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The Colonial or Overseas Course by Tony Hutchings

  colonial1.jpg  Photo from the BARC Yearbook 1931 showing a six-wheeler Morris on the Overseas Course

Approaching Mercedes-Benz World, with the Railway Straight and the hotel on your left, you may have noticed 4x4s being driven around an off-road course. Some 10 acres of rough terrain have been laid out to include extreme inclines, water crossings and muddy tracks. This is a recent addition and is all part of the MB World 4x4 Driving Experience aimed at both children and adults who wish ‘to encounter a range of exciting driving challenges’.

To most visitors, Brooklands is known for its magnificent concrete oval Track, together with a Test Hill, built in 1907, and the Campbell Road Circuit build in 1937. They would not associate it with off-road vehicles being driven up steep, earthen slopes, through fords and across axle-twisting obstacles. However, a little-known feature may prove that this should not be true.


It appears that during the winter of 1931 a number of changes and developments were made at Brooklands. One such project, undertaken by Surrey County Council, was the replacement of the old wooden bridge which took the Aerodrome Road across the River Wey with a ferro-concrete structure. Not far from this crossing, where the Byfleet Banking approached the Fork, in ‘...the summer of 1931 an ‘Overseas Course’ was mapped out in the old gravel pits beside the Aerodrome Road, and many manufacturers tried their overseas models there, a Morris Commercial six-wheeler (with Kennedy & Kemp tracks on the twin rear wheels each side) and a Trojan overseas model being demonstrated to Government representatives’ – Bill Boddy’s History of Brooklands, 2001.

  colonial2.jpg Photo from The Motor 10th November 1931 showing the Colonial Course and a rather dicey looking log bridge 



The Motor of 10th November 1931 had the following advice: ‘To anybody in search of adventure I would recommend a visit to the new ‘Colonial Section’ at Brooklands. It is not practicable for an ordinary car, but those who can beg, borrow or steal a tractor or six-wheeler could have lots of fun.

The section was expressly laid out by Bradley (Percy Bradley, the Clerk of the Course) in response to a demand from a Dominion visitor for a piece of really rough going which would be equally difficult for tractors of any type. So far a Morris six-wheeler has put up about the best show on the circuit, while a six-wheeler of another famous make spent two days in one ‘hole’. The course is laid out as for Midget Golf, each ‘hole’ being given a distinctive name. The fifth ‘hole’ has never yet been reached!’

Members of the Brooklands Automobile Racing Club also read about the new development in the club’s Year Book for 1932: ‘During the summer of 1931 an Overseas Course in the old gravel pits had been mapped out by a member of the BARC, Mr F Hugh Ireland. This is just the beginning of what we hope will be an added attraction to the various amenities of Brooklands. Already several manufacturers have tried their overseas models on the course, and it has been generally acknowledged that it is far more difficult than the private tracks which are in use at the various factories. Quite recently a Morris Commercial six-wheeler and a Trojan Overseas model were demonstrated over the course and two Government representatives came down to witness the trials and were much interested and impressed.’

Who was Mr Ireland and what was his connection with the design and development of test tracks? All we know is that he was a member of the BARC between 1924 and 1931.

Location of the courses in the old gravel pits

colonial3.jpg    colonial3.jpg

  Mention of the Colonial Course in the  programme for the Inter Club Race Meeting 20th June 1931


The programme for the Inter-Club Race Meeting held on Saturday 20th June 1931 also carried an invitation. The eighth event – the Hill Climb – was scheduled for 5.30 pm, when 18 competitors would be timed ascending the Test Hill, with C H Livesey’s Wolseley Hornet making the shortest time. Spectators would then have read about an ‘extra’ event timed for 5.45pm, namely the ‘Opening and First Demonstration of the Brooklands ‘Colonial Course’.

