Meet Neil Wood - keeping our cars looking their best

Neil working on a car

If you find it hard work keeping your own car bright and clean - spare a thought for Neil Wood who has hundreds to buff and polish.

Neil's job is to make sure all the classic and vintage vehicles in our collection are looking their best for visitors. His unusual but vital role 'behind-the-cleans' has been featured in Westmorland Gazette's "person-of-the-week" feature.

But, while many motorists find it a chore to keep one car clean, Neil relishes the huge task he faces.

A close up of Neil working on one of the museum's many cars

"I absolutely love it," he said.

"I don't really even mind when visitors come and accidentally put a handprint on a shiny new car – it gives me a job to do."

It's been Neil's job to prepare and valet the Museum's collection of vehicles since 2017.

"My favourite vehicle here is the 1937 Cadillac Fleetwood limousine which was used on the streets of Knightsbridge in London," he said.

"If it could talk it would be able to tell so many tales of all the people who have ridden in it.

"It's an incredible piece of motoring history."

The Fleetwood takes a lot of looking after and is the biggest car on show at the Backbarrow attraction.

It was once the family car of the daughter of Sir John Betjeman, the former Poet Laureate, who often socialised with royalty.

A close-of Neil with some tools of his trade

Making the classic cars fit for presentation can involve painstaking work.

"The Humber Hawk estate took 16 days to prepare," explains Neil.

"Its interior was covered with orange mould and I had to use a toothbrush to make sure we got rid of it to stop it from deteriorating over time."

Neil takes the driving seat inside the Humber Limousine

He has spent two days a week over the last five years cleaning, waxing, and polishing the many classic vehicles on display at the museum.

When he’s not at the museum Neil runs his own mobile detailing and valeting business covering North Lancashire and South Lakeland so it's hard to say just how many cars he's waxed and polished in that time.

"It must be in the thousands," he says.

"Working on the historic vehicles at the Lakeland Museum gives me a great sense of satisfaction.

"It’s great to know that I’m keeping a little bit of history in the best condition possible.

"Don't tell anyone but if I could afford to do it as a volunteer, I probably would."

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