Matters of moment, June 1984

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The Threat to Brooklands Track

On July 1st the Brooklands Society should be holding another Re-Union at the famous Track. Not on the “40-Acres” as in previous years, but over on the Byfleet side and then only with permission from the Agents for the tenancies of the Industrial Estate there, because Gallahers, who have taken over Paddock, Members’ Hill and the Test Hill, refused the Society entry. It seems quite astonishing that Mr Neil Macfarlane, for the Department of the Environment, has informed Sir Hector Mourn, AE, JP, DL, MP, and others, that the implications of the proposed Gallahers development are not such as to justify calling in the planning application for determination by the Secretary of State. What astonishing lack of interest, in a matter concerning the National heritage. All the DoE is doing is leaning on the findings of the Ancient Monuments Administration and referring the matter back to the Elmbridge Council, which has apparently reversed its promise of preserving the “40-Acre” site.

It is pathetic that the preservation of Brooklands has been treated so shabbily when all manner of other monuments and heirlooms are the subject of loving care and the expenditure of millions of pounds on their resuscitation. It seems odd that the piece of banking Gallahers want to destroy is the one piece devoid of a Preservation Order, nor should we be misled by the company’s offer to patch up a few parts of the Track and restore the Clubhouse. Without the banking behind the Hill the very atmosphere of the old Track and its value as a Club venue will be lost, assuming the new owners have any intention of granting access. If these matters cannot be resolved, all will be lost, irrevocably.

So, although we have no longer direct contact with the Brooklands Society which MOTOR SPORT was closely associated with in its formative years (apart from the Editor being its No 1 Hon Member) we hope that a full Public Enquiry will be held into the fate of what remains of the historic Motor Course. This seems the last resort in attempting to make the American-financed Company, which wants to destroy this part of the Members’ banking simply because it regards it as looking ugly, relent. Meanwhile, your MP, the DoE, Elmbridge Borough Council, etc should be urgently made aware of your feelings.

In 1957, when the late Lord Brabazon of Tara unveiled the sad Vickers’ memorial to Brooklands he said: “A prophet is not without honour except in his own country, and I think it was forgotten what a priceless heritage we had as we struggled to victory (in WW2). The expansion of Vickers crept over everything like uncontrolled ivy until, at the end, from the Treasury viewpoint, it was cheaper to buy than to restore. What a shameful story! Why did we not rise in our wrath at the iconoclast? Some of us did — some did not help as they should have done. But we were busy licking the wounds of war. Conscience is a human characteristic. Can a great Company (asked Lord Brabazon) feel a twinge of it?”

As he unveiled the memorial (since defaced by vandals), which he referred to as Brooklands’ tombstone, Lord Brabazon said he regarded it in every sense a great Company’s twinge of conscience.

With even that gesture since defaced, and more of the historic Brooklands site built over, it becomes imperative to try to make the Company intent on bulldozing that vital stretch of the Members’ banking feel “a twinge of conscience”, before it destroys what Vickers left intact and hard-working members of the Brooklands Society have since restored. Brooklands, before Gallahers, gave much pleasure to very many motor-club members and preserved some very important aspects of a unique British Institution and Industrial heirloom.