On the conclusion of the programme, the manufacturers of several makes of overseas transport vehicles will test them upon a course which has been laid out for the purpose in the gravel pits beyond the new bridge over the river and to the right of the road to the Aerodrome. Visitors are invited to attend the demonstration where space for parking their cars will be provided.’

Just how much use was made of the course and how long it lasted are just two of many questions that remain unanswered. Perhaps our readers can add some further details. Nevertheless, it is good to know that Mercedes-Benz World is continuing an 87 year old tradition.

  BTM photo military vehicles day  

Today Mercedes-Benz World keep up the tradition with their 4x4 off-road course not too far from the original location - here, it is being used for the Museum's Military Day



Wings & Wheels Hospitality sold out and new events announced.

Booking for the BTM Wings & Wheels Hospitality for the weekend of 26th/27th August has now closed. Tickets are still available for the show itself on both days and you will be able to buy them on the gate at Dunsfold. It is looking like another brilliant weekend of aviation and motoring fun - how many more there will be with re-development happening is anyone's guess - but go now whilst you still have the chance.

We have recently announced three new events :

Thursday 21st September 7.30pm - Simon Taylor brings the second of his new series of Motoring Legends to Brooklands in the shape of Howden Ganley who will be flying in from New Zealand. It will be a rare opportunity to meet and listen to Howden who will be talking about his F1 racing days with BRM and March in the early 70's and his time as a member of Bruce McLaren's nascent race team in NZ.

More info and how to book here

Sunday 24th September 12.30pm - We'll be bringing an Austin Maxi to lunch with you in the Vicker's Suite. Bron Burrell and Tina Kerridge-Reynolds will be with the car , affectionately known as Puff the Magic Wagon, and will be talking about their rallying adventures over a two-course lunch. These are less formal events than our evening talks and are a great opportunity to mix with other Members, have lunch and listen to a talk as well. There are limited places so don't delay and book today.

More info and how to book here

Thursday 19th October 7.30pm - Steve Parrish returns with fellow TT rider Ian Hutchinson. Most of the motor cycle team have already booked their places but we do have room left. Steve's events are always full of humour and cheeky fun and I am sure this will not be an exception. Ian is a highly successful current rider, that is until he fell of the bike at this year's TT breaking his leg and ankle in the process. He is on the road to recovery and will be joining us for an exciting evening of motor bike chat.

More info and how to book here


We had a really good Classic Car Show & Jumble this year - the best yet. The Jumble has been running for about ten years now beginning as an auto & Aero Jumble. That has changed in recent years and we have seen less of the aircraft related jumble and more vintage and retro items and gifts offered for sale. The traditional auto jumble however is still the backbone of the event. Added to that have been the car boot sellers, number plate makers, key cutters, photos, artworks and general automobila. Consequently the jumble is now of a much wider scope than ten years ago. The Classic Car Show was added a couple of years ago and is growing in popularity. It is the only general classic car show at Brooklands and welcomes all types of classics from the vintage to the Modern including motorcycles and commercials. This year there were around 400 vehicles on display and 3,400 people came to the event - making this one of the larger events hosted at Brooklands now.

The show is organised by the BTM and is run on the day by Members who volunteer as marshals and help to run stalls etc. We like to keep the automony on this event as it gives the Museum events team a weekend off, and they work hard at other events the year round, and also allows us to aim it at the Members, although others are welcome too. A big thank you goes to those who helped out on the day and also this year, to the MGF Register, one of our supporting clubs, who helped run the Radio Control Sprint, and to the New MUGS ukulele group who kept us entertained throughout the day.

New features this year included a Showcase arena where David Brockington-Hill spoke to owners of selected cars, the RC Sprint, a printed programme and a new layout thanks to the re-opening of the Finishing Straight which separated the car show from the jumble.

A lot of our traders are regulars and we hope to see them again next year - there were 110 this year which happily coincided with 110 years of Brooklands itself.

