Looking Back: Minors to Maxis
Braving the damp start paid off for all those who ventured out to be part of Brooklands’ annual Austin and Morris Day on Sunday 12th March, as it eventually dried out and the chrome managed a glint or two.
The driving force behind this event is the enduring appeal of two British iconic marques – Austin and Morris. Many families had their first taste of touring and holidaying in Britain because of the affordability and reliability of these cars which still turn heads today. In fact it was Morris who brought out the first car priced at £100 in 1931. Still a handsome sum compared to average earn- ings but it represented the dawn of affordable motoring.
Greeting visitors as soon as they emerged from the Museum Shop Entrance into the Motoring Village were fleets of Morris Minors and Minis in familiar shades of duck egg blue, racing green and maroon. Boots were opened revealing picnic hampers and flasks, and camping chairs were unfolded – reminiscent of the holiday advertisements manufacturers used to entice buyers.
Over in the Campbell Car Park by the line of Race Bays, every shade of brown known to man was evident as seen in the cherished examples of Maxi, Morris 1800, 1800 Mk II and Princess 1100 Vanden Plas. Lining the other parking areas on the historic site were Cambridge and Oxford cars from the ‘Counties’ range.
The Paddock in front of the iconic green- domed Clubhouse was earmarked for earlier and pre-War vehicles including tourers, Swallows and open-top sports models. There was a smattering of commercials too including Morris Eight and Minor vans in various livery and an early ambulance. Turning heads was a rare 1960 Morris J2 in a fetching green and cream finish having made the pilgrimage from Essex.
At 12.45pm the cars assembled at the Vickers Bridge gates ready for their outing across the road to take part in the cavalcade on the twisty circuit at Mercedes-Benz World. On their return, a selection headed up to the Banking for the 2pm mass photo opportunity which never fails to attract anyone with a camera either on the ground or way up over the Track on Members’ Bridge.
As we are blessed with a cold and damp climate, visitors were warmed by a winter barbecue and extra catering outlets while period music owed through the site all day. In all, over 220 vehicles made it to the event attended by 1,670 visitors proving that these two iconic manufacturers are as important now as when they accounted for more than 50 per cent of the British car market in the late 1920s and through most of the ‘30s.
Looking Forward: The 1940s Relived
Utilising every available inch of the Museum, indoor and out, this event on Saturday 13th May celebrates the fashion, music, style, vehicles and attitudes that the 1940s is renowned for. Equal weight is given to the Second World War and the immediate post-war period and how the fashions and cars from those latter years flourished after wartime hardship and began to influence the early 1950s.
At the heart of the event will be the dance marquee with a rolling programme of music and free (yes, free) dance classes. Vintage specialist DJ Swing Shift will be providing the sounds as well as live swing from the Kalamazoo Dance Band. Singing live will be chanteuse Noelle Vaughn well known as being one of the most authentic singers on the circuit – close your eyes and you’ll think you’re listening to the wireless.
Any ladies not able to finesse their look need not worry as a vintage-style hair and make-up parlour will be set up in the original Press Hut, manned by Hair That Turns Heads – a troupe of stylists who specialise in recreating the styles from the period.
The Racing Bays will be the setting for the trade village where you will find sellers of original and quality reproduction clothing, homewares and ephemera.
The star attraction this year, however, will undoubtedly be the Classic Vehicle display which will feature saloons, tourers, London buses, vans, trucks and even bicycles from the period. All this nostalgia will ll the 32- acre site in Weybridge, Surrey which itself is famous for being the Birthplace of British Motorsport and Aviation. All the exhibition areas, aircraft, racing cars and motorcycles will be open as usual and scores of re-en- actor groups portraying everything from the Home Guard, RAF and Land Army Girls to civilian and family life will add to the ‘time travelling’ effect. And who will win the Brooklands Best-Dressed Competition this year? Don your nest period duds, grab your partner and watch out for the Brooklands style scouts looking for the UK’s nest out ts with none other than Winston Churchill (AKA ‘Winstan’) himself judging the finalists.
The gates open at 10am and then from 5pm until 9pm the music and dancing will continue in the marquee with a bar to help cool you down between dances.
The Brooklands Double Twelve Motorsport Festival
This year is a very special year for Brooklands – it is 110 years since the race track first opened to the public and the year that the missing section of the original finishing straight – which has not been seen or used for competition since 1939 – is officially opened. This section of the famous track has been hidden until this year by a WWII Bellman Hangar constructed at the end of 1940 as part of the expansion in aircraft production for the war effort. Around 75 years later and with hefty support from the Heritage Lottery Fund as part of an £8.1 million re-engineering project this rare Hangar has been de-constructed, taken away for conservation, and returned to a new location on site ready to be re-interpreted as the Brooklands Aircraft Factory. This has enabled the finishing straight section of the track to be completely revealed and re-joined with the other existing parts to form an original Brooklands landscape not seen since the 1930s.
The anniversary and opening of the finishing straight will converge with the first day of the Brooklands Double Twelve Motorsport Festival weekend on 17th & 18th June. The two-day extravaganza sees Brooklands as it really was in the glamorous heyday of British Motorsport.
The sounds, sights, smells and glamour of pre-war racing and competition fills the whole place, further enhanced by the Museums own collections of classic cars and aircraft, live period music wafting through the site amongst old garage petrol pumps, tuning sheds and even a red telephone booth. It doesn’t get more nostalgic than this; Brooklands really is a vintage seekers’ paradise.
Brooklands Museum is open from 10am every day. Check the main website for all the up to date event information, directions and tickets.