Grace's Guide To British Industrial History

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Grace's Guide is the leading source of historical information on industry and manufacturing in Britain. This web publication contains 162,480 pages of information and 244,521 images on early companies, their products and the people who designed and built them.

Grace's Guide is the leading source of historical information on industry and manufacturing in Britain. This web publication contains 147,919 pages of information and 233,587 images on early companies, their products and the people who designed and built them.


From Graces Guide
1907. Brooklands track under construction.
1907. Brooklands track under construction.
April 1914.
The original track circuit.
2008. Part of the Brooklands track.
October 1937.
October 1937.

See also -

Brooklands (1907 - 1939) was a 2.75-mile motor racing circuit and aerodrome built near Weybridge in Surrey, England.

1906 October. Progress report. [1][2]

The track opened in 1907, and was the world's first purpose-built motor-sport venue. The circuit hosted its last race in 1939 It was also one of Britain's first airfields. Today it plays host to Brooklands Museum, a major aviation and motoring museum, as well as a venue for vintage car, motorcycle and other transport-related events.

The Brooklands circuit was the brainchild of Hugh Fortescue Locke King, and was opened on 17 June 1907 as the first purpose-built banked motor race circuit in the world.

Located in Surrey, Brooklands was the site of many aeronautical and motoring milestones during the first half of the 20th century; it was a predecessor of the Formula One. Brooklands took its name from Robert del Brok, who, in the 12th century, was Lord of the local Manor, and prior to becoming a racetrack had been bought in 1830 by Locke-King’s father, Peter King, from the then Duke of York.

The Wey Navigation was excavated a mile to the west of Brooklands effectively making the site an island. An airfield was constructed on Weybridge Heath at the beginning of Britain’s adventure into flight, and was central to the birth of the British aviation industry.

Frustrated by the lack of opportunity for British drivers to gain experience because of the strictly imposed 20 mph speed limit he devised the track initially as a testing ground to enable vehicles to be safely driven at speed. The banking provided the camber to keep the cars on the track without having to slow at the end of each turn. At 100 feet wide and 30 feet high it attracted many spectators.

Locke King was spurred on by Selwyn Edge (1868 - 1940), an experienced racing driver and car dealer, to complete the project with his highly publicised challenge that he would drive the course in a Napier single-handedly at a constant 60 mph for 24 hours without a rest break. Edge was to complete his remarkable challenge on the finished track without mishap just fourteen days after the track was opened..

The Brooklands track was built as a 100 ft wide, 2.75 miles long, banked oval. The banking was nearly 30 feet high in places. In addition to the oval, a bisecting "finishing straight" was built, increasing the track length to 3.25 miles, of which 1.25 miles was banked. There were 1,500 men employed to build it and it could host up to 287,000 spectators at its peak.

Owing to the complications of laying tarmacadam on banking, and the expense of laying asphalt, the track was built in uncoated concrete. This led in later years to a somewhat bumpy ride, as the surface suffered differential settlement over time.

Along the centre of the track ran a dotted black line, known as the Fifty Foot Line. By driving over the line, a driver could theoretically take the banked corners without having to use the steering wheel.

1907 May. It had been planned for the first meeting on 18th May but this had to be postponed as the track was not ready.[3]

1907 17th June. Official opening of the track and included a procession of 43 cars led by C. S. Rolls.[4] One of S. F. Edge's leading drivers, Miss Dorothy Levitt, was refused entry despite having been the 'first woman to compete in a motor race' in 1903, and holding the 'Ladies World Land Speed Record'.

1907 November. E. de Rodakowski was appointed the official R.A.C. timekeeper for Brooklands for the automatic electric chronograph.[5]

1908 4th April. The track was reopened after being closed for repairs.

1909 March. Opened new test hill at the side of the member's enclosure.[6][7]

1911 Article.[8]

WWI During World War I, Brooklands closed to motor racing and was requisitioned by the War Office.

1914. 20th June. Demonstration of field ambulance and hospital work attended by Queen Alexandra.[9]

1915. Vickers set up a factory in 1915, and Brooklands soon became a major centre for the construction, testing and supply of military aeroplanes.

1915. 22nd March. Flying accident where J. F. A. Kane was killed.[10]

1915. 21st June. Flying accident where H. T. Lumsden was killed.[11]

1916. 20th February. Flying accident where E. J. Radcliffe was killed.[12]

1920 Motor racing resumed after extensive track repairs

1925 Club Officials [13]

1926. 5th February. Announcement of regulations for the first Brooklands Grand Prix. 300 mile race and a maximum engine capacity of 1,500cc. To be held on August Bank Holiday.[14]

1928. 7th March. The Racing Committee of the BARC decide to allow evening racing on four dates during the year. [15]

1928. 9th November. Lieut. G. Madocks (Coldstream Guards) was killed at the first meeting of the Household Brigade Flying Club. [16]

1929. 9th January. Announcement of the fixtures for the year.[17]

