A little-known feature of Michelin’s plant in Stoke-on-Trent is the company’s Black Museum, which Michelin refers to as “the home to the blackest collection of potentially deadly artifacts in the country”.
The museum is a salutary catalogue of the misuse of vehicle tyres. It contains 200 examples of potentially dangerous tyres. Michelin use the museum as part of its training programme for tyre safety. It is a service utilized by the police force, who use the exhibits to illustrate to Police Collision Investigators the way in which faulty tyres may contribute to accidents.
Richard Whitehurst, the Commercial Training Manager at the Black Museum explains: “We have around 200 car, van, bus, truck and motorbike tyres and tyre sections in our collection. They’re not all ours; it’s not a Michelin only collection. The point is that they have been damaged by a very wide variety of causes from under-inflation to mounting curbs to being slashed and just about anything else you can think of. We teach Police forces how to inspect a tyre, determine its condition and then identify what set of circumstances led to that condition. These are very highly trained professionals looking for subtle witness marks, scrapes, wear patterns and so on, to establish how a tyre has been used and to conclude how differently it might have performed with different treatment. It’s an invaluable skill to have when trying to find out exactly how an incident occurred. The tyre tells a story and it never lies.”