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Vintage Cars at Brooklands

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Two Wheels - Bicycles & Motorcycles

Two Wheels - Bicycles & Motorcycles

Test Hill

Test Hill was built in 1909 as another facility to encourage use of the track for development and test work. It is 352 feet long and divided into three sections, starting with a gradient of 1 in 8, then 1 in 5 and the top third has a gradient of 1 in 4. It was used by manufacturers to test both the ability of cars to climb steep hills and also of their brakes to stop them coming down.

TEST HILL RECORDS
SCH Davis in a Talbot Descending Test Hill 1925As performance increased, cars and motorcycles driven at full bore inevitably ‘took off’ when they got to the top.  This extra spice of danger made it an irresistible attraction to some of the Brooklands drivers, and the Test Hill Record became a recognised institution until speeds got so high that there was not enough room at the top for a safe landing.  The record climb in 7.691 seconds (an average of 31.277 mph) stood for nearly seven years until on the 25th October 1932 R.G.J. Nash (no relation to Archie Fraser Nash) driving a Frazer Nash special called ‘The Terror’ established the all-time car record for Test Hill with 7.45 seconds (an average of 32.444 mph) .  ‘The Terror’ crested the rise at about 50mph and flew about 40 feet before landing!

Although this was the ultimate Test Hill Record, irrespective of engine size, Gordon Lindsay Glegg drove the V twin J.A.P. engined ‘Dorcas’ up Test Hill on 2nd August 1933 in 8.41 seconds (an average of 28.56 mph).

Francis Beart - holder of the Test Hill motorcycle record 1937Motorcyclists had the more daunting prospect of not only taking to the air but probably parting company with their machines in the process.  Nevertheless, they were faster than the cars.  On 9th June 1936 Francis Beart, on a Grindlay-Peerless, fitted with a 500cc speedway-type J.A.P. engine, established the all-time Test Hill Record at 6.99 seconds (an average of 34.55 mph).  Beart came off on landing, but was unhurt.

FLYING FROM MEMBERS’ HILL
Aviation activities took place briefly on Members’ Hill when the Lane Gliding School was established at Brooklands by Charles Lane in Spring 1910.  Lane built a biplane glider of the Farman type and laid down a starting rail on the slope below the public grandstands to the East of the Test Hill roadway.  It was from here that gliders were launched and one of the first pupils was a Mrs Gavin who was making solo flights by July 1910. Otherwise little more is known of this shortlived enterprise although it probably was the first gliding school in this country.

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