1929. 29th January. Year Book published.[18]

1930. 9th January. Fixtures list issued.[19]

1931. 11th May. A Turk claiming to 156 years old has his first flight at Brooklands. [20]

1932. 14th June. C. L. Cummins gives a demonstration of diesel powered engines.[21]

1932. 2nd December. Brooklands takes legal action against Henry R. S. Birkin about a possible libel in his book 'Full Throttle'. Settlement agreed [22]

1933. 2nd March. Subsidence of the track at the Cobham Bridge over the river Wey.[23]

1933. 25th September. Published. The Story of Brooklands. The Wheels take Wings. By A. P. Bradley and Michael Burn. [24]

1934. 28th January. Charles Raymond Shillingford dies in aeroplane crash.[25]

1934. 1st August. BARC resolves to eliminate slow drivers from the track by using observers. No definition of 'slow'.[26]

1936. 25th June. Prospectus for Brooklands (Weybridge) Ltd issued. The company to take over 348 acres of freehold land, the aircraft factory, the race track, aerodrome and club houses.[27] [28]

1936. 22nd September. Brooklands (Weybridge) Ltd meeting with Louis Ridley Vaughan as Chairman.[29]

1936. 24 October. Fire destroys two hangers and eight aeroplanes lost. A further 32 planes were moved to safety.[30]

1937. 20th April. New concrete road course designed by Malcolm Campbell opened by Selwyn Edge and Ethel Locke King. [31] [32]

When World War II broke out in 1939, motor racing ceased and the site was turned over to war-time production of military aircraft. Some of the track was damaged during this time by enemy bombing. Sections were also demolished to make way for temporary dispersal hangars. Racing never returned to Brooklands.

1943 December. AGM of Brooklands (Weybridge). C. W. Hayward is Chairman. Acquisition of 35.5 acres of land held under option since 1906 from the local authority.[33]

1945. December. The 8th AGM of Brooklands (Weybridge). C. W. Hayward is Chairman. [34]

1946. January. Protest over proposed sale of the track to Vickers-Armstrongs but sale completed.[35] [36] [37] [38]. See Brooklands Airfield.

In 1987 the site also become home to the Brooklands Museum, which is dedicated to preserving and interpreting the site's motoring and aviation heritage.

Following several years of work by The Brooklands Society, which is entirely independent of the Brooklands Museum, the remaining sections of the track became the subject of preservation orders in 2002, rendering illegal any subsequent destruction of or damage to the circuit or its environs, whether intentional or unintentional.

A Mercedes-Benz museum and performance-demonstration centre is now completed in front of what is known as the Members' section of the remaining banking. Contrary to public perception and thanks entirely to the efforts of The Brooklands Society, two thirds of the original track still remains intact. Mercedes-Benz has pledged to contribute towards the replacement of the Hennebique Bridge, the part of the banking that spans the River Wey.

See Also


Sources of Information

  1. Automotor Journal 1906/10/27
  2. Automotor Journal 1906/12/22
  3. The Times, Monday, Mar 11, 1907
  4. The Times, Tuesday, Jun 18, 1907
  5. The Times, Saturday, Nov 23, 1907
  6. Automotor Journal 1909/03/20 p350
  7. The Times, Saturday, Apr 10, 1909
  8. The Autocar 1911/04/08
  9. The Times, Monday, Jun 22, 1914
  10. The Times, Tuesday, Mar 23, 1915
  11. The Times, Tuesday, Jun 22, 1915
  12. The Times, Wednesday, Feb 23, 1916
  13. Royal Automobile Club Year Book 1925
  14. The Times, Monday, Feb 08, 1926
  15. The Times, Thursday, Mar 08, 1928
  16. The Times, Saturday, Nov 10, 1928
  17. The Times, Wednesday, Jan 09, 1929
  18. The Times, Tuesday, Jan 29, 1929
  19. The Times, Thursday, Jan 09, 1930
  20. The Times, Tuesday, May 12, 1931
  21. The Times, Wednesday, Jun 15, 1932
  22. The Times, Saturday, Dec 03, 1932
  23. The Times, Friday, Mar 03, 1933
  24. The Times, Tuesday, Sep 26, 1933
  25. The Times, Monday, Jan 29, 1934
  26. The Times, Thursday, Aug 02, 1934
  27. The Times, Tuesday, Jun 23, 1936
  28. The Times, Thursday, Jun 25 1936
  29. The Times, Wednesday, Sep 23, 1936
  30. The Times, Monday, Oct 26, 1936
  31. The Times, Tuesday, Apr 20, 1937
  32. The Times, Wednesday, Apr 21, 1937
  33. The Times, Friday, Dec 17, 1943
  34. The Times, Monday, Jan 01, 1945
  35. The Times, Thursday, Jan 03, 1946
  36. The Times, Monday, Jan 07, 1946
  37. The Times, Tuesday, Jan 08, 1946
  38. The Times, Wednesday, Jul 03, 1946