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The Rootes Archive Centre
An exciting venture that is now benefitting all members of Rootes Car Clubs.
Some "big" questions that we aim to answer are:
The ARCC exists to promote the interests of all the clubs interested in Rootes vehicles, in part by sharing information. Preserving and making available archive material from the Rootes Group is an essential part of this. In 2004, ARCC members were able to rescue the Rootes Engineering Department archives from Humber Road, Coventry. This is a truly fantastic collection of material: the complete library of engineering drawings from the early 1960s to the end of the Chrysler era, including anything from the late 50s that was modified in the 60s; so there's a lot for Minx/ Rapier/ Gazelle and Humber ranges, plus everything relating to Arrow, Avenger, Imp etc. There are drawings and specifications for all chassis and body items including mechanical, electrical, soft trim etc. It all amounts to at least 150,000 items stored in 47 4ft x 3ft metal cabinets, a dozen filing cabinets and 75ft of 8ft high racking containing original drawings. The card index catalogue alone fills 92 drawers! We also now have a microfiche collection which goes back even earlier to 1934!
We were very lucky to initially have two years of free storage thanks to an ARCC member, although we were not able to unpack and organise everything at that time. For five years following that we rented a building on the Westcott Venture Park near Bicester. This enabled us to operate as an Archive Centre where the material can be made available for research. We have set up a charitable trust to operate the Centre so it is financially and legally separate from ARCC and the individual clubs. After five years at Westcott we are now moving to a new location at the Cherwell Business Village not far from the centre of Banbury.
A fully equipped Archive Centre doesn't come cheap, although the option we now have is a lot less expensive than others we have investigated. It offers us facilities for study rooms and meeting rooms for clubs to use as well as storage for the archives. We are continually investigating commercial and private sponsorship to supplement the income we receive from ARCC.
What this means for club members?
In addition to historical information about individual cars, these archives are the key to the continued supply of vital spares to keep our vehicles on the road. They are also a fascinating supply of historical information including some design ideas hitherto unknown. The availability of spares off the shelf has already largely dried up; it's increasingly hard to find new old stock parts at autojumbles. Spares remanufacture represents the only way to guarantee our cars can stay on the road in future despite the increasingly tough approach of government and licensing authorities. But remanufacturing spares is a risky area for clubs, and getting more so in the current climate of insurance claims and the threat of litigation. All ARCC clubs benefit from the protection of the public liability insurance ARCC provides; but in respect of spares supply and remanufacture, the requirement to demonstrate that you've taken all reasonable precautions can be difficult. Being able to use original specifications and technical drawings from the factory makes this a lot less risky. So this one reason for setting up the Archives Centre. Information about original specifications, finishes, etc. will also be of great value to those engaged in concours restorations, as well as marque historians, archivists and club members interested in the development of a particular model.
For the collection to be usable it needs to be properly catalogued and we have made a start on doing this, with the input of the expertise of ARCC member clubs. Having the priceless archive material of the Rootes Group in our possession is something most other classic car clubs can only dream of. ARCC has made this a reality, by founding and supporting the Rootes Archive Centre. We now need the commitment of all ARCC clubs and their members to make the Centre a continuing source of benefit to car owners, motoring historians and to awaken the interest of young people in large scale business, manufacturing and design in the UK.
"Preserving the past for the future."
The Rootes Archive Centre is registered with the Charity Commission for England and Wales number 1108882.
Patrons: Lord Rootes, T.D. Rootes, W.B. Rootes.
Page last modified: Thursday, 27-Aug-2015 17:08:04 BST