Noctilux at Brooklands as flood waters rise
Floods are in the news this month. First the Somerset Levels were inundated and now the waters in the Thames and its tributaries, including the River Wey, are rising to crisis point. Today I visited one of my favourite haunts, Brooklands Museum, which is on the banks of the Wey and no stranger to flooding. A few years ago several treasures were lost in a major flood which resulted in the museum being closed for months. And only last December the site had to be closed for days after the Wey again burst its banks.
Brooklands is the site of the world's first purpose-built automotive race track, a banked masterpiece that was opened to the public in 1907. From then until the outbreak of the second world war in 1939 it was the centre of British car and motorcycle sport. It was also one of the first airfields and played a big part in the growth of aviation in the years up to the war. During the war the track was requisitioned and became a major location for aircraft manufacture and development. It was here that Sir Barnes Wallis developed the bouncing bomb which was used in the successful raids on the Mohne and Eder dams in Germany.
Today Brooklands retains a stretch of the remarkable banked concrete circuit, now 107 years old, and hosts car, motorcycle and aircraft exhibits in the clubhouse and outbuildings. It has also recently become home to the London Bus Museum which is worth a visit in its own right.