On February 11th Allan Winn came to Kingston to address the association on the topic of Brooklands and the future of the Museum. A New Zealander, Allan holds a BSc in mechanical engineering and amongst other positions was previously the editor of Flight International and was a committee member of the Vintage Sports Car Club for seventeen years. He also owns a 1929 3 litre Bentley. Clearly his credentials for running an aeronautical and automotive museum are impeccable and his ability has been demonstrated by his success as the Director of the Brooklands Museum since 2003.Outlining the history of the Museum Allan pointed out that it is unique as the site doesn’t just house the collections, the buildings and environs are historic in their own right. Brooklands was ‘the birthplace’ of circuit racing and the home of pioneering aircraft designers, experimenters, record breakers and manufacturers.
In fact 18,600 aircraft of 260 types flew out of Brooklands, mostly from the Sopwith, Hawker and Vickers factories. At its peak in World War Two, which brought a halt to motor racing, 14,000 people were employed there.The museum site extends to 32 acres containing one third of a mile of banking, the Club House and many other original buildings from the days of motor racing to later ones from the aircraft manufacturing period. Most of these have been restored or converted to house and display extensive aircraft, car and motorcycle collections and other attractions.
Brooklands is the largest museum in Surrey and welcomed 177,000 paying visitors in 2014, receiving no regular funding. It is self sustaining from entry ticket sales, Brooklands Trust Member’s fund raising activities, donations and sponsorship.There is more work to do as the large aircraft are outside, the Bellman hangar leaks, the track concrete is crumbling and the archives are cramped. However £4.9 million of Heritage Lottery funding has been won for a £6.9 million project, and of the outstanding £2 million, £1.25 million has already been raised. This money will see the hangar moved off the finishing straight, restored and made weatherproof to house an exhibition using Museum assets to explain how aircraft were designed and built. Using modern ‘hands-on’ techniques the aim is to engage children and young people and enthuse them to take up engineering as a career.