old race car driver filling car up with fuel

Motor Racing

First British Grand Prix at Brooklands

Motor racing took place at Brooklands from 1907-1939, with the first British Grand Prix held there in 1926. World Land Speed Records were set at Brooklands in 1909, 1914, 1922 and 1923. In 1922 the Land Speed Record for a motorcar was just under 134mph, with higher speeds being limited by the track. Future record attempts in cars designed & built at Brooklands were made on long beaches or salt flats, with the fastest Brooklands car exceeding 400mph. The last motor race held at Brooklands was on 7th August 1939. Find out more about the coolest classic cars to race at Brooklands.

Aviation

Flying, Aircraft Design and Manufacture

The first flight at Brooklands was by AV Roe in 1908. Four years later in 1912, the Sopwith Aviation Company built an aircraft manufacturing shed at Brooklands. Vickers began aircraft manufacturing at Brooklands in 1915. By 1918, Brooklands was the largest aircraft manufacturing site in the UK and went on to design and manufacture such aircraft as the Sopwith Camel, Hurricane, Spitfire, Wellington, Valiant, TSR2 and Concorde.

Aviation Brooklands circuit
The Holden Apparatus

Horology

The Motor Race Chronograph

Designed at Brooklands, built in London and used for official records, this chronograph was accurate to 1/10,000 of a second. In 1907, Brooklands introduced the first Motor Race Chronograph. Routine lap timing was taken using Swiss stopwatches with indications to 1/5 of a second. The Motor Race Chronograph was used to establish official speed records.

This chronograph was designed by Colonel Holden & K Elphinstone. Holden had designed the track, public address system and installed telephones for track communications.

Brooklands timeline

  • 1907
  • 1908
  • 1926
  • 1934
  • 1947
  • 1970
  • February 18, 2022 - Timeline – Brooklands Track Opens

    February 18, 2022
    old black and white photo of the brooklands race track

    Brooklands track opens

    “One of the Wonders of the World”

    At the time, there was no place in England where cars could be raced.  The brainchild of Hugh Fortescue Locke King was to build a racing circuit on his family estate where cars could exceed 100mph and spectators could see the cars at all times. 

    Brooklands track was opened on 17th June 1907.  It was 2.75 miles long and 100 feet wide with 30 foot-high banking at either end.  The first track of its kind, it had taken just 10 months to build and cost £150,000 (£19 million today).

  • April 24, 2024 - Timeline – First Flight at Brooklands

    April 24, 2024


    First flight at brooklands

    First powered flight in Great Britain


    On 8th June 1908, Edwin Alliott Verdon-Roe (AV Roe) flew for 150ft in his Roe 1 biplane at Brooklands.  Although not officially recognised, he was the first man to design, build and fly a powered aircraft in Great Britain. In this picture AV Roe stands beside his crashed Avro No.1 Triplane at Wembley, 24th December 1910, after attempting a turn.

  • February 18, 2022 - Timeline – First British Grand Prix

    February 18, 2022

    Delage of Senechal crosses the line to win the first British Grand Prix at Brooklands in 1926


    First british grand prix

    Brooklands – 7th August 1926


    The Delage 15S8 of Robert Sénéchal and Louis Wagner crossing the finishing line to win at Brooklands.  The 1926 Grand Prix cars had the engine capacity reduced from 2 litres to 1.5 litres to try and reduce the power and speed of the cars.  The winning Delage 15S8 was highly sophisticated with an all-alloy, double overhead cam engine.  Fitted with twin superchargers, the 8 cylinder 1.5 litre engine could run at 8,000rpm. 

