Today on a Facebook page I was reminded of the Brooklands Museum in Surrey which I had visited a couple of years ago. An activity-filled heritage museum on the site of the world’s first purpose-built motor- racing circuit – which went on to become the largest aircraft manufacturing centre in Europe. Despite the site’s pioneering role in aviation history – during the second world war and, later, when Concorde was part built here – the museum seems to fly under the radar of most tourists.
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 F. Locke King in 1907 and was the first purpose-built racing circuit in the world. Many records were set there. Many aviation firsts are also associated with Brooklands, which soon became one of Britain’s first aerodromes. It attracted many aviation pioneers prior to 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 (see McSwein, D R).
The ‘Daily Mail Round Britain Air Race’ of 1911 started and finished at Brooklands, and both the 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 I 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
The Grand Prix motor racing exhibition 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.
As well an exhibition of aircraft, racing cars, motor bikes, vintage cars there is also a bus museum . Next to Brooklands is Mercedes Benz World which is also worth a visit