It was a warm and sunny morning as we made our way to Brooklands. The journey was good and took about 2 hours. Arriving at Brooklands we made our way to the entry and were given our tickets and maps. Surprisingly there was not a mad dash to the cafe; instead buildings were visited as they were passed.
Brooklands at Weybridge, was the world’s first purpose-built motor racing circuit, with work commencing in late 1906.
It was a major centre for aircraft design, construction and flight testing for most of the 20th century. Some 18,600 new aircraft of nearly 250 types were first flown, manufactured or assembled at Brooklands. In 1915 Vickers started manufacturing aircraft at Brooklands and progressively extended their premises with the growing demand from military contracts. Women increasingly replaced the men in the factory who had been called away for war.
When World WII began in September 1939, the Vickers-Armstrongs and Hawker aircraft companies had exclusive use of the Brooklands site for military aircraft production. The Wellington was built here and was the world’s most advanced bomber aircraft at the start of the War, and bore the brunt of the Allied bomber offensive in the early 1940s.
In September 1907, a 100-mile massed start cycle race was held at the Brooklands. At this time, even cycle racing was not approved of on the open roads and the track proved to be a safe haven for cyclists.
Motorcycle racing started at Brooklands in 1908 and the British Motorcycle Racing Club – known as ‘Bemsee’ from its initials – was founded in 1909. Sidecar outfits joined the solo machines for racing from 1912.
Because Brooklands was the world’s first purpose-built motor racing circuit, there were no established rules to follow. To begin with, many of the procedures were based on horse racing traditions, partly in an attempt to attract a ready-made audience to this new and curious sport. Cars assembled in the ‘paddock’, were ‘shod’ with tyres, weighed by the ‘Clerk of the Scales’ for handicapping and drivers were even instructed to identify themselves by wearing coloured silks in the manner of jockeys.
The London Bus Museum houses a remarkable collection of around 35 buses and coaches, the largest collection of working historic London buses in the world. Some buses have been fully restored and many have won awards, while others are under restoration in the workshop.
The Aircraft Factory Floor is designed to evoke an authentic factory atmosphere and is packed full of activities, enabling visitors to try out aircraft-building skills for themselves,
One of the attractions that held a lot of attention was Lewis Hamilton’s 2007 Formula One car. The car was set up to a simulator of the Brooklands Track. Husband and wife Viv and Ken were the first to have a go – Viv triumphing and Ken missed a bend and crashed. The Concorde and Red Arrow Simulators were very popular.
There were picnic areas and the Sunbeam café where we were able to get a light lunch and the usual beverages and cakes. We spent 5 hours there and still didn’t see everything.
The journey home was not so good, there being an accident on the M25 from which we diverted only to find the other major roads were so busy that it took us 3 and 3/4 hours to get back to Carterton. Several of the group enjoyed the scenic drive home and were able to see Windsor Castle as we passed which is as near as any of us will get to the Royal Wedding.
A most enjoyable day out. Pam