Matters of moment, January 1978
The future of Brooklands
The significance of Brooklands as an historic and nostalgic British motor-racing and aviation heirloom which most certainly should have been preserved for posterity, and still might be, is recognised more and more as time goes by. If it is to be saved, action is now a matter of some urgency. To save Brooklands is one of the aims of the Brooklands Society, which has as its Patron His Grace the Duke of Richmond and Gordon, as its President T. A. S. O. Mathieson and other eminent ex-motor racing personalities serving as its Vice-Presidents and on its Committee.
This organisation came into being in 1967, the inaugural meeting tasting place in the Motor Sport offices. It was then more concerned with the three Ms—Meetings (or Re-Unions), Memories and a Magazine. To hope at that time to acquire what was left of the old Motor Course was unthinkable, with the British Aircraft Corporation still in possession. Since then this Surrey land-mass which the Track encircles has become commercially available.
This has prompted the Brooklands Society to raise its sights. It is now concerned notably with the three Bs—Bringing Back Brooklands. It wants to obtain at least a stake in the place, but if possible to revive Brooklands in its entirety. To do this would appear to involve the expenditure of many millions of pounds, with tens of thousands more required each year for rates and maintenance. However, it is a highly laudable aim, which might be possible. The Railway Preservation Societies, the recovery of Brunel’s Iron-Ship, the RAF Museum at Hendon, all are parallel ideals, endowed with success. A Government grant for Brooklands might be the solution, but this seems unlikely in the present financial climate.
To Bring Back Brooklands is a formidable ambition. Fortunately, it has received much useful publicity. Papers like the Sunday Times and Country Life (the latter with a contribution of W.B.’s), etc. have backed the cause and there was that helpful BBC film which explained excellently the objects and hopes of the Society. The Society has itself spent money on a lavish publicity-brochure and has instituted various money-raising activities. It would be indeed a tragedy if, after all these courageous attempts to “BBB” and the hard work put in by many members, led by John Wall, to clear debris (with BAC’s approval) from the hallowed bankings, anything happened to retard the Society’s efforts. Alas, some severe criticisms of the Society’s officials are currently being circulated, which, unless checked, will do irretrievable harm to the Brooklands Society and its commendable aims and objects, which have the support of so many motoring, motorcycling and aviation enthusiasts.
We feel we have a responsibility to these people, to try to clear up this unhappy situation. The Brooklands Society was founded by the Editor of Motor Sport, and the Proprietor of this Journal served for some time on its Committee. For several years Motor Sport organised an annual Re-Union at the Track, sending free admission tickets to those who wished to attend and who had had some pre-war association with Brooklands. As the Society expanded it became more ambitious, hoping to acquire the Track and re-open it, which was never visualised originally. The Re-Unions became larger, were no longer confined to ex-Brooklands personalities, and a charge for admission was made. For various reasons, including that of not having visualised the BS as commercial venture, W.B. and Motor Sport’s Proprietor resigned. The bestowal of Honorary Membership on W.B. was, however, greatly appreciated, and he is delighted that Cyril Posthumus is now making such a good job of the Society’s magazine.
From the foregoing it will be clearly understood that Motor Sport is greatly concerned about the stories concerning the conduct of the Society that are in current circulation. We have, indeed, received the following letter from Mr. R. O. Wilson-Kitchen, who we believe to have the “BBB” aim very much at heart. We are publishing it, because, as we have said, as Founders and supporters of the BS (the Motor Sport-planned Re-Unions got it into its stride) we feel we owe this to those involved. There is no smoke without a fire and the best way to prevent a serious conflagration is to bring the inflammable matter into the open and hope that it can be extinguished. To do this is the duty of every responsible newspaper and journal.
A copy of Mr. Wilson-Kitchens letter was, of course sent immidiately to Mr. A.N Child, Secretary of the brooklands Society, for his comments which we have now received. We append both communications, from which we hope society members will be able to draw their own conclusions, and feel that we have acted in the best interests of all those who have the future of Brooklands at heart.