Nestled in the heart of Surrey, Brooklands Museum stands as a living testament to the legacy of British motorsport and aviation. Three generations of our family recently visited on a gloriously sunny winter’s day, which turned out to be a journey into the past, an exploration of human ingenuity, and an immersion in history and culture.
Read on to find out how we got on in a perfect day at Brooklands Museum in Surrey discovering the best of vintage cars, historic aircraft, engineering and more.
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Early Start: Making the most of your morning.
Brooklands Museum in Weybridge opens from 10am both in the summer and winter months, with a earlier closing time of 4pm for winter. As we’d booked on to the 10:25am Concorde experience, we decided to make the most of our day by arriving promptly at 10:00.
Quite honestly, there’s so much to see at Brooklands that it’s worth the early start, whether you are arriving by car or public transport. The museum’s convenient location makes it easily accessible wherever you’re coming from.
We recommend booking your tickets beforehand online for an early bird discount. The Concorde experience is an additional charge but very worth while. Our Concorde tour guide was knowledgeable and shared stories and secrets of this amazing plane and its close links to Brooklands.
A brief history of Brooklands Motor Museum
Brooklands was the birthplace of British motorsport and aviation. In 1907 it was commissioned by Hugh Fortescue Locke-King as the first purpose-built banked motor racing circuit in the world.
The Motor Car Act 1903 subjected Britain to a blanket 20mph speed limit on public roads (similar to recent laws passed in Wales and across some cities in modern Britain today). The track was 100ft wide with banked ovals up to 30 feet high in places and could host up to 287,000 spectators in its heyday.
In 1907, the race circuit hosted the first 24-hour motor event, attracting many gentleman drivers and their mechanics to the sporting venue.
Afterwards, in 1909, Brooklands became one of Britain’s first airfields and a major centre of flying in Britain. Consequently, this attracted multiple flying schools and airplane manufactures to the site.
During World War One, the race circuit was closed and the site was requisitioned by the War Office. Vickers Aviation set up a factory and soon Brooklands was constructing, testing and suppling military aeroplanes.
As you move around the Museum you will become aware of just how much this site contributed to the war efforts of both World War One and Two. Plus it was a major contributor to the advancement of engineering and manufacturing within Britain.
On arrival, we walked straight past the Motoring Village and headed straight to the Concorde. We had purchased early tickets for the Concorde tour, but came back to savour the British Grand prix cars and Racing Legends before leaving.
The Concorde tour
One of the highlights of our visit to Brooklands Museum was seeing Concorde, the first supersonic passenger-carrying commercial plane. Whilst we have been to Brooklands on many occasions, our main reason this time was to take the tour of the fully restored Concorde.
Living in Surrey, Concorde was a regular sight in the air soon after taking off from Heathrow and was a fond childhood memory. Brooklands is now the home of the largest Concorde exhibit in the UK today. Plus, they have the Concorde simulator, parts of a test fuselage and the 40% scale model that originally sat on the roundabout at the entrance of the Heathrow airport tunnel for 20 years.
I was unaware until our visit that more than 30% of each of the 20 Concorde airframes were manufactured by the British Aircraft Corporation at Brooklands in the 60s and 70s. The Brooklands Concorde G-BBDG was a production aircraft but never saw airline service. However, she did do the bulk of the flying that allowed final certification of the plane for public use. In addition, Concorde was used to train the early British Airways flight crews.
For the Concorde tour you congregate in an old British Airways flight bus. After introductions you are led underneath the plane by your tour guide who shared various stories and technical details of the aircraft, its engines and its iconic delta wing.
Afterwards, you can climb the stairs to board Concorde via the cargo door at the rear of the plane. Initially, you walk through a dedicated display area detailing the history of the Concorde project and its air service with various static and video presentations to enjoy.
Finally, you move into a forward cabin area, where you are invited to sit and experience a simulated take off and flight on the plane.
A clever combination of announcements from the cockpit pilot Chief Captain Mike Bannister, vibrating floors and accompanying soundtrack sees you reach a simulated Mach 2.04 (more than twice the speed of sound). It must have been amazing to fly at 1,354 miles per hour and travel between London and New York in under three hours.
Finally, you exit Concorde from the front of the plane, pausing to take a peek at the flight deck of this incredible plane. Feet firmly back on the ground you can walk around the plane and just appreciate this marvel of engineering.
Concorde is the centrepiece to the Aircraft Park where you can wander around and underneath various Vickers aircraft. Many of the planes are open to explore the cabins and cockpits.
Things to do at Brooklands Museum
After the Concorde tour you then have the opportunity to explore Brooklands Museum, taking in its rich motorsport and aircraft heritage.
We started by visiting the Factory Square which is an original refurbished and rebuilt aircraft hanger. Here you can see various planes, including the centrepiece Loch Ness Wellington Bomber. The exhibition shows the early aircraft manufacturing techniques of wood and fabric and works through to supersonic airliners. There are plenty of interactive activities for young and old to try their hand at.
