Museums at Night 2010: Fast cars and planes in ultimate sleepover fun at Brooklands Museum

By Culture24 Staff | 21 April 2010
A black and white photo of an early 20th century racing track with vintage cars parading around it

The Brooklands Museum in Surrey hosts Britain's first purpose-built race track, first used in 1907 (above)

If you're in the South and looking to capture your young 'un's imagination this Museums at Night, the Brooklands Museum looks like a dream.

The birthplace of British motorsport and flying machines, the Surrey site became the first purpose-built racing track in the country in 1907, and went on to spend years as the base for aircraft building company Vickers.

These days it's full of Formula 1 treasures, mementoes from record-breaking speed feats, fast cars, hangars and cockpits, all of which makes the torchlight tour, snacks, craft activities and competitions planned during their sleepover sound perfect for kids.

A photo of three small children looking excited in front of a large aircraft hangar

Families will be able to visit enormous historic aircraft hangars

"It's a lovely place – a little bit like stepping back into the past," says the Museum's Virginia Price.

"This is the first time we are doing a sleepover. They will design a car, which will last about 45 minutes, and then there will be a storytelling activity in the Museum. We will set up camp in the clubhouse, and in the morning we will wake up, have breakfast and have time to walk through the Concordes.

"After that we'll give prizes out and take them racing on the track. It's safe to say the children will be quite excited and probably won’t sleep all that much – I think it will be very good fun."

A photo of a section of an aeroplane wing being delivered to a brown brick museum on a truck

The Museum has welcomed a number of huge aircraft sections, including this outer wing of a Concorde 202 in 2004

Run by a team of experienced volunteers, the night should uncover some of the less well-known spooky secrets of the historic centre.

"There was a milkman who used to deliver to the Museum," recalls Price. "One winter morning at about 6am he came in and claimed to have seen a man all dressed in racing gear walking past the main gate.

"There was also a child who came with his grandfather when they were visiting the site – he said again that he saw a man dressed in gear from the olden days holding a helmet in his hands. By the descriptions we were more or less able to track down who it was."

A photo of a classic car in front of crowds at a museum

This 24-litre Napier-Railton is just one of the vintage engines on show for Museums at Night at the birthplace of British motorsport

A scientist by nature, Price may even have had her own brushes with the ghosts of Brooklands past.

"I have smelt a very strong smell of perfume in the clubhouse in the evenings," she confesses.

"It was the same scent used by a former landlady. The area belonged to a well-off family. She was very rich and used quite a strong perfume. But it could always be someone trying to scare me, I don't know."

***THIS EVENT HAS BEEN CANCELLED***

Thinking of hosting a sleepover for Museums at Night 2010? Read our simple guide to sensational museum sleepovers.

Other Museums at Night 2010 sleepovers:
National Media Museum, Bradford
ICA, London
Cannon Hall, Barnsley
Norwich Guildhall, Norwich
Museum of Reading, Reading

Adult sleepovers:
Churchill Museum and Cabinet War Rooms
RAF Holmpton
Chatham Historic Dockyard (ghost investigation)

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Museums at Night events are being added all the time. Don't forget to check out the Museums at Night homepage to find out what's going on near you.

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