Brooklands Museum is a transport and aviation museum based in Surrey on the site of the former Brooklands motor racing circuit. It is located south of Weybridge, Surrey and was first opened regularly in 1991 on 30 acres (120,000 m²) of the original 1907 motor-racing circuit. The museum is run by an independent charitable trust, founded in 1987, whose aim is to conserve, protect and interpret the unique heritage of the Brooklands site.
The Site includes a variety of listed buildings such as the Edwardian former Brooklands Automobile Racing Club Clubhouse, the Members' Banking (the steepest section of the racing circuit) and the 1-in-4 Test Hill, which celebrated its centenary in March 2009. The latter two features are important parts of the Brooklands Scheduled Ancient Monument which was extended in 2002, the entire Brooklands site having been designated a Conservation Area by Surrey County Council in 1989. The Brooklands Trust Members, formed in 2008 after the Friends of Brooklands Museum and Brooklands Club amalgamated, is the official supporters' group for the Museum.
History of Brooklands[edit | edit source]
Brooklands was the birthplace of British motorsport and aviation and the site of many engineering and technological achievements throughout eight decades of the 20th century. The racing circuit was constructed by local landowner Hugh Locke-King in 1907 and was the first purpose-built racing circuit in the world where many records were set. Many aviation firsts are also associated with Brooklands which soon became one of Britain's first aerodromes, attracted many aviation pioneers before World War I, and was also a leading aircraft design and manufacturing centre in the 20th century producing a remarkable total of some 18,600 new aircraft of nearly 260 types between 1908 and 1987.
Brooklands-based aircraft companies such as Bleriot, Hawker, Sopwith, Martinsyde and Vickers were key players in the early years of aviation and were crucial to its early development. The 'Daily Mail Round Britain Air Race' of 1911 started and finished at Brooklands and both this event and the location later influenced the theme of the classic 1965 Twentieth Century Fox British film comedy 'Those Magnificent Men in Their Flying Machines' (based at the fictitious but remarkably similar 'Brookfield'). Flying training was an important function of the aerodrome both before World War One and between the wars. Visitors can see many displays and exhibits portraying the contribution made by Brooklands to the British aircraft industry in both world wars, and also in the post-war years with Vickers and later the British Aircraft Corporation and British Aerospace.
Exhibits[edit | edit source]
The museum is open daily and displays a wide range of Brooklands-related motoring and aviation exhibits ranging from giant racing cars, such as the 24-litre Napier-Railton, motorcycles and bicycles to a unique collection of Hawker and Vickers/British Aircraft Corporation-built aircraft including Concorde (G-BBDG). Certain other museum exhibits (e.g. flyable Bleriot XI and Sopwith Camel replicas) are maintained in 'live' condition and perform regular engine running demonstrations at museum events during the year. An exhibition about Grand Prix motor racing which features a Formula One simulator can also be seen. A major new visitor attraction, 'The Concorde Experience', opened in August 2006 , centenary celebrations occurred in 2007  and a full-size modern working replica of Alliott Verdon Roe's 1908 'Avroplane' was completed and unveiled on 7 June 2008. The Museum also owns and, until late 2009, operated an airworthy Vickers Vimy replica which was built in America in 1994 to re-enact the design's three record-breaking long distance flights of 1919-20. Having helped commemorate the 90th anniversaries of the world's first Transatlantic flight and the first flight from England to Australia, the aeroplane was finally retired and flown into Brooklands on 15 November 2009. Less than a week later it was on display with a supporting exhibition in the Museum's main hangar. The Museum's latest aircraft exhibit is the fuselage of Supermarine Swift F.4 prototype, WK198, which held the World Absolute Air Speed Record when flown by the late test pilot Mike Lithgow in Libya on 26th September 1953. This historic exhibit arrived from the RAF Millom Museum (sadly closed in 2010) in Cumbria and arrived at Brooklands on 3rd February 2011.
The Museum celebrated the centenary of the opening of the Brooklands Circuit in 2007, 100 years of aviation at Brooklands in 2008 and the Test Hill's centenary in 2009. Centred on a largely restored Hawker Hurricane, a new exhibition about Brooklands in the Battle of Britain was completed on 15 September 2010; this explains how the major aircraft factories there made Brooklands a prime target for Luftwaffe bombers in 1940 and lists the names of almost 90 people killed when Vickers was badly bombed on 4 September and also the names of Luftwaffe aircrew casualties that day. A new exhibition about the Vickers Wellington is centred on the Loch Ness Wellington, 'R' for 'Robert' and was officially opened by Robin Holmes, Penelope Keith, Norman Parker and Ken Wallis on 15th June 2011 - the 75th anniversary of the first flight of the type's forerunner, prototype Vickers B.9/32.
The London bus museum(formerly the Cobham Bus Museum from 1972-2011) reopened in new premises at Brooklands Museum on 1 August 2011 and has a significant collection of London buses dating back to the 19th century.
See also[edit | edit source]
References[edit | edit source]
Bibliography[edit | edit source]
- Gardner, Charles (1956) 'Fifty Years of Brooklands' (William Heinemann Ltd)
- McSwein, D R (1993) 'Brooklands Aircraft' (unpublished paper - copy held in Brooklands Museum's library)
- Venables, David (2007) 'Brooklands - The Official Centenary History' (Haynes Publishing, ISBN 978-1-84425-329-6)
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