the Armstrong Siddeley Heritage Trust, said: “It has been an honour to join forces with English Heritage to show the general public the great contribution that J D Siddeley made to both the automotive and aircraft industries in this country, and the part played by Kenilworth Castle.”