Karting Champions

Congratulations to the winners of the Brooklands 2017 Karting Challenge. The races took place at the Daytona track at Sandown Park, the nearest karting track to Brooklands itself. The adults were in teams of three and took part in a 90 minute endurance race and the Juniors took part in two sprint sessions. This is the third challenge the BTM have held and the first where it hasn't rained - which made for some faster on track action.

Jason & Max O'Shaugnessy successfully defended their 2016 victory with the addition of team mate Josh Croft in the adult's challenge whilst Toby McDonald took the top honours in the Junior Challenge.

Well done to all those who took part and we hope to see them all competing for the 2018 Brooklands Karting Trophy.

8th June 2017

Easter Delays

With the Easter Holidays and the busy April renewal/new membership period we are experiencing longer than normal delays in turning around memberships so please bear with us if you havn't got yours in the normal time. We should be back to normal after Easter but it will take a week or so clear the backlog. We are sorry about any inconvenience - if you have a receipt from an online renewal/new application that will be fine to produce and use when entering the Museum.

Also an apology - the links in the "Best of" section of the April newsletter seemed to be wrong - this happens as we use the previous email as a template for the next one and forgot to change the links! Hopefully we catch these gremlins but sometimes they slip through the net!

The office will now be closed until Wednesday until 19th April.

Tim April 13th 2017

Life Membership

Over the last few months we have been working on a special life membership offer for members who have supported the BTM and Brooklands Museum for over 15 years. Those qualifying members were sent letters inviting them to take up the offer and donate towards the BTM's scoreboard project. We initially capped this offer to 30 memberships but the response has been so strong that we quickly surpassed that number and the Museum has agreed that we can extend it to encompass all members who have applied up to now. However this does mean that the offer is now closed and no more applications will be considered.

Thank you for applying and showing your support for Brooklands Museum. Members who have applied have been contacted by our vice-chairman Julian Grimwade and letters of acceptance will be sent out shortly.

Tim March 7th 2017

Catching Up

We've had a busy few weeks so it's now time for a bit of a catch up. It all started with the talk on Satellite technology by Patrick Wood, CEO of Surrey Satellites Ltd which was an enlightening evening delving out of this world, literally. A few days later it was the moving Capt Brown Remembered event. There was a full house with nearly 250 guests, finishing a run of three such Capt Brown events, the first two featuring the great man himself.This final event took a look back at his extraordinary life with some unusual insights from Paul Beaver, Eric's Biographer - who knew that Eric was once a dare-devil Wall of Death rider who also played drums for the Glen Miller Orchestra? Emily Horton gave a poignant tribute as the last journalist to have interviewed Eric and Dave Southwood, a current test pilot, looked at his impact on the world of test flying. With contributions from the audience including Eric's own son , Glen, the afternoon paid fitting tribute to one of the greatest.

Emily Horton

Dave Southwood & Paul Beaver

Move on a week and we held our Family Event, a totally different affair and ,again, a full house with half the audience under 14 years of age. Nick Arnold, the author of the Horrible Science series of books, was our host in a fast-moving show of science experiments and horrible mishaps. Nick had tailored this show specifically for the Brooklands audience concentrating on fatal forces and Frightful Flight. It was a fantastic fun event with lots of audience participation from our younger members.

Tim March 7th 2017

Champagne on Concorde

The Concorde Champagne Day on 11th February has some spaces which are being offered to Members at £99 per person instead of the normal £115 - if any member is interested please contact the Concorde team ASAP

Concorde Champagne Day

Saturday 11th February 2017 09:30 – 16:00

Limited Time Exclusive Offer for Brooklands Trust Members

£99 per person (RRP £115 pp)

Hosted by Chief Concorde Pilot, Captain Mike Bannister, enjoy an authentic Concorde menu re-created for your lunch, and enjoy Champagne on board Concorde. In addition, enjoy a welcome Bucks Fizz reception, and a visit to the Flight Deck with Captain Bannister after your virtual flight, accompanied by Champagne! After lunch, Captain Bannister will deliver an enthralling and emotional presentation on Concorde, her design and development, her life, the accident and her retirement. If you flew Concorde in the past, we would be delighted to welcome you on board again. If you never had the opportunity, now is the time to take your seat.

