Volunteer Stories - Michael Barber

27 March 2021

We are back with another of our Volunteer Stories. This time we have Volunteer Steward Michael Barber, who first came to Brooklands as a Vickers apprentice.

I first came to Brooklands when I was 16 years old, to start an Engineering Apprenticeship at the Vickers – Armstrong’s aircraft factory, which was situated at the old motor racing circuit. The track was still complete then and one could cycle around it.

I spent the first 2 ½ years in all departments of the factory, making and fitting parts for aircraft manufacture. The remaining years were spent in the offices and I finished up as a draughtsman in the Design Office. I continued in this position with the company for the next 5 years.

During this time, I was involved in design work for the Viscount, Vanguard and VC10 aircraft, which can still be seen in the Museum Aircraft Park.

In the 1960s the aircraft industry was contracting and Vickers merged with 3 other companies to become BAC. The Government also cancelled the military contract for the TSR2 Mach2 fighter bomber, which I had also worked on. I then decided to move into Mechanical Engineering and so left Brooklands.

The final position I held before retirement was as a lecturer at Kingston University. I had bought my students to the Museum to show them the different types of aircraft manufacture. It was then that I learnt about the need for volunteers to help run the Museum.

I joined the Museum in 2001 as a Monday Volunteer, at first in the Motor Village and later in the Aircraft Park on every type of aircraft. For the last 6 years I have been Monday steward on the BAC 1‐11. I also took part in the school party tours, which were very enjoyable, showing the children the history of Brooklands. I published an autobiographical poem in the first issue of Chocks Away. The photograph shows me alongside the Vanguard in the Museum Aircraft Park.