In February 2015, Brooklands Museum received a confirmed grant of £4.681million from HLF for its ‘Brooklands Aircraft Factory & Race Track Revival Project’. The project will transform the Museum’s Grade II listed Second World War Wellington Hangar into ‘The Brooklands Aircraft Factory’; build a new annexe (the ‘Flight Shed’) to house more of the Museum’s outstanding collection of historic aircraft; and restore the Finishing Straight of the Brooklands Race Track, the world’s first purpose-built motor-racing circuit.
The project aims to inspire current and future generations to embrace science, technology and engineering, and will include a training scheme for volunteers in historic aircraft restoration and a raft of new activities on the Race Track. Work is due to start in the next couple of months with completion of the Aircraft Factory and Flight Shed experiences due in the Autumn of 2016.
Specialist groundworks contractors JCMES have been preparing the site for the relocated Hangar and Flight Shed since October and are due to finish on site shortly. The main contract for the dismantling, restoration and re-erection of the Hangar, construction of the new Flight Shed and restoration of the Finishing Straight has been awarded to Brymor Construction and they will be starting soon. This part of the works will take just over a year and will be followed by the exhibition fit-out, with the project due to open late Summer 2017.
Brooklands Museum took a major step forward in its ground-breaking Re-Engineering Brooklands redevelopment programme with the announcement in last week’s Budget of a £1million grant from the Government.
The new Flight Shed building is nearing completion and we are now preparing for the next stage of the project. On the 31st August the Wellington Hangar will open for the final time in its current form. So, if you would like to experience the current exhibition one last time, make sure you schedule in a visit this August.
With the handover of the Flight Shed, and the removal of all exhibits from the Wellington Hangar, we can now declare Phase One of the Brooklands Aircraft Factory & Race Track Revival Project complete.
With the completion of the Flight Shed we have also moved on to Phase Two of the project: the dismantling, restoration and rebuilding of the Wellington Hangar and the restoration of the Finishing Straight of the Race Track.
These latest pictures show the incredible structure of the WWII Bellman Aircraft Hangar at the Museum in its original location before its final phase of dismantling which has now started. This is a crucial stage in the Brooklands Aircraft Factory and Race Track Revival Project which will see the Hangar relocated and re-displayed inside to tell the 80 year story of aircraft production at Brooklands and reveal and re-join the section of Finishing Straight that it currently sits on.
We have reached another key milestone in the Brooklands Aircraft Factory & Race Track Revival project, with the dismantling of the Bellman Hangar over the last few weeks steadily giving us a clear line of sight up the Finishing Straight from the Paddock, for the first time since 1940.
The Wellington Hangar is now completely dismantled and its components are currently being restored in South Wales. They will return in early 2017 to be reconstructed on a new site between the Finishing Straight and the London Bus Museum.
If you haven't been able to view the dismantling process, you will enjoy our timelapse footage of the work.
With the Hangar completely dismantled, we are now able to confirm that substantial areas of the original surface of the Finishing Straight have survived the last 76 years in surprisingly good condition under the Hangar's post-war floor.
Removal of sections of Hangar floor over the last couple of weeks has also revealed the extent of the wartime modifications required to the Track to construct the Hangar directly on top of the slightly sloping surface of the Finishing Straight which then served as an improvised aircraft factory floor. Painted floor markings and services laid into the Track have also come to light offering fascinating further insights into this specific area's war-time past and even more will be exposed in the coming weeks.
A new level concrete floor was only added sometime after World War Two, probably in the early 1950s when Vickers-Armstrongs had more money to invest at Brooklands and new uses for this Hangar.
The main structure of the Wellington Hangar has now been re-erected in its new position south of the Flight Shed, with just the south doors remaining to be installed. The inner layer of roof cladding has been completed and contractors have begun to add the outer cladding.
Repairs have been carried out on the original Finishing Straight surface revealed by the removal of the Hangar slab and repairs to the northern and southern transitional areas will be taking place soon.
Reconstruction of the Bellman Hangar frame was completed last month. The roof and double layer of cladding on the walls is almost full fitted and the new concrete floor has been poured. After our appeal for help new rails and wheels have been sourced for the south doors and enough rails and wheels were salvaged for the installation of the north doors. Within the Flight Shed work continues on the restoration of exhibits, including the P1127, Wellington Walkthrough and Vanguard Mock up.
Work continues on the repair and landscaping of the Finishing Straight, with new concrete being laid in sections, using a special concrete mix approved by Historic England in view of the Scheduled Ancient Monument status of the Race Track. The Finishing Straight will be officially re-opened on Saturday 17th June at the Double Twelve Motorsport Festival. Find out more about the event here
The new mezzanine structure has been installed in the Hangar, together with the bridge linking the Hangar to the Flight Shed. Work continues on the Finishing Straight, with the access route moved to allow new sections to be repaired.
The Avro Shed has been dismantled and preparation is underway to reconstruct it in a new location off the line of the Finishing Straight. During this work the Roe I Biplane can be visited in the Vimy Pavilion.
The Finishing Straight was re-opened by Lord March at the Double Twelve Motorsport Festival on the 17th June, 110 years to the day since the Brooklands Race Track first opened.
Restoration work on the Finishing Straight has been completed and work has now begun on landscaping the area in front of the Bellman Hangar. Installation of the South doors was finished at the end of the month and they are being painted with a period-appropriate camouflage design.
Elmwood continues to work on the exhibition off-site and are expected to start on site in late July. Meanwhile, Volunteers continue to work on the restoration of aircraft and objects for the new displays.
The Bellman Hangar has now been handed over to the exhibition fit-out contractors, Elmwood Projects.
In preparation for the exhibition installation, the Wellington Bomber was moved out of its temporary pavilion and into the Bellman Hangar on Wednesday 26th July.
Contractors have begun the fit-out of the Aircraft Factory Exhibition in the Bellman Hangar. The first stage was the lifting of the Hawker P.1127 to the Mezzanine level.
The complex two-day operation was completed on the 11th August and the Hawker P.1127 is now sitting on its plinths watching over the Hangar. Huge thanks to the teams from Finch of Bookham, Richard Rogers Conservation Ltd and Elmwood Projects for making this possible.
Inside the Bellman Hangar exhibits have been moved into position, the floor markings have been painted and interactives are being installed. The different factory ‘workshops’ are taking shape as our fit-out contractor, Elmwood Projects, erect the scaffolding framework. The mount makers are creating the mounts, (Richard Rogers Conservation, Museum Workshop and Plowden & Smith) that will safely hold all the objects that will be on display.
Read more about the exhibition design process on our Collection Blog
On Monday 13th November we had the formal opening ceremony of the Brooklands Aircraft Factory and Flight Shed exhibitions with HRH Prince Michael of Kent, GCVO CD. Read the full story
The Brooklands Aircraft Factory and Flight Shed exhibitions opened to the public on Tuesday 14th November. The opening of the exhibitions marks the end of the ‘Brooklands Aircraft Factory and Race Track Revival Project', which has transformed the Museum and created a truly inspiring visitor experience.
If you have been unable to visit and see the transformation of the site first-hand, then you will enjoy our time-lapse capture of all the work, from the site preparation, construction of the Flight Shed and dismantling of the Bellman Hangar through to the reconstruction of the Hangar and its fit-out as the Brooklands Aircraft Factory.