The collection comprises material relating to a survey of the London to Istanbul International Highway, as well as some additional miscellaneous items. This includes a promotional booklet for the route published by the AA, and the original artwork produced by Margaret Bradley as part of the survey.
In 1933, the Automobile Association (AA) commissioned a survey for a transcontinental highway, an initiative that was proposed by the Alliance Internationale de Tourisme (AIT). This was to be a transnational road allowing motorists to travel quickly and easily across Europe with 'no more complications than booking a seat at the theatre,' and would cross France, Belgium, Germany, Austria, Hungary, Yugoslavia, Bulgaria and Turkey. The road, extending for almost 2000 miles, was intended to continue onwards east to India and south to Cape Town.
The Autocar correspondent William Fletcher Bradley undertook the driving for the trip, with his daughter Margaret as the 'official artist and navigator.' They were also accompanied by an employee of the Siddeley motor company (source: A. Badenoch, 'Touring between war and peace: imagining the "transcontinental motorway", 1930-1950,' Journal of Transport History 28:2, p.196). The journey, which was made in a Siddeley Special car, took place at a time when roads 'were more often than not just fields!', as Margaret Bradley quipped. As she points out in the accompanying newspaper article, 'there may be airways and railways and steamers, but only a car will take you bag and baggage from the very heart of London to that core of oriental splendour, Istanbul.'
An article in Motor Sport , August 1933, reads:
'A function which may very well prove to be of an historic nature took place on July 21st at the Mayfair Hotel, London, when Sir John Siddeley, C.B.E., invited a party of foreign representatives, motoring notabilities and pressmen to luncheon in order to mark the conclusion of Mr. W. F. Bradley's Survey of the London to Istanbul route.
Driving a Siddeley Special open touring car Mr W. F. Bradley, his daughter, and Mr. Whitlock, a technical expert from the Armstrong Siddeley works, covered the trip of 5,000 miles in a total of 16 days on the road. The journey was planned by the Automobile Association with a view to exploring the possibilities of an International Highway across Europe. Eleven countries were traversed, and in the course of the tour stages of 400 miles over rough continental roads were frequently made, the final 2,000 miles from the Black Sea to Paris being covered in 5 ½ days.
A most interesting expedition, and, incidentally, a striking demonstration of the qualities of the Siddeley Special, for throughout the journey the only work done to the car was a changed ignition wire!'