Local history

Whilst researching information about the British World War 2 (WWII) fighter aircraft, the Supermarine Spitfire, I became aware that there was little information about the other fighter plane of that time the Hawker Hurricane. It seems that the Spitfire has all the limelight.

I needed to find information about the Spitfire initially, so I purchased and read books, and I visited the old RAF base, now The Imperial War Museum, RAF Duxford, to get a feel of one of the airfields the Hurricane flew from, to see an actual aircraft, to make contact with history.

Even at RAF Duxford, I had the impression that the Spitfire was the number one aircraft of its’ era. Why was the Hurricane in the shadows?

The appetite for facts started to eat at me, so I sought to follow a trail which was virtually non existent. Not much has been written about the Hurricane.

I visited RAF Hendon, the RAF Museum in North London. A free to enter museum, offering the visitor a close-up view of many aircraft flown throughout the history of the RAF, plus the Battle of Britain Exhibition, including aircraft of that time.

I can also recommend the restaurant at RAF Hendon, friendly staff and great food at reasonable prices.

    
            RAF Hendon Wings restaurant                                Good British food, Cotage Pie with Roast Veg.

I had been aware of the importance of the area I now live in, Kingston upon Thames, and the surrounding areas, in the development of aircraft and especially the Hurricane, but now as I delved deeper, more information emerged.

I had read how Hurricanes were built in Kingston and then shipped to a near-by airfield Brooklands, to be assembled, tested and distributed.

Brooklands was the worlds first purpose built motor racing track, plus airfield, now the home of the Brooklands Museum and Mercedes World, and only eight miles (5 km) from Kingston.

A visit was called for, and not for the first time, but this time I had a purpose.

    
The steep curve of Brooklands race track, all that is left of the worlds first purpose built motor racing track.

Brooklands, once the home of motor racing, has now only has a small concrete portion of the banked section of the race track remaining, and a small corner of the original site. This area holds a wonderful collect of history, of old cars, racing cars from the early days, motorbikes, bicycles, original buildings and workshops still in pristine condition, it is as if the mechanics had just popped out to lunch, and within minutes racing would commence upon their return. Then the aircraft museum, including Concorde, all staffed by volunteers, eager to impart information to the visitors.


Brooklands Concorde one of the many static aircraft.

The airfield runway has in the last few years, been ripped up and replaced by a car testing area, showrooms and offices for Mercedes World, pushing the Brooklands exhibits into the cramped area.

I wondered how many people know about what really had happened on this site only a few years previously. Just like the bloom of the cactus, memories of glory and history never fade away, but may be unknown to people who just pass-by.


The death of a beautiful cactus bloom (2c previous)

What was the history of the place. How was Brooklands linked to Kingston, and what happened there?

With the high turn-over of the population of Kingston, especially the influx of foreign nationals, Polish, Koreans, Chinese, Indians, the  students from the growing and popular Kingston University, and the ever increasing new housing, how many know about the history of the area they lived in?

I knew some history, but I needed to know more. Just like the research I did on Norbiton Hall, (click to read), the flats I live in, I will give some history for those interested.

See articles starting with Portrait of a Legend, SpitfireThe Hawker Hurricane.

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