Moving towards the back of the Factory Square, you can cross to the Flight Shed containing a number of incredible planes including the Sopwith Camel, Hawker Hurricane, Hunter & Harrier to name but a few.
I got to sit in the Hawker Harrier and had a walk through the Vickers Wellington.
Stepping outside the Fight Shed you’ll see what remains of the large banked oval circuit. This must have been incredible to race along back in the early 1900’s.
The London Bus Museum
Our next stop was the London Bus Museum.
The London Bus Museum at Brooklands houses a large collection of around 35 buses and coaches. Most are fully restored but there were some that were either due for, or under restoration in the workshop.
Buses are displayed in a timeline from the early horse drawn through to the latest electric double deckers, currently on London streets.
You’ll find the Sunbeam Café at the rear of the Club House. We’d built up a thirst after our Concorde tour and walking around the Factory Square and Flight Shed . We treated ourselves to a cup of tea, coffee and some tasty looking cakes and cookies.
Later in the day, we returned for a late lunch which was served from 11.45am until 2:30pm. There is an inside seating area but fortunately for us the sun was out, so we enjoy lunch outside.
If you’d prefer to pack a picnic, Brooklands Museum has several scenic spots where you can enjoy your meal.
If you want to eat after you leave you could explore the nearby town of Weybridge which has numerous eateries and restaurants offering a variety of cuisines.
Club house and Stratosphere Chamber
The clubhouse was built in 1907 to accommodate the Clerk of the Course and race track officials. In 1974, the building was occupied by Barnes Wallis as part of the Vickers-Armstrong Research and Development Department. During his residency Barnes Wallis (famous for his bouncing bomb) designed and had built the Stratosphere Chamber next door to investigate high-speed flight at very high altitudes.
We’d missed this exhibition on previous visits to Brooklands.
The chamber, large enough to contain aircraft fuselage and wings, was designed to reproduce high altitude and various climatic tests. This was part of Barnes Wallis vision to create efficient long-range air transportation. You need to see the chamber to appreciate it’s scale and the engineering feat to build it. It could reproduce atmospheric pressure from sea level to 70,000 feet and create temperatures of -65˚C to +55˚C. The Chamber could even reproduce snow and ice by spraying water into the chamber and could create gale force winds of up to 74km/h.
Walking around the chamber you can’t help but be impressed by its size and scale. You’ll see several interesting exhibitions around it and explanations of some fascinating uses during the chambers history.
Racing Legends of Brooklands
Being petrol heads we left the cars to last, visiting two of the original Brooklands sheds housing some of the cars and motor bikes that set countless speed records at the Brooklands track.
The car in the picture is the Napier-Railton and was commissioned, and built within the Brooklands track engineering works. Completed in 1933 it was designed to break endurance records, winning several high profile races and breaking numerous endurance records and ultimately setting the fastest Brooklands lap record.
There is also a dedicated Campbell Shed which was used by the World Land Speed Record Holder Malcolm Campbell until 1935.
Across from these sheds is a workshop dedicated to telling the story of the first British Grand Prix held at Brooklands in 1926 and 1927. There are displays of historic grand prix cars, photographs and memorabilia from the 1920’s to present day.
We couldn’t pass up the opportunity to try the Brooklands Track F1 simulator, sitting yourself in a Lewis Hamilton era McClaren F1 car and driving the historic Brooklands race track including its famous banking. Beware the urge to floor it is too easy and both of us got airborne flying off the top of the banking on our first attempts.
We thoroughly enjoyed our day at Brooklands Museum, the mix of British aeronautical and motorsport engineering was truly inspiring. The museum does a fantastic job at exhibiting the aircraft and cars and explaining the rich history behind them. Concorde was the highlight of the day, reminding us of what a fantastic plane it was and the fact that we used to have a supersonic commercial aircraft whisking its passengers from London to New York in less that three hours.
We visited with three generations of our family and everyone enjoyed themselves. We would recommend a visit to Brooklands with your family. It is easy to spend a full day at Brooklands, especially if you head to Mercedes Benz World as well.
How to get to Brooklands Museum
Getting to Brooklands Museum by car
Brooklands museum is between Byfleet, Weybridge, Addlestone and the exclusive St George’s Hill in Surrey. It is easy to get to from London on M25/M3 and next door to the Mercedes Benz World which is worth a visit after the museum.
The address for Brooklands Museum: Brooklands Drive, Weybridge, Surrey. SatNav for visitor car park: KT13 0SL
Getting to Brooklands Museum by train
The nearest train station to Brooklands Museum is Weybridge.
Regular trains run from London Waterloo to Weybridge. Although Trainline claims it’s only a short walk to the museum from the station, you should allow at least 20 minutes each way. Alternatively, jump on the Falcon bus Route 436 towards Woking. Brooklands Museum is the second stop.