  • February 18, 2022 - Timeline – Vickers Designs New Fighter

    February 18, 2022

    old black and white photo of an old fighter plane


    Vickers funds New fighter

    Vickers bought Supermarine for its seaplane capabilities 


    Vickers-Armstrong Ltd, Brooklands bought Supermarine in November 1928. Following the success of the Schneider Trophy-winning Supermarine S6 aircraft, RJ Mitchell and his team began work on a new fighter in February 1934. Designated the Type 300, the Air Ministry initially rejected the design. Vickers Chairman Robert McLean funded the design with Rolls-Royce and also insisted the Type 300 be named Spitfire.

  • February 18, 2022 - Timeline – The Railton Mobil Special

    February 18, 2022


    The Railton Mobil Special

    The first car to exceed 400mph.


    The car was designed by Reid Railton and built at the Thomson & Taylor works, Brooklands. It used two supercharged Napier Lion engines producing 1,450shp each. One engine drove the front wheels and the second engine drove the rear wheels, to reduce wheel slip. Driven by John Cobb, the car exceeded 403mph during one of the timed runs on 16th September 1947 at Bonneville Salt Flats.

  • February 18, 2022 - Timeline – Manufacture of Concorde

    February 18, 2022

    Concorde


    Manufacture of Concorde

    All 20 British and French production fuselages were built at Brooklands.


    In 1961, the first UK meeting to discuss the design and build of a Supersonic Transport Aircraft was held at Brooklands. By early 1970 on-site manufacture of the nose fuselage, forward fuselage, rear fuselage, fin and rudder began. These assemblies were sent by truck to Filton and Toulouse where the aircraft were assembled and flown.

plate stamping

Each Triple-Four Chronograph comes with a brass warranty card. Just 16 lucky customers will receive a hand-stamped card.

The Designer

Simplicity, beauty, functionality and surprise

terence conran signature

Sir Terence Conran

Founder of The Conran Shop, designer and restaurateur, Sir Terence Conran was widely regarded as the voice of authority on design in the UK. Sir Terence remembered his father going to the races at Brooklands on Saturdays, so nearly 80 years later, Sir Terence relished the opportunity to design a racing chronograph watch with his father in mind. A gift from son to father, for use at the races.

Find out more
Napier Railton racing at Brooklands Motor Racing Circuit
sir terence conran sit in a chair

FAQs

Brooklands Motor Racing Circuit

Brooklands Motor Racing Circuit was a 2.767-mile racing circuit for motor racing near Weybridge in Surrey, England.

The racing circuit also became an aerodrome in 1912 when Sopwith Aviation Company built an aircraft manufacturing shed on the land.

You can visit Brooklands today where over 30 acres of the original site is preserved and original Brooklands racing cars and aircraft are displayed.

The Brooklands Motor Racing Circuit was built in 1907 and was the first of its kind in England that allowed cars to exceed 100mph while spectators could view the cars at all times. Over time, land speed records were set at this track.

Brooklands is of historical importance because of the motorsport and aviation technological and engineering advancements that took place there. Aerodynamics, advanced materials and new engine technologies were key features. Motor racing took place on the site from 1907 to 1939 with lap timing equipment accurate to 1000th of a second used for land speed records. Aircraft were designed and built on the site from 1912 until the factories closed in 1986. The last aircraft built at Brooklands was Concorde.

Brooklands is no longer used as a racing circuit, having hosted its last race in 1939. After the motor racing ceased and during the war, the land was used for military aircraft production. It became a pivotal construction site for the war. However, during WW2, the circuit became damaged by German bombing. The site was purchased by Vickers to continue aircraft construction, thus ending the motor racing on the circuit.

In 1987, the Brooklands Museum Trust was formed, and researching, recording and preserving the remnants of the site began. This culminated in the creation of the Brooklands Museum, which is open today, telling the historic story of British motor racing and aviation innovation.

The heyday of Brooklands Race Track was between the two wars when the Brooklands Automobile Racing Club (BARC) organised popular racing events, such as the Junior Car Club’s famous 200-mile race.

In 1926, the RAC organised the first-ever British Grand Prix, and in 1929 the British Racing Drivers Club was established, running races such as the 500-mile race.

