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.
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.
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.