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Brooklands motor racing circuit, remains of the pre-World War II aerodrome, World War II Bofors tower and shelters, and the Brooklands memorial

List Entry Summary

This monument is scheduled under the Ancient Monuments and Archaeological Areas Act 1979 as amended as it appears to the Secretary of State to be of national importance. This entry is a copy, the original is held by the Department for Culture, Media and Sport.

Name: Brooklands motor racing circuit, remains of the pre-World War II aerodrome, World War II Bofors tower and shelters, and the Brooklands memorial

List entry Number: 1020137

Location

The monument may lie within the boundary of more than one authority.

County: Surrey

District: Elmbridge

District Type: District Authority

Parish:

County: Surrey

District: Woking

District Type: District Authority

Parish: Byfleet

National Park: Not applicable to this List entry.

Grade: Not applicable to this List entry.

Date first scheduled: 17-Jan-1975

Date of most recent amendment: 07-Jan-2002

Legacy System Information

The contents of this record have been generated from a legacy data system.

Legacy System: RSM

UID: 33961

Asset Groupings

This list entry does not comprise part of an Asset Grouping. Asset Groupings are not part of the official record but are added later for information.

List entry Description

Summary of Monument

Legacy Record - This information may be included in the List Entry Details.

Reasons for Designation

Brooklands was the world's first purpose-built motor racing circuit, predating other equally well known sites internationally such as the Indianapolis Speedway in the USA, Monza in Italy and Montherey in France. Constructed and financed entirely on the initiative of its owner and developer, Hugh Locke-King, it was intended as a showcase for British engineering. Enclosing an area of 300 acres, when it was completed in 1907 the concrete outer circuit was deemed such a remarkable technological achievement that it was described as one of the seven wonders of the modern world. In the 32 years that it was in use the Brooklands circuit achieved both a number of firsts and was the venue for a number of successful world record attempts. In 1926 the circuit also staged Britain's first Grand Prix and up until 1933 was Britain's only permanent motor racing track. Between 1907 and 1933 it attained universal recognition as the home of British motorsport. Such was its enduring legacy and the contribution of many of the famous names associated with it to the development of the racing car and to the sport generally that Britain is still known internationally today as the home of motor racing. Brooklands and the membership of the prestigious Brooklands Automobile Racing Club also became a focus for society events, particularly during the inter-war period, so much so that the ciruit enjoyed a reputation as `the Ascot of motor racing'.

Brooklands also achieved a remarkable reputation in the realm of aviation. Although early aviation pioneers achieved a number of firsts at the site it is chiefly associated with its flying schools, at which many of the most notable figures in early 20th century British aviation learned to fly. It is also associated with aircraft production, and the pre-World War II airfield was the venue for the maiden flights of some of the best known British military aircraft including the Sopwith Pup, Sopwith Camel, Hawker Hurricane and the Vickers Wellington. It is estimated that over 18,000 aircraft of nearly 250 types were built, assembled or test flown at Brooklands and the aerodrome and factories associated with it together represent one of the most important sites in the British aviation industry. In addition to the circuit and airfield, the World War II Bofors anti-aircraft tower on the Members' Hill represents an exceptionally rare survival which is of national importance.

Brooklands has a dual prominence in the fields of early 20th century motor sport and aviation. It represents a unique site of historic and cultural significance which has achieved enduring international recognition. All surviving remains of the circuit and the few significant surviving remains of the aerodrome are therefore considered to be nationally important.

History

Legacy Record - This information may be included in the List Entry Details.

Details

The monument, which falls within ten areas of protection, includes the remains of Brooklands motor racing circuit, part of the Aerodrome Road linking the Paddock to the airfield, a bridge providing access to the airfield from the World War II Vickers repair hangars, a Bofors anti-aircraft tower, a series of World War II air raid shelters and the Brooklands Memorial.

