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Saturday, 25 October 2014

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Keswick man fulfils his dream by opening James Bond museum

When it comes to 007, nobody does it better than avid Cumbrian collector Peter Nelson.

Peter became entranced with all the glamour and excitement of James Bond when as a teenager, he began reading the Ian Fleming stories.

No doubt many a 14-year-old imagined himself growing up to be a special agent just like Bond, driving fast cars and bedding some of the world’s most glamorous beauties – and doing it all for Britain.

Peter Nelson didn’t become a secret agent – instead he took up a career as a dentist.

But his fascination with Bond, and collecting film memorabilia, grew and grew. And now, after 20 years of collecting, he is poised to fulfil a lifetime’s ambition by opening an exhibition featuring the most complete Bond collection in the world.

Tomorrow, to coincide with the centenary of the birth of famous James Bond movie director Cubby Broccoli, Peter Nelson’s new Bond Museum opens its doors to the public on Keswick’s Southey Hill Trading Estate behind the pencil museum.

For Nelson, this “licence to thrill” is the culmination of two decades of travelling the world in pursuit of cars and other items of movie memorabilia.

Now he hopes the world will travel to Keswick, to see a fantastic collection of James Bond vehicles that bring back memories of some of the greatest film moments of all time.

Peter admits that putting together his Bond collection—it was nearly sold a couple of years ago—has taken all his time and money. Over the years he has invested hundreds of thousands of pounds in his celebrity cars.

Already the owner of the Cars of the Stars museum in Keswick, the James Bond collection takes his involvement in the local tourism scene to new levels.

Like Bond, there’s a sense of drama and adventure about the whole concept. In fact he’s even learnt how to drive a tank so he is familiar with the workings of one of his latest acquisitions.

Surveying his display, as the final touches were being added this week, Nelson said: “It is every boy’s dream come true. I believe it will become one of the world’s best small museums. People will travel from all over the world to see it and it is going to be a fantastic attraction for Keswick.

“This town is about beauty and adventure, all things associated with James Bond. This is what the town needs and already I am getting inquiries about the museum from all over the world.

“James Bond is known in every country. He is instantly recognisable. There’s already some people travelling from America to be here on the opening day and we had visitors from Dubai who turned up early because they had heard about it and came specially to see what it was all about.”

Mr Nelson said: “Putting it together has been quite an adventure. Ironically I was going to sell the collection a year ago because I had nowhere to display it for Bond fans. I approached Christies, but thought it was sad to see it split up.

“At that time the people who own this building approached me and it seemed fate that I had the chance to build a museum just when I was considering selling.”

The museum is housed in part of what used to be the Caterite supermarket and the Keswick climbing wall.

Peter Nelson has assembled an amazing collection of vehicles from almost all the Bond films—plus that 42-ton Russian tank which featured in one of the best Bond chases in Goldeneye.

Peter was determined to drive the tank and went on a course in Oxford. “It turned out to be surprisingly easy,” he said. “Although it is unforgiving and, if you hit anything, you demolish it!”

Speaking about his devotion to 007, Peter said: “I read the books when I was a boy and was taken aback by them. When the films came out it was another dimension.”

Nelson, who is also an artist with his own studio in Keswick, has done a bust of Cubby Broccoli which will be unveiled tomorrow. “He was a genius,” he said. “He had great vision about who would look good on screen and who would be the best directors.”

Peter says it was the “glamour, sophistication and humour” that sold Bond to him as a youngster. That and the fact that 007 was “typically British.”

Peter’s brothers used to collect model Bond cars. Little did he think that one day the real things would be standing on public view in his own museum.

The Bond collection has taken Peter all over the world, both in tracking down new acquisitions and taking vehicles from his collection to shows in countries like Korea and Japan.

“If anything the interest is spreading to countries such as China and India,” he said. “They are going mad for it.”

In building the museum since January Peter has been a painter, joiner, carpet fitter and electrician, learning new skills and working every evening in the race to get ready for the opening.

He bought most of the fittings off eBay including the seats for a cinema. Carlisle College is making a film featuring Peter talking about the museum which will be screened for visitors.

Just days ago he sourced his latest vehicle, a dune buggy from For Your Eyes Only, on eBay site. He found a submarine car in a scrapyard in the Bahamas and has flown thousands of miles in search of other vehicles including one which was owned by a New York cop.

Recently Peter had dinner with one of the most famous Bonds, Roger Moore, at a reunion event at the Pinewood Studios. “He is a really nice fella and has a great sense of humour,” he said. “All the actors have added to the Bond entity and Daniel Craig, the latest 007, has brought a gritty appeal. I can’t wait for the 23rd film to come out.”

The only Bond actor Peter hasn’t met is Sean Connery. “It would be fantastic if he could come to Keswick and see the museum.”

In the world of James Bond, the cars are as much the stars as the actors. And Peter admits that, driving an Aston Martin DB5 around town, with all its gadgets, he can’t help taking on the persona of 007. “It’s the most fantastic looking car in the world and a joy to drive,” he said.

Now Peter Nelson hopes that he can share the pleasure of owning so many Bond souvenirs with the thousands who visit his Keswick museum.

From Dr No, the first film adaptation of Ian Fleming’s books, right through to the more recent movies, the iconic vehicles—around 28 of them in the exhibition—are all there to dazzle James Bond fans.

Peter says that his collecting days are probably over now he has put all his energy and cash into the museum. Although he admits, if some more memorabilia comes up for sale, he might be tempted. “Once a collector always a collector I guess,” he said.

Peter Nelson, the man who owns the golden gun—he bought it at an auction sale—is shooting for the stars with his latest venture.

The Bond Museum will be given a full launch later in the year, but Peter was determined to have a low key start coinciding with the Cubby Broccoli anniversary.

For details of The Bond Museum ring 017687 74044 or log on to www.thebondmuseum.com

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