United Kingdom > National Motor Museum Motoring Archives


Royal Safari papers

National Motor Museum Trust Motoring Archives GB307

Scope and content

The collection contains documents relating to a 1930 safari undertaken by the then Prince of Wales (later King Edward VIII) in East Africa, with seven Wolseley Messengers. The documents belonged to Herbert Sayer, who was head of Wolseley sales in Bombay prior to being chosen to be in charge of the Wolseley cars on safari. The vehicles were 21/60 h.p. saloon and touring cars, which navigated the rough terrain remarkably without breakdown (a fact which Sayer frequently comments on in his communications).

After the safari, the cars were apparently shipped to various locations for advertising purposes, including South Africa and India (Sayer writes, "I have shipped all the cars save one to various parts of the Globe - for propaganda purposes").

The records include letters, telegrams, certificates, forms and other notes. Many of the telegrams are encoded. There are four series:

[1] Preparations and general information (1929);

[2] Preparations and general information (1930);

[3] On safari;

[4] Post safari.

Records creator's history

The following notes were taken from a meeting with the donor, 09 Jul 2015, and as such may include some conjecture. Detailed information about the safari may be found in Colin Sayer's book, "A Royal Safari 1930," which is held in the National Motor Museum's Reference Library.

The cars

Herbert Sayer was in charge of Wolseley sales in Bombay, before he was selected to go to Kenya. The team received six cars from England for the trip, with one car already in Kenya.

The cars were state of the art at the time, but were only made from 1929-1931 as an export model (the non-export models were called Counties). Sayer took receipt of six of them in Mombasa. The fact that the cars were on safari was partly advertisement, given the rough terrain, and a number of the documents reveal that Wolseley were interested in whether it was possible to sell the cars in Africa.

Herbert Sayer (information received from donor):

Pre-war 5/6 years with the Bosch Magneto Co. as technical and sales representative.

1914-15 Royal Naval Air Service (C.P.O.) Motor Machine Guns.

1916-18 Tank Corps. Tank Commander. Technical instructor to tanks and Senior Officers. Created and controlled schools of instruction in France.

1919 War Office. G.S.O.2 Tank Corps. Service in Gallipoli and France and in special solo mission to south Russia.

1919-24 Managing Messrs. John Fowler & Co. (Leeds) Depot in India in succession to Col. Johnson and in association with Mr. Gough.

1925-26 Went to Peru to establish Morris Commercial Cars and Morris Cars.

1927-31 Manager in India for Messrs. Wolseley Motors (1927) Ltd, eventually winding up and closing down their three depots in Calcutta, Delhi and Bombay.

1929-30 Twice toured South Africa for Wolseley Motors to establish distributors, visiting Cape Town, Durban, Johannesburg, Port Elizabeth, East London, Salisbury and Bulawayo. Motored from Cape Town to Rhodesia.

1930 In sole charge of the seven Wolseley cars used throughout the Prince of Wales' safari in East Africa (which passed through Tanganyika, Kenya, Uganda, Soudan and Belgian Congo, as the areas were known at the time).

1931-34 Inaugurated and managed Messrs. Morris Industries (India) Ltd, controlling the wholesale and service interests in India, Burma and Ceylon for Morris Cars, Morris Commercial Cars, Wolseley and M.G. Cars.

Archival history

The collection was donated by Colin Sayer (Herbert Sayer's son), 09 Jul 2015.

Processing information

According to the donor, all carbon copies are of the period.

Two letters held in the Royal Collection provide some additional background details:

1. In one, Morris offers seven Messenger saloons and two trucks for the safari, cSep 1929 (the six cars from England arrived in Jan 1930, one car already being in Kenya).

2. In another, Finch Hatton (one of the hunters) wrote that he wanted four soft-top tourers and three saloons instead.

Description created by Helen Sumping, Aug 2015.


Potential donation of Herbert Sayer's original report (awaiting contact from donor).

System of arrangement

The documents were arranged in date order and separated into four folders by Colin Sayer (Herbert Sayer's son) prior to donation, having apparently been found in a disorganised state. Some items are out of sequence (for reasons unknown) and may need to be moved once the collection is catalogued to item level.

Conditions governing access

Open to researchers, by appointment. For further information, please see: nationalmotormuseum.org.uk/Motoring_research_service.

Conditions governing reproduction

Rights to access and re-use digital objects:


Rights to access and re-use archival descriptive information:

Creative Commons Attribution, Non-Commercial, ShareAlike

Related material

Scanned photographs are held in the Photographic Collection (originals are apparently held in the Royal Collection). Colin Sayer's book, "A Royal Safari 1930," is held in the National Motor Museum's Reference Library.


1 box


Personal names:Sayer Herbert Windsor Edward 1894-1972
Corporate names: Wolseley Motors (1927) Ltd

Language of the material


Records creator

Herbert Sayer

Content provider

National Motor Museum Motoring Archives

Digital objects

1 - 4 / 4
  • 1
GB/307/ROY/1 Preparations and general information (1929)
GB/307/ROY/2 Preparations and general information (1930)
GB/307/ROY/3 On safari
GB/307/ROY/4 Post safari