Brooklands – home of British motorsport and aviation

Brooklands Museum

Fifteen miles to the south of London is the home of British motorsport and aviation.    The place is Brooklands.    Motor racing took place here from 1907 to 1939 and aviation developed on the site at the same time – right up until 1989.    At one time, Brooklands was the most prolific aircraft factory in Europe.

My father remembers going to Brooklands (on an Indian 500 with sidecar) to watch the motor cycle racing with his father as a boy.    Today, the entire site including the race track, factories and club-houses is a giant museum.    If you like this kind of stuff, then Brooklands will take your breath away!

Brooklands Concorde. Much of Concorde's design and manufacture took place at Brooklands
Brooklands Concorde. Much of Concorde’s design and manufacture took place at Brooklands
Hawker Hurricane
Hawker Hurricane in the Flight Shed
Bleriot XI (replica), 1909 - the first aeroplane to fly the English Channel
Bleriot XI (replica), 1909 – the first aeroplane to fly the English Channel

A tour takes you through many of the many buildings on site.    The must-sees are a Concorde aeroplane and Vickers VC-10 (both of which you can board, the Flight Shed of historic aircraft and a world-class collection of racing cars from the early years to the present day.    And if you love London buses, come here to see the world’s largest collection!

 

Members Banking - the steepest section of the original track
Members Banking – the steepest section of the original track

It’s a thrill to walk a large section of the track and imagine the atmosphere on race day back in the roaring twenties.  And to walk up Test Hill (main photo), used to conduct acceleration and braking tests, from 1909.

The world's first flight ticket office, 1911
The world’s first flight ticket office, 1911

There is a long list of ‘notables’ and ‘firsts’ at Brooklands.    It is the location of Malcolm Campbell’s workshop, the location of the design office for the WWII ‘Bouncing Bomb’, where the first plane to fly across the Atlantic was built (a Vickers Vimy).    And even the world’s first flight ticket office, operating in 1911!

A tremendous feature of Brooklands is the freedom to interact with (e.g. climb aboard) the exhibits, watch restorers at work and adopt a hands-on approach.    The staff are predominately volunteers so will spend as much time as you have explaining what you’re looking at.    It is one of London’s lesser-known visitor attractions – and a top ten by my reckoning!

Royal Aircraft factory SE5a (replica), 1916, Vickers Wellington
Royal Aircraft factory SE5a (replica), 1916 and a Vickers 290 Wellington Mk1A 1939, Brooklands Aircraft Factory
Vickers Vimy - built at Brooklands and the first to fly across the Atlantic
Vickers Vimy – built at Brooklands and the first to fly across the Atlantic by Alcock and Brown, 1919
Cockpit of the VC-10, formerly owned by the Sultan of Oman
Cockpit of the VC-10, formerly owned by the Sultan of Oman
1000cc Brough Superior motorcycle, 1927
1000cc Brough Superior motorcycle, 1927

 

A 24 litre Napier Railton that once raced at Brooklands
A 24 litre Napier Railton that once raced at Brooklands, 1933
Mercedes F1 car driven by Mika Hakkinen
Mercedes F1 car driven by Mika Hakkinen

https://www.brooklandsmuseum.com/

 

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