Cobbaton - A Hobby Which Grew into Something Else
IntroductionMy 'day' job means that every July, my wife and I take a group of students to Plymouth, England on an English course. One of my personal highlights/escapes is an annual visit to Cobbaton in North Devon. Now, Cobbaton, although it appears on all the maps, is not exactly a bustling hive of activity. Go a little bit off the main roads and the armor enthusiast will find some real gems...
the collectionThe Cobbaton Combat Collection began in the 1980s when the family Agricultural contracting business was sold and the money used to open a museum of military vehicles and artifacts. The source of many of these vehicles were the usual ones - scrapyards, miltary ranges and other private collectors. As the original founder of the collection had been collecting military vehicles since the 50s and 60s (a time when prices were more reasonable than nowadays) and ex-military vehicles were considerably more plentiful, acquiring them wpuld be perhaps easier than they would nowadays.
what's in the collection?The majority of the vehicles on the collection are Canadian or British vehicles of WWII. However, over the years a number of more modern subjects have been added. Let's begin with looking at the first impressiond one gets when visiting. On arrival, the first thing you notice are two unusual 'Gate Guards' in the form of a Churchill I turret and a later Churchill IV Turret complete with the 290mm 'Spigot' Projector. Beyond that, consisting of the outside exhibits is an M4a4, (Sherman V), a 5.5" Gun, and an FV432 GKN Sankey (1961). All of these were rescued from ranges and their state of preservation is poor. The M4a4 though IS scheduled for a complete restoration - hopefully this will be underway when I visit this summer! Into the Tardis. From the outside, the collection seems to be little more than a couple of (very large) corrugated-iron roofed huts. Inside though, you DO get the impression it's a lot bigger than it seemed on the outside. As you enter, a nice touch is present in the form of a Fordson 7V Truck which has been converted into a NAAFI Truck - this is the Collection's official cafe. in the center and to the right are two columns of vehicles. On the left, against the wall a huge number of glass-fronted cases containg an immense collection of personal equipment, weapons, stowage containers of all types & periods radio sets and in fact everything which can be imagined. On the left is also a fairly recent acquisition - an Ex-Irish Army 17 Pounder photos of which were provided to Bronco Model when they were developing their 1/35th scale model. At the bottom are a number of artillery pieces including the more conventional form of a 25 Pounder, Limber and Morris Quad C8. One item which does capture the attention is a 15cm sFH 18 Howitzer which was re-bored to accept 152mm Ammunition whilst in (Post-War) Czech service. For the lovers of the 'haven't I seen that somewhere before?' school, is a Czech Tatra APC. Now this vehicle bears more than a passing resemblance to the Sd. Kfz 251 - from which the blueprints and many of the components originated. Now it's not my intenton to list every vehicle in the collection but there are a number of pieces which deserve special mention. The Loyd and Windsor Carriers, a (VERY) rare example of a Beaverette, a Standard Tilly, a Chevrolet C15TA, a Thorneycroft Tartar and a very nice Churchill VII Crocodile (unfortunately without the trailer) are all noteworthy along with some nice AA guns. Nor are the vehicles the only reason to visit Cobbaton. For anyone interested in infantry weapons, personal equipment and heavy weapons, there are also an impressive number of subjects on show.
Copyright ©2020 by Jim Rae. Images and/or videos also by copyright holder unless otherwise noted. The views and opinions expressed herein are solely the views and opinions of the authors and/or contributors to this Web site and do not necessarily represent the views and/or opinions of Armorama, KitMaker Network, or Silver Star Enterrpises. All rights reserved. Originally published on: 2011-06-14 00:00:00