Fringe Box



Further Afield For A Great Day Out: Brooklands Museum and Mercedes-Benz World

Published on: 2 May, 2013
Updated on: 2 May, 2013

This month John Gilbert takes a trip to Brooklands Museum and Mercedes-Benz World, both near Weybridge

Author’s star-rated system:
*** Worth a visit

** Worth a detour

* Interesting

Brooklands Museum – where the spirit of Brooklands lives on!***

Constructed near Weybridge by landowner and pioneer Hugh Locke-King in 1907, Brooklands became the home of the world’s first purpose-built motor racing circuit. And, without any doubt, the museum’s catchy sub-title really is apt! 

Brooklands Museum near Weybridge.

Brooklands Museum near Weybridge.

My recent visit was an absolute joy. Yet drivers beware – once you arrive at the large, and impressive mock-up Concorde, you need to take the exit road from the roundabout that leads towards the expansive grounds and magnificent metal/glass buildings of Mercedes-Benz World.

Keep to your left, drive slowly past the Brooklands Hotel and Mercedes-Benz World, and within a few hundred meters you will enter the car parking areas. From thereon, after walking across a nearby bridge, the trip becomes a huge step back in time. (The directional signage is currently being reviewed.)

With so much information so readily available online, and not wishing to spoil readers’ expectations, this assessment will mainly focus on my personal favourites from the three main visitor trails and the wonderfully nostalgic London Bus Museum.

The Malcolm Campbell Shed. Picture by Ian Mckechnie.

The Malcolm Campbell Shed. Picture by Ian Mckechnie.

Motoring Village***

Malcolm Campbell Shed and ERA Shed***

The Reigate born Sir Malcolm Campbell will be extremely well known to most racing devotees. At various times during the 1920s and 1930s, with his slender and highly aerodynamic vehicles called Blue Bird, the courageous Campbell gained the world speed record on both land and water – a truly tremendous feat for its time.

The Campbell Shed contains a wonderful display of vintage cars from the Brooklands period, while adjoining is the Era Shed, a workshop in the 1930s that now houses the Speed Record Exhibition, and proudly displays some of the famous racing cars and motorcycles that participated. NB: Please remember to access the Brooklands Cycle Exhibition and Raleigh Display.

Jackson Shed**

A must see for lovers of Grand Prix racing. If you’re lucky have a go at the McLaren Formula 1 Simulator.

The Clubhouse* Provides a children’s play area

Plenty of vintage aircraft to see.

Plenty of vintage aircraft to see.

Aircraft  and Aviation***

Many older readers will be aware that Brooklands was home to the main factory of Vickers, a manufacturer of large aircraft. And, was where during World War II, the inventive and inspirational Barnes Wallis designed the famous damn busting bouncing bomb!

Again not wishing to spoil any surprises, my three-star rating is extremely well merited and visitors will not be disappointed. The contents of the large Wellington hanger*** is a particular treat. Please allow some time, as there is so much history and information to digest.

The British Airways Concorde at Brooklands Museum.

The British Airways Concorde at Brooklands Museum.

Concorde and the Brooklands Concorde Experience. ***plus!

The first British production of the supersonic aircraft G-880G is most certainly the trail’s pièce de résistance. The magnificent aircraft towers above the tarmac enabling visitors to take a bird’s-eye view of the undercarriage. Check out beforehand the times of the tours. My wife and I were lucky enough to fly Concorde to New York and can guarantee one or two surprises once you venture inside.

Test Hill and Track**

The short walk to view the high banking will not disappoint. Nor will a glance at Test Hill that was constructed to conduct acceleration and braking tests.

The London Bus Museum***

Operated by the London Bus Preservation Trust, this truly inspiring museum was a joy to visit. The helpful volunteers were only too pleased to explain and re-live the routes of any particular bus and my word they were all so knowledgeable!  It was clearly evident that they were so very proud to be working at the world’s largest private-sector collection of buses for the period 1890s to 1970s. Adults and children alike will even get their bus ticket clipped!

Mercedes-Benz World.

Mercedes-Benz World.

Mercedes-Benz World***

It was with a deeply felt sense of irony that we decided to take a late lunch at Mercedes-benz World that adjoins the Brooklands Museum.

Inasmuch as the highly successful German car manufacturer actually owns the land upon which the museum stands. The irony goes back to 1940 when several German bombers targeted Vickers to impede aircraft production.

Among those killed by the raid was my mother’s first husband. As fate has it, should Joseph Peter Hartley have been spared, my mother would have not remarried. A somewhat strange thought, as was the automated vehicle number plate recognition system which politely instructed me where to park!

All irony aside, the free attractions at Mercedes-Benz World are in equal measure as exciting as Brooklands yet in stark contrast. The ultra modern buildings awash with displays on three levels are breath taking. There are escalators to help as well as easily manageable stairways. Once inside it becomes difficult to remember that you are entering a sales department – yet another odd phenomena!

Plenty to see and do at Mercedes-Benz World.

Plenty to see and do at Mercedes-Benz World.

After taking a delightful lunch in the Gullwing restaurant** that provides a panoramic view of skyline and the skid circuit, we visited the floor housing its racing cars. I then made a fool of myself at the driving simulator* – obviously too much food and wine – only joking!

Without doubt, as well as making for a fantastic visit, these facilities housed within their impressive building and grounds are also well worth a three-star rating.

Merc world 02

Click here to visit Brooklands’ Museum’s website where details of special events and activities can be found.

Click here to visit Mercedes-Benz World’s website. It contains details of events, exhibitions and offers, plus driving experiences, conferencing and hospitality, and online an shop.

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