Parking at Brooklands Museum
Brooklands Museum provides free parking on site, with an overflow car park. From the parking you cross a bridge over the river Wey to the ticket office and museum shop.
Brooklands Museum prices and tickets
Brooklands Museum is open 10:00am to 5:00pm during the summer months and 10:00am to 4:00pm for the winter.
Tickets can be purchased in advance online before hand and you can save on average £2 per ticket over the on the day prices.
Ticket prices can include a 10% voluntary donation which enables the museum to reclaim tax on the whole ticket price under Gift Aid for tax payers. This is optional and you can opt out at the time of purchase.
There are different ticket prices for adults, children (5-18), under 5s free, concessions senior 65+/students and several family options.
The Concorde experience was running three times during the day when we went. There are limited spaces available given the size of the plane so we would recommend you pre-book to ensure you get the time you want and avoid disappointment.
Check the museum’s website for current prices.
When we went it was £22.95 for adults, £21.95 for Senior 65+/Student and £12.55 for Children (5-18, under 5’s free).
There were two family options of 1 adult (up to three children) £36.95 or 2 adults (up to three children) £59.95. These prices included a donation to enable the museum to claim gift aid.
Brooklands has a large gift shop, where you can buy a variety of gifts and souvenirs for motor and aviation enthusiasts. Gifts include model kits, books, collectable pin badges, clothes and posters.
Tips and Recommendations
- Dress comfortably and according to the weather, as you’ll be walking and exploring various attractions.
- Consider bringing a camera or smartphone to capture memories throughout the day.
- Bring a picnic to save on food costs. However, the Sunbeam Café has good food if you’d prefer to eat there.
- Book the earlier Concorde tour if possible then walk straight to the back of the Museum, working your way back to the entrance throughout the day.
Things to do near Brooklands Museum
Mercedes-Benz World: A Car Lover's Paradise
Across the road from Brooklands Museum lies Mercedes-Benz World, you can either walk to it or move your car from Brooklands to the free parking in front of the Mercedes building. Mercedes-Benz World is three floors of paradise for car enthusiasts. Entrance is free and you’ll find a mixture of car show room showcasing their latest models and technology, mixed with their heritage cars from bygone days and their rich racing history. There are interactive displays and experiences bringing the Mercedes Benz automotive excellence to life.
As well as seeing the cars you have an opportunity to sit behind the wheel of a a number of driving experiences with their luxury and sports cars and take them on the track or off road? You can be the driver or a passenger for a highspeed blast round their dedicated track, even the kids can get to drive a car as long as they are at least 1.5meters tall. These experiences invariably need to be pre-booked so if you are interested it’s worth planning ahead and coordinating your visit with Brooklands Museum.
Just 3 miles from Brooklands Museum is Painshill Park. This 18th century garden was created by Charles Hamilton and is regarded as a “living painting”. Within the park you’ll discover lakes, views, follies and a crystal grotto.
Read more: A visit to Painshill Park, Surrey
Thorpe Park in Chertsey is one of the UK’s best theme parks. Just 6 miles from the Brooklands Museum, it offers the perfect day out for thrill seekers. Alternatively, you could visit Chessington World of Adventures, which is slightly further away.
Virginia Water Lake
If you are looking for free things to do near Brooklands Museum, Virginia Water Lake is a beautiful, natural space that all the family will love.
Read more: A visit to Virginia Water Lake
Hotels near Brooklands Museum
For our visit to Brooklands Museum we drove, but if you are visiting from further afield there is an abundance of options for you to consider.
Brooklands Hotel & Spa
The closest hotel to Brooklands Museum is the Brooklands Hotel & Spa. This spa hotel with art deco inspired décor is within the motor racing circuit. They regularly have offers which include breakfast and admission.
The hotel is right next to the museum and Mercedes Benz World, so would be an excellent base for your visit.
Click here to book: The Brooklands Hotel & Spa
Other accommodation near Brooklands Museum
Here are some other accommodation options you could consider for your visit to Brooklands Museum:
Oatlands Park Hotel
Oatlands Drive, Weybridge, Surrey. KT13 9HB
Tel: 01932 847242
Seven Hills Road, Cobham, Surrey. KT11 1EW
Tel: 01932 864471
Hand & Spear
Old Heath Rd, Weybridge, Surrey KT13 8TX
Tel: 01932 828063
Click here to book: Hand and Spear
DoubleTree by Hilton, Woking
Victoria Way, Woking, Surrey. GU21 8EW
Tel: 01483 221000. Reservations: 0871 423 4931
Click here to book: Double Tree by Hilton Woking
The Oatlands Chaser by Innkeeper’s Collection, Weybridge
25 Oatlands Chase, Weybridge, Surrey. KT13 9RW
Telephone: 01932 253277
Click here to book: The Oatlands Chaser
The Ship Hotel
Monument Green, Weybridge, Surrey. KT13 8BQ
Tel: 01932 848364
Click here to book: The Ship Hotel, Weybridge
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