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Report - Brooklands Race Track/Airfield - Air Raid Shelters & Tunnels - May/June 2013 - Surrey

Discussion in 'Underground Sites' started by bhg, Jun 26, 2013.

  1. bhg

    bhg In Search of Lost Time
    Regular User

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    This is a special site for me. It's local and I drive past Brooklands race track everyday. Some time ago, while looking for information regarding well known Vickers Air Raid Shelter I found one picture showing one of the race track tunnels. Must admit that it took me few visits to find some of them... And more I looked into it more fascinated I became... In my report I tried to cover history of Brooklands Race Track, Airfield and Vickers factory.

    So first:

    Brooklands Race Track History (from Wiki)

    The Brooklands circuit was the brainchild of Hugh Locke-King, and was opened on 17 June 1907 as the first purpose-built banked motor race circuit in the world. Following the Motor Car Act 1903, Britain was subject to a blanket 20 mph (32 km/h) speed limit on public roads: at a time when nearly 50% of the planet's new cars were produced in France, there was a concern that Britain's infant auto-industry would be hampered by the inability to undertake sustained high speed testing Apparently drawing inspiration from the development at Brooklands, the Indianapolis Motor Speedway was built soon afterwards and held its inaugural race in August 1909. Requirements of speed and spectator visibility led to the Brooklands track being built as a 100 ft (30 m) wide, 2.75 miles (4.43 km) long, banked oval. The banking was nearly 30 feet (9 m) high in places. In addition to the oval, a bisecting "Finishing Straight" was built, increasing the track length to 3.25 miles (5.23 km), of which 1.25 miles (2.01 km) was banked. It could host up to 287,000 spectators in its heyday.
    Owing to the complications of laying tarmacadam on banking, and the expense of laying asphalt, the track was built in uncoated concrete. This led in later years to a somewhat bumpy ride, as the surface suffered differential settlement over time.
    Along the centre of the track ran a dotted black line, known as the Fifty Foot Line. By driving over the line, a driver could theoretically take the banked corners without having to use the steering wheel.


    Brooklands Race Track map:

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    Brooklands Race Track pics: ( from The Brooklands Society Photo Archives)

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    Brooklands Race Track - Cycling race (The start of The Bicycle 100km race on July 24, 1937)

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    Brooklands Race Track now:

    Members Banking and Bridge :

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    Byfleet Banking:

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    Brooklands - Vickers - Armstrong history ( from Home - Subterranea Britannica)

    In 1909 Hugh Locke was persuaded to build one of Britain's first aerodromes in the middle of the track with the first aircraft companies arriving on the site in February 1910 and the Vickers Company opening a flying school.By August 1914, with the declaration of war on Germany, Brooklands and all its services including the race track were taken over by the war office and a military flying school was formed.In 1915 Vickers started aircraft manufacturing at Brooklands, taking over the 'Itala Motor Works'; by the end of the war Vickers had built 4,500 aircraftWhen peace came, aircraft production ceased almost overnight and factory workers had to turn their hands to manufacturing other products including cars and motorcycles; Vickers began producing such diverse products as perambulators, fishing-rod cases and brick-making machinery. The Brooklands race track re-opened in 1920 with the Grand Prix coming to the circuit in 1926.
    Over the next 20 years up to the outbreak of World War Two, the Vickers factory produced a broad range of military and civil aircraft types including the Vixen and the Vespa with Vickers (Aviation) Ltd. being established in 1928. In the 1930's, Brooklands Aerodrome was a regular venue for aviation events with air races, flying displays, dawn patrols and public open days.


    Old photos:

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    Vickers Wellington bomber :
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    Brooklands Race Track Air Raid Shelters:

    Bellman hangar Air Raid Shelter (with public access - now part of Brooklands Museum)

    Underground shelter was built in late 1940 for use by Vickers aircraft workers building Wellington bobmers in adjacent Bellman hangar. Thi shelter was constructedby excavating the foot of the hill casting a reinforced concrete tunnel which was then buried with earth with both entrances protected by brick blast walls at each other.

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    Bellman hangar now:

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    Members Bridge Air Raid Shelters:

    Built by another hangar on the banked Track by Members Bridge (hangar was demolished in 1970s)

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    Brooklands Race Track road access tunnel (also used as Air Raid Shelter)

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    Brooklands Race Track Members Bridge public entry three tunnels (also used as Air Raid Shelter)

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    Air Raid Shelter by Byfleet Banking:

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    Pillbox (part of the Brooklands Museum)

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    Members Hill Bofors anti-aircraft gun towers

    In 1940 this surviving pair of gun towers on Members Hill supported one Bofors 40 mm quick firing anti-aircraft cannon and aircraft location predictor equipment.

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    Enjoy! I hope I didn't bore you all! :)
     

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