Throughout this time, the circuit was also witness to an exceptional era of motorcycle racing. In the 1930’s, the track also welcomed cycling to the events list, hosting the 100-kilometer Championship Trial Road Race.

Yes, the museum is open to the public.

Between October and March, the museum is open Monday to Sunday 10 am to 4 pm.

In the Summer Months, you can visit it Monday to Sunday 10 am to 5 pm.

You can book tickets online in advance of your trip or purchase tickets on the day when you get to the museum.

There is plenty to explore at the museum, with it being home to several exhibitions showcasing the history of Brooklands Race Track and Aerodrome. With a collection of motor vehicles, aircraft, part of the track and landmarks on a 30 acre site.

Visit the motor village, clubhouse and paddock, race track, factory square and aircraft park on your visit.

Yes, throughout the year, the Brooklands Motor Museum puts on a selection of events and special exhibitions to mark special occasions or share knowledge and parts of history.

You can find out what is coming up and book tickets for events on their “What's On” page.

Yes, throughout the year, there are events held that allow visitors to test drive a range of cars on the Brooklands Racing Track.

As the race track was being designed, Colonel H.C.L. Holden stated that to maintain high speeds the track would need to be banked at either end. This resulted in two sections of the track banking up to 30ft. high. This would enable drivers to reach the highest speeds possible in the safest manner possible. At the time, when the speed limit on roads was 20mph, the highest possible speed was thought to be 120mph. The angle of the banking was set so that a car travelling at 120mph in the outside lane would maintain its track without the requirement of any steering input.

Over the years, the land that the race course was built on has been sold and utilised for various other ventures, leaving parts of the track visible and part of the museum and other sections of the track now part of private land.

The museum is accessible by car via the M25 and A3. There are signs for “Brooklands Museum” that can be followed.

The museum car park is free and located at the main entrance.

Discover more about getting to the museum here.

If you are looking to visit Brooklands Museum for an educational visit, they offer a range of workshops and guided tours. However, if you are visiting as a guest, you are able to wander around the museum at your own pace, soaking in the information that interests you the most.

Absolutely. The Brooklands Museum is a family-friendly museum and has a number of interactive activities to keep children engaged and interested. There are also several trails that can be completed as they work their way around the museum, which can be collected from the shop when you arrive.

During the first World War, Brooklands was utilised to manufacture military aircraft. More military aircraft were built at Brooklands than anywhere else in the UK, with Vickers setting up their manufacturing plant on the estate in 1915.

However, prior to this, in 1910, some of the first flying schools had been set up here. This service expanded rapidly during the 1920s and 1930s, with men and women learning to fly various aircraft.

During the Second World War, Vickers-Armstrong took over the Brooklands site, once again to develop and build military aircraft. With the success of aircraft production during the war years and the bombing damage to the track, the site was purchased by Vickers who continued to manufacture aircraft and be a leader within the aviation industry until site closure in 1986.

Yes, there are several hotels, bed and breakfasts, guest houses or campsites close to the Brooklands Museum for you to stay before or after your visit.

The average time spent at the Brookland Museum is around 4 hours. This allows plenty of time to experience all of the exhibitions and events at the museum.

The final entry time is 2 hours before closing time as this ensures that you have enough time to see everything and make the most of the trip.

The Brooklands Members' Society is a membership scheme that offers many benefits to those who subscribe to it.

Benefits include free entry to the museum, access to a number of members-only events throughout the year, and access to the Club Level bar and restaurant.

To join this society, you can sign up online.

The museum has disabled parking near the main entrance and several wheelchairs and scooters available for hire. The majority of the museum is accessible to everyone. However, there is no wheelchair access to the aircraft, which all have steps.

There are accessible toilets located around the museum and a ground-level entrance to the café.

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black and white photo of couples dressed up at the races
black and white photo of couples dressed up at the races
black and white photo of couples dressed up at the races