Matters of moment, August 1987

Brooklands future

Brooklands having been built 80 years ago this year, it is very much in the news. The Brooklands Museum Trust hopes to raise £5 million under Sir Peter Masefield’s able Chairmanship for further restoration of historic sheds, removal of the hangar on the finishing straight, equipping the Clubhouse, replacement of the members’ bridge, and exhibits for the Museum, and it was a pleasant surprise to learn at the Brooklands Society Reunion that Trafalgar Brookmount, which is developing the historic site as an industrial estate, has declared (with Gallaher) its acceptance of the importance of its heritage.

It has, indeed, issued a statement which says: “Brooklands’ history is an essential element in Trafalgar Brookmount’s plans . . . Central to Brooklands’ history is the original Motor Course, the Byfleet banking of which will be retained. There are also plans to replace the River Wey bridge to rejoin the members’ banking and railway straight . . . The original flight control tower is at present being restored and the first flight ticket-office will be re-erected on the Heritage site”.

So out of gloom has come a brighter future for one of Britain’s most historic sites, which should never have been in part destroyed in the first place.

Two fine souvenir booklets commemorate the 80 years of HF Locke King’s unique and successful endeavour. That from the Brooklands Society is full of nostalgic recollections (Sir Peter’s description of how Whitney Straight landed his DH 60 Gipsy III Moth, in which Masefield was a passenger, at the Track in 1933, and of other Brooklands’ flights, are but some of them), which make it compulsive reading. It is edited by Peter Dench.

The Museum’s booklet is nearly as enthralling. Very few errors have crept in, as errors tend to although Shelsley Walsh has been transferred from Worcestershire to Gloucestershire by one writer and Hancock’s Vauxhall has been mistaken for Percy Lambert’s famous 100-in-the-Hour 1913 Talbot.

The great thing is that Brooklands is again in full cry, and very much in the news.

The things they say

In retrospect it may be concluded that the building of the track (Brooklands) was not in the long term interests of British motor racing.” From the book A Record Of Grand Pnx And Voiturerte Racing by Paul Sheldon. This will surprise the Brooklands Society and the Brooklands Museum, but no doubt they will treat the statement with the contempt it deserves. Had it not been for Locke King, there would have been no motor racing on mainland Britain until 1933!

Napier homecoming

The oldest surviving British racing car in the world, the 7.7litre 1903 Gordon Bennett Napier, has returned to the National Motor Museum from America.

We well remember riding “on the step” of this famous car round Brooklands in 1934, before it appeared in a small exhibition of old racing cars there, and seeing SF Edge use it to open the Campbell circuit in 1937. When new it would exceed 75 mph, and after 1904 it was used on the road.

WHC Blake bought it in 1933, but he sold it to the USA in 1950. This caused an awful fuss at the time, although Blake always maintained that he had advertised it extensively and offered it free to the Science Museum, but that no one was interested.

Since 1972 this great old car has been in the Harrah Collection in Reno. After Bill Harrah’s death the chance occurred to bring it back to where it really belongs — but at a cost exceeding a quarter of a million pounds!

Lord Montagu was able to obtain a grant towards this vast sum from the National Heritage American Fund, and the trustees have now opened a public appeal to raise the balance of the purchase price for this unique racing car, which is now on public new at Beaulieu.

Club news

Knowl Hill, near Reading, is the venue for the Buckler Car Register’s celebration of the fortieth anniversary of the marque on August 16. The Register would like to hear from any former owners who wish to attend, and replies should be addressed to P Silverthorne, The Old Bakehouse, Littlewick. Green, Maidenhead, Berkshire SL6 3RA.

Touted as Scotland’s premier classic car rally, the Doune Classic Weekend takes place on August 29-30 at the Doune Motor Museum in Perthshire, and includes individual club concours and an inter-club gymkhana. The fee of £6 grants free access to the museum and camping facilities, and entry forms should be sent to Nigel Mortimer, “Naringa”, 5 Disblair Road, New Machar, Aberdeenshire AB5 0RL.

The BARC’s South Western Centre will be celebrating the hundredth meeting at Gurston Down hilIclimb at Broadchalke, Wiltshire on August 30, and would like to hear from anyone who competed in 1967 events. Contact Richard Slegg, Flat 29, Alexandra House, c/o Phipps House, Enham-Alemein, Andover, Hampshire SPI 1 6JA.

More than 70 members have so far been attracted by the British Motor Racing Historical Society, which was launched in 1985. Members’ interests include the histories of events, marques and personalities associated with all forms of motor sport, and anyone interested should send an sae to Martyn Flower, 2 Belbrough Close, Hutton Rudby, Yarm, Cleveland TS15 0EH.

In order to help Formula One enthusiasts from all over the world get together, David Hayhoe has founded the Grand Prix Contact Club, which already has more than 300 members from over 30 countries. Anyone wishing to join should send their name, address, age and £1 to 28 Pine Avenue, West Wickham, Kent BR4 0LW; they will receive in return a complete list of other members and their interests.

Halls Farm at Eversley, near Reading is once again the venue for the Lancia Motor Club’s driving tests on August,16.

Entry forms for the twelfth Standard Triumph International Rally are available from 54 Erithway Road, Green Lane, Coventry CV3 6JT. Every example of either marque is eligible. For the second consecutive year, the event will take place in Britain, at Hanbury Hall, near Droitwich, Worcestershire, on Sunday September 20.

Steam fanatics should note that the Sentinel DC, which was founded in 1922, has been reformed after a gap of nearly 50 years, to cater for all forms of Sentinel products. The person to contact is M Tuxworth on Radwinter 555.