Lying between Weybridge and Byfleet, the race circuit was constructed in 1907 on `Brooklands', the private estate of the Hon Hugh Locke-King. Financed and built entirely on his own initiative, Locke-King intended the new facility to be a showcase for British motor engineering and motor sport. Enclosing an area of 300 acres, the outer circuit was constructed in just nine months by a workforce of 1500 men at a cost of 150,000 pounds. The world's first purpose- built motor racing track, it employed state of the art technology and was described as one of the seven wonders of the modern world. The track was oval in plan, 100ft in width and constructed of poured concrete on a sand base. In order to facilitate high speed cornering the northern and southern ends of the circuit were embanked, the steepest section being the so-called Home or Members' Banking on the north eastern side of the track which reached a height of 32ft. The Railway Straight forming the western side of the circuit was 880yds in length and led into the Byfleet Banking, the longest of the two areas of banking on the circuit at 1220yds in length but only 21ft high. Continuing anti-clockwise around the circuit from the Byfleet Banking, the track crossed the river Wey via the Byfleet Banking bridge (built 1906-07 and rebuilt in ferro-concrete in 1933) and headed northwards before splitting into two at the `Fork' to lead either on to the Finishing Straight or branching right to climb up on to the Members' Banking. The Finishing Straight was inclined at its northern end to offer additional braking to the cars as they crossed the finishing line. The total length of the outer circuit was 2 miles 1350yds and the lap record was held by John Cobb who in October 1935 completed a lap in 1 minute 9.44 seconds at an average speed of 143.44 miles per hour in the 24 litre Napier Railton. On another run on the same day Cobb also recorded the fastest ever speed on the circuit reaching 151.97 miles per hour on the Railway Straight. All surviving sections of the outer circuit including the Members' Banking, the Railway Straight, the Byfleet Banking (now separated into three parts by development) and the Byfleet Banking bridge are included in the scheduling, as is the northern end of the Finishing Straight.

The principal access to the circuit was via two tunnels running beneath the Members' Banking and a footbridge. The western tunnel was primarily for competitors and led via a road to the Paddock area, with a return road half way along its length linking it to the circuit. The eastern tunnel, the main entrance, had three lanes, two for vehicular traffic and the third for pedestrians and led up on to the so-called `Mountain' or Members' Hill. The Members' Hill, a natural rise through which a cutting was made for the Members' Banking, was divided into four areas by railings. The Members' Enclosure at the western end contained the Members' Stand and the luncheon room, the neighbouring Reserved Lawn had the Tattersalls Stand and luncheon room, the Five Shilling Enclosure contained two stands, and the Public Enclosure on the eastern side of the hill was merely grassed over. In 1909 a narrow concrete roadway, the Test Hill, was added on the western side of the Members' Hill. A total of 352ft in length and with an average gradient of 1 in 5, the Test Hill was intended as a standard by which automobile engineers could measure engine and gearbox capabilities and braking. The western end of the Members' Hill which contains the Test Hill, a series of footpaths and steps, the foundations for the Members' Stand, the cloakrooms, kitchens and luncheon room behind the Reserved Lawn and several original lengths of railings are all included in the scheduling.

When Brooklands was first opened in 1907 the so-called Weighing Block, a building with equipment for weighing competitors' vehicles, accommodation for the Clerk of the Course and other staff, changing rooms and a press stand were built adjacent to the Finishing Straight. Having become the clubhouse for the socially prestigious Brooklands Automobile Racing Club it was extensively remodelled and enlarged in 1930. Immediately to the south of the clubhouse was the Paddock containing a series of workshops and garages, petrol pagodas, tyre storage areas, a grandstand and a press hut. Amongst those with premises in this area were many of the most important names in early British motor racing including Malcolm Campbell, holder at various times of the World Land Speed record, English Racing Automobiles (ERA), LBB Motors (who were agents for ERA) and R R Jackson.

In 1937 in response to new circuits at Donnington Park and Crystal Palace a road-racing circuit designed by Sir Malcolm Campbell was opened at Brooklands. In addition to including completely new sections of track, the so-called `Campbell Circuit' utilized portions of the existing circuit and a ferro-concrete bridge over the river Wey built prior to 1934 to allow Vickers aircraft to be towed from their factory to the east of the circuit on to the aerodrome. A series of concrete garages, the Campbell Pits were constructed alongside the section of the new circuit (the `New Finishing Straight') running parallel with the old finishing straight. The surviving portion of these pits are included in the scheduling as are the two surviving lengths of the circuit; the section from Banking Bend to Test Hill Hairpin (popularly known as `Dunlop's Delight'), and the section including Bridge Corner, Sahara Straight and Aerodrome Curve.

In the 32 years that it was in use the Brooklands circuit achieved both a number of firsts and was the venue for a series of successful world record attempts. In 1907 S F Edge broke the 24 hour endurance record by covering a distance of 1581 miles; in 1913 Percy Lambert became the first person to drive 100 miles in one hour; and in 1909 the World Land Speed record was broken at Brooklands, the first of numerous occasions. In 1926 the circuit also provided the venue for Britain's first Grand Prix.