Items Included in the Price

  • Welcome Bucks Fizz Reception in the Members' Bar
  • Presentation on Brooklands, its heritage, and Concorde.
  • The Concorde Experience Flight on the Brooklands Concorde.
  • Visit to the Flight Deck of Concorde with your Captain.
  • Concorde Captains' Lunch in the prestigious Bluebird Room.
  • Presentation by Captain Mike Bannister, Chief Concorde Pilot.
  • Concorde Flight Certificate signed by Captain Bannister.

For more information, please visit: www.brooklandsmuseum.com/concorde

Ts & Cs:

Deal expires on Wednesday 8th February 2017.

Must state BTM membership number upon purchase.

Each BTM member is entitled to bring one non-member at the discounted rate.

Places sold on a first come, first serve basis and only offered for the 11th February event.

All full up

Quite a few of our events are filling up now - the Isle of Man TT event sold out in under two weeks, Remembering Capt. Brown is now full up too. The first Highways Agency visit is full and the second one in April is nearly full.

The Family Event on 26th February features Nick Arnold who is the best-selling author of the Horrible Science series of books and will be presenting a special show tailored to Brooklands and its aircraft and cars. This is a rare chance to see Nick and the only chance to see this particular show. We surprisingly have a few tickets left for this so if you don't want to miss this unique opportunity then order your tickets soon - details in the events section but it's best to book them online.

We're thinking of our holidays now in the depth of Winter and we have two coming up - a weekend at the Two Bridges Hotel in Devon and 10 days touring Europe visiting French Motor Museums. There is a lot of interest in both so do let Angela know if you would like to join in these events - they are motoring tours where you take your own car - it doesn't have to be a classic so your day to day car will be fine but you do have to drive yourself!

We've been tidying up the last of the backlog from the festive season and are on top of it now - if you sent a renewal in over that period and havn't heard back yet then please do get in touch and we'll check for you.

We're looking forwards now to 2017 and you can see the events we've got lined up on our Events page - check the Museum's page too on the green tab where you'll find all the Museum events. I'm sure we'll be seeing a lot of you this year! The email newsletter should be out today or tomorrow at the latest - time has been against me but I'm nearly there.

Tim Morris 1/2/17

Seasonal Illness!

I've been off for the last week or so with the usual winter illnesses - flu type symptoms, high temperatures, the same cough that kept the Queen from Church. Can't be flu though as I've had the jab ! Anyhow now I have recovered and can no longer garner sympathy I'm back in the BTM office to find that the World of Brooklands did not come to a crashing halt without me as I had suspected. Jeni has been beavering away with the mountains of renewals and new memberships that have been pouring through the letterbox and has processed as many as she can, but with me thoughtlessly staying at home in bed the inevitable backlog has built up again. We hope to be on top of this fairly soon though but turnaround will be a bit longer than usual at the moment.

The tickets for the Isle of Man event on 16th March have sold out now but Steve Parrish but would like to remind you that there are tickets still available for his one man show at the Epsom Playhouse which takes place on Friday 3rd March at 7.30pm. Tickets are £20 from the box office on 01372 742555 or www.epsomplayhouse.co.uk.

I'm looking forward to heading over to Ripley this evening to give a talk to the Ripley and Send History Society - It's in the Ripley Village Hall and starts at 7.30pm - guests are welcome. It will be a new talk called From Brooklands to Wisley which looks mainly at aviation on the Brooklands and Wisley sites. I'll let you know how it goes!

