World War Two
Besides being supplied to numerous Royal Air Force airfields in Britain and overseas, Bellman hangars were also supplied by the Ministry of Aircraft Production to aircraft factories including Hawker Aircraft Ltd and Vickers-Armstrongs Ltd at Brooklands. Here they provided valuable extra floor space for the hard-pressed aircraft industry and, most important in wartime, they could also be erected and camouflaged at dispersed locations away from the main factory sites.
Click the link to find out more about the construction and use of the Brooklands Bellman Hangars.
WW2 Defence Structures
As a major centre of aircraft production, Brooklands was a clear potential target for enemy attack. To defend against such an event, a series of defences were built around the site which are still visible today.
To defend against a potential attack by enemy paratroopers intent on sabotaging the factory, a pillbox was erected close to the bridge across the River Wey which was used to move aircraft from the factory to the airfield. This is believed to be a unique design with loopholes on the corners and a mounting for a machine gun on the roof.
To defend against attack by enemy aircraft, a series of concrete towers were erected on which 40mm Bofors Anti-Aircraft guns were mounted. Whilst these guns were unlikely to shoot an enemy aircraft down, they were intended to prevent attacking aircraft from having a clear bombing run.
The threat of attack by enemy bombers led to the construction of a series of shelters around the Vickers aircraft factory. These include the small shelters at either end of the original location of the Museum’s Bellman Hangar and the small brick structures at the base of the Members Banking, once the site of another Bellman Hangar.
The largest air raid shelter provision for Vickers workers was in the ‘Sand Pit Shelters’ on the opposite side of Brooklands Road. These shelters were capable of housing over 5,000 people in the event of an attack and were in use throughout the Second World War.