Sunday, 9 January 2011


Cro has reminded me of the old racetrack of Brooklands in his latest post, now in disrepair with only short sections of the steeply banked track left intact. It is in the heart of 'stockbroker belt' Surrey, just outside Weybridge and very close to where I was brought up as a lad.

In the 1920s and 30s, Brooklands was the place where world speed records were set, in huge and simple cars like Bentleys. There were drivers who discovered extra horse-power in the cars simply by deducing that fuel-lines were too narrow, whilst tinkering with them the night before the race. Those were the days - before cars could be tuned whilst being driven, using a lap-top on the other side of the world.

During WW2, Brooklands was taken over by the Ministry of War, and Barnes-Wallis designed and developed the 'Bouncing Bomb' of 'Dambusters' fame there. My father worked in the buildings in the centre of the track for many years, when the site was owned by BAC, and Barnes-Wallis still had an office there in the 1960s. I was lucky enough to be allowed in a few times, and saw the great man going into his hut, which had two huge bombs either side of the doorway, like classical pillars. You will understand how big the site was when I tell you they were able to fly in VC10s for servicing.

My father worked on the Concorde project, and when I was small, I remember being taken up some wooden steps to sit in a mock-up of the Concorde's cock-pit, years before the real plane was built.

One part of the banked track ran alongside of the railway to London Waterloo, and it must have been thrilling to be on the train when a car sped alongside you about 30 feet away, with an amateur driver trying not to flip over the top and into the train.

The 'control tower' above still exists, and I think they have restored parts of the track, but it can never be the same as it was in it's heyday.


  1. The typeface has gone all wrong here, because I accidently put this onto the 'lite' blog and had to paste it out here again. I'm going to scrap the 'Lite' one - it's more trouble than it's worth.

  2. A friend of mine was recently (until his death) helping to restore an old Lancaster Bomber at Brooklands.