In addition to its importance to motor racing, the site was also notable in the realm of aviation. In 1907 both Claude Moore Brabazon and Alliott Verdon Roe attempted to fly aeroplanes of their own design at Brooklands without success. On June 8th 1908, however, another attempt by Roe was more successful and he became the first Briton ever to fly a British-designed aeroplane. Thereafter the new airfield within the circuit rapidly became the focal point for the country's burgeoning aviation industry, including aircraft production, flying training and passenger flights. In 1909 Britain's first public flying demonstration was held at the aerodrome and in 1910 Lane's Flying School opened, followed in 1911 by Vickers Flying School. In the same year the first passenger flight ticket was sold at Brooklands by Keith Prowse and Co, Mrs Hilda Hewlett became the first British woman to gain a pilot's licence, and the airfield was the starting and finishing point for the Daily Mail Circuit of Britain race. Initially the only access to the aerodrome was via the so- called `Aerodrome Road' a concrete road which led southwards from the motor racing paddock, crossed the river Wey alongside the Byfleet Banking bridge and skirted the foot of the banking, although in later years additional access was provided by a road bridge which crossed the banking at Byfleet. The two surviving sections of the Aerodrome Road, a 300m length running east of the River Wey and a 500m length following the base of the south eastern portion of the Byfleet Banking are included in the scheduling, as is the Aerodrome Road bridge, rebuilt in ferro-concrete in 1931.

Motor racing ceased at Brooklands in 1939 and at the start of World War II both the airfield and circuit were requisitioned for use by the Vickers and Hawker aircraft companies, although Hawkers relocated soon afterwards. Formerly lying immediately outside the track to the east, the Vickers factory was rapidly expanded, with buildings erected across the area of the outer circuit from a point north of the Byfleet Banking bridge to the southern half of the Finishing Straight. In addition hangars were erected on the Members' Banking, the northern end of the Finishing Straight and the railway straight and the Clubhouse converted for use by the design office. On 4th September 1940, during the Battle of Britain, the Vickers workshops were badly bombed by the Luftwaffe causing severe casualties amongst the workforce. The anti- aircraft guns at Brooklands were in action on 33 occasions from the time of the raid up until May 1941 and shot down two aircraft. Some time between early 1941 and the start of 1942 the defences at Brooklands were further enhanced by the construction of a reinforced concrete tower on the Members' Hill. The tower, split into two parts, mounted a 40mm Bofors gun and its predictor gear and was intended to provide a clear field of fire against low-flying raiders. Additional provision for the protection of the Vickers workforce was made with the construction of brick and concrete lined air raid shelters cut beneath the foot of Members' Hill.

In 1957 a memorial was erected on the north western side of the airfield by Vickers Armstrong to commemorate the 50th anniversary of the site and was unveiled by Lord Brabazon of Tara.

With the exception of the Bofors tower, which is included in the scheduling, all standing buildings, the replacement Members' Bridge, modern services, the surfaces of all modern paths, tracks and roads, and fittings associated with the display of the monument are excluded from the scheduling, although the ground beneath these features is included.

MAP EXTRACT The site of the monument is shown on the attached map extract. It includes a 2 metre boundary around the archaeological features, considered to be essential for the monument's support and preservation.

Selected Sources

Books and journals
Dobinson, C S, Twentieth Century Fortifications in England: Anti-aircraft artillery, 1914-46, (1996), 166
Hutchings, A, Bridges at Brooklands, (2000)
Hutchings, A, Bridges at Brooklands, (2000)
Hutchings, A, Bridges at Brooklands, (2000)
Hutchings, A, Bridges at Brooklands, (2000)
Hutchings, A, Brooklands 1907-1939, (2000), 20
Hutchings, A, Brooklands 1960s-1980s, (2000)
Hutchings, A, Brooklands 1960s-1980s, (2000)
Hutchings, A, Brooklands 1960s-1980s, (2000)
Hutchings, A, The Brooklands Society, (2000), 34
Hutchings, A, The Brooklands Society, (2000)
Hutchings, A, The Brooklands Society, (2000)
Hutchings, A, The Brooklands Society, (2000), 34
Hutchings, A, The Brooklands Society, (2000), 35
Hutchings, A, The Brooklands Society, (2000), 35
Hutchings, A, The Brooklands Society, (2000)
Hutchings, A, The Entrance to Brooklands c.1934, (2000)
Other
Brooklands Society Archive Collection, Bridge taking Byfleet Banking towards the Fork at Brooklands, (1933)
Holyoak, V M, Archaeological Item 156620, (2000)
Holyoak, V M, Archaeological Item 156626, (2000)
Holyoak, V.M,, Photograph showing AI 156616, (2000)
The Brooklands Society Archive Collection, Bridges taking Aerodrome Road over River Wey, re-built 1931, (1933)
The Brooklands Society Archive Collection, Four photographs showing the Campbell Pits,

National Grid Reference: TQ 06049 61766, TQ 06273 61545, TQ 06589 62816, TQ 06769 62878, TQ 06788 61626, TQ 06836 62267, TQ 06905 62866, TQ 06950 62635, TQ 07074 62485, TQ 07097 63024

Map

Map
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This copy shows the entry on 18-Nov-2017 at 05:01:32.

End of official listing