Tim Morris 17/01/17

First Classic talk of 2017

J "Mac" Hulbert was our first guest of the year and kicked off the 2017 Classic Talks season in fine style. Mac Hulbert is an academic with a great interest in historic racing cars and , as he showed us last night, has driven and owned many of them over the years. His favourite, however was the ERA R4D which he campaigned around the world at numerous circuits. His talk covered the history of the ERA cars and accompanied his own book on the subject, he was signing copies after the event, and also his own driving experiences in historic races. There were plenty of photos and videos as he pitted himself successfully against the best in historic racing. Commenting on our Facebook page member Steven East said of the evening "What a fab example of someone - working hard and then enjoying his life. Among the most interesting and fab talks at Brooklands Trust Members. Great work Team Brooklands"

During the evening we sold more tickets for the upcoming Isle of Man TT event which took us close to the sell out point. We have therefore withdrawn the online applications as the weekend approaches - please ring for availability of the last remaining tickets.

Happy New Year and bookings

A happy new Year to all members and we hope you had a really good 2016 with the BTM. This year will, of course, be just as good and there are plenty of events for Members already lined up - a full lineup of Classic Talks is already published and the first of the Motoring Legends events is now booking. We did get the wrong date for the ticket sales - we forgot about the Bank Holiday on 2nd January - sorry! You can now book through the BTM office and online and tickets are already selling quickly - the phone hasn't stopped ringing today!

The Remembering Capt. Brown event is also open for booking today and tickets for that are free. We are expecting a high demand for this look back at the extraordinary life of Capt Eric Winkle Brown. He was a BTM Honorary member following two sell out events at the Museum and we were looking forward to a third when he sadly passed away in Spring last year. This commemorative event takes place a year on and will be hosted by the aviation historian and broadcaster Paul Beaver. Booking is now open online or through the BTM office.

Demand on the phone is quite high and we may have difficulty responding to ansafone messages so if you can't get through please keep trying.

Tim Morris 3/1/17

Email Problems

We have had some problems with our brooklandsmembers.co.uk and .com email addresses. In particular the talks@brooklandsmembers.co.uk has been unobtainable. We do apologise if you have had some problems getting through on those email addresses. The issue was due to a change over to a new server as a result of this website going live and we hope that the addresses are now working again. If you do still have a problem then please contact any BTM committee member through our generic address of members@brooklandsmuseum.com

Tim Morris 20/12/16

Latest Newsletter out now

The latest email newsletter is now out and has been sent to all our members who have provided valid email addresses. I'm afraid it is not available in a printed form but the Brooklands Bulletin will be out soon and should be with you the week before Christmas. The latest newsletter is available on the link below and you can find an archive of all past newsletters in our archive section on this site.

December newsletter

Dinner Without Sir Stirling

Unfortunately at the last minute Sir Stirling Moss and Lady Suzy were unable to join us for this year's Annual BTM Dinner. However I am informed that it was still a splendid evening nonetheless with an interesting after dinner talk by the "Bird in a Biplane" Tracey Curtis-Taylor. Sir Stirling sends his apologies to the members and guests. If anyone took any photos on the night we would be interested to see them so could you please send them to me at timmorris@brooklandsmuseum.com.

Our last event of the year - the Xmas Lunch on 18th December is now full but there will be a small waiting list if you email Angela at angela.humeuk@gmail.com

Tim Morris 28/11/16

This website!

We have been beavering away behind the scenes for many weeks now to bring this new website to you. I'm not going to pretend that it has been easy as there has been a very steep learning curve involved however we hope that you approve of the finished product. It should make it a lot easier for you to navigate around the site and also visit the Museum and Concorde pages more easily too.

You'll find most of the features from the old site although some have been joined together in an attempt to streamline it a little. The old Gallery pictures have gone but we intend to replace them with a new gallery, in the meantime there are links to our galleries on the BTM Facebook page. The Driving Group pages have also gone and they will be included in the BTM Events, Latest News and Blog pages.

If you find something that doesn't work or have ideas of things that we could add don't hesitate to get in touch with us at members@brooklandsmuseum.com

Tim Morris 21/11/16